For Parts I, II, and III, click here, here, and here.

As explained in the prior three posts on this topic, blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we buy, sell, and develop property in Pennsylvania. By leveraging the benefits of blockchain technology, we can simplify and streamline those processes while making them more transparent. It can save time, money, and resources – benefitting property owners, municipal governing bodies, developers, and other stakeholders.

We discussed several ways that the blockchain and smart contracts can benefit our industry. For example: Smart contracts can automate pieces of the sales process, the process of obtaining permits and approvals, the release of plans, and the depositing and release of financial security, among other processes. By recording documents on a blockchain, we make them more accessible and accurate. By creating a shared database of information on the blockchain, we can reduce duplication among agencies and departments and reduce errors. This automatic and tamper-proof approach creates a clean record of transactions, reduces costs, and saves time.

It is important to note that while blockchain technology has great potential, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. One of the main challenges is the need for education and awareness among all stakeholders involved in the real estate sales and development processes. Use in the real estate transaction process is less foreign given DocuSign and similar technologies, but smart contracts and the blockchain are more foreign in the development world. There will also be legal and regulatory challenges that need to be addressed as the technology is implemented. Certainly, automation eliminates particular tasks from some job descriptions and might eliminate entire departments or offices.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of blockchain technology in real estate sales and development in Pennsylvania are clear. As the technology continues to evolve and become more widely adopted, it is likely that we will see significant changes in the way we buy, sell, and develop property. By staying informed and proactive, stakeholders can position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities presented by blockchain technology in real estate sales and development. Like computers, the world wide web, email, and digital signatures before it, blockchain technology will change the way we do business. We should all consider familiarizing ourselves with it.

However, smart contracts and the blockchain are limited to some extent in their utility. Something I alluded to in a prior post could have a much greater long-term impact on our industry. In fact, 70% of the written words in these last four blog posts were not chosen by my or anyone else’s natural intelligence. But that will be a discussion for (of?) the future.

If you have any questions about this post or any other land use questions, please contact one of the members of the McNees Wallace and Nurick Land Use Group for assistance.