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There’s an Intense Land Rush Happening Now—But Not in the Physical World

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Innovation

There’s an Intense Land Rush Happening Now—But Not in the Physical World


June 23, 2021
virtual reality
Photo: Damir Khabirov | stock.adobe.com

There’s a land rush, but it’s not happening in the U.S., or any other country for that matter. It’s happening in virtual reality. The demand for plots of land in virtual worlds, also known as metaverses, have pushed prices up more than 3,000% in just six months. Realtor.com explains that the augmented reality platforms hosting these metaverses are also tied to encrypted blockchains, often with their own cryptocurrencies. This isn’t a simple game of The Sims, this opens the door for large-scale financial transactions. 

The online real estate rush is a new kind of Wild West of the internet where speculation is rampant. Those who see the potential of these buzzy, virtual realms are spending cryptocurrency worth tens—sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars on virtual property. Sound familiar?

It’s an offshoot of the recent high-profile popularity of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, in which digital files, usually artwork, are sold, sometimes for head-spinning sums. That market exploded into the public consciousness earlier this year when one digital piece sold at Christie’s for nearly $70 million.

The world of digital real estate has lately seen some startling deals as well. The ownership rights to the Mars House, a sleek but fictional glass home on the red planet designed by artist Krista Kim, went for more than $500,000 in March. For comparison, the median list price of a home in the real world was $380,000 in May, according to Realtor.com® data.

Depending on whom you ask, the virtual real estate business could become the next big thing—or wind up the next big bust. It’s a bit like the early days of Bitcoin. Some investors are worried about missing the opportunity to buy digital property in the most popular metaverses—like Decentraland, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, and Somnium Space—while they still can. Gaming company Atari has its own metaverse in the works.

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