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How much does virtual real estate cost in the metaverse?

With a single parcel of land in Decentraland costing $19,500, just how does metaverse real estate compare to real-world property?

With growing concerns over property affordability, Facebook's rebranding to virtual social network Meta, and low savings rates, more people are looking to new forms of investment.

Amid the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) like digital artwork, metaverse property ownership is booming. In 2021 real estate sales across the top 4 metaverse platforms – The Sandbox, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels and Somnium Space – reached US$501 million, according to MetaMetric Solutions.

At this pace, sales are expected to reach US$1 billion in 2022.

Key metaverse real estate statistics

  • Metaverse property prices rose by 700% in 2021 alone.
  • The market is expected to grow at a rate of 31% per year between 2022 and 2028, according to a report by BrandEssence Market Research.
  • There are a total of 268,645 parcels of land across the top 4 metaverse platforms – The Sandbox, Decentraland, Cryptovoxels and Somnium Space.
  • The average parcel of land in Decentraland costs AUD$19,494, equivalent to AUD$76 per square metre.
  • The most expensive virtual property sold for US$2.4 million in November 2021 in Decentraland, equivalent to AUD$3.3 million.
  • The value of all metaverse real estate is owned by just 24,598 people.

How much does property cost in the metaverse?

Virtual real estate prices are growing fast. Metaverse property prices rose by an incredible 700% in 2021 according to Forbes.

Land in the metaverse doesn't come cheap. In Decentraland, the average parcel of land costs AUD$19,494, equivalent to AUD$76 per square metre.

Somnium Space is the most expensive metaverse per square metre. 1 parcel of land costs AUD$18,417, or AUD$92 per square metre.

The Sandbox, despite being the largest metaverse for virtual real estate, has the cheapest floor price per square metre at just AUD$1. This is in part because a parcel in The Sandbox is 36 times larger than a parcel in Decentraland.

How does the metaverse compare to real-world property prices?

For now, land in the metaverse is much cheaper than a home in one of Australia's capital cities. In Sydney, a $1 million property would get you approximately 163 square metres. For the same cost, you could buy 13,200 square metres in Decentraland or an incredible 740,700 square metres in The Sandbox.

Similar to the real world, metaverse users can even take out a mortgage on their virtual land. North America-based company TerraZero provides virtual mortgages that resemble traditional home loans. Buyers agree to an interest-based loan that they pay off in instalments until they own 100% of their land. So far, it's mostly brands that are taking on virtual housing debt to run digital storefronts or host marketing events, but it's certainly the beginning of a new economy.

What are the most expensive metaverse property sales of all time?

The most expensive plot of virtual land sold for 618,000 MANA – the cryptocurrency used in Decentraland – in November 2021 in Decentraland. That's equivalent to US$2.4 million at the time of sale, or AUD$3.3 million using today's exchange rate. The estate is located on Fashion Street, one of the most expensive and luxurious regions of this metaverse.

In second place, a rare Genesis Plot sold for 550 ETH in November 2021 in Axie Infinity, or AUD$3.2 million.

Of the 10 most expensive land sales in metaverse history, 9 were in Decentraland. All top 10 sales were made recently, between 2021 and 2022.

Top 10 most expensive virtual properties by metaverse

What are the top metaverses for virtual real estate?

The Sandbox is the largest platform when it comes to virtual real estate, with US$460 million in sales volume in 2021. While The Sandbox accounts for only 62% of all land in the top 4 metaverses, its land sales accounted for 74% of all sales volume in 2021.

Decentraland ranks in second place, with US$112 million in sales volume. But Decentraland isn't small by any accounts; according to Republic Realm it has a market capitalisation of US$6.5 billion and more than 800,000 registered accounts.

Cryptovoxels comes in third place with US$33 million, followed by Somnium Space with US$14 million.

Why are most Australians not interested in buying land in the metaverse?

Globally only 24,598 people own land in the metaverse, but this number is growing fast. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of unique owners across the big four metaverses increased by 1,132%.

Finder conducted a nationally representative survey in May 2022 to find out why most Australians would not consider buying land in the metaverse.

Among those who say they would not consider buying virtual land, nearly half (46%) admit it's because they don't know what the metaverse is. One quarter (25%) say they wouldn't know how, and 24% say they would rather buy property in the real world. Other reasons include believing virtual land is too risky of an investment (22%), preferring to keep their money in savings (20%) and not knowing what to do with a plot of metaverse land (16%).

Women (50%) are more likely than men (40%) to say the reason they wouldn't invest is because they don't know what the metaverse is. Men on the other hand are more likely to say it's because they would rather buy shares or property, or that they think it's overpriced.

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