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Business - Written by on Friday, February 6, 2009 12:28 - 2 Comments

Democratizing finance through a virtual exploratory market

Frankly, I’m not 100% sure what to make of this yet, but the founder brought this new virtual financial market to my attention and I found it intriguing enough to share it with our readers.  

According to the founder, amuktrade.com’s principal goal is to facilitate quick speculative asset pricing based on user estimates and equally novel quick cashless trading through exchanging of shares of large, illiquid assets like real estate. So assets that are currently hard to price would be priced (virtually) by leveraging the collective wisdom of the site’s users. Users can then exchange their virtual asset shares by join trading communities where they can hedge risks, diversify their portfolios and share investment rewards.  

What problems might this solve? The founder has turned her attention to real estate. A homeowner, for example, could decide to sell fractional ownership interests (i.e., shares) in their home, allowing them to acquire and/or keep their homes without paying the high cost of full ownership. For someone facing foreclosure, selling a 49% of the ownership interest in her home is surely better than having to sell it or lose it entirely. Selling and buying shares in commercial real estate and vacation properties is already common, so why not personal real estate? Could be handy in a time of crisis, but I could also see how this could potentially accelerate the kind of absurdly risky and opaque behavior that triggered the crisis in the first place.

Love to hear your thoughts on this.


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Anna Mukhopadhyay
Feb 9, 2009 5:16

Thanks Anthony for the mention. It’s an interesting twist of fate that it was your book on mass collaboration using the Web that first made us think that the Web maybe the solution to enable buying and selling homes through shares to dramatically reduce the high cost and burden that homeownership poses.

Just today we’ve written up a new one page description on our main wiki page on how we see this can be made possible. And we’re inviting all to join in researching and exploring the issues and help draw up model proposals and contracts to solve this problem which affect us all.

On a side note, web-based pricing, as you pointed out, has its hazards, and for pricing real estate we’ll need sophisticated tools. But we think it’ll change the way we price many things,– it’ll align our asset prices closer with what we increasingly value more. So maybe a green suburb will be finally priced more than a congested midtown, and one day Vince the street artist’s art may fetch almost as much as Vincent van Gogh’s.

Feb 11, 2009 14:45

As an investor, I’d be very cautious buying 49% of a person’s home that was on the verge of foreclosure. If they had trouble paying the mortgage thus far, it’s not entirely unlikely that they will have trouble in future too. Should the bank ever force the issue, I doubt I’d get anything for my 49% share.

The coolest product for sale would have to be this:

“Made with secret metals and materials, this cellphone looks like a thin piece of shiny metal, completely blank, and can do whatever you want it to do. Used by superheroes and super-villains all over, it works everywhere in the universe at all times.”

Lot’s of fun, still not hugely attractive as an investment.

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