WESTPORT — The new construction home at 5 Ridgewood Lane is similar to many homes currently on the market, with one notable exception: the owner will accept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as means of purchase.

“I wanted to reach an audience that doesn’t have as many opportunities to put their investment in real estate,” the home’s real estate salesperson and owner Susan Vanech, said. “It was really to reach an audience that is otherwise ignored in the world of commerce.”

Vanech, a Fairfield resident, works for William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty out of its Westport office and together with her husband, Matt Brodtman, owns Vanbrodt Estates LLC, a real estate company that for the past nine years has invested in buying, selling and renovating homes in the Westport area.

In 2016, Vanech and her husband bought 5 Ridgewood Lane for $575,000 and renovated the home with Fairfield-based Tiago Building Group. The property, listed at 250 bitcoin or $1,648,000, recently won a Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut (HOBI) award for its mix of classic farmhouse style and modern technological elements.

Cryptocurrencies, essentially electronic tokens with no physical backing that can be sent digitally to users around the world, have been around for about a decade, Norwalk resident Fior Lostumbo, founder of Cryptos and Cocktails, a local group organized to share knowledge of cryptocurrencies, said.

“The grandfather of cryptocurrency,” bitcoin was invented by an anonymous individual in 2009 but isn’t managed by one person but rather has become a system of millions of programs who make the system stronger and bigger each day, Lostumbo said.

“It’s such a unique home. That was part of the inspiration to reach out to the crypto community because the design elements in the home are innovative and unlike most of the traditional homes at this price-point. The crypto community is also very innovative in their thinking so I felt the home is a very good match,” Vanech said of 5 Ridgewood Lane, which is the first home she’s putting on the market with the option to pay in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or ethereum.

Lostumbo said he’s excited about the potential for Fairfield County to join the cryptocurrency real estate market already on the rise in places such as San Francisco and New York City.

The value of bitcoin fell from a high of $20,000 for one bitcoin last year to $7,000 to $8,000 for one bitcoin over the last several months, but that’s only because, like the stock of a popular company that goes public, bitcoin prices launched to stratospheric levels and inevitably came down over the last year, which lost people money, Lostumbo said.

“I do believe in it as a futuristic form of payment and I believe it will be the future,” Lostumbo said of cryptocurrency, which he said will prevail in the market for their ability to decentralize information and control away from a particular government agency or company.

Piper Moretti also believes in the future of cryptocurrency, so much so that she co-founded the Crypto Realty Group based in Los Angeles in 2017, after closing her first deal for more than 700 bitcoin, or $3.2 million.

The group of global real estate agents were the first to bring cryptocurrency into the real estate market in southern California and helps crypto buyers and sellers in the U.S. and abroad, according to its website.

Moretti said she recently closed her fifth deal using cryptocurrency in January.

“Cryptocurrency is not going anywhere,” Moretti said. “But it’s like a toddler learning how to walk. It's going to walk, it just has to find its footing.”

On the market for two weeks, Vanech’s listing has so far received six offers and none for payment with cryptocurrency. Still, Vanech, like Lostumbo, believes in the future of cryptocurrency in the real estate market.

“Sotheby’s is an international company that deals in international currencies, so I want to be at the forefront of introducing one that’s not associated with a particular country but rather a concept,” Vanech said.

Reporting contributed by Stephanie Kim.

svaughan@hearstmediact.com; 203-842-22638; @SophieCVaughan1

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