Inside Parcl: Trade Real Estate Like Never Before?

9 min readApr 25, 2024

Parcl, a pioneering Solana-based platform, aims to revolutionize the real estate market by introducing liquidity to this traditionally illiquid asset class. It created a comprehensive real estate index with a marketplace that facilitates browsing of global real estate indices and cross-margin perpetual contract trading. Having raised $11.6 million through two financing rounds, Parcl demonstrates a significant interest from investors. In a conversation with co-founder Kellan Grenier, we explore the platform’s technical framework, its approach to overcoming real estate challenges, and its strategy for future token issuance, offering insights into both the innovative potential and the complexities of modernizing real estate transactions with blockchain technology.

The views expressed by the interviewee are personal opinions and do not represent the views of WuBlockchain or constitute any financial advice. Readers are advised to strictly comply with local laws and regulations.

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A brief intro to Parcl

I’m Kellan, and along with my two co-founders, we established Parcl DevCo around two and a half years ago. Our primary aim is to innovate in the real estate sector, focusing initially on residential properties. We’re dedicated to building a modern data analytics layer for real estate and facilitating a liquid market for gaining exposure to this asset class. Specifically, we’re targeting the prices in major metropolitan cities, with plans to eventually expand into neighborhoods and country living, all while leveraging blockchain technology.

As a unique real estate index tracking major cities with daily updates, what’s the moat of Parcl?

The essence of Parcl revolves around the residential real estate price feed developed by Parcl Labs, which serves as our real estate data analytics division. We’ve built a contemporary technology stack dedicated to ingesting all publicly available data pertinent to residential real estate transactions and price alterations. This data is meticulously indexed, not just at the property level but extending to cities and metro areas, allowing for a comprehensive analysis down to the square foot.

The development of this price feed necessitated over a year of rigorous research, data integration, and model optimization. This endeavor has enabled us to capture daily real estate activities — including sales, price adjustments, and agreements — to provide a real-time median price per square foot. Initially focused on North America, our scope has expanded to include the United Kingdom and will soon embrace Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and Australia, aiming to index global real estate.

This technological advancement facilitates Parcl in creating a market around these real-time prices, enabling a genuine long-short market with immediate liquidity. This combination of a real-time price feed and a decentralized application marks a novel approach in the real estate sector, distinct from traditional financial systems plagued by scalability issues or outdated technology.

Contrasting with benchmarks like the Case-Shiller index, Parcl Labs’ price feeds offer a more comprehensive capture of market activity. Case-Shiller, for instance, focuses narrowly on the repeat sales of single-family homes, omitting a significant portion of the market like condos and multifamily homes. Parcl Labs, in contrast, encompasses a broader spectrum of real estate transactions, providing a more accurate and encompassing view of market dynamics.

Our methodology inherently adjusts for outliers, zooming in on median prices per square foot as the most representative metric for real estate valuation. This flexibility allows for detailed analysis, from nationwide trends down to specific neighborhoods, offering unparalleled utility for those interested in real estate data or seeking exposure to these markets through Parcl’s trading platform. This innovative approach and the modern technology backing it are what set Parcl apart, providing a unique and valuable tool for the real estate market.

Is it Possible for Oracle to Manipulate Prices?

In the context of crypto, the term “oracle” often brings to mind concerns about price manipulation. Addressing these concerns, especially given the vast number of properties we’re dealing with and the extensive historical data for millions of houses, the notion of manipulating prices for purposes such as liquidation seems nearly impossible. While hardly anything is entirely out of the realm of possibility, orchestrating manipulation on this platform would be exceptionally challenging. To significantly impact the oracle and manipulate the market, one would likely need to secure billions of dollars in capital to buy and sell homes or properties. This requirement scales dramatically with the area of interest; for example, affecting the entire New York City market could demand tens of billions of dollars.

Moreover, the real estate transaction process introduces a significant time component, often taking weeks or months to close, accompanied by substantial legal procedures and transaction costs. This complexity and the slow nature of real estate transactions inherently deter manipulation attempts, rendering any potential incentive moot.

The inherent characteristics of real estate — its substantial size, slow transaction pace, and illiquidity — while challenging, also present an opportunity. By leveraging a robust data feed, we can create a liquid market around an otherwise illiquid asset class. However, these same characteristics make it difficult to manipulate the market on the spot, helping ensure a seamless oracle validation process and establishing a trusted data source and market.

As development progresses, we closely consider potential security vulnerabilities, implementing mechanisms to minimize the risk. Over time, the principle of progressive decentralization seems most sensible. Although a degree of centralization may be beneficial in the early stages for many applications, moving towards decentralization as the platform scales and achieves redundancy, especially concerning the price feed, enhances the efficiency and security for everyone involved in the network. This approach outlines our forward path in addressing concerns around price feed and oracle manipulation.

Why do you want to make it a crypto product?

It’s a great question. My journey into making it a crypto product began when myself and a co-founder, while working at a hedge fund during the Covid pandemic, observed significant asset volatility and structural shifts, particularly in the work from home paradigm. This shift altered the traditional relationship between where people lived and worked, sparking our interest in leveraging the financial markets to express our views on these changes. We were intrigued by the idea of making trades based on these observations, like going long on Miami while shorting New York, or exploring similar trades between cities such as Austin and San Francisco, or even Lisbon and London. Our goal was to execute these trades in a liquid market that allowed for swift entry and exit with minimal transaction costs and friction, along with the global availability of capital.

However, we quickly realized the traditional financial system lacked the infrastructure to facilitate such trades, especially when considering the short side of these transactions. This realization led us to the blockchain, particularly DeFi and Solana, which provided the technical infrastructure necessary for such novel use cases. DeFi was just entering its significant growth phase, and Solana offered the speed, global capital availability, and low transaction costs we desired, despite initial concerns about network centralization and reliability.

The evolution of our product towards a perpetual decentralized exchange, or perps, underwent several iterations before arriving at the current version, v3, which represents a true perpetual decentralized exchange. This progression from a collateralized position model to a more sophisticated virtual AMM, and finally to the current state, was guided by our desire to create a product that could serve both retail and institutional traders, unlock liquidity, and provide real-world utility for a range of use cases, from hedging primary residences to managing risk in large construction projects.

In conclusion, the decision to make it a crypto product was driven by the unique capabilities of blockchain technology, particularly Solana, to fulfill our vision of a liquid, efficient, and accessible market for trading real-world asset volatility. This has not only allowed us to approach financial markets in innovative ways but also to address foundational problems and create a tool that effectively manages risk, demonstrating the inevitable superiority of perpetual financial instruments for these purposes.

How far away is Parcl to “real” users?

Addressing the potential of Parcl to solve real-life problems and thereby attract long-term users involves a multifaceted approach. While the vision for Parcl as a tool that seamlessly integrates into daily lives and offers substantial real-world applications is ambitious, it’s also grounded in practical utility, such as synthetic insurance for properties near floodlines. This is just one example of how Parcl could be used to mitigate specific risks, underscoring the platform’s versatility beyond traditional financial transactions.

The journey towards this “utopia” where Parcl becomes an integral part of everyday financial strategies is, admittedly, filled with challenges ranging from market liquidity and scale to regulatory frameworks. Institutional use cases, for example, demand large market scales to minimize the cost of hedging or risk optimization strategies, highlighting the need for a mature market. Regulatory clarity and adjustments are also crucial to ensure that these innovative financial products can be safely and legally utilized.

I remain optimistic about overcoming these hurdles. A key factor in attracting long-term users will be raising awareness about the platform’s capabilities and ensuring the efficiency of the market. Specifically, the cost of capital, expressed through funding rates for perpetual contracts, needs to be predictable and stable, especially for those looking to use Parcl for long-term strategies like insuring a property or hedging against market movements in one’s primary residence.

As the market for Parcl grows and becomes more efficient, I anticipate the emergence of numerous real-world use cases. This, in turn, will create a vibrant ecosystem where strategies tied to these use cases can thrive. Achieving a market characterized by efficient capital deployment and a wide range of use cases will not only benefit individual users but also contribute to the broader acceptance and success of Parcl. This vision hinges on our ability to navigate the current complexities, including regulatory landscapes and market dynamics, to ultimately unlock a future where Parcl serves as a vital tool for both retail and institutional participants, addressing real-life needs with innovative financial solutions.

Are there plans to leverage Parcl’s price feeds for developing new products beyond perpetual?

Certainly, the roadmap for Parcl involves a broad spectrum of products beyond just perpetual contracts. Initially, the focus will extend to encompassing various real estate-related price feeds, such as those for rental prices and commercial real estate values. We’ve also been exploring, with significant community input, the addition of foreign exchange price feeds. This would be a strategic move to facilitate access to global markets, so there’s quite a bit to look forward to in that domain.

Looking further ahead, I envision the cultivation of a developer ecosystem that leverages Parcl’s foundational liquidity layer for real estate exposure. This opens up a world of possibilities for innovation, including specialized protocols that offer synthetic insurance solutions or the creation of indexes for real estate, similar in concept to ETFs but tailored for the real estate sector. For example, an index might provide exposure to the top twenty “blue-chip” cities worldwide, offering a unique investment opportunity in the real estate market.

The strategy unfolds along two primary paths: introducing new real estate price feeds to be productized and integrated into the perpetual exchange, and fostering an ecosystem where developers can build on top of Parcl’s liquidity layer. This dual approach aims to unlock new strategies and solutions, significantly expanding Parcl’s utility and application in the market. Through these developments, Parcl intends to remain at the forefront of innovation in real estate financial products, providing valuable tools and opportunities for both investors and developers in this evolving landscape.

How will the Parcl token benefit holders and users?

The Parcl token, an independent issue within our network, is poised to underpin the Parcl ecosystem and drive its progressive decentralization. As a governance token, its primary function will be to oversee exchange parameters and the integration of new markets and assets, such as rental price feeds, into the platform. Our community’s involvement in governance has already proven its value, with over 2,500 members participating in a vote to determine the direction of our product offerings. This high level of engagement illustrates the critical role that governance will play in our ecosystem, ensuring that we develop and introduce products that our users genuinely want and need, without introducing unnecessary risk.

Beyond governance, the Parcl token will unlock access to Parcl’s real estate API, offering unique real estate insights and data in real time. This feature, which I believe could become one of the most valuable aspects of the Parcl ecosystem, will allow token holders to interact with our API in innovative ways, including through a ChatGPT plugin. This functionality opens up numerous possibilities for both individuals and institutions to gain insights and make informed decisions based on real-time data.

Lastly, the token will play a crucial role in ongoing network incentives, transitioning into a perpetual points program. This system will reward participants based on their contribution to the ecosystem, tracked via a leaderboard. The network token thereby not only enhances governance and access to exclusive features but also fosters a virtuous cycle of participation and reward within the Parcl community.

As we anticipate the token’s launch in the coming weeks, the excitement within the community is palpable. We’re on the brink of a significant milestone that will enrich the Parcl experience, offering governance power, exclusive data access, and incentives for active participation. This holistic approach underscores our belief in the transformative potential of crypto when applied to real-world applications, setting a promising horizon for the Parcl ecosystem and its members.

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Colin Wu, Chinese journalist, won 2013 China News Award