We recently realized that the home buying process is confusing, expensive and not secure. We found it difficult to understand why the process of purchasing a home required up to 9% of the value of a home and dozens of hours spent understanding contracts. We chose to start by improving the escrow process. The escrow provider holds an initial deposit, and later the full cost of the home, while contracts are processed and the transaction is completed. Escrow is currently expensive and inconvenient, so we plan to build a better escrow service using smart contracts on a private blockchain.

What it does

As I’m sure you’ve heard, blockchain is a technology that allows for trustless transactions without a 3rd party intermediary. Thus, we built escrow services as a smart contract on blockchain’s cryptographically secure ledger. We built a private blockchain and created an escrow service that has a trivial operating cost.

How we built it

We build an end-to end prototype of our smart contract escrow solution. We built it out using the IBM Hyperledger Composer to create the private blockchain, and we’re hosting our backend on the IBM Cloud. We also created a REST API to access the blockchain and built out a frontend website using Javascript and HTML.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

We’re really happy to have been able to build out a full stack solution. We initially planned to only build the blockchain, but we ended up having the time to build out the frontend and the API. It’s exciting to have a full prototype.

What I learned

We had never used a blockchain before, we so learned a lot very quickly about blockchains and building contracts on them.

What's next for Smart Escrow Solutions

From here, we plan to speak with VCs and real estate agents to ensure there is a market for what we are building and so we can iterate and build a more focused product. Once we have a fully functional, secure product working, we plan to launch a beta with local real estate agents. Once we’ve built out a few more features and have high confidence in our product functionality, regulatory compliance and security, we would launch more broadly to the Bay Area and then continue to grow from there.

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