Can Blockchain Solve The Affordable Housing Crisis? Exclusive Interview With TRL CEO Adrian Gaffor

21 May 2024

The dream of homeownership is fading for many. A global housing crisis is making it a struggle for millions to find affordable places to live. The burden is heavy, with people across the world forced to spend a crippling amount of their income just for rent. In the United States alone, Barron's estimates a staggering 11 million people are spending over half their income to keep a roof over their heads.

There is a reason why this is called a global housing crunch: UN Habitat estimates we need to build an incredible 96,000 new affordable homes every single day to house the 3 billion people who will need proper housing by 2030.

Solving the global housing crisis also requires innovative solutions such as blockchain technology. In this interview, Adrian Gaffor, the CEO and founder of The Real Lifestyle Company(TRL)shared valuable insights into the role of blockchain technology in the search for a lasting solution to the global housing problem.

Mr. Gaffor, can you briefly tell us about yourself and your route to web3?

Sure! I Co-founded and currently hold an active role as the Board Member and Group Chief Executive Officer at Esports Business Network (EBN), one of the leading esports marketing groups in Asia. Our focus over the years was to develop the esports industry by bringing brands into the World of gaming and esports across multiple regions to enable brands and communities to thrive through our ecosystem.

We have activated across 19 markets with the most recent expansions being in the Middle East and Africa, and worked with over 60+ brands, publishers and developers throughout our ecosystem including; Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Valve, Riot Games and Tencent Games to name a few.

We started working with web3 brands in early 2020 which sparked a new area of interest for me personally. With successful case studies built for our clients in the web3 gaming and esports space, this developed into a passion of discovery where I sought to find the segment of the industry that excited me the most, and finally landed on the Real World Asset (RWA) space.

Creating businesses and frameworks that not only solve problems in the world today but are defining in creating the future is something of a passion, and that’s basically our starting point. We started with a simple question: “how do we enable people to live borderless, live seamlessly and live accessible across the globe?”.

According to the World Bank, 1.6 billion people will be affected by the global housing shortage by 2025. How worse can it get?

The forecast you have credited to the World Bank highlights a critical and escalating issue staring us in the face. As urban populations grow, the strain on housing increases, leading to not just higher costs but also to compromised living conditions and this is present in most countries around the world.

If this problem is not adequately addressed, this housing shortage could drastically increase urban slums, elevate homelessness rates, and widen the gap in socio-economic conditions globally. Adequate measures must be taken by the United Nations and all stakeholders to prevent it. We came onboard because we are deeply concerned about these developments and are dedicated to innovating real solutions that make housing more accessible and affordable across the globe.

What does democratizing access to the global housing markets entail?

In the real sense, democratizing access to global housing markets simply means enabling people from all walks of life to participate in and benefit from real estate opportunities—regardless of their geographic or economic constraints. This largely involves lowering entry barriers through innovative financing models and leveraging technology such as blockchain to simplify and secure transactions, thus opening up the global real estate market to investors and homeowners who were previously sidelined or shut out by the status quo.

How do you explain the accessibility and affordability of homeownership?

Accessibility simply means removing traditional hurdles such as hefty down payments and strict mortgage requirements. We focus on affordability so that homeownership costs remain within the economic reach of people across various income levels. I strongly believe that these can be achieved through fractional ownership and rent-to-own models(which has practical demonstrations on the blockchain), enabling customers to gradually invest in or own homes in a financially manageable way, aligning with their budget and lifestyle needs.

Can you take us through the founding of The Real Lifestyle Company(TRL)?

The Real Lifestyle (TRL) was born from a vision to transform the traditional real estate landscape. Recognizing the significant barriers that prevent many from entering the housing market, we sought to create solutions that not only simplify the investment and ownership process but also make it inclusive. It is our cardinal philosophy that the challenge of securing affordable housing undermines the foundational needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy. Essential needs like shelter should be easily within everyone’s reach, yet today’s youth are confronted with a grim reality.

By harnessing blockchain technology, we have developed platforms that offer flexible, transparent, and efficient pathways to property investment and ownership, with the sole purpose of making real estate accessible to a broader, more diverse audience across the world.

How do you leverage blockchain technology as a RWA company?

The use of blockchain technology is pivotal in our approach to handling the tokenization of real world assets to the maximum advantage of the investors. It basically empowers us to tokenize properties, breaking down the value into digital shares that can be easily and transparently traded on-chain and in real time.

This technology enhances the flow of more liquidity into the market and lowers the barriers to entry for real estate investments, creating opportunities for millions of people across the world. Furthermore, blockchain's inherent security and transparency instill greater confidence among investors, ensuring that every transaction is recorded immutably. We set out to build an ecosystem that fluidly integrates the tangibility of the real world with blockchain technology.

What are the some of the home affordability problems that must be addressed?

The prohibitive costs associated with entering the housing market, the rigidity of traditional homeownership, and the geographical limitations tied to property investments are some of the affordable housing challenges that we believe must be tackled once and for all.

By introducing models like fractional ownership and home subscription services, we seek to create solutions that lower financial entry points, provide flexibility in living arrangements, and present opportunities for global property investments, thereby enabling a lifestyle unbound by traditional constraints. Our belief is that choice equals freedom. By giving people the freedom to make choices that best align with their life’s vision, we’re enabling them to live their best lives.

Is there any success story you would like to share with our readers?

Instead of a story, I will share a mindset that has helped me throughout my journey; “you must know what rock bottom feels like to understand how to build a solid foundation for yourself”.

What does it take to run  a digital asset company?

There is really nothing magical about it. My modus operandi is simple. I call this the TRL octagon of strength because they are eight in number, what it takes to run a digital asset company is": clear vision, great people, value driven ecosystem, dynamic partners, secure technology, robust legal framework, diversified revenue model, and evolving investment strategy.

Any parting words?

It’s time to Live For Real. The future that we envision is one where assets like Real Estate should be transacted seamlessly, transparently, without borders, enabling the lifestyle of the future. Watch this space!

You can also read my previous HackerNoon articles on how blockchain is a viable tool to combat global affordable housing crisis: