Can You Buy Your First Home With Bitcoin?

Crypto homebuying is possible, with some caveats

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Buying your first home can be exciting, but it’s also challenging to come up with the funding and meet traditional mortgage requirements. What if you could leverage some of those bitcoin gains that you’ve made over the last few years to help purchase a home?

The good news is you can use digital cryptocurrency, or “crypto,” such as bitcoin to buy your first home, or at least help with the purchase. But because it’s fairly uncharted territory, there are a few things you should know about doing so. Learn more about how buying a house with cryptocurrency works, some strategies to consider, and the pros and cons of using bitcoin to purchase real estate.

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin can help you purchase your first home, but traditional mortgages do not allow you to use cryptocurrency.
  • You could cash in your bitcoin for dollars to put toward your home, but you’ll have to pay capital gains tax on whatever earnings you make.
  • There are crypto mortgages that allow you to borrow against your bitcoin so you don’t have to sell it.
  • If you find a seller who is into cryptocurrency, you could make a wallet-to-wallet direct purchase with bitcoin.

How To Buy Your First Home With Bitcoin

So can you buy a house with bitcoin? Yes, you can. In fact, you can use any coins that the seller and buyer are willing to transact with, Andrew Daniels, real estate advisor and Crypto Certified agent with RE/MAX Alliance Group in Tampa, Florida, told The Balance in a call.

Bitcoin is just one type of cryptocurrency. When using crypto to purchase real estate, it has to be a currency that the seller or the third-party intermediary is comfortable accepting. Right now, bitcoin and ethereum are the most commonly accepted digital currencies.

Here are some of the options for buying a house with bitcoin (BTC).

Direct All-BTC Deals With Sellers

If you have enough bitcoin to pay the full purchase price of your first home, you can do a direct bitcoin transaction from digital wallet to digital wallet—if you can find a seller amenable to that sort of payment, which can be a challenge.

The other option is to use a platform like BitPay, which can exchange your bitcoins into dollars. “Any property that’s for sale can be marketed with crypto, even if the seller wanted dollars,” Daniels said.

If you’re doing a direct bitcoin purchase, still make sure to do your due diligence regarding the home’s title and getting an inspection.

Selling Bitcoin for the Home Down Payment

Bitcoin can be a great source of funding for a down payment. In fact, one in nine first-time homebuyers (11.6%) surveyed in the fourth quarter of 2021 said they sold some cryptocurrency to put down money for a home. What is much less common is for lenders to accept bitcoin that hasn’t been cashed in. “I have heard of lenders that can use crypto as a down payment, but not Fannie/Freddie-type [conventional] mortgages,” Daniels said.

In fact, Freddie Mac is clear that cryptocurrency must be exchanged for dollars in order to be part of the process to qualify the borrower for a mortgage.

Borrow Against Your Bitcoin

An emerging option is to look into a crypto mortgage. There are a few lenders that will let you borrow against your bitcoin holdings, allowing you to sidestep the usual underwriting hoops of a traditional mortgage. “If you’re purchasing a $300,000 house, if you have large funds in crypto, you can get a mortgage by putting up $300,000 of crypto,” Daniels said.

On the plus side, this strategy allows you to keep your assets so they potentially may continue to make market gains. And because you aren’t selling the crypto, you won’t have to pay capital gains taxes.

Price fluctuation with bitcoin and other virtual currencies is expected, so getting a crypto mortgage is risky. If the price drops significantly, your lender may require you to cover the loss with more of your crypto balance, for example. On the other hand, if the crypto holding’s value rises, you can apply it to the mortgage and pay it off faster.

How Buying a Home With Bitcoin Affects Your Taxes

Cashing out virtual currency such as bitcoin creates a tax event, similar to selling property. If you made a gain on your original purchase, you will have to pay capital gains taxes on it. Depending on how long you held the bitcoin before the sale, you either will pay short-term (if held for a year or less) or long-term (held a year or more) capital gains. Whether it’s short- or long-term will determine the tax rate you pay.

How It Works

Say you bought $10,000 worth of bitcoin and you cashed out when it was worth $50,000. You would have to pay capital gains on the $40,000 profit. If you originally bought that bitcoin more than a year ago, you’d pay a long-term capital tax rate of either 0%, 15%, or 20%, depending on your filing status and taxable income.

Pros and Cons of Buying a House With Bitcoin

Pros
  • Can streamline the homebuying process

  • Borrowing against bitcoin lets you keep your crypto investment

  • Can save on taxes

Cons
  • Could miss out on potential growth

  • Need to work with crypto-savvy people

  • Cashing in bitcoin can cost you in taxes

Pros Explained

  • Can streamline the homebuying process: If you aren’t getting a conventional or government-backed mortgage, you won’t have to meet traditional underwriting standards, and you may get to closing more quickly.
  • Borrowing against bitcoin lets you keep your cryptocurrency investment: No one wants to be the next “Bitcoin Pizza” guy. (A reference to when an early adopter of crypto decided to buy two pizzas with his bitcoin in 2010. Those same bitcoins could have been worth as much as $690 million years later, had he held onto them.) That’s why, if you’re able to leverage your bitcoin without actually cashing it in, this could turn out to be a good long-term strategy.
  • Can save on taxes: If you don’t cash in your bitcoin and instead buy with it directly, you can avoid paying capital gains taxes on your earnings.

Cons Explained

  • Could miss out on potential growth: Because bitcoin’s value fluctuates, you may end up losing out on the deal if the crypto price rises after the sale. Or buying a house this way could go in your favor, if the bitcoin value drops after the sale.
  • Need to work with crypto-savvy people: Virtual currency is still in its infancy as far as real estate goes. If you’re intent on using your bitcoin as part of your purchase payment, seek out properties that are marketed as open to crypto. For example, Daniels uses third-party platforms that exchange bitcoin so sellers still can get paid in dollars.
  • Cashing in bitcoin can cost you in taxes: The more you make with bitcoin, the more it will cost you in capital gains taxes when you sell it.

Should You Buy Your First Home With Bitcoin?

Doing a straight purchase with cryptocurrency such as bitcoin isn’t something Daniels recommends, because most investors in the space think bitcoin’s price eventually will rise. However, he sees borrowing against your crypto holdings as a growing trend.

“I would never recommend borrowing against 100% of your holdings, however,” Daniels said. You want to have some cushion in your cryptocurrency account to protect against potential market swings.

When It Makes Sense

  • If you have a lot of bitcoin assets to tap into, but don’t want to pay capital gains tax
  • If you have more bitcoin available than what you need to borrow against
  • If you prefer to keep your bitcoin for potential long-term gains and are willing to work with a lender that allows you to borrow against the holding
  • If you have the opportunity to do a direct bitcoin purchase with a seller

When It Doesn’t Make Sense

  • If your bitcoin balance is minimal or recently lost a lot of value
  • If you are risk-averse
  • If you prefer to go through the traditional mortgage process, or the seller does

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What can you buy with bitcoin?

Bitcoin is becoming more mainstream each day. One survey found that at least one-third of U.S. small and medium-sized businesses now accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services. In some cases, you may need a third-party platform to convert bitcoin into fiat cash, unless you are working with a seller who accepts direct wallet-to-wallet payment.

How many satoshis are in each bitcoin?

Satoshis are the smallest unit of bitcoin. There are 100 million satoshis (sats) in 1 bitcoin.

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