Introducing Holon: Home Rentals Powered by NFTs
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March 16th, 2022

Why

We’re focused on making housing more accessible.

Over the past few decades, the cost of housing has steadily increased to the point where the majority of Americans can no longer afford to have a home of their own. Many are trapped in renting cycles that persist for decades that leave them with no assets to show for it.

This is a signal that the market dynamics in this industry need to change.

Change is hard. Housing infrastructure runs on a surprising number of completely analog processes. For example:

  • Deeds are held in documents stored in city hall.
  • Mortgage applications are 90 days of paperwork.
  • Leases are often physical documents requiring signatures.

With an inflexible infrastructure, housing is brittle and maladaptive to the modern world. Attempts in Web2 to digitize housing ended up painting a well-designed veneer over the same fundamentally outdated technological backend. As a result, the impact of these companies has been limited.

By being able to represent assets and cashflows digitally, Web3 offers an opportunity to reconstruct the housing industry from the core by digitizing ownership representations and constructing new economic relationships between the different market participants.

We can turn interactions that are antagonistic today, like the ones between owners and tenants, and redesign them to be more positive-sum for both.

How

Rental leases are a compelling entry point into updating housing infrastructure because:

  • They are the most atomic unit describing how housing is used.
  • They are the most digitized aspect of housing with Facebook groups, Docusigns, and Venmo.
  • They are a relatively easy-to-model economic agreement.
  • The standard 12-month lease structure is serving fewer and fewer people.

These factors together make leases the perfect place to begin experimenting with how Web3 building blocks can reshape foundational housing experiences. Additionally, because leases describe how homes are used, redefining their structure is an incredibly high leverage and impactful point by which we can move towards other parts of the infrastructure stack.

We started this project off as an experiment where we turned 3 months of Punia’s home into NFTs and listed them on Opensea to see what the reception would be and if anyone would even buy it. People loved it and someone even bought a month! Turning a month of your home into an NFT is a cool 1-liner, but the technology isn’t adding a whole lot of value.

Instead, our platform uses a 2-NFT model, with one for the host and the guest, with the respective NFTs representing the commitments of each party:

  • The host’s commitment to providing the home as described.
  • The guest’s commitment to following the rules of stay.

At the most basic high level, each NFT is used to unlock the funds committed at the start: rent for the host and security deposit for the guest. As such we replicate the economic relationship inherent within a lease, but digitize it to allow for a much faster interaction, a total guarantee of payment, and a secondary market that is the first of its kind.

In the event of disputes, we use an arbitration system that we will be decentralizing. The mechanisms of which we will go through in further posts.

What

Our MVP replicates a similar experience to Airbnb. Hosts are able to create listings for their property. Guests can browse through different properties and purchase a stay.

We’re deployed on Polygon, are integrated with Metamask, and are an entirely Web-3 native experience. Because our initial product is targeted towards Web3 digital nomads, we track which DAOs hosts are a part of so that DAOs can create an off-chain housing network and facilitate their contributors living and working together. Big shout-out to Index Coop for being our first test partner!

You can check out our platform here at www.holon.casa.

We have a few guides that may be useful as well:

If you have any questions, feedback, or ideas on how we can make this experience better, or build other experiences, please email us at whattup@holon.casa or reach out on Twitter to @holoncasa.

Future

Our north star is to increase the volume of stays going through our platform.

With a high enough volume and success rate, the more validity we can drive to our NFT representations of ownership and the more feasible a deep secondary market becomes. With more trust in the NFT and a deeper secondary market, we can:

  • Built out new lease experiences like exotic leases that are 12-month leases composed of different homes, or leases that expire only when the renter wants to or is financially insolvent.
  • Enable home developers to access future cashflows from renters to finance the acquisition of homes or invest in home improvements today.
  • Enable homeowners to give out extra stay NFTs to incentivize better behavior or attract tenants.
  • Create an exchange or clearinghouse for apartment rentals.

Something interesting about leases is that their value appreciation can mimic that of the underlying property. For example, if you had a lease for a year that you bought today that is valid 10 years from now, the value change of that lease over those 10 years should be similar to that of the underlying home equity. As a result, we can mimic home equity with the right to stay at that home!

This insight lets us opens up the design space for us to innovate massively, we’re excited for what the future holds!

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