The first thing that might spring to mind when you hear the words “metaverse” and “real estate” is digital land on platforms like Decentraland, Cryptovoxels or The Sandbox. But one new platform, Versity, is aiming to shake up real-world bricks and mortar using the digital toolkit of the metaverse.
Versity, which this week launched its initial coin offering (ICO), is an “immersive mirror of the real world,” said Claude Li, CEO of Agences de Papa, the largest independent real estate company in France and architect of the idea behind the platform.
Every property in Versity correlates to a physical apartment or home in the real world. “This is a tool to help make real business more efficient,” Li told Decrypt. “It’s not a game.”
From painful to painless
The process of showing, renting and buying property today is highly inefficient and time consuming. Videos, photos and 3D virtual walkthrough software don’t do enough to help people experience a listing, and physical walkthroughs often don’t lead to a sale.
Maybe the potential buyer likes the apartment, but not the neighborhood, or the space looks good in a photo, but reality disappoints. There isn’t enough light in the living room, perhaps, or the lobby and other common areas don’t appeal.
“The visit presents a real bottleneck,” Li said. The Versity metaverse aims to remove that bottleneck.
Potential buyers can explore a digitized version of the real neighborhood and the surrounding streets where an apartment for rent is located and then click to enter a property. Once inside an apartment, buyers can move around the space at will, interact with a virtual real estate agent or other related services providers (such as mortgage providers or interior designers), ask questions and see what the space would look like with real furniture in 3D.
People don’t need a VR headset or any special device. The experience is available through a website that anyone can access through their phone, tablet or laptop.
“The point is to provide people with real utility so that they can make better, faster buying decisions,” Li said.
Une nouvelle économie
But beyond making the real estate industry more transparent, Les Agences de Papa is also creating a new economic model, Li said.
One of the reasons Les Agences d e Papa is so successful is because it doesn’t have physical offices and doesn’t put its agents out in the field. It’s a 100% digital real estate agency with a fixed commission of €2,000, regardless of the property sales price. It’s a disruptive business model. At other agencies, fees can easily exceed ten times that amount.
With Versity, Agences de Papa plans to further disrupt the traditional real estate model.
Versity is being built in partnership with Web3 and 3D specialists including Blockchain Xdev, Smartchain and The Full Room, using open source tools from Unity and powered by $SITY tokens running on the Polygon blockchain.
A postal or ZIP code in the real world corresponds to 1 NFT or “Parsell”—a play on the word parcel—within Versity. The price of a Parsell is tied to the popularity and desirability of the real neighborhood it’s meant to symbolize.
An NFT for the Lower East Side of New York City, for example, would be priced differently than a suburb somewhere in Arkansas, Li said.
Premium Parsells represent around 7% of the NFT supply within Versity. These are stand-ins for the most coveted properties and will only be offered for auction periodically on its own marketplace. The rest of the plots will also be available on the same marketplace. All plots can also be sold on secondary markets, with negotiable prices set by the NFT owners.
Round 1 is starting June 23th.
(Other rounds will start straight after a sold out)
You still have a chance to be on the WL to get a secured spot for the 1st Round and a NFT.
— Versity (@HelloVersity) June 19, 2022
Real estate agents who want to list a client’s property inside the Versity metaverse will pay a fee using $Sity tokens to the owner of the NFT that represents the real neighborhood where that property is located. Service providers who are willing to offer their services will also pay a fee.
It’s an elegant setup that generates value for everyone involved, Li said. Sellers will be able to drum up more interest in their properties and close deals quicker, while clients will get a better, smoother customer experience. Investors, meanwhile, earn recurring revenue from their Parsells in return for the right of use.
Versity will first launch in France with plans to roll out to other countries in the near term.
Its real-world nature is what differentiates Versity from other so-called metaverse real estate projects out there, Li said.
“We did a lot of market research before launching this project and we didn’t find another metaverse creating a true reproduction of the real world,” he said. “We want to use Web3 technology to service the real economy.”
Part of what’s driving the current crypto crash is the disconnect between digital assets and reality.
“Web3 and blockchain have the potential to revolutionize so many things,” Li said. “Now is the right moment to consider using these tools for more than just gaming, crypto and speculative finance.”