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Rex: Decentralizing and Disrupting Real Estate Listing Services

Reading Time: 4 minutes by on June 7, 2016 Business, Commentary, News, Tech
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The key to the internet’s success, as well as Bitcoin’s success, is decentralization. Many industries could use a dose of decentralization, from banking to government, and these sectors are beginning to see uses for the efficiencies of blockchain technology. One more business sector that is getting into the latest tech is real estate. Among the first movers in this space is Ethereum-based Rex and its “global MLS” as they look to change the way property is listed and shared through decentralization.

Another industry ripe for a 21st-century upgrade

Finding, buying and selling real estate is expensive, time-consuming, and a model of inefficiency. Between the lawyers, specialists, paperwork and closing costs, the industry is built around massive amounts of time and money wasted.

Rex is building a system to use Ethereum’s protocol to bring order, currency, and decentralization together at once, all while removing the power given to the current MLS system, run by centralized corporations. This will also feature their own tokens known as REX, which will be exchangeable for Ethereum’s Ether digital currency.

Co-founders Stephen King and Russell McLernon have extensive experience with current MLS platforms and the inefficiencies plaguing the real estate transaction process. In their careers, they noted that high costs add barriers to firms and individuals trying to compete in the real estate market. Furthermore, the existing platforms made it difficult and expensive obtain the information needed to make an educated real estate decision.

“Centralized multiple listing services have taken a commanding market lead in terms of readership/listings, in turn dictating rules, price, and conditions,” says RexMLS on their blog. They describe the limitations of the existing MLS structure that limits user options to either acquiescing to the platform’s rules, regulations and fees, or not accessing the platform at all, thereby missing out on a huge market around the world.

We believe your listing data should be free. Free for you to do with it as you please without signing over control to a large corporation.

Their program is designed to circumvent the “paywall” common in the industry when a prospective buyer or tenant is shopping for real estate. You may head to a site like Zillow and get some cursory, basic information, but are required to subscribe to get the details needed to begin to transact business. Through the Rex global multiple listing service concept, listings could be viewed and listed for virtually free, according to their new whitepaper.

“Rex has received excellent feedback within the blockchain community,” King told BTCMANAGER. “A fair majority has been those who have experience with the buying/selling/leasing/researching process in real estate. Surprising to us (this early in development), the feedback from the real estate community has been superb. We’ve presented the white paper/prototype to a number of brokers/real estate developers, all of which light up when we talk about the decentralization/transaction process.”

King explained that the brokers and developers that he and McLernon have spoken to complain that real estate platforms like CoStar, Loopnet and Zillow are far too expensive and contain data that is hard to access and unreliable. According to King, the common response is that “the transaction process in broken; it’s expensive and inefficient.”

Once King and McLernon present Rex, the common response becomes “Why isn’t anyone doing this yet?” To which they respond, “The technologies Rex is building upon have not matured and harmonized until recently.”

Rex is also looking to leverage advancements in internet technology, like the Interplanetary File System (peer-to-peer distributed file system) and Swarm (distributed storage). These platforms remove standardized servers which are run and owned by centralized corporations from the equation, similar to how a decentralized internet would remove your information from Google’s server, in favor of a more centralized, secure flow of private data while driving down costs.

“Most have heard ‘the harder you work the luckier you get,’” said King. “Russ and I were working plenty hard building Rex on top of Ethereum. We struck luck with the release/maturity of data distribution protocols like IPFS and Swarm.”

Rex intends to submit a proposal to The DAO in the coming weeks, with the intention of releasing a prototype at the same time. While King says that they have had some interest from the venture community and a few angel investors, as part of the blockchain community, he and McLaren would prefer to raise funds from among their peers.

Land and property on the blockchain

This isn’t the first time Bitcoin and its blockchain technology have been used within the real estate industry. In early May of 2016, Republic of Georgia’s National Agency of Public Registry, the noted Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto, and the bitcoin mining company BitFury announced a three-way partnership focused on the design and piloting of a blockchain land titling initiative.  In another venture, Daniel Novy, a blockchain expert with ConsenSys, is currently involved in a project called Regis, a platform that makes it easy to build, manage and deploy decentralized land registries on the Ethereum blockchain. With these sorts of blockchain-based solutions, property owners can have an immutable record with the government that prevents alteration or corruption from occurring. With Rex, the potential is there to take the benefits of decentralization one step further when it comes to buying and selling that real estate.

Most agree blockchain technologies will have an immense impact on fintech. We believe the opportunities in real estate are just as grand and look forward to Rex leading the way for the rest of the industry.

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