A Metro Vancouver house advertised for sale in bitcoin was an “honest mistake that never should have been made,” said Derek Drew, manager-broker of Sutton Centre Realty in Burnaby.
The newly-built, 5,000-square-foot house at 707 Firdale Street in Coquitlam had been advertised this week on Craigslist in Vancouver and Hong Kong. The ad reads “$2099 Bitcoin new house for sale btc (Coquitlam)”.
The asking price of 2,099 bitcoin equates to just over $5 million in Canadian funds.
The listing drew media attention, with the Huffington Post headlining it “suspicious activity” and drawing attention to China’s crackdown on currency outflows.
China residents are not allowed to take more than $50,000 out of the country for investments. They are also required to sign a letter stating they will not use their money to buy residential real estate abroad. It has been suggested that bitcoins offer a route for some to move money out of the country. Bitcoin, first introduced in 2008, is a peer-to-peer digital currency that functions without any central authority, and can be transferred anonymously.
Sutton real estate agent Mario Figliola referred Western Investor calls to Drew, his boss, but he told CBC he had the house listed for $2.6 million, and had complained to a friend how “difficult it is now to sell a higher-end house because the market has changed. There's more rules and regulations on taxes, like the foreign tax has come into effect.”
The friend, “trying to help”, posted the ad, said Figliola. He refused to name the friend.
The Craigslist ad has since been taken down.
In Australia, Sydney-based Forsyth Real Estate is the first Australian real estate company that is accepting bitcoins from foreign buyers, primarily, the company said, from China.
In Canada, real estate agents are not allowed to accept bitcoins because the digital currency hides the identity of the purchaser. Under Canada’s Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act, a realtor must be able to positively identity the people involved before a transaction can complete.
Drew said it was first time he had seen a house advertised for bitcoin and suspects it will be the last, certainly from his office.
“I don’t even know what a bitcoin is,” Drew said, “this whole thing is just a honest mistake.”