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Industry Expert: Garratt Hasenstab

Interview by fibree.org

This interview is part of a series of conversations with leaders in blockchain for real estate, so our community can learn how blockchain is impacting real estate directly from experts worldwide.

FIBREE had the pleasure to interview another renowned expert in the field of Blockchain & Real Estate with 17+ years of award-winning real estate development, brokerage and consulting experience: Garratt Hasenstab. His mission is to leverage his real estate development experience and management expertise in order to drive growth and engagement. Garratt´s professional aspiration is to deploy his continuously evolving expertise in distributed ledger and blockchain technology to its highest and best use through his deep career experience managing the full life-cycle of real estate investment, development, brokerage operations and built-environment consulting in order to contribute to the adoption and scaling of PropTech, FinTech and GreenTech solutions that rapidly advance greater efficiency, transparency, liquidity, and decentralized value transfer and enable the adoption and scaling of global digital asset markets.

As someone who focuses on Blockchain and its impact on sustainability, we believe he is the perfect individual to restart our series of interviews with industry experts.

“As an experienced advisor and advocate in the sustainability space, I see blockchain technology as an enormous advancement in driving global environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies forward given that some of its greatest attributes include its abilities to facilitate authenticity, transparency and trust. Since sustainability and other ESG goals require transparency, in both processes and results, global government and business leaders can now leverage blockchain as the immutable record of proof that their efforts are being successfully implemented and are having the anticipated impact they intend, thereby elevating consumer trust while achieving meaningful goals for the greater good such as fair trade, social equity and environmental protection.”

Garratt Hasenstab

Q: Garratt, how did you get involved in blockchain & real estate?

A: Back in fall of 2015, I was working as an adjunct professor, teaching global business and I was discussing with my students the impact that cryptocurrencies could have on the global economy. As we together dug deeper into that subject, we began focusing on Bitcoin and it´s underlying platform, blockchain. As I researched different industries that could leverage cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology platforms, I came to the realisation that blockchain is going to have a significant impact on nearly every industry and business moving forward. So, I started focusing my research on how this would impact my primary work in real estate investment and development. That began my quest, concluding that this technology would radically transform how we invest in, own, manage and sell property in the future. Over the next couple of years, I began to immerse myself in deep dive explorations into blockchain with IBM and the University of California Berkeley and others to build a more comprehensive expertise in this emerging field.

As I knew, it revolutionises so many of the ways we do current business, in early 2017 I founded the company ressource blockchain. It is a strategic advisory firm focused on the development of digital assets, tokenization of property, and facilitating the advancement of proptech, fintech and greentech enterprise solutions.

So over the last few years, I´ve been invited as a speaker and moderator on the intersection of blockchain and real estate at various global Proptech conferences and I´ve been writing thought leadership articles on the topic for Forbes, such as The Transformation Of An Industry: Blockchain-Based Real Estate Assets or The Future Of Real Estate Investing: A New Global Asset Class Emerges. I am a passionate advocate for the continued development, adoption and scale of this transformative technology for our industry.

Q: How do you see blockchain technology impacting the real estate industry?

A: I think blockchain is having a huge impact on the real estate industry and is going to continue to grow more influential in nearly all facets of the business of real estate moving forward. Starting at the beginning, commercial real estate is the largest asset class globally.
It totals as of 2019, somewhere around $ 228 trillion. And one of the most proven use cases for blockchain is that of finance. The investment, ownership and sale of real estate plays an enormous role in global finance. That said, conducting business in the real estate industry involves so many sub-industries and intermediaries that are involved in nearly every transaction. You have lenders, title companies, appraisers, brokers, lawyers, etc, who all get their slice of the deal. The significance of the efficiency and transparency, trustlessness and disintermediation that blockchain technology can bring to this convoluted industry is immense, enabling transactions to be completed in a matter of hours or days as opposed to the antiquated processes that can take months for a deal to come to fruition.

But that’s not even the most significant factor at play for the property business. Real Estate has long been the largest asset class, globally. However, it has also unfortunately remained the most illiquid asset class in the financial world. And that’s where blockchain comes in. Through the utilization of blockchain based smart contracts properties can be tokenised, fractionalised, securitised and sold thereby liberating the owner’s equity, bringing about unprecedented liquidity in the real estate market and secondary markets. This is enabling a global pool of retail investors to join the commercial property ladder as if we were creating a much larger and more global marketplace for real estate. So that’s kind of the big impact that I see.

Q: When can you see a change in the real estate industry coming ?

A: I guess I would have to say that I want this transformation to come about quickly but I don’t think it’s about what I want. I am predicting by 2025 we will be seeing the digitization of real estate assets really reaching a tipping point, globally. So, I think those of us who are passionate about this just need to keep moving things forward. We have to be patient, I believe in the near future the majority of commercial real estate assets will be tokenized and traded just as stocks are traded now.

Q: What are you focusing on right now ?

As a US Regional Chair with FIBREE, I’m currently working to develop momentum within our local region, building community around blockchain and real estate, in both the property and tech spaces. There’s immense opportunity to develop greater understanding and adoption of blockchain technology in our area.

Q: Where do you see the greatest difficulty in terms of adopting?

A: We are currently testing and working on how to best implement the first uses of this technology into the CRE sector. Just like the early days of any technology, we find that there is a lot of resistance and denial but as experience and history has shown it is only a matter of time. We need better technology to deal with the current issues and in particular that of accounting transparency and verified communications for legal purposes.
We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. Blockchain and artificial intelligence will be transforming industries and societies dramatically. Regarding blockchain adoption specifically, I guess we don’t know necessarily how or when the tipping point will emerge. Regarding the real estate industry, we’re looking at disintermediation on a grand scale, unprecedented liquidity that will emerge in the global markets, and P2P trading of real estate assets. It’s about the real estate industry participants and professionals getting up to speed on the technology in order to stay relevant for their companies and their clients. So how can we impact adoption moving forward? I suppose it’s just education.

Q: What are your thoughts on the future of blockchain?

A: Blockchain is not a replacement, it is a tool or another way of doing something in a better way. So just like with the replacement of fossil fuel cars with electric cars, many of the older IT data processes will eventually get replaced. Currently implementation costs are higher and there are many grey areas but it will only get better with time and support from the community. I share that wisdom with everyone.

Author

Stefanie Behrendt

Regional Chair Athens / Greece at fibree.org

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