UES condos may be first purchases using Bitcoin in NYC

Two units at Magnum's 389 East 89th Street sold using the cryptocurrency

389 East 89th Street and Ben Shaoul
389 East 89th Street and Ben Shaoul

The buyers of two Upper East Side condominiums may be the first to use Bitcoins to purchase real estate in the city.

Magnum Real Estate Group’s Ben Shaoul is in contract to sell two sponsor units at the rental-to-condo conversion at 389 East 89th Street to separate buyers, the New York Post reported. One unit is a 624-square-foot studio with an asking price of $875,000, and other is a 989-square-foot one-bedroom with a $1.48 million ask.

The deal is believed to be the first real estate transaction in New York City to involve Bitcoin. Shaoul is converting the digital currency into cash through a third-party service, BitPay.

“It wasn’t easy, but we are doing it,” Shaoul said.

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In October, Shaoul told CNBC that he planned to keep any Bitcoin he received rather than convert it over to cash. Though, at the time he made that claim, the volatile currency was beginning a meteoric rise in value. In January, a coin was worth about $1,000. By Dec. 17, it would rise to just under $20,000, and many say speculation and pump-and-dump schemes are largely responsible for the surge. Because of vast price swings that can occur by the day, it’s difficult to assess the market value and liquidity of the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin has since fallen to about $8,700 a coin, and governments have begun implementing regulations to limit volatility.

Shaoul also indicated that his condo project in Alphabet City would be the first real estate site in the city to accept Bitcoin.

In December, the first transaction to involve only Bitcoin (meaning, that it wasn’t converted into dollars) in Miami closed. The deal was for a two-bedroom unit at 777 Northeast 62nd Street in Miami’s Upper East Side neighborhood for the equivalent of $275,000.

In late January, The Real Deal broke down how buyers and sellers can close a real estate deal using Bitcoin and blockchain technology.  [NYP] — Kathryn Brenzel