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How Will Coronavirus Affect Canadian Real Estate? – Financial Post

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TORONTO — MortgageCalculator.ca is the industry’s leading Financial Planning Tool that is designed to help real estate buyers compare current mortgage rates of multiple Canadian financial institutions.

Sam Kamra, a Realtor, private lender and a co-founder of MortgageCalculator.ca, shares his insights on the Coronavirus and its potential impact on Real Estate in Canada.

Coronavirus, the deadly disease is spreading its wings and leaving a scary mark in various nations across the globe. For China, the epicenter of this respiratory virus outbreak, it’s nothing less than a big nightmare.

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With over 7700 confirmed cases of the mysterious new illness, more than 170 people already dead in China (around 2% death rate), and several cases reported in 20 different countries, the Wuhan virus has become a serious point of concern everywhere.

But, other than severe health risks, is there something you need to worry about economically and financially? As a potential Real Estate investor, you have to be conscious of any ripple effects that could affect your buying and selling decisions.

Chinese Investments Worldwide: Past Facts

Chinese investors actively expanded their overseas footprints by investing both in commercial and residential real estate. As per a survey conducted in 2018, more than 1/3rd of Chinese millionaires considered emigrating to US and Canada amongst other locations.

Facts state; the total Chinese investment in international properties zoomed from $5 billion in 2010 to a massive USD 119.7 billion in 2017. A great spike in the foreign investments flowing from China to other nations! Political resistances and foreign taxes added certain limitations and dipped the overall figures in 2018-19. However, it could not suppress the ever-growing desire of investors to own luxury homes and other attractive properties in North America.

And, Canada has been one of the topmost investment destinations, a hotspot for Chinese immigrants and wealthy investors.

For a better education, healthier environment, and lifestyle – pouring of money from Asia into Canadian properties has surely driven real estate growth. Undoubtedly, the frenzy buying habits of rich Chinese investors boosted Canadian housing prices to unbelievable new heights.

A Reality Check for Canada

A noteworthy increase in foreign buyers (especially from China) has been observed in the past decade or so. Hence, it gets really important to weight the impact of this contagious Coronavirus wave on the housing markets in Canada.

With only 2 confirmed cases in Toronto, the situation seems to be under control in Canada. Keeping our fingers crossed, hoping everything is going to be managed perfectly! If Canada succeeds to evade this major pandemic, a transitory period of insecurity and panic, its economy can bear the hard blows, if any.

Looking at a 2015 study from the non-profit organization Berkeley Earth that estimated 1.6 million people in China die each year from heart, lung and stroke problems because of polluted air, current epidemic death toll rates don’t seem to be that dangerous, at least as of right now.

With the mounting fears of Coronavirus in China, it’s obvious for more people willing to shift and settle elsewhere. Once the situation normalizes, will that bring another era of inflation in Canadian Real Estate?

The Real Impact

The immense disruption of travel, business activities, locking down of numerous cities, and stagnant life in China has raised some global risks and concerns. Canadian officials say that “The risk of outbreak in Canada remains low” and they take all preventative measures to stop the virus. There are already multiple systems in place, which can detect and respond, in order to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

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MortgageCalculator.ca
CEO, Sam Kamra
sam.k@mortgagecalculator.ca
877.896.6727

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As demand for real estate VR booms, Founders Fund leads $16M round into Giraffe360 platform

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The property industry now requires high quality photographs, floor plans and virtual tours, so the industry for software providers in the space is booming. The whole are was accelerated during the pandemic when many property viewings migrated from physical to virtual, and this trend has continued to tick upwards.

Players in the space include Walnut, Stonly, Capterra… the list goes on. There is also Matterport which does virtual tours, but its clients are photographers.

Back in 2020, another player, Giraffe360 raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by LAUNCHub Ventures and Hoxton Ventures.

It has a robotic camera, combined with a subscription service, which enables real estate agents and brokers to generate high-resolution photos of properties, floor plans and virtual tours. The subscription gains the owner access to the camera, an AI-based image processing software and cloud storage, and other services.

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When estate agents use Giraffe360, this essentially removes photographers from the process.

It’s now raised $16 million in new funds led by Founders Fund, the San Francisco-based VC, whose portfolio boasts names such as Airbnb, Spotify and SpaceX.

Existing investors LAUNCHub Ventures, Hoxton Ventures, HCVC (Hardware Club) and Change Ventures also participated.

To date, the company has raised $22m in equity and $9m in venture debt. It was founded in 2016 in Riga, Latvia by two brothers, Mikus Opelts and Madars Opelts, and is headquartered in London, U.K.

Giraffe360 camera

Giraffe360 camera

The startup is also launching the latest, upgraded version of its camera, branded the Giraffe Go Cam. This is 30% lighter, which charge faster and comes with 500 GB of on-board storage. The camera uses uses a high-specification sensor, LIDAR laser and robotics.

Founders Fund principal Delian Asparouhov said in a statement: “After being involved in a number of PropTech startups such as OpenDoor, we’ve recognised that some of these tech forward companies aren’t having their needs met, which means that the mass market definitely isn’t having their needs met. Giraffe360 was a no-brainer, and is really well suited to meet the needs of the market from both the hardware and software front.”

In conjunction with the latest equity raise, Giraffe360 secured additional $6m in long-term loans from the London-based venture debt provider Columbia Lake Partners.

Giraffe360 CEO, Mikus Opelts, commented: “We are very excited to partner up with Founders Fund. It is one of the strongest brands in the VC industry, with a strong track record of backing category-defining companies. The new Giraffe Go Cam and funding will help guide the transition toward more immersive experiences of properties online, as the world takes on a more remote, online approach to properties.”

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Only recent homebuyers feeling crunch of rising interest rates

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Holiday parties are back this year, baby.

And while the novelty of having somewhere to wear my party shoes again has yet to wear off, the cocktail party conversations remain the same as they ever were: the weather, holiday plans, upcoming travel and, of course, the real estate market.

This is Toronto, after all.

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Would you believe me if I said there are people who, presumably in an effort to make benign small talk, ask me how the real estate market is and seem genuinely surprised to hear that things are rocky at the moment?

They indicate a vague awareness that interest rates are going up and slowing things down, but seem shocked to hear what that’s shaking out to mean in terms of the fall from February’s highs.

“It seems like things are sitting, huh?”

That was last night.

Confirms what I have long suspected:

Firstly, that Twitter bears very little resemblance to real life. Amen. Because, of course, if one were to extrapolate the state of things based on my (admittedly real estate heavy) Twitter feed alone, one would likely feel certain the world was ending.

And second, that unless you’re a recent buyer with a variable rate mortgage feeling the crunch of the rising rates, you’re probably busy living your life.

Your house may be worth substantially less than it might have been valued at last winter, but to you that was never real since even with the correction it’s likely still up substantially from what you paid.

Unless you’ve bought, sold or refinanced, that gain was entirely theoretical — you were living in your home, not tinkering with your net worth abacus in real time.

Based on what I can tell from a solid two weeks of mixing and mingling, the people who seem to be uncomfortably straddling the two worlds at the moment are the Boomers sitting with a substantial portion of their wealth tied up in their homes. For those whose retirement plans centred upon cashing out and downsizing, perhaps renting a nice bungalow somewhere, the outlook isn’t looking great.

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Now there’s an entirely uncertain timeline to contend with. We can’t be sure where the bottom is, when we might finally hit it, when the recovery might start to begin, and when, if ever, we might see prices like that again.

The rental market is tighter than it’s ever been, making the prospect of making a move both daunting and unappealing.

And to add a whole other layer of complexity to the situation, given how unaffordable the market has been for first-time homebuyers, the number of their parents who have pulled equity to help out with a downpayment is probably not surprising at this point. So we’re not actually just talking about people sitting on pots of illiquid gains — they’re also sitting on liabilities.

So the question is what should they do and when should they do it?

Of course, the answer is that I don’t know — it really depends.

But I will say that like seemingly all else in this period of uncertainty, kicking the can down the road and hoping things will miraculously improve in the spring doesn’t seem particularly promising.

Bah humbug indeed.

@brynnlackie

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Fraser Valley housing market sees decrease in November sales: real estate board

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The Fraser Valley housing market is continuing to slow as the holiday season approaches.

The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) processed 839 sales in November in the communities of Abbotsford, Langley, Mission, North Delta, Surrey, and White Rock. Sales are down 6.9 per cent from October and 57.5 per cent from last November. according to the FVREB’s multiple listing service.

“The trends we’ve seen over the past several months will likely continue through to year-end,” said Sandra Benz, President of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, in a news release. “While rate hikes have effectively put many buyers and sellers in a holding pattern, we’re still seeing relatively quick turnover for all housing categories, indicating robust opportunities for properties that are strategically priced.”

The FVREB saw a 22.1 decrease in listings in November compared to October and an 18.8 per cent decrease compared to November 2021.

“The market continues to tighten in response to rising interest rates,” said FVREB CEO Baldev Gill in a statement “As a result, individuals are facing additional levels of uncertainty regarding the decision to buy or sell a home.”

The benchmark prices for apartments, townhomes, and single-family detached homes all decreased in November from the previous month. Single-family homes had a benchmark price of $1,404,900, townhomes were $799,400 and apartments were $518,400. Apartments and townhouses increased their price from last November by 5.2 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively, while single family homes decreased by 6.3 per cent.

The average number of days to sell an apartment in the Fraser Valley during November was 27 days, while townhouses came in at 28 days and single-family detached homes averaged 34 days.

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