Last Updated on January 11, 2022 by Mark Ferguson
I have been a real estate investor in the real world for many years. I own residential single-family houses, multifamily apartments, and even commercial properties. I am also a real estate broker, house flipper, and YouTuber so when I heard about virtual real estate I was intrigued but also skeptical at the same time. I love real estate and I had to research what the Metaverse was all about and if it really made sense to buy virtual real estate. I research quite a few of the worlds inside the Metaverse and decided to buy in Upland, a virtual world based on the real world. I can buy virtual lots that are the same size as those lots in real life. If I had to describe it quickly, I would say it is a lot like a modern-day Monopoly.
How to get free UPX before you start playing Upland!
Before I get started on this discussion and before you start playing Upland, if you have not already, make sure you use a referral code to sign up! I made this mistake and I missed out on free UPX to help me get started. I have a referral code you can use or if you know a friend who plays you can use their code. When you sign up with a referral code you get a 50% bonus on your first purchase of UPX (the Upland currency). Whoever refers you also gets a 50% bonus. This can save you quite a bit of money! Here is my referral link if you want to help me and yourself at the same time: https://r.upland.me/yioh
What is the Metaverse?
Most people do not know what the metaverse is and it took me a bit to wrap my head around it. Don’t feel bad if all of this seems foreign or crazy to you! Basically, the metaverse is a solar system of the virtual real estate world and there are many unique worlds within that solar system. Upland is one of those worlds as is Sandbox, Decentraland, and many more. These worlds all mostly work independently of each other and are unique in the way they are set up, run, any currencies they use, etc. It is like you have a computer that can play games or programs which would be the metaverse and each virtual world is a separate game with its own rules.
Decntraland has been the most popularized land in the metaverse because of some massive sales recently. There was a plot of land that recently sold for $2,400,000 in Decentraland! Yes, a virtual piece of real estate sold for multiple millions of dollars. Why would anyone pay that much for virtual real estate? Well, while there can be multiple worlds in the metaverse there is a limited amount of land in Decentraland. Prices have been increasing steadily as well as Mana, which is the cryptocurrency used in Decentraland. When Facebook recently announced their name change to Meta, it sent Metaverse coins soaring and brought a ton of attention to the virtual real estate world. Facebook has said they plan to invest $10 billion into the metaverse. Where they invest that money we do not know yet.
If this all seems too crazy for you, you can learn more about investing in real estate in the real world here.
How expensive are plots of land in the Metaverse?
Land can be very expensive in the different worlds or extremely cheap in other worlds. The cheapest plot of land I could see after a little research into Decentraland was about $15,000. On the other hand, worlds like Upland have much more affordable land. I bought my first property there for about $7,000 UPX (the Upland currency) which equates to $7. I have seen other worlds charge $250 for plots of land and they all have different goals and ideas of what their worlds should be. Decentraland has very limited plots of land available while Upland has many more plots of land. The smaller the supply the higher the prices are.
What is the purpose of virtual real estate?
A lot of you may be thinking why is there virtual real estate?! What is the point and how can it be used? This is crazy! There are practical applications to virtual real estate and that is why Facebook is diving into the Metaverse. The metaverse is perfect for creators who want control of what they create. An NFT is a Non-Fungible Token, which means it is a unique piece of something on the blockchain that cannot be duplicated. It can be art, music, a tweet, a picture, or a video. When you create the NFT, you own it and it can be sold on the blockchain. Some NFTs are selling for millions of dollars.
The idea behind NFTs is that they can cut out the middle man. An artist creates the NFT, they own their song or picture, and they can sell it or let people see it or hear it without having an agent, a record label, or a publisher. Where do you put the NFTs so that people can find them or buy them? The Metaverse. You can display your NFTs on your own plot of virtual land that you own and control. Companies have paid millions of dollars for virtual land in order to hold virtual events or display their art.
What is Upland?
Upland was my favorite word after a little bit of research. I don’t want to make any promises or guarantees that Upland is the next big thing and will make you millions of dollars. It is a guessing game right now what worlds will take off or make people money. Upland is like a game where you can buy plots of land based on real plots of land in the world.
Not only can you buy plots of land, but you get a return on those plots of land like a rental property in real life. Every plot of land makes a 17% return based on the original price Upland sets. That is paid out in UPX which we will talk about later. You can also list your property for sale after you buy it or increase the returns based on collections. It is also possible to build houses or apartments on your land with spark. Upland has specific cities in the United States where you can buy properties. Right now there is:
- San Francisco
- New Orleans
- Kansas City
- And a few smaller towns
Upland has been regularly opening up new towns as its user base grows. The prices for properties have been going up as well as demand grows. Not only can you buy properties but you can buy or create NFTs (not my specialty yet), find treasure, trade properties with others, store NFTs, and more that I have not figured out yet. Upland also wants to create businesses that can be sold or rented and they already have some in the form of train depots, and airports.
I just started a YouTube Channel just for Virtual Real Estate and you can see the video that explains it below:
Is Upland free and how does the money work?
One of the things I love about Upland is how easy it is to get started. I did not have to download a random crypto wallet, transfer bitcoin to it, then change the bitcoin to a weird currency, and transfer that to Upland before I could play. You simply sign up and boom you become a visitor with money! You start with 4,500 UPX, at least at the time I wrote this which is a little under $5. 1,000 UPX equals $1 in the Upland world. Please take note that there is a UPX cryptocurrency that is traded as well but that is different from Upland UPX and not related. Currently, the Upland UPX cannot be traded which creates some pros and cons.
I have not found any properties to buy for 4,500 UPX yet, but I think they do exist. Technically you can play Upland for free but it is really tempting to spend some money as well to boost your progress in the game. Most of the smaller properties I found to buy were in the $6,000 to $10,000 range but they can go up much higher!
One of the cons to Upland is that you cannot trade UPX. They have a way to cash out but it is not easy. You can list your property for sale using dollars. If someone pays dollars, you get the money in your account and can deposit it. It can take some time to sell properties for cash and I would not count on getting any money out quickly if it all for now. In the future, maybe they change things but there is an advantage to not being able to trade UPX.
One issue with buying smaller crypto coins is that the United States has strict regulations and not all wallets or coins can be easily bought in the US. Since UPX, is not traded it is really easy to buy. I can buy it with one click from google pay using my credit card. This can be dangerous as well because it can get addicting buying properties.
Invest in cryptocurrency with your IRA.
How do you make money with Upland?
When I say make money I mean make UPX. UPX is not quite money yet but maybe it will be someday. There are many ways to increase your UPX amount without simply buying more with your own real money.
- Daily bonus: Every day you login in and play you get a small bonus that increases each day you visit in a row.
- The yield on the property you own: Every 3 hours you get paid a small yield on the property you own which equates to 17% a year. You don’t have to collect it right away or anything as it will always be there for you.
- Increasing the yield with collections: If you complete a collection the yield on all properties in that collection increases and you get a one-time bonus. The collections could be just owning one property, or having properties on the same street, or in the same town and can increase the yield 10% for the easy ones or 300% for the super tough ones.
- Treasures: You can also go treasure hunting which is tough. You have to use your properties or properties your explorer is on to get hints on where the treasure is.
- Referrals: As I mentioned earlier if you refer people to Upland you can get a 50% bonus on their first purchase of UPX.
- Property visits: Your explorer can also be sent to properties and when you do that you pay the owner a small fee (5 to 50 UPX). The owner of the property gets part of that fee.
- Selling properties: You can list your properties for sale in hopes someone will buy them for more than you paid. I have not tried to sell any properties and I have no idea what the demand is like in the secondary market. For now, it is much more fun minting new properties.
When you start Upland you begin as a visitor. You must log in every week or you could lose your progress. To become a permanent player you must gain at least 10,000 UPX net worth which is pretty easy to do if you are willing to spend $5. Once you become a permanent resident you cannot lose your properties or progress.
How does the gameplay work on Upland?
Upland is not a fast-paced action-packed game. It is more methodical with the strategy being the most important factor. You start with an “explorer” who is your character that wanders around Upland. You get to pick what city to start in and then he or she just starts walking around. This is actually important because you cannot buy any property you want in Upland.
Viewing properties for sale
You start with an overview of the city but you cannot see any plots for sale until you scroll in pretty close. Once you scroll in close enough you will see the plots of land with different shaded colors. Light blue means the plot is owned and not for sale, dark green means it is owned and for sale, light green means it is not owned and for sale. The light green lots can be minted which means you are the first person to own them. You can click on the land to see what the price is, the size and how much money it will make.
How to see what land is for sale
Where the explorer comes into play is you can’t buy or see all the shades of color unless your explorer is close to those plots. If he is not close, the light green plots you can buy will look grey or white. There are also FSA lots that are reserved for players with less than a 100k UPX net worth. Those lots have some restrictions on the sale but may be a little cheaper than other lots. You can also click on the explorer icon and a little calculator-looking thing pops up on the bottom middle that you can click on that shows all the properties for sale in his range that can be minted. Something that is really cool is there is a street view button when you click on a property as well and it shows you Google street view of the property in real life!
How do you move your explorer?
If you are scrolling around Upland and find a lot you want to buy, but your explorer is nowhere close, you can send him close to that lot as long as it is in the same town as your explorer. If you are in a different town you have to take the train or plane which costs you money and time (you also have to send your explorer to the airport or train terminal). You can only send the explore to lots that are already owned and it costs a little bit of UPX. You also can only send your explorer 3 times every 24 hours to other properties. You can send your explorer to your own properties as well for free as many times as you want in the same town. You still have to take the train or plane to send your explorer to properties in other towns.
Once you send your explorer to a property he will randomly start walking in one direction which you cannot control. The only way to change that direction is to send him someone again and see what direction he starts walking in.
How do you buy properties?
It is really easy to buy properties once you find them and the explorer is close. You click on the property and there is a buy button. You click on that button and it asks you to confirm the purchase, if you say yes and you have enough money, it mints the property to you on the blockchain. The money is deducted from your balance and there is a 5% fee for purchasing properties. It takes a couple of minutes, but once it is minted it shows up in your property and asset list and you automatically start collecting the UPX rent or yield or fee. Then you can also add the property to a collection.
How do you use collections to make more money?
Collections increase the returns on the properties you own. There are many different collections in each town and some universal collections as well. Newbie is the easiest one as all you have to do is own one property. To see the collections click on the bottom middle button that has three dots when looking at the city and then click on collections. You then find the collection you want and click on the property to fill that collection. You will not only get more money every three hours but a one-time bonus as well for the collection. You can take the properties out of the collection at any time and only one collection can be used at a time for each property. Some of the collections are:
- 3 houses on the same street
- 5 houses in the same city
- 3 houses in the same subdivision
- 2 houses on the same specific street (St Charles Avenue)
- 2 fire stations in the same town
- Many more
The easier collections add from 1.1 to 1.3 times the yield. The harder collections add from 1.5 to 3 times the yield. You will find just about all of the harder collections have already been minted and the only way to get those are to buy properties from other users and they are expensive!
How do you build structures?
You can also build houses, duplexes, and other structures on your land. I have seen many other people building structures but I am not to that point yet. You have to have spark to build and spark is not easy to get. When you level up (reach certain amounts of net worth), you sometimes get prizes and bonuses. If you level up to higher levels you are supposed to get spark which allows you to build. You can earn as little as .1 spark but it may take over a year to build a structure with that spark. You can also rent spark from others but it can’t be sold or bought to or from other players. There also may be special sales where spark is sold from the UPX store.
Can you make real money with Upland?
Upland has been a lot of fun to play so far even though many would still call me a newbie. I am a real estate investor and while this is not a perfect real estate investing game (there are no mortgages, remodeling, etc), it has many similarities. Just like in real life, I love to collect virtual properties as well! There is the potential to make great returns on your money with a 17% base yield and the potential to make much more with bonuses and collections.
Having said that, there are still a lot of questions about how to get your money back out once you make it. Right now you can only take money out by selling properties for dollars. How much demand is there for properties right now? I have no idea as I have not tried to sell any. I am thinking of the game as a game for now with the potential to become much more. I am investing some money into it but I don’t have the expectations that I will make a ton of money in three months from Upland. It is more of a long-term play and is still a pretty early time to get in. Properties are cheap enough to buy with very little investment and moderate investing may turn into something bigger later on.
Upland is constantly updating the game, adding new cities, and creating new features. The new cities seem to be where the most opportunities appear. The game is pretty fun for me and there is no pressure to have to keep playing constantly to do well. I can sit back and let my properties collect money if I don’t have time to play.
How is Upland like Monopoly?
Upland is very similar to the old board game Monopoly and they don’t hide the similarities! Their main image is even a llama with a monocle! After doing some research it turns out the Monopoly man many have never had a monocle but I certainly thought he did as did many other people. So even if Monopoly did not have a monocle, since we all thought he did, I can assume Upland added the monocle because of Monopoly.
The gameplay is similar to Monopoly as well as you try to collect properties, the properties come with a set amount of rent, if you put the properties in collections you get more rent, and eventually, you can build on the properties and collect even more rent.
Upland has been fun so far and I think real estate investors will get a kick out of it. It will be interesting to see how the game progresses and what changes they make. It could become huge or it could fizzle into nothing. Remember if you decide to play to use a referral code! Here is mine again and it worked for up to 100,000 UPX: https://r.upland.me/yioh. You may not want to buy that many UPX at the beginning because once you hit 100,000 UPX net worth you cannot buy FSA properties.
Is Virtual Real Estate Worth Buying?