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Condos located in the Manayunk region of Philadelphia are now accepting Bitcoin as payment for purchase. | Courtesy of BTC Keychain/flickr

For the first time in Philadelphia, a real estate agency is accepting Bitcoin as payment for the purchase of condos.

The units are a part of a complex located in the Manayunk region of Philadelphia and are being sold by realtor Susanna Kunkel. Although this is the first example of real estate being offered for Bitcoin in the city, it is not an entirely new concept. 

“There have been some real estate purchases in other cities ... but it hasn’t been widely talked about or offered in Philadelphia,” Kunkel said. She mentioned that several retailers in the city have begun accepting Bitcoin as payment, but she wants to start a conversation about buying and selling real estate for the virtual currency, particularly among those in the technology community.

“It’s something that’s, within the technology community, accepted and used as a means of currency,” Kunkel said. However, even with Philadelphia growing as a center of technology startups, this is the first instance of real estate being offered for Bitcoin. Kunkel hopes to draw the attention of startup owners and other people who may possess some level of wealth in Bitcoin. As a realtor, she considers herself to be a “matchmaker,” and she sees these condos as the perfect layout for startup owners, due to their open floor plans and outdoor spaces.

“[The complex] is a converted social hall,” Kunkel said. “So it has some of the same feeling that you find nurtures creativity: open space, sunlight, unusual architecture — and oversized parking, which you can’t find in Old City.”

Currently, Philadelphia’s startup community tends to center around Old City, but Kunkel hopes to draw clients away from that region and into Manayunk.

“These condos, in my mind, I visualize as a really great option — an alternative option — for technology startup owners who may be renting space in Old City,” Kunkel said, regarding the “growing usage of shared office space for startups.”

“The master suites are set up so that the second floor could be all home office — for one person or for ten, and it has a similar vibe to Old City,” she added.

Bitcoin being such a new currency, however, does add complications to the process of accepting it as a method of payment.

“The exchange rate — Bitcoin to dollar fluctuates wildly,” Kunkel said. “You get positive and negative comments online about Bitcoin.”

Because of this fluctuation in the exchange rate, the Bitcoin price of the condos has to be monitored and edited daily. This added complication does not discourage Kunkel, though. She is nevertheless excited to start a dialogue about the usage of Bitcoin in real estate, and to be one of the Bitcoin pioneers in Philadelphia.

“The reality is: it’s here, it is currency and it can work,” she said.

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