Photo: Courtesy of Decentraland
The real estate sector is bracing for what could be a tough winter: housing markets are cooling across the country, home buyers balk at rising interest rates and dropping sales, and agents are fired or scramble to find other sources of income. Income.
But in the metaverse, where Mark Zuckerberg do a little dance this week as he promised legs to his fellow avatars, a crash more definitely happened. Virtual land prices are down almost 85% since January. Despite huge hype in 2021 surrounding this digital world – where real estate plots are bought and sold with cryptocurrency, and someone recently paid $450,000 to be Snoop Dogg’s “neighbor” – the metaverse is a virtual wasteland that even Meta-employees do not use. (That land next to the replica of Snoop Dogg’s mansion is probably only worth $25,000 right now, per Forbes.)
Jessica Stocker, a 25-year-old (real-world) real estate agent who is also a metaverse consultant and happens to be on the new season of winter house, closely followed (virtually) the fall of the meta-market. Stocker was initially bullish on the metaverse, creating a Zillow-like app called Digiland, but has since returned her efforts to the real world, where she’s flipping houses. “There is no concrete proof yet that any of these metaverses will survive,” she says. We talked about being on a show about hot people; what real estate brokerage even means in the metaverse; and why, for the moment, she does not recommend me to try to build a water park there.
Congratulations on the first. How were you cast winter house?
Jason [a fellow cast member and male model] messaged me on Instagram. It was probably just a pickup line, but it was asking about the metaverse. I work in the metaverse, and he was interested in the crypto space. I had a conference that I was hosting — I had speakers, like this guy who did Justin Bieber’s NFTs — and I was like, ‘Oh, you should come.’ He actually flew for it.
You’re going to have to describe to me, like I’m the dumbest person in the world, what the metaverse is and why there’s real estate for sale there.
I would say it’s another way to advertise your business. Just think of when you are on Instagram or Facebook and there are ads on it. It’s basically like buying digital real estate, isn’t it? You buy advertising space. So real estate in the metaverse is – there’s actually a plot of land, but it’s really just that you either host experiences and charge people or advertise your business in the real world .
So you don’t think this is a place to live?
No, I mean, not yet. I think it will be in the future if we even get to that point. But for now, it’s really just advertising space in a digital world.
When you’re a metaverse realtor, who do you sell land to and who do you sell land to?
I would call myself a consultant. I would find buyers and sellers and connect them. I haven’t marketed anyone’s land or listed it for them because there isn’t really a platform to do that – I was building a platform to do that, like a Zillow for the metaverse, called Digiland. I can’t call myself a broker because there’s no way to do it legally in the metaverse.
So you’re not staging projections of metaverse lands.
No, that’s a really, really good idea. And honestly, that’s what I was trying to do with Digiland. We were going to stage the properties: let’s say we list a piece of land and there’s nothing on it – then we’d have a digital designer come in and stage what it might look like. As, Okay, this could be a three-story mansion hosting concerts for Justin Bieber. It would put ideas in their head of what it might be. My personal opinion is that we’re going to find projection technology that’s as transparent as something like sunglasses or a chip in the head. It won’t be those big, bulky VR headsets.
Is land in the Metaverse sold in square feet?
It’s different in every Metaverse, but in Decentraland, for example, there are 90-by-90-foot packages, and you can buy double or triple packages. And the larger the plot, the more you can build on it. There are rules about this.
You say there’s zoning in the metaverse?
I would say there is zoning, yeah.
Can I build anything I want on my land if it follows the rules? Can I build a water park?
I mean you have to have, like, coding and an engineer who understands how to build things in a virtual world. So it’s hard. Unless it was pre-programmed, you probably wouldn’t be able to do this unless you hired someone.
Do you own land in the Metaverse?
I do not know. I did at one point, but it’s a very, very volatile market, and even when I was consulting, I still made sure everyone understood that it was a lot of projected value. There is no concrete proof yet that any of these metaverses will survive. Like right now, some of the land people have bought from Decentraland is down 70%.
So when you are explaining – or were – the value of metaverse real estate to a potential buyer, what is the value?
Landing in the metaverse will be a big thing. It’s just a matter of which metaverse is going to be big. I don’t think anyone should buy land in a metaverse right now. I think the metaverse that’s going to be here for the long haul hasn’t been created yet. It’s a short-term game, and it’s also a big risk if you want to buy land for a thousand dollars and hope that maybe, you know, it’ll be worth a hundred thousand or something. But as far as a long-term game goes, it’s like betting on a social media company in the very early 2000s. There’s no metaverse that’s going to be worth anything in, say, 40 or 50 years, but there will be another Facebook that will come out of the metaverse and bring everyone to its platform.
But it seems a lot of people were selling the Metaverse as a sure thing — Facebook changed its entire name.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of money to be made when things are really popular. The people who sell you the dream are money grabbers. There were a lot of people promoting NFTs and real estate in the metaverse because they benefited from it; that they own these NFTs and if they promote it, their value increases or because they have purchased land, they want to promote it so that other people will like it more so that their value increases. It’s a weird time because there’s so much hype and a lot of manipulation.
Are you still consulting in the metaverse?
I’m really focused on real-world real estate. I wanted to be portrayed as queen of the metaverse because of my application, and I still want that to be a thing, but I turned to real estate because there’s a lot more opportunity, since the market is also fixes, buying a bunch of distressed properties. We made a lot of money flipping them. So that’s where I spend a lot of time right now.
Have you ever had a metaverse experience, and what was it like?
There was this gig that Paris Hilton did; his avatar did a DJ set in the Metaverse on New Years Day. I signed up because I wanted to see what it was like. Basically there is no 3D format. You stare at your computer screen, there are a lot of problems, and you just type at people. You can hear them if they have their microphones plugged in. But it’s really just… people have, like, the words over their heads. It’s like The Sims.