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Homeowners Could Have Made Millions by Selling Their Homes for Bitcoin

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Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, home prices have grown significantly across much of the U.S. But homes aren’t the only assets that have risen in price over the past few years — compared to the rise in the value of Bitcoin, recent home price growth seems relatively tame.

To better understand the value of Bitcoin, LendingTree used U.S. Census Bureau and CoinDesk data to look at how many bitcoins it would have taken to buy a median-valued home in each of the nation’s 50 largest metros in 2019. We then looked at how much money those bitcoins would be worth today. To help accomplish this, we calculated the average closing price of Bitcoin in U.S. dollars in 2019 ($7,363) and 2021, through Oct. 31 ($45,909).

Using these averages, we found that if homeowners sold their median-valued homes for Bitcoin in 2019 and then held onto those bitcoins until 2021, even those in the nation’s least expensive large metros would be millionaires.

Key findings

  • Across each of the nation’s 50 largest metros, homeowners who sold their median-valued home for Bitcoin in 2019 and then held onto the currency until 2021 would be worth more than $1 million. Homeowners in one metro could have converted an asset worth less than $161,000 into a different asset worth more than six times that amount.
  • Sellers in San Jose, Calif., San Francisco and Los Angeles would have stood to make the most money had they sold their home for Bitcoin in 2019. Across these three metros, those who sold a median-valued home would be sitting on an average of nearly $5.7 million worth of Bitcoin had they kept the currency until 2021.
  • Those who reside in Buffalo, N.Y., Cleveland and Pittsburgh would have made the least money by selling their home for Bitcoin. Their investments still would have paid off, though: The average amount of Bitcoin that sellers in these areas would have pocketed would be worth about $1 million in 2021.
  • In 2019, a median-valued home in one of the nation’s largest metros cost an average of 43.22 bitcoins to purchase. In 2021, a home of equivalent value costs an average of only 6.93 bitcoins. This shows how much the value of the cryptocurrency has grown in just two years.

Metros where homeowners would have made the most money if they sold their home for Bitcoin in 2019

No. 1: San Jose, Calif.

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $1,116,400
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿151.63
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿24.32
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $6,961,371

No. 2: San Francisco

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $940,900
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿127.80
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿20.49
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $5,867,032

No. 3: Los Angeles

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $666,900
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿90.58
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿14.53
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $4,158,490

 

Metros where homeowners would have made the least money if they sold their home for Bitcoin in 2019

No. 1: Buffalo, N.Y.

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $160,800
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿21.84
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿3.50
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $1,002,677

No. 2: Cleveland

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $161,400
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿21.92
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿3.52
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $1,006,418

No. 3: Pittsburgh

  • Median 2019 home value (in dollars): $165,900
  • Median 2019 home value (in bitcoins): ₿22.53
  • Current Bitcoin value of that 2019 median-valued home: ₿3.61
  • Current dollar value of Bitcoin used to buy a 2019 median-valued home: $1,034,478

 

Selling your home for Bitcoin could make you a millionaire, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice

Given just a few short years, an investment in Bitcoin can yield considerable returns. But that doesn’t mean that most homeowners should plan on selling their houses for the cryptocurrency.

The biggest reason for this is the general lack of buyers who have the Bitcoin necessary to purchase a home. Most Americans pay for housing with U.S. dollars, meaning that even if they want to sell their home for Bitcoin, sellers are unlikely to find many buyers who are even capable — let alone willing — of engaging in such a transaction.

Another reason stems from Bitcoin’s extreme volatility. While the average closing price for a single bitcoin has topped $45,000 in 2021, the currency’s value has shifted wildly since its inception more than a decade ago. And even though Bitcoin’s value has trended up over its lifetime, there have been plenty of instances where its value has dropped dramatically in a very short period.

Bitcoin was worth almost $58,000 apiece at the start of May 2021, but it was worth less than $37,000 by the end of the month. That’s a decline of about 36%.

This volatility is especially apparent when Bitcoin is compared to a more stable asset, like housing. Even following the 2008 housing collapse, which sent the global economy into recession, the Case-Shiller national home price index showed a year-over-year decline of nearly 13%, far less than how much Bitcoin fell in May 2021. Of course, Bitcoin has since rebounded from that decline, but investing in a home is probably a safer — if potentially less lucrative — investment.

Finally, outside of price, a house provides considerably more day-to-day use to its owner than Bitcoin. After all, a person can live in their house even if its monetary value plummets, but the same isn’t true for Bitcoin.

Ultimately, if a homeowner is in a position where they don’t mind taking a significant amount of risk and can find a buyer willing to purchase their home with cryptocurrency, then selling a house for Bitcoin could pay off.

To summarize: Even if it’s technically possible to have sold a median-value home for Bitcoin in 2019 and become a millionaire by 2021 as a result, it’s not very likely. If a person did sell their house for Bitcoin, they probably wouldn’t keep all the Bitcoin they made. Instead, most homeowners would have to use some revenue to pay off their mortgage or find a new place to live. As a result, they may not hold onto enough bitcoins to make them a millionaire as the currency’s value increased. Nonetheless, those who managed to avoid spending most or any of the bitcoins that they got from the sale of their homes would likely be holding assets worth millions of dollars.

Tips for selling your home

Even if you’re not planning on selling it for Bitcoin, selling a home can be a difficult task. Here are a few tips to make the process less stressful:

  • Find a real estate agent you can trust. Especially in today’s hot housing market, a good real estate agent can be an invaluable source for buyers and sellers. Not only can they help you determine what price your home should be sold for, but they can also help you negotiate with — and choose from — multiple prospective buyers.
  • Make sure your home is in good shape before you list it. Even if you don’t want to deal with major renovations that you couldn’t afford without taking out a home equity loan, ensuring that your home is in relatively good condition will help it sell more quickly and for more money. You don’t necessarily need to worry about remodeling your kitchen, but spending a little extra time and money to fix creaky door hinges or paint a peeling wall can make a lot of difference.
  • Don’t rush into things. With home prices as high as they are, some homeowners may feel extra pressure to list their home for sale. However, because selling a house can be both time-consuming and expensive, homeowners shouldn’t rush into putting their home on the market. Instead, it’s important to take things slowly and be sure that selling is the right choice. Even if you could potentially get a great price for your house, the hassle of selling a home when you’re not ready is often not worth it.

Methodology

Home value data used in this study comes from the U.S. Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey (one-year estimates) at the metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, level.

Bitcoin price data comes from CoinDesk. For this study, LendingTree used daily closing prices in 2019 and 2021 (through Oct. 31) to calculate the average price of Bitcoin in 2019 and 2021.

Using those calculated figures in conjunction with Census Bureau data, we were able to determine how much Bitcoin it would take to buy a median-priced home in 2019 and how much that Bitcoin would be worth in U.S. dollars if it had been held until 2021.

 

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