RALEIGH, N.C. — Technology is evolving seemingly every second.


What You Need To Know

Non-fungible tokens are becoming more mainstream

A Raleigh entrepreneur is estimating an NFT picture of his house could be worth over $5 million

In March, a digital art NFT sold for nearly $70 million


Non-fungible tokens are spreading like wildfire, and they’re changing the way we shop online. NFTs are unique digital pieces that encompass anything from videos to images.

A picture or piece of video can be immortalized on a blockchain, so that it becomes permanent. Blockchain is a collection of information stored electronically and distributed among multiple servers.

Once the image or other digital piece of media is minted on the blockchain, it becomes an NFT, and then it can be sold or traded on various platforms on the internet that are connected to the blockchain.

So what does this have to do with real estate?  

The answer is not much, at least for now.

But a Raleigh homeowner and entrepreneuris trying to change that in a big way.

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Atop a steep hill and surrounded by large trees, sits a home straight from J. R. R. Tolkien's "Middle Earth."

“This is a fully functional round hobbit door here as we call it," Zachary Milburn said.

It's a piece of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" in Southwest Raleigh.

“This is a Middle Earth map we thought would be cool to put downstairs in the hobbit room," Milburn said.

Milburn built this one-of-a-kind home in 2019.

“I was surprised we were able to pull this off. It was not easy. I almost lost my mind," Milburn said.

The entrepreneur says his home is worth nearly $5.5 million. But not just because of its nostalgic and peaceful essence.

It's worth that much, says Milburn, because of a photo of the house he took with his iPhone.

“I posted it on Zillow, [and] forgot about it. Sort of a joke. Calls started coming in, a lot of realtors. A lot them interested, news outlets," Milburn said.

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But why is Millburn estimating a simple picture, or NFT, of his home is worth millions of dollars?

“The idea was, hey, maybe there's a one-in-a-thousand chance that one of these .. art collectors will say, 'hey, I'll consider this art 'cause its pretty subjective,'" Milburn said.

Millburn says art is among the most popular type of NFT.

In March, a piece of digital art sold for nearly $70 million.

Millburn thought if people are spending that kind of money on art NFTs, they might do the same for a picture of his house.

"Why would anyone pay that amount? I don't know, but I also don't know why people pay tens of million dollars on contemporary art pieces, so again it's sort of on the eye of the beholder," Milburn said.

Here’s what Miburn is doing: After snapping the picture of his house and connecting to a website called OpenSea, a marketplace for NFTs, he uploaded the photo, then filed and posted it before paying a small minting fee.

That officially made his picture an NFT.

The picture became unique and irreplaceable.

“If someone decides to call this a piece of art, and they agree with me, then it's worth whatever they agree with me," Milburn said.

A true tale from Middle Earth to the metaverse.

“Crypto and the blockchain economy is really moving on the metaverse, and it's making it a very serious intense powerful company," Milburn said.

Millburn said he hasn’t heard many examples of homes being sold with NFTs included.

“I think soon everyone will be doing it. It's a unique house. It's one of the earlier NFT homes. It's worth a shot,” he said.

The sports world is also cashing in on NFTs.

There’s a website called NBA Top Shot where you can purchase NFT NBA highlights.

According to dapperlabs.com, an NFT company, these types of NFTs have generated over $700 million. 

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story called Zachary Milburn an architect. Milburn is not a licensed architect, but is a self-taught designer and entrepreneur, who works with an engineer to complete his designs.