A $7.77 million luxury chateau dubbed Reflection Manor, currently listed for sale on the coveted Miami Shores, is gorgeous. With six bedrooms and six-and-a-half baths, it clocks in at 6,000 square feet, and is situated on a 12,975 square foot lot; it boasts a game room, wellness wing, covered terrace, and more.
But those features, while lovely, aren't what set it apart, at least not in a town like Miami. Instead, what's been drawing headlines is that it comes with a digital replica attached to an NFT — albeit in a metaverse called Alpha City, which hasn't actually launched yet. Still, the people trying to sell the mansion insist, it's going to be worth a fortune.
"It's not only a $7 million house, but I mean, you bought virtual real estate," said Jorge Guinovart, a real estate developer and crypto entrepreneur behind the project. "Two to three years from now, when alpha is fully open... you have virtual property that could be worth one million, two million dollars as well."
Sure, anything's possible. But selling a digital house in a digital world that doesn't exist yet — well, you'd be forgiven for getting a certain type of magic bean vibes.
In the event that the magic beans really do deliver, though, the pitch is expansive. Alpha City says it'll offer shopping, events, and dating; you'll be able to start a small business, host your own event, or do some virtual consultations. Of course, there'll be a lot of billboards, but how different is that from Web2, let alone the real world?
That's what both Guinovart and the property's realtor, South Florida-based Juliet Silver, believe that Reflection Manor and its digital twin embody. Unlike gaming-focused metaverses that already exist, like Fortnite, they’ve chosen a Zuckerbergian approach — albeit with a luxe Miami flair — to the future of the internet: realism. They want Alpha City to feel like an elevated extension of the real world, a digital environment that blends effortlessly into real life.
"This is really much more of a seamless connection between the real world and the virtual world," said Silver. "And the aesthetics are really not gaming, or... hero avatar based. They're really based on the aesthetics of, you know, a beautiful modern city."
It's important to note that neither virtual houses nor virtual real estate are anything new. Virtual property has been bought and sold for years, while the Gen Z-beloved Roblox kicks absolute ass at the virtual housing game.
But where Reflection Manor does differ from those projects is that you do actually get a real, tangible house. As such, it's one part promise, one part bet, and one part sweetener. Instead of hinging the worth of a digital asset on sheer hype alone, the folks behind this project have attached it to one of the safest investment bets in history: real estate.
To that point, though, the state of the real-world housing market does raise the frustrating specter of a virtual world as inaccessible as the physical one. If you have to be able to afford a multimillion dollar mansion to get your hands on any worthwhile chunk of metaverse land, it's hard to envision much room in the digital world for upward economic mobility. But, well, if the goal is realism, sounds like Alpha City's gonna nail it.
Housing market aside, it's been a rough and tumble summer for the blockchain, and the "crypto winter" has shaken the faith of crypto-optimists and crypto-pessimists alike. But Guinovart, a believer through and through, insists that a down market only makes this a better time to buy.
"The worst time to buy is when OpenSea just broke the record for the most volume... there's gonna be a bubble," he said. "Smart people are actually buying now, and buying... identities and virtual properties that are a fraction of the price than they were a year ago."
Is Reflection Manor a sign of things to come? What will it end up selling for, and if Alpha City ever launches, will its future owners actually hang out there? Only time will tell. Still, it's intriguing to see a blockchain project that's grounded — literally — in reality.
"I think a lot of time and thought has gone into how can we bring extra value to the buyer," Silver concluded. "I think this is a pretty rare piece of inventory."
More on virtual real estate: Man Uses Life Savings to Buy Nonexistent Metaverse Land