China & Canada – Money, Politics, Real Estate

CBC asks if the housing bubble will pop as a result of tightened capital controls?

Will China’s tightened capital controls pop the housing bubble?

China imposes further restrictions to control capital flowing out of the country

This month, the limit on foreign currency transactions in China was lowered to $9,000 to increase scrutiny on investment money flowing out of the country. Promoting some to fear this could be the catalyst that finally causes Canada’s bloated real-estate prices to collapse.

Obviously there will always be support for  real estate in Canada … forever expanding till the end of time (just our universe).

“International shoppers are ‘relatively minor players’ but there are a lot of other things going on in the Vancouver, Toronto, Seattle or San Francisco housing market that have continued to propel housing prices upward,” said senior economist Aaron Terrazas, of Zillow, a real estate market research company based in Seattle.

China caps capital

But what if buyers from China stop investing?

In January, new rules were created to curb the exodus of money overseas … only $65,000 per person is allowed in foreign transactions a year. On July 1, regulators dramatically lowered transaction limits to $9,000 before they must be reported to banking regulators.

‘Ants moving house’

It will have an effect, but it won’t be catastrophic, says Anne Stevenson-Yang, of J. Capital Research Ltd., She says the new controls are aimed at stopping “ants moving house” a Chinese term for getting a lot of people to make small money transfers to ultimately transfer enough to buy property.

But people find ways around the rules, she says.

Most important of all,

Homes still selling

Despite fears the recent 15-per-cent tax in Vancouver aimed at curbing foreign buyers would cool the market, Metro Vancouver saw $3.27-billion in foreign buyer sales in the past year … the market sizzles!

Home prices in Canada will keep rising, despite interest rate hike

“Canadian homeowners are prepared for the marginal increase in mortgage rates,” Phil Soper, Royal LePage’s president and CEO, said in a housing survey released Thursday.

While real estate is happening in China (at least at corporate level), 

Chinese real estate industry is set for an insane level of consolidation

 

Dalian Wanda Group’s $9.3 billion sale of nearly 90 tourist and hotel assets to Sunac China Holdings was just one indicator of the rapidly consolidating Chinese real estate market. Real estate companies in China are projected to spend more than $27.6 billion in acquisitions in 2017…. Basically, you buy me, I buy you =”Equity Bubble”, so to speak.

However,  some analysts do not quite share the same sentiment,

Chinese real estate investment is slowing down

Domestic real estate investment in China is dropping. Numbers released from the National Bureau of Statistics of China show that May’s property investment in terms of square footage was higher than last year, but still remained way below the baseline.

The decline in investment combined with cooling measures will likely result in a major drag on real estate prices in the country …Business Insider

And there is a lot of politics …

Ottawa’s despicable display in China

On the death of Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and Canada’s efforts to wine and dine the prisoner’s tormentors

It would be hard to imagine a more obscene display of Canada’s slavish relationship with China’s depraved Communist Party regime: The very moment imprisoned democracy activist and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo died under heavy guard on a hospital bed in the northeast city of Shenyang on Thursday, a beaming Governor General David Johnston was posing for photographs at the opulent Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, shaking hands with Chinese tyrant Xi Jinping, Liu’s jailer, and tormentor.

For Canada, it’s business, business, more business, and public relations … Macleans.ca

Apparently the federal government’s inexplicable Investment Canada Act approval of the billion-dollar takeover of the Canadian seniors care home chain Retirement Concepts by the Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese real-estate giant run by Wu Xiaohui, the billionaire husband of former Chinese supreme leader Deng Xiaoping’s granddaughter….

China Detains Chairman of Anbang, Which Sought Ties With Jared Kushner

On June 8, Wu Xiaohui was whisked away from Anbang’s corporate offices by Beijing’s anti-corruption police. He immediately stepped down from his post as Anbang’s chairman and hasn’t been heard from since. But Anbang remains in good standing with the federal government, and of course with the Canada China Business Council.

Anbang is listed as one of the Canada China Business Council’s 13 “benefactor” corporations, a status that entitles the Chinese behemoth to “front-of-the-line member-benefits” along with such well-connected firms as the Power Corporation of Canada, Huawei Technologies and Bombardier.

Does this tell you something? 

Anyway, here are the Seven Of The Weirdest Houses Ever Built … See the one in China, what does it tell you?

7  Weirdest Houses Ever Built

1.  Four shipping containers make up this three bedroom apartment in Sydney, Australia. They can be pulled apart for easy transportation.

2. These precarious looking houses were built were built on the rooftop of a factory building in Dongguan, China.

3. This house in Abuja, Nigeria is partially built in the shape of an airplane. The house was said to have been built by Said Jammal for his wife Liza because of her love for travelling.

4. Thierry atta sweeps the compound of his house built in the shape of a crocodile in Ivory Coast capital.

5. This house is built on a rock in river Drina, Baijina, Basta.

6. This house is built right into the rock in Coahuila, Northern Mexico.
7. This house was built upside down in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. It was constructed as an attraction for local residents and tourists.
Amazing, isn’t it?!

Add Value To Your Home Using Apps

By Sam Fox

Whether you are comtemplating a complete home makeoveror merely wanted some ideas to improve your nest, ther is an app for that – many actually.

Apps That Will Change The Way You Decorate

Envision all of your home improvements, in just a few taps.

Color Capture

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best Paint Color Picker

For those always inspired by colors on the go, snap them with Benjamin Moore’s Color Capture app, and it’ll produce its matching paint color, along with coordinating shades that you can save and pick up swatches of later. Users note that the real paint color is usually a little darker than the app’s display, but it’s a great jumping-off point to get to the perfect hue.

Chairish

Free, available for iOS

Best for Unique Antiques

If you have your heart set on a particular vintage piece to complete a space, your best bet in actually obtaining it is by using the Chairish app. A dedicated buyer-and-seller’s marketplace for high-quality, pre-loved furniture, Chairish lets you browse, save, message, and buy, all in one beautifully designed interface.

BrightNest

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best Organization Hub for the New Homeowner

Keeping house can be a challenge. For those who need a friendly nudge to stay on top of the weekly or seasonal chores, this app lets you create a personalized base for all of your reminders, tasks, and how-tos. Chock-full of thousands of DIY cleaning, repairing, and even organizing ideas, it equips you with the know-how to tackle any tedious task.

 

Etsy

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best For Supporting Independent Makers

So ubiquitous in the decor sphere, it almost needs no explanation. But for all handmade, bespoke, or one-of-a-kind accessories, Etsy is the go-to shopping destination. Get personalized recommendations in your feed based on items you’ve liked, check out sellers’ reviews, and buy a totally unique home treasure in just a couple of taps.

Houzz Interior Design Ideas

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best For Virtual Redesigning

This handy app from Houzz lets you try out various furniture items in pictures of your own space, before you make the investment — if you love it, you can purchase the pieces through the app! Users love the professional resources available to inform their future renovation plans and to help hone in on the style that speaks to them.

iHandy Level

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best Digital Tool

One of the more basic picks, but a total must when it comes to hanging shelves or art, iHandy level is a super-sensitive digital device to ensure that everything in your home hangs straight.

The Home Depot

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best Online and In-Store Shopping Experience

Shopping apps are nothing new, but the ones that go above and beyond the mobile version of the website are to be applauded. Home Depot’s app not only lets you shop and ship large items that might be a pain to pick-up in person, but it also has an in-store GPS, so you can locate a very specific item in no time at all.

Jo-Ann

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best For Crafting Coupons

The craftiest of bargain shoppers are already well aware of Jo-Ann’s amazing weekly sales. For the uninitiated, let’s just say, there’s hardly any reason to ever buy full-price at this amazing store. Use multiple digital coupons in a single trip to save big on your next DIY endeavor.

MagicPlan

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best for Creating a Floor Plan

For those in the midst of a renovation or redecoration, the MagicPlan app lets you keep all of your home’s measurements literally in your back pocket. Users say it might take a few tries to get the hang of inputting the information, but the app’s intuitive design and easy instructions make it a total must-have for the in-progress home.

Pinterest

Free, available for iOS and Android

Best for Finding Inspiration

With essentially the same interface as the desktop site, the Pinterest app is super fun and easy to use. It lets you curate endless moodboards to bookmark future craft projects, furnishing purchases, or simply #decorgoals.

Zillow Digs

Free, available for iOS

Best for Home Remodeling

Zillow Digs is a fabulous resource for the first-time renovator. Gather inspiration from real people’s home makeovers, get cost estimates for the project you’re planning, and source the products to get it done, right from the app! A community of homeowners and design professionals is available to exchange advice with you.

Bubbleology – The new religion of 2/3 Canadians who believe Housing Bubble is Real

Apparently as many as 2/3 Canadians have converted to a new religion known as “Bubbleology”.

To the faithful Bubbleologists, Housing Bubble is the mighty Devil and his coming is imminent. Because certain unscrupulous profiteers have provoked the wrath of the Lord. However, Housing Bubble is no Armageddon, it’s not the end of the world yet. It’s just that there will be great suffering among ordinary folks whenever Mr. Bubble Housing comes visiting.

They believe the time is nigh, they believe the Great Suffering will take place in 2018, that’s when proponets of the “Great White Short” will be laughing their way to the banks…

Open living area designed in a circular fashion and semi-enclosed by rotating glass panels in this home located in Hollywood Hills. 

A Canadian Housing Bubble? Two-Thirds Say It’s Real

Nearly half of Canadians are worried about what interest rate hikes will do to their mortgage payments.

A majority of Canadians say there’s a housing bubble, but only a minority believes it will burst in the next year, a new survey has found.

The survey from Ipsos, carried out for consumer insolvency firm MNP Ltd., found 67 per cent of Canadians agree that the country is experiencing a housing bubble, but only 43 per cent think it’s going to come to an end in the next year.

With Canadian debt loads near record highs, even relatively small shifts in interest rates could have a noticeable impact on households.

According to expert estimates, any hike in interest rate is likely to cause typical homeowners anything from $1,000 to $3,000 more in mortgage cost. That’s scary considering most ordinary folks already completely submerged in water, that they are basically surviving on borrowed time.

Seriously,

BoC Hikes Rates; Will It Burst Canada’s Housing Bubble

The Bank of Canada has joined the Fed in embarking on the road to monetary policy normalization, hiking the benchmark monetary policy rate +25bps to 0.75%. This comes at a time as Canada’s property market is being increasingly labelled a bubble. Indeed the second chart, below, shows a stark acceleration in property price gains and an increasingly overvalued property market (looking at the OECD housing market valuation indicators). Thus it makes sense that the central bank would reduce monetary policy stimulus in this backdrop.

The risk in this sort of situation is always going to be that the central bank could end up bursting the bubble, and at some point it probably will, but so far this is just a small rate hike and only the beginning of the policy normalization process. As the Bank of Canada further normalizes policy the risk of a bursting of the Canadian housing bubble will rise. Given the importance of Chinese demand, it will also be important to keep tabs on economic conditions in China. At this point the risk assessment for Canada is slightly higher and the outlook is that risks will rise… Investment.com

Meanwhile Haris Anwar  of The Motley Fool advises,

Which REITs Are the Safest Bets if Canada’s Real Estate Bubble Bursts?

This reversal in home prices comes after the provincial government imposed a 15% tax on foreign buyers in April to curb speculation as part of its affordable housing plan.

This changing dynamic of the Canadian real estate market raises this important question: Which real estate investment trust (REIT) can withstand a possible crash in property values if this sluggishness prolongs and develops into a long overdue correction?

The chances of such a scenario developing aren’t very strong though. Most forecasters are predicting a soft landing rather than a crash in real estate values as demand dynamics remain strong, especially in the Greater Toronto Area and Vancouver.

But investors who earn a regular income from REITs have a reason to worry amid disturbing headlines in the financial press almost every day. After all, they saw the prices of some REITs drop by more than 50% during the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Another threat to the REIT sector comes from a possible interest rate increase by the Bank of Canada starting in July—a move which will increase the borrowing cost for REITs, leaving less for the profit distribution.

In this environment of uncertainty, I’ve picked the safest Canadian REITs which have solid business models and are in much better positions to withstand any economic shock or a sudden rise in interest rates.

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (TSX:REI.UN) is Canada’s largest REIT and is anchored well to maintain its distribution. With 300 retail properties across Canada, it owns and manages the country’s largest portfolio of shopping centres, including Wal-Mart, Canadian Tire, and Cineplex.

With the committed occupancy rate of 95%, RioCan tenants include very strong names that perform well in a recession due to their vast economic moats—a term used by Warren Buffett to describe companies commanding a strong competitive advantage over their rivals.

The most important performance criterium investors use to judge the performance of any REIT is its ability to maintain the cash flows to pay its unitholders. This ratio is called adjusted cash from operations, or AFFO.

In the case of RioCan, the trust is generating more cash than its distribution to unit holders. In first quarter of 2017, RioCan generated $0.44 per unit in AFFO and paid $0.35 per unit in distributions.

RioCan pays a monthly distribution of $0.1175 per unit. At the time of writing, the payout provides an annualized yield of 5.8%.

RioCan has also cut its debt by using proceeds from the sale of its U.S. assets last year, generating a cushion to shield itself from possible rate hikes. In the first three months of 2017, RioCan’s total-debt-to-total-assets ratio was 40.8%, down from 45.6% in the same period a year ago.

Chartwell Retirement Residences

Chartwell Retirement Residences (TSX:CSH.UN) is a Canadian REIT which also fits well in a conservative investment strategy to protect your capital during an economic downturn and continue to earn stable monthly income.

Chartwell Retirement is the largest operator in the Canadian senior living space, managing over 175 locations across four provinces in Canada. As the Canadian population ages, investing in retirement residences and long-term care facilities is probably one of the best strategies in the real estate sector.

And this is the reason that Chartwell Retirement has done much better when compared to the performance of S&P/TSX Composite Index. Over the past five years, its share value appreciated by 60%, almost double the returns of S&P/TSX index during the same period.

This REIT pays a stable monthly distribution of about $0.048 per unit, up 7% over the past five years. At the time of writing, the payout provides an annualized yield of 3.78%.

Should we believe the Motley Fool?

We don’t know. All I know is 2/3 of Canadians have embraced Bubbleology. In another word, they will most likely avoid any real estate related stock like plague?

What do realtors say?

Here’s what they told BNN,

Needing a return to normal

Kevin Somers, COO, Royal LePage

“Since the onset of the Great Recession nearly a decade ago, Canada’s economy has been running on emergency power, provided mainly by low interest rates. The Bank of Canada’s indication of an imminent rate hike is a positive signal that the Canadian economy is in a place of stability and ready to withstand a slight interest rate increase.

We believe that the real estate market is best served by a healthy economy that requires a return to normal conditions.”

Conflicting fears

John Pasalis, president, Realosophy Realty Inc.

“Bank of Canada raising interest rates by 25 basis points would have a dampening effect on the demand for homes – but I’m not convinced we’re going to see any immediate effects.

The psychological effects of this rate increase might counterintuitively have a positive effect on the real estate market. If buyers believe interest rates will increase even further in the near future, some of those sitting on the sidelines watching the cooling market with uncertainty may get back into the hunt.”

Tub Filled by a Hot Springs in Colorado Resort Built in an Old Mining Ghost Town. 

Anyway, Bank of Canada has finally stopped crying wolf, and raised interest rates by 25 basis points Wednesday.

That’s no surprise. What surprised many people is  the Loonie flew!

What sent the loonie soaring when everybody expected the rate hike?

It appears the Bank of Canada was a little more hawkish than markets had thought

Some were caught off guard by the significant spike in the loonie that followed, pushing it close to the 79-cent mark.

While the Canadian dollar’s recent strength (up more than five per cent in the past month) has been attributed to expectations for higher interest rates, it was thought that much of the rally had already run its course.

“The market seemed to interpret that as implying that the bank is planning on more than one further hike this year,”

Go Loonie, go.

Anyway, they say there will be a lot more money pouring in from the Middle Kingdom …

Chinese Investors To Spend $1 Trillion On Real Estate In Next Decade: Report

Toronto and Montreal have surpassed Vancouver as the biggest targets for Chinese buyers in Canada.

The company predicts that Chinese investors will pour some $1 trillion (C$1.27 trillion) into real estate around the world over the next decade, of which a considerable amount is likely to land in Canada. The country is the fourth-largest destination for Chinese real estate investment, behind the U.S., Australia and Hong Kong.

Sounds like the world is after after all, still a beautiful place.

Guess that’s the message Liberals wanted you to hear … Stay Positive, Be Optimistic. 

Dramatic, open living area blends seamlessly with the outdoors in this home located in Cape Town, South Africa 

Stunning Interior Design Ideas That Will Elevate Your House To A Greater Height

Given how much time most of us spend at home, it’s a shame most of us live in small, boring homes or apartments. If home is where the heart is, these interior design ideas will ensure that your heart stays happy!

Some of these interior design ideas are grand, sweeping, expensive installations, but for those of us without the money to spare, there are smaller ideas too that are still doable and will give your home a unique and personal touch. And for those of us who live in city apartments, there are also plenty of ideas that will help you save space!

Bright, open kitchen features dark grey cabinetry, skylights and a rustic wooden table serving as a workspace in this 1927 craftsman heritage home in West Vancouver. [1500 × 1170]

Bright, open kitchen features dark grey cabinetry, skylights and a rustic wooden table serving as a workspace in this 1927 craftsman heritage home in West Vancouver.

Kitchen and dining area uses contrasting colors and textures to create a sense of separate spaces in this loft apartment in TriBeCa. [1280 × 932]

Kitchen and dining area uses contrasting colors and textures to create a sense of separate spaces in this loft apartment in TriBeCa.

My dad just showed me this picture of his darkroom he created in his basement in 1975.

My dad just showed me this picture of his darkroom he created in his basement in 1975. 

Living room, as seen from the kitchen, features large, metal-framed french doors which lead to outdoor terraces in this apartment located in midtown Manhattan. [3196 × 2150]

Living room, as seen from the kitchen, features large, metal-framed french doors which lead to outdoor terraces in this apartment located in midtown Manhattan. 

White kitchen with vaulted ceilings and reclaimed marble floors in Sag Harbor, NY (OS)[2007×2300]

White kitchen with vaulted ceilings and reclaimed marble floors in Sag Harbor, NY 

Open dining and living area features double-height glass walls and exposed beams and rafters in this home located in the Berkshires. [1200 × 970]

Open dining and living area features double-height glass walls and exposed beams and rafters in this home located in the Berkshires. 

Spacious, well-lit bathroom features a vaulted ceiling and wallpaper echoing the surrounding forest in this ski lodge in Aspen, Colorado. [1400 × 933]

Spacious, well-lit bathroom features a vaulted ceiling and wallpaper echoing the surrounding forest in this ski lodge in Aspen, Colorado. 

Relaxed coastal kitchen with cathedral ceilings and beams in Cape Cod, MA (OS)[534×400]

Relaxed coastal kitchen with cathedral ceilings and beams in Cape Cod, MA 

Memorial Student Center’s Flag Room, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX [1024X682]

Memorial Student Center’s Flag Room, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 

Custom white kitchen with wood floors in this six-bedroom, $1.6 million home in Colorado [OS] [2700 X 1800]

Custom white kitchen with wood floors in this six-bedroom, $1.6 million home in Colorado 

Simple and bright kitchen in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn with black cabinets, wood counters and beams.[1000×666]

Simple and bright kitchen in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn with black cabinets, wood counters and beams.

Copper Tub nestled in the Hearth of a Massive Stone Fireplace w/ built-in Waterfall | Lake Tahoe, CA [2336 x 3504]

Copper Tub nestled in the Hearth of a Massive Stone Fireplace w/ built-in Waterfall | Lake Tahoe, CA 

Spacious kitchen with its own pizza oven located in New York City [1020 × 680]
Spacious kitchen with its own pizza oven located in New York City 

Spanish revival sitting room in Birmingham, Alabama [photo by Chris Luker] [2048 x 1304]

Spanish revival sitting room in Birmingham, Alabama 

Garden room in a town home in London has ample light for growing plants. [2400 × 1602]

Garden room in a town home in London has ample light for growing plants. 

Penthouse in converted Victorian iron works in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London (OS)[600×400]

Penthouse in converted Victorian iron works in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London 

Freixo Palace, Porto, Portugal. Furnished and designed by Stylish Club. [1463×1000] [OC]

Freixo Palace, Porto, Portugal. Furnished and designed by Stylish Club.

Our bookshelf in the living room of our apartment in a 1930’s building in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. [2040×1360]

Our bookshelf in the living room of our apartment in a 1930’s building in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. 

Australian Home of the Year Kitchen [1297 x 865]

Australian Home of the Year Kitchen 

Bathroom features a large window with garden view and a sitting rock in Singapore. [1342×2100]

Bathroom features a large window with garden view and a sitting rock in Singapore. 

How to improve your home’s value

By Handy Joe

Did you know, patios can increase your home’s value by 10 percent or so?

Now that it’s summer, you’re busy making plans for vacations and backyard barbecues. While you’re at it, you might want to also consider remodeling projects that will increase your home’s value. Investing a little time and money in your residence now can seriously pay off if you decide to put it on the market down the road.

Improving your home is an investment, and not knowing where to spend your money for the best value is a common issue for many homeowners. It’s important to consider your needs in the present and plan for the future, as in, how will this improvement pay off in the end? Knowing how to invest your money into your home is a valuable lesson—literally.

Outdoor Living

After the brutal winter, you’ll surely want to spend as much time outdoors as you can. If you enjoy being outside but you don’t feel like you have a place to do so, consider upgrading your outdoor space with a deck or sunroom addition. Both add versatility to your living space and allow you to enjoy your yard in a defined entertaining space. In Toronto alone, homeowners found that a deck addition recouped 70% of its cost. If you’re satisfied with your backyard but would like to add additional living space to your home, adding a sunroom recouped anywhere from 70-80% of its investment. Not only are you adding space for your family with a deck or sunroom, but you’re making an investment that you’ll see down the road if you sell your home. These are add-on items that not every home has, and their presence is attractive to buyers who will remember your home for its amenities.

Window Replacement

If you’re noticing a higher utility bill or your windows are looking outdated or damaged, investing in new windows pays dividends in the future. Replacing your windows not only has immediate value in reducing your energy costs and creating a more efficient home overall, but it increases the resale value of your home if you decide to sell. According to experts, replacing your wood windows in the Toronto area has a 90% return on investment when selling your home. Not only are you keeping your home structurally sound by protecting it from the elements, you’re creating an attractive feature to homebuyers who aren’t going to want to deal with replacing windows soon after buying a house. This is a summer improvement that isn’t as high maintenance as changing your floorplan, but adds tremendous value to your home.

Bathroom Remodels

Bathrooms are generally one of the most expensive types of home improvement projects. They’re also areas where potential buyers can see if you’ve invested your money or not. If you have an older bathroom, it’s not only inconvenient for you to live with outdated features, but buyers also look at bathrooms as focal points of their potential new home and place a lot of value in its aesthetic. If you do want to make improvements, remodeling a bathroom in GTA brings returns of upwards of 60% on your investment. Remodeling a bathroom is a sure-fire way to see your investment pay off in the future.

Investing for You and Your Future

There are plenty of options to consider if you’re looking to make improvements to your home during the summer season. Having the facts for a home remodeling project is important, but be sure to remember that it’s not just the future value of the project that matters, but the value you’ll get as a homeowner when you’re enjoying your new space.

Creating a space that you’ll enjoy with your family today, and the housing market will appreciate in the future.

Use Home Improvement Apps To Increase Your Home’s Value

By Handy Joe

Thinking of increase your home’s value with remodeling?

Right on. But be strategic, because not all updates increase an appraisal.

The next thing is you may want to consider to make use of apps to help with your DIY remodeling projects. While apps can’t replace a full set of tools, only a fool would wield a crowbar much less a power saw before designing, measuring, calculating quantities of materials, ordering supplies, or finding qualified professionals to handle the job. Smartphone apps for home improvement help primarily with the planning and designing phase, making them handy first installations for any home remodeling project.

What can you do with home renovation smartphone apps?

  • look for inspiring remodeling ideas
  • measure your space
  • calculate the number of tiles you need
  • find the perfect paint color
  • locate an interior designer who speaks to your style
  • rearrange the furniture without dragging it around
  • hang a mirror even if you don’t own a level

The following home renovation apps, for both iOS and Android, represent a selection of the most popular. Some receive mixed reviews — users’ comments range from thrilled to disappointed. But since you can download many for free, take them for a spin on your own device before drawing any conclusions. For some apps, you may have to pay a premium for a version with additional features geared to serious users and professionals.

Apps for gathering ideas and inspiration

Your favorite websites for home remodeling and design have gone mobile, making them easier to take along and use when you’re in reconnaissance mode visiting stores and showrooms.

  • Pinterest. You can exchange ideas with other pinners, create a private board for yourself or to share with your friends or your designer. Take photos with your phone of products you see while shopping or browsing through magazines. Pin ideas from other websites. It’s an easy and simple way to organize and share all of your ideas.
  • Houzz. Like their website, their mobile app boasts millions of professional quality photos of home renovations for inspiration. You can find articles, ask advice from forums, and purchase products for sale, as well as browse portfolios and profiles of design and remodeling professionals to find the ones best qualified to work on your project.
  • HomeZada. Manage your home’s maintenance and improvements allowing you to oversee projects from start to finish; organize planning, documentation, and execution. You can photograph and keep track of your wish list as you go. The mobile app is free but requires a HomeZada account.

Apps for re-imagining and designing your space

Use your phone’s camera to play with shapes and colors in your own space.

  • Magic Plan. With this app from Sensopia Inc., you can gather visual data to create an indoor map. You start by taking photos of the indoor space at the floor level from corner to corner. Calibration options improve accuracy. Choose from more than 400 objects, including fixtures, appliances and electrical to complete your floor plan. You can also share the map with other users and save it to the cloud.
  • Home Design 3D. Available for iOS and Android, this app allows you to completely re-imagine and redesign your house in 3D, similar to the way the professionals do. A premium account gives you additional capabilities for sharing and saving.
  • TapPainter. Take photos of your home and play with paint colors on your device without painting splotches all over your walls. You can play with colors from the wheel, changing hue, brightness, and saturation. You can also match colors to objects in your photo or choose from colors offered by brands that include Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore and Behr. Save, share, email, and purchase your selections using this app, currently available only for iOS.
  • Project Color. The Home Depot offers their answer to TapPainter with similar functionality in that you can photograph your home and see how their available paint colors look on your walls before actually start painting. It’s available for both iOS and Android.
  • Adornably. For iOS only, this app allows you to see your space in virtual 3D, furnished with pieces you select from their gallery. Move the furniture around in a photo of your room and see what it looks like before you buy.

Apps for measuring, calculating, DIY, and professional help

These handy tools on your phone can help with your DIY projects. If not, use apps to locate professionals.

  • iHandy Carpenter. For iPhone and Android, this app provides five measuring tools: ruler, bubble level, surface level, plumb bob, and protractor.
  • Handyman Calculator for Android. This free mobile app provides conversion calculations including fractions, arc length, density, and even exotic calculations for specialized professionals.
  • Home Improvement Calcs for iOS. For $1.99 you can plug in the measurements of your space and figure out how much material you need such as tiles or concrete.
  • iFixIt. The tutorials on this app show you how to tear down, diagnose and repair your own appliances and household furnishings. You can purchase replacement parts from their online store.
  • Porch. Find local licensed and insured professionals including handymen, plumbers, electricians, cleaners, and landscapers vetted by your neighbors.

Don’t be surprised if you hire a professional and they show up using their phone to measure, calculate, and do some preliminary designs. These handy apps — or professional versions of them — make their work easier, too.

The Canadian home price bubble has just bursted

We didn’t say that.

This what Khaleej Times say. And this also echoed by Seeking Alpha.

Some folks tend to believe the local media are inclined to parrot what the local business/government wanted you to hear. It’s for this reason, opinion by foreigne experts are somewhat influential because it is assumed experts from abroad may see what the locals couldn’t see. It’s also usually assumed foreign experts typically have no vested interest in Canada’s real estate, their opinion is therefore “impartial”.

Regardless, our advise is take everything with a pinch of salt. For exmaple, if the media tells you the inflation rate is 1%, you should assume the actual figure could be as high as 10%, or if they tell you condo prices in Canada is still at a steal price because it’s still cheaper than those in Manhattan, you shouldn’t look at the price but compare other factors to see if Canada is even Manhattan to begin with?

You know, this world is full of “Voodooism” … “Now you see, now you don’t” kind of phenemenon. 

Here is what the “foreign experts” say,

Guess what? The Canadian home price bubble has just bursted

Khaleej Times

As some have learnt the hard way, leverage wipes out investor equity when a housing bubble bursts

The Canadian housing bubble has gone so ballistic that the Ontario government is considering a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers to cool down the speculative spiral in Toronto condominiums. The smart money on Wall Street’ latest trade is to short Canadian banks and property developers, the fabled hedge fund Great White Short. Canadian property prices have doubled in the past decade, thanks to low interest rates, high-end immigration, flight capital from China/Southeast Asia, with Toronto and Vancouver the epicentre of the housing bubble.

A housing bubble is a money-spinning feast for speculators since they only put down 10-25 per cent as an initial downpayment. Yet as some learnt the hard way, leverage wipes out investor equity when a housing bubble bursts, often taking down entire banking systems and consumer economies. In countries that criminalise bankruptcy, the choice for a leveraged homeowner when a bubble bursts is to either face jail or flee. This is not the case in the US the Canada, where non-recourse mortgages make home price speculation a one-way bet when prices soar in a speculative bubble.

Canadian home prices have gone parabolic since 2010, up 60 per cent despite the plunge in crude oil prices and the election of a Liberal Party Prime Minister in Ottawa. Yet there are now unmistakable signs that the Canadian housing bubble is about to pop. New home sales have plunged even though prices are at record highs. The governor of the Bank of Canada and the CEO of Royal Bank of Canada have warned investors about the lethal risks of leveraged home price speculation. Affordability ratios are in the stratosphere. Canadian household debt to disposable income is at all-time highs, at a staggering 169 per cent. Flippers boast about their offplan “profits” at cocktail parties. I have GCC-based friends who refuse to rent out their Toronto condos because they believe 20 per cent price rises will continue forever and friends in Canada whose suburban McMansions consume 40 per cent of their annual income in mortgage, taxes and insurance costs. Ottawa and the provincial governments in Canada are now determined to burst the speculative credit Frankenstein that caused the boom. Ontario’s Fair Housing Plan only tells me this time the wolf is here. The near collapse of subprime mortgage lender. Home Capital Group has eerie echoes of the failure of Lehman Brothers. Home Capital shares fell 90 per cent before Warren Buffet financed C$2.4 billion lifeboat.

A decade ago, Canadian housing was a relative safe haven in the 2008 financial crisis. Home prices in Canada fell a mere seven per cent, compared to 30 per cent in the US and 50-70 per cent in high-beta markets like Spain’s Costa del Sol (or Britain’s Costa del Dole!). Canadian home prices have risen 60 per cent since the crisis, which left its Big Six banks unscathed. This is a far better performance than even the hottest markets in the US, which have risen only 25 per cent since their bottom and took six years to recover their crisis losses.

Unlike the property markets of the GCC, Canadian home prices have structural safety nets. No less than 50 per cent of home mortgages are insured by state agencies. The big six Canadian banks are some of the world’s most transparent and best governed financial institutions. All immigrants are granted citizenship. There is no geopolitical risk and the banking system is not in the grip of a credit crunch or forced mergers. Oil is only 25 per cent of Canadian GDP and the entire population is not on the state payroll, apart from Alberta. However, Toronto witnessed a 40 per cent price crash in the early 1990s that wiped out several friends of mine who speculated on new-build condos. When supply overwhelms demand, when new sales values plunge, when cranes dot the skyline and offplan launches scream out in newspaper ads, a crash is imminent. The coming interest rate rise will be property’s kiss of death. There are rumours of systemic fraud and more mortgage lender failures even as I write. Yes, this time the wolf is here.

Unlike growth companies on a stock market, a housing bubble is destined to collapse since homes lose value over time due to depreciation and shifts in consumer preferences. Home price spirals destroy, not create, economic value and can often gut the stability of banking systems via default and retail sales due to negative wealth effects on consumer spending. As Santayana said, “those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them” – specially when debt is the high-octane fuel that burns homeowners alive … Khaleej Times 

The writer is a global equities strategist and fund manager. He can be contacted at mateinkhalid09@gmail.com.

The Incheon Tri-bowl Cultural Center, South Korea (Source)

Significant Toronto Real Estate Price Drop in June

Steer Clear: Canada’s Real Estate Bubble May Burst

Summary

Canada’s household debt to GDP ratio now exceeds the US’s at the height of its housing bubble.

Berkshire’s bailout of Home Capital Group may be the canary in the coalmine.

Risk is high as Canadian stock indexes are heavily overweight financials.

Since the financial crisis, we’ve stayed away from investing in Canada due to the country’s high level of household debt. Right now, we believe that it’s even more important for investors to avoid Canada as recent weakness in a Canadian mortgage lender may signal that the household debt bubble primarily concentrated in real estate may be ready to burst.

The reason why household debt is such an important thing to look at has to do with how consumers drive economies. In the US consumers account for almost 70% of GDP. While the figure for Canada is not as high – consumer spending up north is only about 56% of GDP – it’s still the largest part of the Canadian economy. When consumers began building new homes and taking out second mortgages and home equity lines of credit and using that extra money to buy goods and services, it drives economic growth. However, when consumers take on debt it must be paid back eventually. When the housing bubble collapsed in the US, so too did the underpinning of what was driving consumption spending. Because it accounted for such a large percentage of the economy, we had the worst recession since the Great Depression.

We can see eerie similarities between Canada today and the US prior to the great recession. To start with, let’s look at what the US real estate bubble looked like. The chart below shows household debt to GDP for the US. You can see how household debt increases during the almost decade-long housing bubble, and then it falls once the housing market collapsed and the recession hit.

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