Guest Post: The Next Development Frontier—Extraterrestrial Real Estate
- Jan 15, 2013
There are 7 billion people in the world today and the number continues to grow. Pretty soon, there won’t be any free space left on the planet for real estate development—or people. But the human race is very inventive. When we ran out of places on this planet to discover, man looked to the stars and, on July 20, 1969, stepped on the moon for the very first time. And that’s where the future of real estate may lie.
It’s called extraterrestrial real estate, and while it’s not recognized by any authority, there are a lot of different companies all over the world that will sell land on the Moon for $10 or $15 or $20 an acre. What you get in return is just a fancy certificate… for now, at least.
In 1967 the ”Outer Space Treaty” went into effect. It forms the basis of international space law, saying that outer space belongs to all of us and no state can claim any piece of it for its own. The treaty has currently been ratified by 100 countries including all the major space-faring nations. 26 other countries have also signed it, but they have not ratified it yet.
There is, however, one catch: the ”Outer Space Treaty” forbids countries, not individuals.
The ”Moon Treaty,” a follow-up to the ”Outer Space Treaty,” says the moon should be used for the benefit of all nations and all peoples of the international community. It banned any ownership of any extraterrestrial property by any organization or person, unless that organization is international and governmental. The ”Moon Treaty” was created in 1979 and was enacted by the ratifying parties in 1984. It has currently been ratified by only 13 states, none of them space-faring nations, so no one really pays any attention to it. Well, no one that really matters, anyway.
So right now, the only thing reallly stopping us from buying land on the moon is distance. The cost of a trip to the moon and back would make even the wealthiest men gasp. The Golden Spike Company has recently announced its plans to make such a trip. The price tag: $1.5 billion for two people.
This is discouraging, but it’s not the end of extraterrestrial real estate development. In the future, we might see private companies transport colonists to the moon or other planets. It’s a model that’s been used before, during the age of discovery, when British joint stock companies transported pioneers to the New World for free to establish settlements. In return the colonists worked for the companies for a number of years.
This is the future. Not us—and maybe not our children—but possibly our children’s children will one day make such a trip with their families, a one-way trip that might just end with an apartment or house on the moon. It will be one of many homes. Entire neighborhoods will be developed. As on Earth, location will become more and more important. It’s not the same having a house in the Sea of Tranquility as any old crater. There’s definitely a better view of the Earth on the light side than on the dark. It will be up to the extraterrestrial real estate brokers of tomorrow to position their clients’ asssets in the best light.