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Blockchain pilot could unlock shared home ownership

24 March 2019 | By Stephen Cousins

The first pilot of a Blockchain-powered platform for affordable shared home ownership is due to launch in either Berlin or Kiev this summer.

Russia-based not-for-profit housing cooperative Doma developed the concept, which ditches conventional notions of mortgage and rental payments in favour of investments in a Blockchain network in exchange for equity shares.

Investors own shares in the network, which collectively match the value of properties. Residents pay a fixed monthly fee to live in the homes, in exchange for a small portion of equity shares. Doma takes a percentage of the fee to run and maintain the properties.

The intention is to minimise residents’ living expenses, while also giving them the long-term stability of home ownership and the freedom to move between properties financed by the network.

Doma will trial the concept on a single property in either Berlin or Kiev, where the transfer of property and shares using smart contracts over Blockchain is permitted. Both cities have experienced sharp rises in rental prices in recent years and have communities of participants ready to kick-start the project

Maksym Rokmaniko, architect and co-founder of Doma, told BIM+: “The case study will show the precedent of distributed ownership/equity generation in accordance with the Doma platform logic. It will be one apartment with, most likely, multiple residents and dozens of equity holders. We are currently designing the digital and legal infrastructure for this experiment and plan to reveal more information via our Twitter account soon.”

As a network of computers that records and encrypts all events in a decentralised ledger, Blockchain will ensure that investments and equity transactions are 100% secure and immutable, in the absence of traditional banks and solicitor agreements etc.

The precise workings of the network will be explored via a separate gaming simulation currently in development. “There are lots of coefficients we need to test before trying to grow Doma at scale, for example, we need to determine how quickly residents generate equity and the dividends for those investments.

“Our intention is to engage everyone interested in being a part of Doma to participate in this discussion, which is why the simulation will work as a game that enables people to experience the platform first hand,” says Rokmaniko.

Doma was developed by former students of the Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow, to solve the issue of escalating rental costs and unattainable mortgages pricing people out of living in urban centres.

“There are many people who are forced to rent all their lives, some paying the equivalent of purchasing three flats. The question is how do you create a system that reduces costs for people in the long term, even if they pay the equivalent sum of rent? We see the solution as the purchase of equity over time,” Rokmaniko concludes.