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‘Proud To Be Geeky And Nerdy,’ BHS And Metaverse Institute Unite

Brown Harris Stevens’ agents will gain access to 8 learning modules powered by The Metaverse Institute, a company founded this year by real estate professionals from CORE and Compass.

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New York-based brokerage Brown Harris Stevens (BHS) is bringing real estate agents into the future through a partnership with The Metaverse Institute, an independent educational platform created by real estate professionals to educate on Web3, cryptocurrencies, the metaverse and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, the companies told Inman exclusively.

Through the partnership, BHS’ agents will gain access to a series of eight learning modules powered by The Metaverse Institute located at “The University” in the brokerage’s One digital hub. BHS launched its BHSOne digital hub at the beginning of October.

Bess Freedman | Brown Harris Stevens

“More of our clients are asking about how their digital portfolios can factor into the real estate  process and our agents need to understand how to navigate this new world,” BHS CEO Bess Freedman said in a statement. “We are partnering with The Metaverse Institute because it’s no longer acceptable to operate in abstractions — Web3 is here and it is a growing wealth sector for our clients.”

Learning topics of The Metaverse Institute’s Web3 Metalaureate course will include DeFi, blockchain, cryptocurrency, NFTs and the metaverse, to start. But as the metaverse grows and technology continues to develop, more topics will be added, The Metaverse Institute’s co-founder Danielle Garofalo told Inman.

Danielle Garofalo | The Metaverse Institute

“The Metaverse Institute — and by extension the Metalaureate course — aims to break down the complexities of Web3 into digestible and actionable information,” Garofalo said in a statement. “Blockchain has been used to transfer more than $270 billion in assets, and every agent should know what that means for their business and for their clients.”

The Metaverse Institute was officially launched in March 2022 by Garofalo and her co-founder, Jason Haber. The idea for the institute was born during COVID-19 lockdowns when Garofalo was learning about bitcoin with a friend and suddenly started getting flooded with inquiries from other people to teach her about it.

At that point, she realized that most companies offering educational services on these topics were also trying to sell their cryptocurrencies or something else on the side. She saw an opportunity to create an independent company whose sole mission was education.

Since Garofalo and Haber are both vets of the real estate industry — Garofalo is a long-time marketing specialist, currently with CORE Real Estate, and Haber, currently affiliated with Compass, has been in different industry roles since 2006 — the team decided to start by providing The Metaverse Institute’s services to real estate professionals.

“Our team [is] proud to be geeky and nerdy about this,” Garofalo said. “We couldn’t be more excited to be powering Web3 education. I spoke with Bess [Freedman] and Bess was like, ‘Look, I have talked to so many people about this. We need this. You’re the only solution.’ And that’s exciting because we’ll get this out there right before the new year.”

But Garofalo said that they’ve also had inquiries from investment banks and mortgage companies and intend to branch their educational program out to additional industries in the future.

Something the company will not do is educate people on selling land in the metaverse.

“The misconception that a lot of agents have is like, ‘Oh, well, this means you’re going to teach me how to sell land in the metaverse,’ ” Garofalo said. “We will never do that. That’s not a thing. That was almost like a gimmicky type of thing for agents, I would say, and this is the real thing that when your client comes to you and says, ‘Hey, I hold a CryptoPunk — what does that mean?’ You really have to know what that means.”

Chris Reyes | Brown Harris Stevens

(For the record, a “CryptoPunk” is an NFT located on the Ethereum blockchain.)

The Metaverse Institute team also filmed videos of real agents asking them questions, which agents can view after each module as a type of frequently asked questions section for further learning. At the end of the course, after agents pass an exam, they’ll earn their own NFT.

“Brown Harris Stevens is proud to be the first real estate brokerage to offer our agents robust Web3 education powered by The Metaverse Institute,” Chris Reyes, chief information and product officer at BHS, said in a statement. “If brokerages aren’t actively helping agents to understand one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, then they are missing a huge opportunity.”

The Metaverse Institute also recently launched a content partnership with the European Institute, an educational entity that instructs students across 37 countries.

“We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of demand,” Garofalo told Inman. “We just could not believe that we underestimated it, because every startup is the same way, [thinking], ‘Everybody’s going to use us,’ but it is a different thing when everybody does.”

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