June 16, 2024

Month: May 2024

Is mass timber the next big thing in cheaper, greener construction? More provinces are saying yes

Urban downtowns are sometimes called concrete jungles because the apartments and office buildings that make up skylines from New York to Vancouver are generally made of — what else? — concrete. 

But that could change with a push underway to build more tall buildings with another material: mass timber. 

Mass timber is an umbrella category of materials made by binding layers of wood together to create larger, stronger elements like panels and beams. Proponents say it's faster and easier to build with than concrete and steel, and less carbon-intensive to boot. 

If concrete and steel are the Coke and Pepsi of highrise construction, mass timber has so far been more of a generic-brand cola. Mass timber made up just one per cent of all building construction materials in North America in 2022, according to an RBC report

But analysts expect the market to rapidly expand in the years ahead, and all across the country, existing mass-timber plants are being expanded and new ones are in the works, from B.C. and Alberta to Ontario and Nova Scotia.

WATCH | Will mass timber mean more homes in Canada's biggest city? 

Mass timber construction is on the rise. Could it help the housing crisis?

There’s been an increase in large-scale building projects using mass timber, otherwise known as engineered wood. Experts say the material offers several benefits compared to steel and concrete — including sustainability and speed. Talia Ricci explores whether it could be part of a solution to Toronto’s housing crisis.

"The demand is extremely high for mass timber now," said Frank Gannon, director of stakeholder engagement with mass timber manufacturer Western Archrib. He spoke with CBC News inside a new, 155,000 sq. ft. facility the company is building north of Edmonton to keep up with its growing orders. 

"We are filling capacity slots about 10 months out from today — so yes, the phone's ringing off the hook."

The industry is getting a boost from new building codes that allow taller mass-timber buildings, and federal and provincial programs and policies that encourage builders to use more of it.

But so far, the uptake of mass timber has been uneven across the country, as some builders remain reluctant to switch from tried-and-true materials to something new. 

And while much of the buzz around mass timber comes from its low carbon profile, some experts disagree about how climate-friendly it really is.

Beams and columns, floors and walls

The two most common types of mass timber are glue-laminated timber, or glulam, and cross-laminated timber, or CLT

Glulam, which has been around since the early 20th century, is used to make beams and columns. CLT panels are a more recent innovation used for floors, roofs and walls. 

A man wearing safety glasses and a safety vest is pictured in front of a large beam made of glue-laminated timber.
Frank Gannon, director of stakeholder engagement with Western Archrib, stands in front of a large beam of glue-laminated timber at the company's plant north of Edmonton. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Taken together, the two materials can serve as an alternative to concrete and steel in a building, said Brian Merwin, senior-vice president with Mercer Mass Timber in Vancouver.

"CLT is the transformational material for tall buildings," he said, adding that most of the material used in highrises is for the floors. "[It's] sort of filled that missing gap to get us to where we are today."

Federal tracking shows mass timber has most commonly been used in institutional buildings, like schools and community centres, but as more research has emerged attesting to the fire safety of tall wood structures, recent changes to building codes have opened the door to building higher.

In 2020, the National Building Code of Canada was changed to allow encapsulated mass-timber construction up to 12 storeys. That means mass timber components in these taller buildings have to be covered by a fire-resistant material, like drywall.

Ontario and B.C. have gone further, and will allow up to 18-storey buildings.

Faster and lighter

Building with mass timber carries several advantages, according to structural engineer Robert Malczyk. It's faster to work with than concrete, he said, because panels can be largely prefabricated and assembled on-site. 

His own five-storey Vancouver office building, made with mass timber, was erected in 12 days. 

A piece of curved, glue-laminated timber is pictured at the Mercer Mass Timber factory in Okanagan, B.C.
A worker at the Mercer Mass Timber factory in Okanagan, B.C., works on a piece of curved, glue-laminated timber. (Submitted by Jenn Kochanski)

"As an owner, I saved a lot in crane time, in closure of the streets time," said Malczyk, principal with the Timber Engineering consulting group. 

Mass timber is also relatively light, making it more resilient to earthquakes, he said. Plus, many people simply like the way it looks. 

"It has this beautiful calming effect, it's a natural material. We just love to be surrounded by wood."

Proponents of mass-timber construction also point to its environmental advantages.

Wood is a renewable resource, said Mohammad Mohammad, a senior research adviser with Natural Resources Canada, and producing it generates far less carbon compared to steel and concrete

A man wearing blue-framed eyeglasses and an orange sweater is pictured inside a mass timber office building.
Robert Malczyk, principal at Vancouver's Timber Engineering Inc., stands inside his mass-timber office building. He says the building took only 12 days to construct. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC News)

At the end of a building's lifespan, he said, wood can also be recycled or reused, rather than being sent to a landfill. 

"It has a lot of environmental benefits," said Mohammad, who works with a federal program funding innovative wood-construction projects that is so oversubscribed, its website contains a high-volume notice.

Green claims questioned

Not everyone is ready to throw out their cement mixers and switch to mass timber. 

While construction in B.C. and Quebec, for example, has grown thanks to "wood-first" policies in their respective provinces, other provinces remain a bit more hesitant. 

Many developers in Alberta, for example, are studying mass timber carefully but haven't yet felt comfortable green-lighting a mass-timber residential building, said Scott Fash, CEO of BILD Alberta.

"I think we're in the phase of exploration and not quite action," he said. 

A close-up on a piece of glue-laminated timber.
This close-up of a piece of glue-laminated timber shows the multiple layers of lumber that are glued together. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Insurance premiums can also be high for builders working with mass timber, said analyst Sean Steuart, not because it's a more dangerous material but because it's so new. 

"It's just not a well established industry, and as such, the insurance-underwriting framework is not as well developed," said Steuart, director of equity research with TD Cowen.  

He said there's also a mismatch between supply and demand of mass timber: most demand is coming from Eastern Canada but manufacturing is concentrated in the West, which can drive up shipping costs. 

Another risk: not everyone thinks mass timber is as sustainable as it's made out to be, and some experts caution against cutting down more trees to build with more mass timber. 

"The most valuable thing we can do with forests is to leave them standing and growing," said Timothy Searchinger, whose work on mass timber has been published in the journal Nature and by the World Resources Institute

He suggests the world would be better off exploring more low-carbon concrete options instead. 

The exterior of a mass timber condo building in New York City.
Glue-laminated timber was used for the balconies on New York City's Timber House. Some builders have been reluctant to switch to mass timber from more established materials like steel and concrete. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Faster housing construction?

Mohammad, with Natural Resources Canada, said the vast majority of forests harvested in Canada are sustainable, and that usually more than one tree is planted for every one that's cut. 

As Canada attempts to rapidly ramp up housing construction in the years ahead, he believes mass timber will play an important role in the overall mix of construction materials — especially in Northern communities, where concrete can be prohibitively expensive and hard to ship. 

"[You can] basically establish a new housing development within weeks or months," he said.

"Now that we are able to go taller and larger with mass timber, it's just adding another construction system, another tool to our toolbox."

Rick Jeffery, CEO of the Canadian Wood Council, doesn't see a scenario where mass timber fully replaces concrete and steel. He also pointed out that it's not common for buildings to be made of mass timber alone: typically they're made of some mix of the three materials.

But he believes mass timber will be used much more often as Canada aims to build its way out of the housing crisis (a goal that will require another 3.5 million homes by decade's end). 

"We see there's a big opportunity on that residential side."

B.C. real estate: CRA audits uncover $1.3 billion in unpaid taxes

The CRA identified $957 million in unpaid income taxes over eight years of audits targeting B.C. real estate, more than five times the amount in Ontario, which has three times B.C.'s population

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After taking a deeper look into B.C.’s real estate sector, Canada’s tax regulator has uncovered $1.3 billion in unpaid tax bills.

The Canada Revenue Agency has dramatically ramped up its auditing of real estate in recent years, scrutinizing both personal transactions and professional activities.

The agency has found “a disproportionate amount of non-compliance” in Canada’s largest metropolitan centres, with Metro Vancouver “identified as an area that requires our unique attention,” said Jason Charron, director general of the CRA’s compliance programs branch, recently. “We’re continuing to focus on the Lower Mainland, where we know there’s non-compliance.”

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Since launching a dedicated real estate task force in 2019, the CRA has mostly focused on Ontario and B.C., increasing the number of audits performed, sending out reassessment notices for billions in additional taxes the agency believes should be paid, and levying hundreds of million dollars in penalties.

In Ontario, the agency assessed $1.4 billion in unpaid taxes and penalties in the real estate sector between 2015 and 2023. B.C., which has about a third of Ontario’s population, had almost the same amount of tax non-compliance identified over the same period: $1.3 billion.

These real estate audits looked at a wide range of activities and entities: property-sellers illegitimately claiming the principal residence exemption, unreported capital gains, people who reside outside of Canada and invest in property here, share transfers and corporate structures designed to mask a property’s beneficial owners, and the activities of homebuilders and realtors.

Although the total value of unpaid taxes and penalties found in B.C. and Ontario was similar, the nature of non-compliance was markedly different in the two provinces. In Ontario, most non-compliance identified by the CRA in real estate was related to unpaid GST and HST on new homes or inappropriately claimed rebates on those taxes. In B.C., most of the non-compliance related to income tax.

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Data provided by the CRA shows that the agency identified $957 million in income tax-related non-compliance in B.C. real estate between 2015 and 2023, more than five times the amount found in the larger province of Ontario, at $178 million, over the same period.

The CRA says confidentiality laws prevent the release of information about the audits, but sent a written statement that said, in general, the income tax-related non-compliance included:

• Situations where a taxpayer acquired an expensive home without a clear reported source of income

• Profits from the quick flipping of homes that aren’t properly reported as taxable business income

• People, including those who aren’t residents of Canada, failing to report capital gains on sales of real estate

• Unreported income earned outside of Canada

• Non-compliance by realtors and developers.

The CRA declined to say how which categories the $957 million broke into  — for example, how much was related to property flippers or developers or non-residents — citing the need to protect taxpayer information and maintain “the integrity of our risk assessment system.”

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The number of income tax-related audits CRA conducted in B.C. real estate increased by almost 10 times between the 114 audit files opened in the 2015 fiscal year and the 1,089 opened last year.

There has been a corresponding boom in what the agency calls “audit assessments,” meaning the combined value of unpaid taxes still owing and penalties levied. Income tax-related audit assessments related to B.C. real estate averaged $6.4 million annually for the two fiscal years between 2015 and 2017, and shot up to an average of $155.1 million annually over the most recent two-year period, a 2,300 per cent increase.

Canada’s 2019 federal budget included $50 million over five years for the CRA to create a real estate task force, with specialized audit teams. Last month, the 2024 budget boosted that funding to $73 million for the next five years.

This work seems to be “paying for itself and then some,” said Tom Davidoff, an associate professor at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business. The findings show there was “obviously” some kind of problem with tax compliance in this sector, he said, “but what we don’t know is how big of a problem it is now … If there was a problem and they solved it, that would be fantastic.”

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For years, many British Columbians were “ringing the bell” about people cheating on their taxes with real estate dealings, said Davidoff, director of UBC’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate. This recent crackdown might not make housing in B.C. significantly more affordable, he said, “but it’s real money and it’s certainly useful to get it back where it belongs.”

Davidoff co-authored a 2022 paper published in The Canadian Tax Journal, which examined the top five per cent of Greater Vancouver homes had a median value of $3.7 million, while the median owner paid income taxes of just $15,800. This was the lowest correlation of property values to income tax contributions of any North American city, the authors wrote, concluding that “most luxury homes in Greater Vancouver appear to be purchased with wealth derived from sources other than earnings taxed in Canada.”

Considering these earlier findings, Davidoff said it makes sense that the CRA’s recent audits of B.C. real estate uncovered income tax “chicanery.”

Representatives of both the Greater Vancouver Realtors and the Canadian Home Builders Association of B.C. said they haven’t heard anything from their members about any recent increases or changes in CRA activity.

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Canadians for Tax Fairness, a non-profit tax policy advocacy group, said it welcomes the CRA “doing more to ensure that the real estate sector complies with tax laws, and we encourage the government to adequately fund the CRA so they can do their job.”

In an emailed statement, Canadians for Tax Fairness spokeswoman Erica Shiner said: “Tax avoidance continues to be a problem in many sectors, costing Canadians billions in revenue each year.”

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5 Most Profitable Home Improvements to Make Before Selling Your Home

Getting ready to sell your house? You may want to consider these five home improvements to ensure a bigger price tag at closing time.

Unless you’re Joanna Gaines, the prospect of updating and prepping your home for sale can seem daunting. All those little repairs you were happy to postpone for another day (or year) may seem like glaring problems to a buyer once your home is on the market. So, what to do? Option one is to hope you luck into a buyer who will see your home not as it is now, but for what it could be. Option two is to put some money and time into a few repairs that will help get your home market-ready. Although the latter option may seem like a lot of hassle, it can translate to serious money — nearly a quarter of sellers who do home improvements sell their home above list price. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend months (or many thousands of dollars) with a contractor to get your home ready — many small DIY home improvements can yield big returns on closing day. (And you can invest those returns to make even MORE money!) Here’s a look at five of the best.

1.) Painting

Painting is the lowest cost improvement with the highest rate of return, so it’s not surprising that 36% of home sellers choose to do it, according to Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s Director of Economic Research. When trying to sell, a nice coat of neutral paint can give the entire house a facelift, and buyers really love to see a fresh blank canvas. Consider getting color recommendations from a trained professional since paint colors can be tricky depending on lighting and other features in the house such as cabinets and flooring,” says Jennie Norris, chairwoman for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. If you’re looking for a “safe” color, gray has been trending in recent years, Norris says.

Initial Cost of Investment: Professional painting of the interior of an entire 2,500 square foot house can be anywhere from $2,000-$4,000 depending on the market, according to Norris. If there are vaulted ceilings or a lot of detail work, it could be more.

If That’s Too Expensive, Consider: DIY, if you’re handy with a paintbrush. Buy a 5 gallon bucket of a neutral paint color (much cheaper than buying per gallon) and get to work. “At the very least, if you can’t do the painting yourself, wash your walls and declutter to create a nice open space,” suggests Lori Matke of homestagingexpert.com.


2.) Landscaping Your Yard

The outside of your house is a buyer’s first impression when they pull up. A patchy or overgrown yard can be a major turn-off. Anything that’s dead should be removed, and anything that’s overgrown should be cut back. You can make sure the lawn is refreshed and green by re-sodding or planting grass seed, and you may want to do edging to help define spaces. Also, fresh mulch or straw in any beds is a must.  “A few newly planted shrubs and perennials tucked in for good measure will make your house feel much more finished and inviting,” Matke suggests.

Initial Cost of Investment: Professional landscaping can cost anywhere between $500 – $3,000 (and higher if you add in tree removal) according to Matke.

If That’s Too Expensive, Consider: If you’re up for a little sweat equity, roll up your sleeves and remove anything dead yourself. You also don’t need a pro to purchase grass seed. Just follow the directions for planting, and keep it watered and mowed. “A good, sturdy garden rake can tidy up the borders, and instead of renting a lawn edger, a sharp, heavy-duty putty knife works just as well,” Matke says. For color, you can purchase a few bright annual flowers at your local garden shop and either plant them directly into the landscape around the house, or add them to pots near the front door.

 3.) Flooring

Replacing carpet or repairing flooring is an improvement that 26% of homeowners make, according to Zillow. If you’ve got lots of rooms with many types of flooring, you might want to bite the bullet and invest in new flooring for all, to create a seamless feel throughout the house. Wood floors, or even faux-wood floors, are preferable to carpeting even though those options can be more costly, Matke says.  If, however, you can’t afford to upgrade to wood, new carpeting is still a major selling point. And just like with painting walls, a good neutral color is best.

Initial Cost of Investment: For professional flooring installation, expect to pay between $10 – $12 per square foot for faux wood, and up to $30 for real wood. An average quality carpeting will cost about $8- $12 per square foot, installed, says Matke.

If That’s Too Expensive, Consider: Some outlet centers have flooring stores, where you can sometimes find great deals on older styles that have been discontinued, Matke says. If an upgrade absolutely isn’t in the budget, then look to have your carpeting and hardwoods professionally cleaned. If you have a few worn/discolored areas on the hardwoods, touch them up yourself with a little water-based stain to make them less noticeable. And don’t forget about the charm of a nice throw rug when needed.

4.)Bathroom Update

A mid-range bathroom update (think natural stone for countertops, not high-end quartz) offers a great return on investment, according to data from Zillow. And a bathroom that looks old can really date a house, Norris says. A few lucrative bathroom updates could include: new counter tops, new tiling, frameless glass doors (get rid of the brass or metal), new cabinets, and new fixtures for the sinks and tub. When replacing cabinets, remember that minimalism is best — neutral colors, and no designs or raised panels.

Initial Cost of Investment: The cost of a mid-range bathroom remodel averages between $3,000-$12,000 according to Zillow.

If That’s Too Expensive, Consider: Dated tile always looks better with clean grout lines, so consider cleaning or freshening the grout, which you can DIY or hire someone to do. Also, instead of replacing cabinets, you can simply paint them — white, gray, or black can offer a clean look, according to Norris. And reglazing the tub will always be cheaper than installing a brand new one.

5.) Update Lighting Fixtures

Replacing lighting throughout a house can be a simple update for a small investment — but it can make a bit impact where appearance is concerned, Norris says. As you look at options for chandeliers, pendant lighting, and ceiling fixtures, remember to keep colors consistent with your home’s hardware. For example, you can mix metals such as copper and oiled bronze, or brushed nickel with chrome, but you wouldn’t want to mix gold and silver tones. Keep in mind that older brass fixtures can look dated, since they were often used in properties built in the 80’s and 90’s. In other words, if you’re going to the trouble to put in something new, make sure it offers a true update.

Initial Cost of Investment: Light fixtures for dining areas or pendant lights can be a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on source and style, Norris says. But there are often good deals to be found at places like Ikea, Home Depot, Lowes, and other stores that cater to the DIY crowd, where some fixtures can cost under $100.

If That’s Too Expensive, Consider: Less is more. Especially with lighting, sometimes it’s more about what you don’t see than what you do… So if that giant 1980’s chandelier is eclipsing the living room, don’t feel like you have to replace it with something fancy — just take it out. The buyer can easily imagine for themselves what they’d like in the space, and you don’t have to spend a dime. You can also install fixtures yourself, but where wires are concerned, make sure you have a professional electrician to help.

So, How Much Can I Really Make?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here — every home is different, and every neighborhood and part of the country will yield varied results. But a common formula used by home stagers is that every  $1 put into a house should yield an additional $1.50 increase at closing, at least. With some projects, the rate can be much higher — bathroom remodels boost sales prices by $1.71 for every $1 spent, according to Zillow. This means that a $5,000 bathroom renovation would yield a bump in home price of $8,550, perhaps more.

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Lastly, Small Repairs Are Great, But Don’t Lose Sight Of The Bigger Picture  

Before you get carried away making these smaller cosmetic adjustments, spend some time looking at your home’s basic needs — are all the big things in working order? Buyers have certain expectations, and that includes getting a house that has been well maintained and is safe and livable. “In other words, if you’re contemplating a kitchen remodel but your roof is leaking like a sieve, you need to address the roof issues first before indulging in any updates,” says Matke.

Also, while you’re trucking on your “repair and improve” bandwagon, avoid taking on costly projects that have a purely personal appeal — like that water feature and koi pond out back you’ve always dreamed of. “You simply will not get your money back on those types of additions, and buyers might be more apt to reconsider if it’s not something they’ve always dreamed of, too,” Matke explains.

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Inside Ray Kappe’s only house design outside the US

The work of the late Los Angeles master Ray Kappe (1927-2019) is part of the American modernist architecture legacy that vintage furniture dealer Lars Triesch fell in love with from afar. The result of his passion is Triesch Residence, a Kappe-designed home built in the leafy town of Kleinmachnow, southwest of central Berlin.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

Tour Ray Kappe's Triesch Residence

As a young draftsman, Kappe worked on Eichler villas (Joseph Eichler's iconic low, glass-enclosed, A-frame roof homes that came to epitomise California Modern), which were, at the time, rising across 20th-century US suburbs. In the 1970s, he became the founding director of the academic program at SCI-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His Los Angeles office promoted eco-modernism with flat roofs, heavy timber structural beams, and oversized picture windows framing leafy vistas. Triesch and his wife, Sara, a painter, wanted all those - but in their home base of Berlin.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

They decide to build their dream home from the ground up. Seven years ago, even before securing land where constructing a flat roof would be allowed, Triesch, 44, and his family of four, went straight to the source in Los Angeles to meet Kappe and tour five of his California houses. The architect had never built outside the US but still signed on - ultimately in partnership with his sons Finn and Ron - to invent a California-inspired home for Germany that respects the snowy climate and strict Berlin building codes.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

Ray Kappe died at age 92, and he never saw the finished project, which is now complete, featuring four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sauna, a screening room, and a studio. It’s wrapped in large windows and custom-milled redwood siding shipped from Oakland, California, in a container, alongside a bespoke Ofuro soaking tub assembled from redwood planks laminated by an artisanal Pacific Coast workshop.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

Challenges included a quest for Slentex, a slim new inorganic aerogel insulation to layer inside Kappe’s thin exterior walls (it reduced the required thickness of chunkier German wood-framed walls by half). Arguably, Kappe’s lifelong interest in architectural prefab also helped the design set sail. Factory-made walls and structural members got bolted together on-site in just a week, streamlining construction.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

A suspended 'free-swinging' staircase uses the architect’s signature wood blocks - stacked 'like Jenga,' as Triesch notes - in Douglas Fir to match exposed structural beams. Such fir is rare in Germany, as is the 1.5”-wide clear red oak strip flooring. (Stains and wood protectants came from Sansin and Bona, two of many manufacturing partners for the house detailed on Triesch’s information-rich construction blog)

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

The structure grows out of a mature landscape rejuvenated by Topanga-based Richard Grigsby. Norifumi Nishioka selected plants for the wild new Japanese-style meadow with a manmade waterfall and creek bed inspired by a stream at the iconic Kappe Family home in Pacific Palisades.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)

Of course, as a mid-century dealer, Triesch has 'a big stock' of vintage furniture. He decided to decorate his home with Kappe-designed pieces where possible, replicating one-offs he’d seen touring that home in LA. Today those new prototype tables and a sofa live in Kleinmachnow, while their authorized reproductions sell through his furniture shop, Original. in Berlin.

Ray Kappe house renovation

(Image credit: Jürgen Nogai)


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The PBOC (“Big Momma”) Releases Real Estate Policy Bazooka, Week In Review

Week in Review

  • Asian equities were sharply higher this week, led by Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Taiwan, though Mainland China markets were flat.
  • This week was a busy one for internet earnings as Tencent and JD.com beat estimates handily while Alibaba and Baidu reported mixed results.
  • Real estate was also in focus this week as news of a government effort to purchase unsold apartments to stabilize prices led to gains in developer stocks.
  • Inflation reports were further impacting markets this week as China reported higher-than-expected growth in consumer prices, a good sign for its economy, and the US’ softer-than-expected CPI print contributed to a risk-on atmosphere globally.

Key News

Asia ended the week higher as Mainland China and Hong Kong outperformed while South Korea was off.

It was an interesting session overnight. Hong Kong and Mainland China bounced around the room before slipping following April economic releases. This is despite Vice Premier He Lifeng’s comments on real estate policy support. Then, markets went absolutely vertical after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, announced three policies to support the real estate market.

The PBOC’s real estate three-pronged stimulus package involves: (1) providing RMB 300 billion ($41.5 billion) worth of loans to local governments to buy unsold apartments (really RMB 500 billion, assuming it represents 60% of the loan principal) at an interest rate of 1.75%, (2) lowering the minimum down payment for first-time home buyers’ mortgages to 15% and to 25% for second homes, (3) lowering the mortgage rate for first-time home buyers for loans of 5-years or less by 0.25% to 2.35% and to 2.85% for longer-term loans (2.78% and 3.33% for second-time home buyers).

This is the closest to the policy bazooka we’ve seen in addressing the multiple facets of real estate’s impact on China’s economy. Multiple agencies including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, and the Ministry of Natural Resources released statements around these top-down policy changes. The facets of economic impact are (1) depressed property developers creating a financial crisis (i.e. China’s Lehman moment though no one believes the government would allow a financial crisis to unfold right in front of them), (2) the lack of property development, which means fewer jobs, (3) fewer new apartments, which means less demand for home appliances, furnishings, etc., and (4) lower property prices, which have been weighing on household wealth and thereby domestic consumption (60% of China’s household wealth is tied to housing). This is a real step-up in policy. Yes, it is not a magic bullet that will suddenly solve the above issues, but it will help.

April new home prices declined -0.58% from March and existing home prices fell -0.94% from March.

Did you notice all the “buts” in Western media reporting on this topic? Foreign investor confidence in China, especially amongst US investors, is low, which explains the skepticism. Why bother when the Magnificent 7 goes up every day? That is true, until it doesn’t.

In China they call the PBOC “Big Momma” because you don’t mess with the PBOC. Investors in China and Asia will recognize that when the government pivots, you should too!

Real estate was the top-performing sector in Mainland China, where it gained +7.94%, and Hong Kong, where it gained +5.42%. Developer China Vanke gained +19.37% and Sunac gained +25.85%.

Knowing professional investors are underweight China, it is not surprising that trading desks were busy overnight. Think about all those emerging market funds that own Nvidia and Microsoft
! Hong Kong trading volume was lower than yesterday, though still 178% of the 1-year average led by Tencent, which gained +0.36%, Alibaba, which gained +7.53% after short selling firm Citron re-recommended the stock, Ping An Insurance, which gained +5.7%, Meituan, which fell -0.48%, and China Construction Bank, which fell -0.85%. It is interesting that Tencent’s market capitalization is $476 billion versus Alibaba’s $213 billion, though I suspect that Alibaba will receive some TLC from mainland investors once added to Southbound Stock Connect this fall.

The Hang Seng closed above 19,500 as Mainland China outperformed Hong Kong.

In last night’s economic release, industrial production was stronger-than-expected though retail sales surprisingly came in lower. Meanwhile, online retail sales were relatively strong. Property investment was unsurprisingly lower, along with property sales. Remember our trading buddy Dave’s saying – “if market no care, you no care”.

I recommend checking out Charlie Munger’s interview on the Acquired podcast. He had interesting comments on investing in China, including a discussion of Berkshire Hathaway’s
Berkshire Hathaway
BYD investment.

The Hang Seng and Hang Seng Tech indexes gained +0.91% and Wayne Gretzky +0.99%, respectively, on volume that decreased -12.49% from yesterday, which is 178% of the 1-year average. 333 stocks advanced while 150 declined. Main Board short turnover declined -17.92% from yesterday, which is 139% of the 1-year average, as 14% of turnover was short turnover (remember Hong Kong short turnover includes ETF short volume, which is driven by market makers’ hedging). All factors were positive as value and large caps outperformed. The top-performing sectors were Real Estate, which gained +5.41%, Consumer Discretionary, which gained +2.65%, and Financials, which gained +1.24%. Meanwhile, Health Care fell -0.82%, Technology fell -0.38%, and Consumer Staples fell -0.1%. The top-performing subsectors were real estate services, insurance, and retail. Meanwhile household/personal products, semiconductors, and pharmaceuticals were among the worst-performing. Southbound Stock Connect volumes were high, almost twice the 1-year average as Mainland investors bought a net $763 million worth of Hong Kong-listed stocks and ETFs, including Bank of China, which was a large net buy, Tencent, and China Construction Bank.

Shanghai, Shenzhen, and the STAR Board gained +1.01%, +1.18%, and +1.06%, respectively, on volume that increased +4.6% from yesterday, which is 104% of the 1-year average. 3,295 stocks advanced while 1,585 stocks declined. All factors were positive as value and large caps outperformed. The top-performing sectors were Real Estate, which gained +7.93%, Financials, which gained +1.48%, and Materials, which gained +1.26%. Meanwhile, Health Care was the only negative sector, falling -0.41%. The top-performing subsectors were real estate, insurance, and chemical fibers, while motorcycles, power generation equipment, and household appliances were among the worst-performing subsectors. Northbound Stock Connect volumes were average as foreign investors sold a net -$875 million worth of Mainland stocks. CNY was flat and the Asia Dollar Index was lower versus the US dollar. Treasury bonds rallied. Copper and steel were both up 1.17%, which I have never seen before.

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Last Night's Performance

Last Night’s Exchange Rates, Prices, & Yields

  • CNY per USD 7.22 versus 7.22 yesterday
  • CNY per EUR 7.85 versus 7.85 yesterday
  • Yield on 1-Day Government Bond 1.35% versus 1.36% yesterday
  • Yield on 10-Year Government Bond 2.31% versus 2.31% yesterday
  • Yield on 10-Year China Development Bank Bond 2.41% versus 2.42% yesterday
  • Copper Price +1.17%
  • Steel Price +1.17%

How to Clean an Air Conditioner

Learning how to clean an air conditioner is critical, especially before summer gets into full swing and scorching hot days become the norm. During the summer, your air conditioner works overtime, especially if you like to keep cool by staying inside. And if you always want cool air blasting from your portable air conditioner, you definitely need to learn how to keep your air conditioner clean.

Whether you have central air or a window unit, here's how to clean an air conditioner like a professional. Plus, check out air conditioning maintenance tips and tricks from our experts you can easily do to protect yourself from the summer heat.

  • Dave Mejean is the HVAC manager at B&W Plumbing and Heating Co., Inc.
  • Brian Kleinschmidt is a home improvement expert and American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning partner.
  • Mika Kleinschmidt is a home improvement expert and American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning partner.
  • Giacomo Calzavara is the Managing Director of JMATEK North America, a licensee of Honeywell portable cooling products.

How Often to Clean an Air Conditioner

Window AC

Air conditioning units need to be cleaned regularly. "I would recommend cleaning [a window AC unit] every two weeks," says Giacomo Calzavara of JMATEK North America.

Central Air

As for a central AC unit, it's a good idea to have a professional inspect and clean your system once a year. They can make sure the coolant levels are on target, check for leaks, and clean the coils.

How to Know When Your AC Needs Cleaning

While it's best to clean your air conditioner at least once a year, there are signs you can look for that indicate it needs to be cleaned between annual washdowns. Dirty air conditioners not only affect the unit's performance, they can also send pollutants and irritants into your home's air, so keeping them clean is vital.

Your AC Isn't Cooling Efficiently

If your air conditioner isn't cooling your home or room as well as it usually does, or if the air being blown out of the unit is not cold, that's a massive sign that your AC needs maintenance. When the AC doesn't work efficiently, you might be tempted to crank the thermostat down or let it run for longer; before you do that, try cleaning it so you don't run up your electric bill.

Your AC Is Making Weird Noises

Your AC unit should not make noises other than a mechanical hum or the sound of the blower. If you hear a knocking or whirring or the unit sounds louder than usual, it may be time for a cleaning.

Your AC Smells Off

Your air conditioner should not be releasing any odor into the air. If you suddenly notice a musty, earthy, or burning smell, check your unit—it probably needs to be cleaned.

Your AC Unit Looks Dirty

A significant sign that your AC needs a good cleaning is that it simply looks dirty. Yes, a certain amount of dirt will collect on the part of the unit that sits outside. However, if you notice dust or dirt on the fins, dirt in the runoff pan, or even mold, your AC needs to be cleaned. Running a dirty air conditioner decreases its efficiency and can damage your entire system, so it's critical to keep everything clean.

Your Energy Bills Increase

Noticed a sudden uptick in your electric bill? The cleanliness of your air conditioner might be to blame. Dirty ACs don't function at their highest efficiency, which means they have to work harder, driving up energy bills. If you've noticed an increased bill with no explanation, check your AC unit.

Considerations Before You Get Started

The first and most important step in cleaning your air conditioner unit is to disconnect the electricity. For window units, make sure they're unplugged. If you're doing light cleaning of your central AC, turn off the electricity via the circuit breaker.

There are two primary areas to focus on when cleaning a window AC unit: filters and coils.

  • Filters remove the dust from the air and when they're clogged, they force your AC unit to work harder and use up more energy to cool your home—that costs more for you without delivering results.
  • Coils help move the hot and cold air, so make sure they're not clogged with dirt and dust.

Of course, for some air conditioning systems (like central AC), it's best to have a professional HVAC contractor inspect the unit, check the ductwork, and ensure it's operating efficiently.

"Companies like ours should come out and do the heavy maintenance on it, but in between, there are air conditioning maintenance tips people can follow themselves," says Dave Mejean of B&W Plumbing and Heating. "It's like a car: You have to have your mechanic tune it up, but there are still things you can do to make sure it's running too."

Moving Soon? These 12 Tips Can Simplify Your Next Move

Deciding to purchase a new home and choosing a new place to live are two of the most impactful decisions you'll make in your adult life. Buying a new home, especially, is a huge milestone. However, just because you have the keys, that doesn't mean you're ready to move all of your stuff into your new place. 

Regardless of whether this is your first time moving or you're a seasoned pro, you might already know the basics: how to pack all your belongings in boxes; how to transport those boxes (maybe even with the help of movers and a moving truck) to your new space; and how you should unload everything once you get there. With all the hustle and bustle of a move, it's easy to forget to take care of some crucial home projects before pulling up in your moving van.

CNET Moving Tips logo CNET Moving Tips logo

There are plenty of projects you can tackle while living in your home, but some are better done before you move in to save yourself the extra stress. Consider updating, replacing, remodeling and knocking out these home projects before moving in full-time. After finishing those up, check out the best internet providers and whether you should invest in solar panels. 

Transfer utilities and change your address 

Changing your address and updating your utilities may seem obvious but can be easily overlooked when you're busy with the home-buying process. Make sure you have utilities and core services set up to be active in your new home before you move in. What a bummer to spend your first night in your first home with no power. Don't forget to also transfer mail, the internet, TV services and any regularly scheduled deliveries to your new home address.

Person with orange gloves scrubbing a tile floor Person with orange gloves scrubbing a tile floor

The floor is just one spot you should clean in your new home.

Alfred Evelina/Getty Images


No matter whether your new home looks spotless or is visibly dusty, it's a good idea to give it a deep clean before you settle in. The previous owner probably left some dirt, pet hair, dust or other grime behind. Whether you see it or not, it's best to start fresh. 

Before moving in, you'll want to clean these spots. While scrubbing, take a moment to replace your air filters and check your smoke detectors, too. 

1. Kitchen
2. Cabinets
3. Stove 
4. Refrigerator
5. Bathroom
6. Shower heads
7. Toilet
8. Floors, walls and baseboards
9. Ceiling fans and light fixtures
10. Washing machine
11. Dishwasher

A cordless vacuum leaning against a wall, between a table and a window A cordless vacuum leaning against a wall, between a table and a window

Before you move in, you'll want to vacuum, wipe down and scrub your new home. 

Brian Bennett/CNET

Must-have cleaning equipment

Deep-cleaning your entire home is easier when you have the right tools. CNET puts many products to the test, and these are some of our favorites: 

A women sitting on the floor painting a wall A women sitting on the floor painting a wall

Don't like the color of a room? Paint it. 

The Good Brigade/Getty Images


Painting can transform a space. Do you hate that purple dining room or the jet-black bedroom formerly occupied by a teenager? Best to get it done before you get settled. It may not be as intrusive as other major home updates, but you will have to move all your junk to the middle of the room, provided there's space.

Also, paint sprays and splatters, so if you do have belongings in the room you'll need additional protection by way of plastic sheeting or drop cloths. Pro tip: You can paint walls or rooms before doing flooring updates so you don't have to be as concerned with getting paint on your new floors.

Man putting down new hardwood flooring Man putting down new hardwood flooring

If you're going to replace or refinish an existing floor, you definitely want to get that done before moving in.

Getty Images

Replace or refinish flooring 

Everything in your house that isn't attached to a wall is going to take up floor space. If you're going to replace or refinish an existing floor, you definitely want to get that done before moving in. Anyone you hire to do the work will require the affected rooms to be empty, so there's no reason to fill them up beforehand. 

Even if you do the work yourself, you'll need to shuffle your belongings around, and that will drastically lengthen the time it takes to complete the project and make it harder on yourself. 

Plumbing and electric updates

If you're buying a home that is a bit dated and needs major updates to core systems like plumbing or electrical, you might consider getting these projects done before your move. 

If you do have major updates taking place, there's a fair chance the work involved will include cutting out sections of drywall or flooring to make pathways for updated pipes or wiring. The demo and subsequent drywall repairs will create quite a bit of dust, so you'll also likely be painting walls or repairing flooring. 

Man working with a power drill Man working with a power drill

Cutting out sections of drywall can create a lot of dust, which might require you to repaint walls or repair flooring. 

Getty Images

Kitchen remodel

If you're planning on remodeling or renovating your kitchen, it's better to do it before moving in. Going through a total kitchen remodel can upset the day-to-day flow in many ways. Not only will you not be able to prepare food, you also won't have any space to store food, especially if appliances need to be moved or unplugged. You'll need space to store all of your dishes and kitchen gadgets, plus all of the debris and materials for the kitchen renovation will have to go somewhere as well. 

Bathroom renovation

Another inconvenience is a total bathroom remodel. If you have multiple bathrooms, it may or may not be a huge issue depending on how many people live in your home. If you only have one full bathroom, being without it for days or weeks will be a pain. In either circumstance, if you're paying to have the work done for you, it's wise to factor in more time than your contractor estimates and be prepared for limited bathroom space.

An HVAC unit at the CNET smart home An HVAC unit at the CNET smart home

Luckily, replacing major HVAC components isn't usually too lengthy of a process.


Replace HVAC 

This one can depend on the timing of your new home purchase. Replacing major HVAC components isn't usually too lengthy of a process, nor does it normally require much renovation to other parts of the home. If you live through sweltering summers and arctic winters, you may want to have this work done before moving in so you won't have to expose yourself to extreme temperatures. 

Change locks and install home security 

It's never a bad idea to change out locks on a new home or put home security elements in place before moving in. Changing out your locks ensures the previous owner no longer has access to your home, while home security cameras and video doorbells deter would-be burglars and let you keep an eye on your property no matter where you are. 

Every home is different, so there's no one-size-fits-all rule on security camera placement. Some common places to put them are by front, back and side door. Whatever you do, avoid putting cameras in places that violate your or your neighbor's privacy like bedrooms and bathrooms. If you're still wondering where to put your new security cameras, CNET lays out the best and worst spots for them.

A dog sitting inside a moving box A dog sitting inside a moving box

Make sure to pet-proof your home before bringing in your furry friend.

Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Child and pet-proofing

Safety can go beyond locks and security cameras. If you have small children, you may want to put child safety devices in place before having them in the home. Likewise, if you have pets, you may need similar safety precautions inside or a fence around your new yard. 

This is also a good time to walk through your home and make sure you know where the main electric, water and gas shut-offs are, as well as any other safety features. This lets you start thinking about your family's home safety plan in case of an emergency. 

To recap, any of these tasks can happen while you're already moved into and living in your new home, but you're likely to be less stressed if you make sure these are checked off beforehand. You'll be much more likely to start off loving your new home than being frustrated with how it's complicating your life. While you're at it, check out this list of tools you'll need for maintaining your new home. Plus, here's how to become friends with your new neighbors and how to turn your new house into a home. 

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Want to Donate Furnishings Right before a Go? These 7 Charities Will Pick It Up for Totally free

Shipping furniture to your new position can incorporate hundreds of dollars to your moving invoice -- at times even much more than you compensated for those tables, chairs and whatnot. When the math leans towards the "get rid of it and get a new a single" side of the equation, you have a couple possibilities: Toss out your home furnishings, promote it on Craigslist or Fb Market or donate it to charity. 

Luckily, a lot of charities will manage the pickup for home furnishings donations for free. Everyone wins: You get to declutter your property prior to your shift, and charities can go along the furniture to persons who will need it.

Understand which companies will decide on up your old stuff and what you will need to know in advance of donating.

For far more transferring tips, verify out the most effective going corporations of 2024 and how plastic relocating boxes look at with cardboard.

CNET Moving Tips logo CNET Moving Tips logo

7 charities that provide free furnishings donation pickup

Habitat for Humanity

Operating in much more than 70 international locations, Habitat for Humanity aids homebuyers with property design and mortgage loan charges. At Habitat ReStore destinations, home furnishings donations are sold to assistance fund the get the job done. 

The record of accepted items is a very little distinct at each and every store, but sofas, chairs and bed frames are generally good. To program a pickup, enter your ZIP code to discover your neighborhood ReStore. Some shops have an online scheduler, but you can also connect with them specifically. 


Goodwill is pretty much synonymous with donations, but whether it's going to make residence phone calls is up to every unique locale. You can use the retail outlet locator software to obtain outlets in your region that you can ask about pickups. 

Household furniture Financial institution Community

The Home furniture Financial institution Network isn't really a charity, but a directory of home furniture banking institutions across North The us. You can use its map to find a area home furniture lender in your region that's accepting donations. Just about all of them offer you furnishings pickups, but you may well have to pay a payment.

Salvation Military

A person of the oldest charities providing cost-free donation pickup, the Salvation Army is an evangelical aspect of the common Christian Church. Donated products are marketed in its thrift shops to fund a wide variety of expert services, such as meals and shelter support, catastrophe reduction, and counseling. 

You can plan a pickup with the Salvation Military by getting into your ZIP code on its web page and making a listing of all the things you want to donate. 

Choose Up Remember to

Decide Up Be sure to is a for-financial gain corporation that pays the Vietnam Veterans of America for your donated things. The VVA then employs these money to support veterans of all conflicts with promises guidance, outreach programs and legislative advocacy. 

A single of the benefits of donating to Decide on Up Make sure you is the swift turnaround: It can generally choose up your donation inside 24 hrs. Nonetheless, Decide on Up Please accepts only scaled-down donations, like exercise tools, bikes, business chairs and nightstands. 

The Arc

Devoted to supporting people today with intellectual and developmental disabilities, The Arc has a lot more than 600 nearby chapters around the US, quite a few of which offer totally free home furniture pickup. You can find your local chapter listed here, and simply call or email to check with about donations. Every single chapter has its individual listing of goods it'll consider, but clothes and furnishings in great issue are normally recognized. 


Amvets, or American Veterans, is a volunteer-led nonprofit that supports veterans with promises support, wellbeing treatment and work possibilities. Through its community of thrift outlets, it sells donations to fund its systems. You can at this time plan an Amvets home furniture donation pickup in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Texas, Oklahoma and in Washington, DC. 

What you want to know about donating your furniture

Timetable your pickup early

For most businesses, the earliest offered pickup day is two or a lot more months out -- specifically during peak summer months relocating months. Make certain to schedule your pickup date as quickly as you know your go date and the goods you will be donating.

Donations are tax deductible

Your home furniture donations are entitled to a tax deduction, but they will have to fulfill a few demands: 

  • The charity you are donating to have to be licensed as a 501(c)(3) corporation. You can glance these up employing the IRS Tax Exempt Corporation Research Instrument
  • In accordance to the IRS, you can get a deduction on your furnishings donations only if the merchandise are in "excellent made use of situation or improved."

After you've verified that your donations are qualified for a tax deduction, you are going to need to have to decide the fair industry value. (The IRS has a beneficial information here.) If you decide that an merchandise is valued at in excess of $500, you will require to fill out Variety 8283 with your tax return. You can also use Goodwill's believed donation values for much more data.

Make absolutely sure your donations are recognized

Really don't believe that a charity will instantly consider anything off your arms. Most corporations have in-depth lists of the kinds of furnishings they're going to accept. 

For case in point, many places would not choose mattresses or box springs. In typical, everything you donate ought to be clear and in very good functioning ailment. As Goodwill clarifies, "Just about every truckload of unacceptable items we acquire to the landfill is equivalent to three days of classroom instruction for anyone whose goal is to get and continue to keep a job."

Donating your furnishings in advance of you transfer is a excellent way to slash down on relocating charges and help out anyone in need. For much more suggestions on how to help save funds through your move, check out out the most effective locations to get shifting boxes for cost-free. 

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Altus Group Terminates Proposed Acquisition of Situs Group’s Commercial Real Estate Valuation Services Business

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Transaction unlikely to receive regulatory approval in a timely manner; Altus Group maintains focus on organic strategy to enhance consistency and transparency of valuations within the CRE industry

TORONTO, May 17, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Altus Group Limited (“Altus Group” or the “Company”) (TSX: AIF), a leading provider of asset and fund intelligence for commercial real estate (“CRE”), announced today that it has delivered a termination notice with respect to its previously announced acquisition of Situs Group LLC’s (“Situs”) commercial real estate valuation and advisory services (“REVS”) business. Despite extensive engagement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) over the past six months, Altus Group believes that the transaction was unlikely to receive regulatory approval in a timely manner. In connection with the termination of this transaction, Altus Group will pay a US$3 million termination fee to Situs.

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“We are disappointed that we cannot move forward with a deal we believe would benefit all stakeholders and contribute towards our efforts to bring greater consistency and transparency of valuations across the CRE industry,” said Jim Hannon, Chief Executive Officer. “This opportunity would have led to improved compliance reporting of valuations and provided our clients and their investors with deeper insights on the performance of their CRE assets. Moving forward, Altus Group is strongly positioned to execute on our organic strategy to deliver best-in-class valuation intelligence to our clients.”

Altus Group’s Valuation Management Solutions (“VMS”) business boasts an impressive organic growth track record and Altus Group believes it is well positioned to take advantage of its large addressable market opportunity. While the REVS transaction offered exciting opportunities for all stakeholders, Altus Group can deliver on its organic strategy to expand client value through superior asset and fund-level intelligence and new innovative analytics offerings that help clients manage the performance and risk of their real estate assets. The Company’s 2024 technology roadmap includes new analytics capabilities launching this year, including enhancing Altus Group’s portfolio performance and valuation offers with powerful new analytics tools. The Company will continue investing in its VMS business to further enhance its financial profile.

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About Altus Group

Altus Group is a leading provider of asset and fund intelligence for commercial real estate. We deliver intelligence as a service to our global client base through a connected platform of industry-leading technology, advanced analytics, and advisory services. Trusted by the largest CRE leaders, our capabilities help commercial real estate investors, developers, proprietors, lenders, and advisors manage risks and improve performance returns throughout the asset and fund lifecycle. Altus Group is a global company headquartered in Toronto with approximately 3,000 employees across North America, EMEA and Asia Pacific. For more information about Altus (TSX: AIF) please visit www.altusgroup.com.

Forward-looking Information

Certain information in this Press Release may constitute “forward-looking information” within the meaning of applicable securities legislation. All information contained in this press release, other than statements of current and historical fact, is forward-looking information. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, the discussion of the Company’s business, strategies, investment intent and expectations of future performance. Generally, forward-looking information can be identified by use of words such as “may”, “will”, “expect”, “believe”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “intend”, “plan”, “would”, “could”, “should”, “continue”, “goal”, “objective”, “remain” and other similar terminology.

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Forward-looking information is not, and cannot be, a guarantee of future results or events. Forward-looking information is based on, among other things, opinions, assumptions, estimates and analyses that, while considered reasonable by us at the date the forward-looking information is provided, inherently are subject to significant risks, uncertainties, contingencies and other factors that may not be known and may cause actual results, performance or achievements, industry results or events to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. The material factors or assumptions that we identified and applied in drawing conclusions or making forecasts or projections set out in the forward-looking information include, but are not limited to: engagement and product pipeline opportunities in Analytics will result in associated definitive agreements; the size of the addressable market opportunity for VMS, continued adoption of cloud subscriptions by the Company’s customers; retention of material clients and bookings; sustaining the Company’s software and subscription renewals; successful execution of the Company’s business strategies; consistent and stable economic conditions or conditions in the financial markets including stable interest rates and credit availability for commercial real estate; consistent and stable legislation in the various countries in which we operate; consistent and stable foreign exchange conditions; no disruptive changes in the technology environment; and the absence of negative financial and other impacts resulting from strategic investments or acquisitions on short term results; successful integration of acquired businesses; and continued availability of qualified professionals.

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Inherent in the forward-looking information are known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause the Company’s actual results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to differ materially from any results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Those risks include, but are not limited to those described in the Company’s annual publicly filed documents, including the Annual Information Form for the year ended December 31, 2023 (which are available on SEDAR+ at www.sedarplus.ca).

Investors should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information as a prediction of actual results. The forward-looking information reflects management’s current expectations and beliefs regarding future events and operating performance and is based on information currently available to management. Although The Company has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking information contained herein, there are other factors that could cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. The forward-looking information contained herein is current as of the date of this press release and, except as required under applicable law, we do not undertake to update or revise it to reflect new events or circumstances. Additionally, the Company undertakes no obligation to comment on analyses, expectations or statements made by third parties in respect of Altus Group, the Company’s financial or operating results, or the Company’s securities.


Camilla Bartosiewicz
Chief Communications Officer, Altus Group
(416) 641-9773
[email protected]

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Movie star Interior Designer Jake Arnold’s Latest Business Venture

MILAN — According to superstar go-to inside designer Jake Arnold, true estate, structure and art are the essential components to beautiful houses.

Identified for harmonizing British charm with laid-back again California fashion, the 34-calendar year-aged has seen his reputation rise via his design and style spin on households of the wealthy and popular which include John Legend and Chrissy Teigen, Katy Perry, Rashida Jones and Zendaya, to identify a number of.

Studio Jake Arnold and The Professional, another business he cofounded, has now teamed with New York City-dependent superior-end real estate advisory firm Formal to curate the opening of their Aspen office environment and Aspen retail area and start a new purchaser-facing program, which will kick off in the luxurious ski spot. The collaboration, which was unveiled to WWD Thursday, includes supplying layout assets and accessibility to environment-renowned inside designers, in purchase to help men and women visualize and develop their desire homes in considerably less time and with more effectiveness.

The Skilled, which was established in 2021, is a virtual style and design companies agency that back links clients globally to more than 200 A-list interior designers for exceptional just one-on-one particular video clip consultations. It is also a market with a lot more than 125 makes and a lot more than 5,000 decide on goods. Inside of, the new Aspen space is furnished with The Expert’s possess vintage and contemporary pieces like lighting from Brooklyn lighting studio In Prevalent With and Scandinavian rugs by Nordic Knots. Available art platform Creative Art Companions, which was founded by Brian Ludlow in 2016, was also tapped for the Aspen challenge.

“I was captivated to the way Formal connected the two… It is all about life-style and how they want to see the comprehensive romance blossom from the invest in all the way to somebody executing a attractive home that feels tailor made and special,” Arnold stated.

Jake Arnold

Inside of Studio Jake Arnold’s hottest Aspen job with The Expert, Official and Artistic Artwork Companions.

Jake Heddaeus

In a complicated market natural environment, the Aspen housing industry is outpacing other secondary types, both of those in the rise in property value and in phrases of median value, in accordance to household serious estate brokerage and mortgage origination expert services business Redfin.

In March 2024, Aspen household charges have been up 188.8 % in comparison to past 12 months, offering for a median price tag of $3.8 million. By comparison, in March 2024, Palm Beach, Fla., house prices were up 91.4 p.c in comparison to last calendar year, offering for a median value of $3.4 million. Hamptons property charges inched up 11.5 percent as opposed to very last year, selling for a median price tag of $1.4 million, Redfin described.

“Aspen was a terrific jumping-off pad for this project, where people have or probably will have multiple homes or who are on the lookout at second properties. I imagine individuals in Aspen are alway seeking to acquire things ready to go,” Arnold extra, outlining that his clientele have normally sought his advice on possible serious estate acquisitions to fully grasp how the place can be designed their own. Official ideas to introduce this notion to more new markets, together with the Hamptons and Palm Beach front.  

Official’s chief advancement officer and cofounder Nicole Oge advised WWD that she admires Arnold’s “sense of timeless sophistication and his accomplishment in getting remedies for a discerning clientele. Jake’s layout system, The Expert, was an critical piece of this equation for Formal supplied the organic synchronicity among the property obtaining/selling processes and a client’s need to be related with the greatest designers in the globe.”

Outside of the actual physical layout and decor, The Expert will offer Official’s Aspen clients particular person consultations. This collaboration also includes organizing a calendar of functions customized to Formal agents and their consumers to encourage resourceful conversations, connecting the authentic estate sector with the area art and layout communities.

Official promises it is the initial serious estate organization to specialize in the significant conclusion of the marketplace. The firm at this time operates in key markets including New York, Miami, the Hamptons, Los Angeles, Aspen and Orange County, Calif., and prides alone on its network of highly regarded builders, discerning buyers, and sellers.

Oge claimed that the Aspen market’s whole household revenue surpassed $2 billion in 2023, with an common household selling price nearing $10 million. “It retains the best density of ultra-large internet value persons in the U.S., with a person in every 67 people falling into this group — almost 15 occasions better than New York. On top of that, Aspen has progressed into a thriving cultural hub, further more boosting its attract on the world stage.”

Jake Arnold

Inside of Studio Jake Arnold’s most up-to-date Aspen undertaking with The Expert, Official and Creative Art Associates.

Jake Heddaeus

World-wide-web3, Blockchain Unleash World Real Estate Investment decision Prospective

For yrs, True World Assets (RWAs), these types of as authentic estate, have been cornerstones in world wide portfolios. Nevertheless, the extensive-achieving probable of these protected investments has been hindered by the shackles imposed by worldwide financial devices. Investors have had to wrestle with bureaucratic purple tape, regulatory inconsistencies, and the complexities of setting up asset validity and possession, presenting formidable obstructions to investing abroad.

Having said that, chopping-edge progress in Internet3 and blockchain systems are set to disrupt this conventional model. These innovative applications will permit trustless transactions that bypass age-outdated financial middlemen. Extra importantly, these digital transactions lend unshakeable evidence of possession and asset authenticity, addressing debilitating considerations about credibility.

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In essence, we’re conversing about the dawn of an economical, protected, and obtainable platform to explore global investment alternatives. Picture an financial investment ecosystem that facilitates global transactions effortlessly, simplifies economical complexity and beckons traders around the world. Serious estate, now an expense staple, is established to surge with newfound vigor.

World-wide-web3 and blockchain technological innovation retains the energy to completely transform actual estate transactions radically. By clever contracts, transactions will be automated, activated as soon as pre-recognized problems are satisfied, correctly reducing conventional middlemen’s dependence. Present intermediaries, like banking companies and attorneys, commonly guarantee agreement compliance. Nonetheless, Website3’s application guarantees this compliance is automatic, clear, and secured through engineering.

This morphed landscape slashes expenditures and transaction moments, but it also surfaces strategic gains. By minimizing conventional intermediaries, World wide web3 permits a broader demographic to dip their toes in serious estate expenditure – an chance previously confined by economical resources or deficiency of authorized and regulatory experience.

One of the trailblazers in this transformation is the MultiBank Team. Recognizing the prospective electricity of Web3, the firm has leveraged these nascent technologies in the authentic estate sector by means of its subsidiary, MultiBank.io. Adhering to world wide money polices though employing an unassailable method, MultiBank.io assures their transactions are correct, responsible, and irrefutable – supplying a crystal-obvious report of ownership.

Yet another sizeable pioneer building strides in actual estate digitalization is Blocksquare. Utilizing their one of a kind computer software-as-a-services (SaaS) system, Blocksquare turns tangible authentic estate belongings into digital tokens. This ingenuity guarantees operations continue being lawful and scalable, earning home financial investment administration purposely flexible and adaptable. Fueled by ‘tokenomics’ – building an economic procedure exactly where tokens maximize in worth, Blocksquare has properly gathered a $94.8 million tokenized asset portfolio nested in 107 buildings across 21 nations and is primed for the neo-brokerage market.

In this speedily modifying real estate investment decision sector, Blocksquare’s devotion to stability, efficiency, and transparency – facilitated by blockchain giants like Ethereum and Uniswap – establishes a sturdy, reliable electronic actual estate room.

The marriage of Web3 and tokenization will not only make investments a lot easier to acquire, but also totally dissolve the have to have for intermediaries to build rely on. By reworking serious estate into transferable digital tokens, the technological innovation invites an totally new era of investors formerly deterred by geographic hurdles, fiscal constraints, or complex governmental polices.

A shining pillar of this innovative motion is blockchain technological innovation. With its inherent stability and transparency, inconceivable stages of corruption and dishonesty can be thwarted, all the whilst accelerating transactions and optimistically slicing down on costs. As ultra-protected, token-centered ownership transfers start off to swap regular home transactions, the actual estate market place opens up like by no means in advance of, inviting fluidity, adaptability, and vibrancy.

Embracing Web3 and tokenization in the planet of actual estate is not just a mere improvement it is a seismic shift that expands obtain, upswings protection, and amplifies industry response.

This change basically redefines the contours of true estate financial investment, widening participation to a world wide viewers even though guarding the integrity of belongings by means of technological innovation. The consequence? An empowered pool of specific buyers and the potent opportunity to impact broader economic trends, fostering unprecedented marketplace enhancement and balance.

These 7 Major Home Renovations Add Value

Whether you're preparing for a move or simply looking to update your home, remodeling can be a huge undertaking—so it's important to know whether the reward will be worth the effort. Knowing which renovations will yield the highest return for your money is key, so that when it comes time to sell, you can demand a higher price. Ultimately, you'll want to make the best home improvements to add value to your home. Before you decide on a remodel project, evaluate its cost versus its value, and decide if the renovation you want to do is a worthy investment of your time and money. So what renovations offer the biggest impact on a home's value? Six Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate experts weigh in on which projects are actually worth taking on. Here are the best home renovations for potentially raising the resale value of your home.

Helen Norman

1. Create an Addition

As your family grows, why shouldn't your home? Consider building an addition to add major value to your home and increase square footage. Maximize your investment by selecting the perfect materials and details to enhance your home's value and character. "Any kind of physical expansion—whether it's a new bedroom, an extension of a living room, or whatever space you desire—has a huge impact," says Joe Rand, managing partner and general counsel at Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty. "If you can add square footage to a house, you always add value. Size matters!"

Emily Followill

2. Redo Your Kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of the home, so functionality is a top priority. Remodeling a kitchen can be exciting and satisfying, especially when it's designed to meet your needs and desires. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry's 2019 remodeling impact report, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover up to 52% of the cost of a kitchen upgrade upon selling the home.

"Updating the kitchen with new appliances and bathrooms with new plumbing fixtures may seem trivial, but it's a must," says Brad Carlton, sales associate at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers. "Currently, there are many kitchen features that are trending in the Atlanta area, such as wine refrigerators, drawer-style microwaves and dishwashers, commercial-style ranges, and hidden outlets."

Annie Schlecther

3. Renovate a Bathroom

An updated bathroom is a major selling point for any home. When renovating, incorporate sleek surfaces for a sparkling space that makes cleaning a cinch. According to the same report by the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover up to 57% of the cost of a bathroom renovation if they sell their home.

"If a home has only one bathroom or at most a one and a half bathroom, adding a shower to a half bath, or adding a half bath to a living area for guests immediately improves the appraised value of a home," says Jody Steinberg, Realtor, LaVista Hills Team, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers.

Helen Norman

4. Update Your Home’s HVAC

Your home's heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are the components that keep everything operating. These are some of the most critical items to maintain. In addition, Realtors estimate that homeowners can recover 85% of the cost of a HVAC replacement if they sell their home.

"Buyers are often taken aback when, upon inspection, a home's heater, air conditioner, and roof are found to be old or in poor shape," says Derek Whitner, Realtor, Team Whitner, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers. "Studies have shown that millennials are unwilling to overlook old mechanicals, even if the seller is offering a home warranty as a way to compensate for the age of these systems."

Keller and Keller Photography Inc

5. Amplify Outdoor Living Space

Nothing beats the option of entertaining outdoors. An outdoor living space will make your home a relaxing destination for get-togethers and add major value. No matter your budget, there are plenty of ways to update your backyard, porch, or patio.

"Tap the outdoors for extra living space," says Mary Hutchison, senior sales executive, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Kansas City Homes. "In the old days, just about everyone had a front porch or screened-in area to shade themselves from the Midwestern heat, and these classic features are still in demand. A screened-in porch or backyard patio—especially one that includes an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill and small fridge—makes a wonderful additional entertaining area."

Michael Garland

6. Make Your Home More Accessible

Home renovations should be made with universal design principles in mind. That means creating a space for people of all ages, sizes, and physical abilities. Take careful inventory early in the planning process of all intended users' capabilities, preferences, and tastes.

"If it is possible to make your home more accessible, your home will be more welcoming to guests, more marketable to the largest audience, and best of all, you will be able to age in place," says Steinberg. "Do this by widening doorways, changing a main-level tub to a shower, clearing a path to a stepless entrance, or by adding a door to the back or side of your house."

7. Update Your Light Fixtures

Lighting is one of the simplest renovations that will add value to your home. You'll be amazed by how well-placed pools of warm light can make your home inviting and user-friendly. Consider the design, as well as function, when choosing the right light fixtures for your rooms.

"Updated styles of interior and exterior light fixtures are readily available at big box stores and online retailers for a bit of pocket change," says Robin Wolfram, Realtor/designer at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate All Seasons-Rochester. "It can provide the big wow factor many homes would otherwise lack. If shopping online, be sure to look for any 'open box' pricing: an undamaged item that was returned simply because someone changed their mind."

Creating stunning Vancouver-area homes a product of teamwork

JHA Architecture + Interior team creates efficient luxury homes with an eye to form and function

Success in a new luxury home build or renovation project is a result of a highly collaborative approach between the client, architects, interior designers and general contractor.

Vancouver architect John Henshaw and his six-member team at JHA Architecture + Interior thoroughly understand the need for cohesiveness between all participants in a project.

As JHA lead interior designer Joy Chao puts it, it’s one thing to design a home or space that looks good conceptually – “on paper” – but if the building contractor isn’t on the same page as those creating the plans, the end result may not meet the client’s expectations or hopes for the project.

“When the contractor really pays attention to the details of the design, not only will the home be built to last, it will also be aesthetically pleasing and have a functionality that is exactly how they want it to be,” she says.

The JHA team has developed a solid reputation around Vancouver and beyond for designing stunning, energy-efficient luxury homes with an eye to form and function. They’ve also drawn on that expertise to create significant upgrades in existing homes, incorporating many modern elements for the homeowners.

John notes that his team has worked hard to create forward-thinking heating and cooling solutions in its project homes, based on the City of Vancouver’s movement toward zero emissions. A current renovation of a historic Shaughnessy property requiring a full upgrade of the heating system will allow the homeowners to reap the rewards of a far more energy efficient home upon completion, he says.

JHA’s architectural and interior design work has received its share of the spotlight, especially when it comes to acknowledgement from its peers.

The company has been winning Homebuilders Association Vancouver (HAVAN) awards for its new home design and renovation projects since 2020.

It achieved finalist status for two such projects for 2024: Best New Bathroom for its collaboration with Teragon Developments & Construction Inc. on the Magnolia Residence, and Best Kitchen Renovation between $100,000 and $150,000, for its Reimagined Richmond Special, a partnership with Feature Projects Ltd.

The team at JHA recognizes the value to their firm in highlighting their attention to detail and quality of design through the HAVAN awards.

“We put a lot of time and effort into the award applications and getting professional photography done,” John says. “It’s a big part of the promotional side of the business and we have dedicated a great deal of time and staffing to bringing it forward.”

Find examples of the company’s work here and more photos of the kitchen renovation award nominee. Follow the latest on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Shea McGee’s top tips for living through a home renovation |

If you've ever lived through a home renovation, you will be familiar with the chaos that tends to ensue. Between builders coming in and out of your house at all hours to the inevitable noise that becomes the status quo, it's notoriously a difficult process to get through. And while some get the opportunity to live somewhere else through the worst of the remodel, others are stuck right at home, living amongst the construction.

Luckily, interior designer Shea McGee just shared her top tips to those living through a remodel, from what to expect to how to cope with the worst of the process. And as someone who's led countless renovations (plus lived through many in her own home), there's no one better than Shea to share her advice. And with her tips in mind, you can make the final call on whether you should live on-site when renovating a property. Here's what she had to say.

What to know when living through a home remodel

Stump Reports on Spring 2024 High Point Furniture Market

Charlotte, NC, April 22, 2024-Stump issued the following report on spring 2024 High Point Furniture Market. 

“Following a rainy Thursday and blustery Friday/Saturday, the estimated 80,000 attendees had great southern weather to cruise the streets and visit the 2,000+ exhibitors covering more than 12 million square feet of showroom space. 

“With the pandemic still visible in the rear-view window, we were pleased to see the market busy and elevators full (institutional knowledge of the back stairwells came in handy this year). We heard some griping about poor calendar planning as many high-end exhibitors and attendees were in Milan for the Salone exhibition, and many sports enthusiasts were in Augusta for the Masters or wishing they were on their couch watching Scheffler’s impressive win. 

“We spoke with hundreds of industry leaders and friends, and the challenges facing the industry currently cannot be understated. Many companies are grappling with fundamental business questions and direction. There are certainly some winners in this market - growing and with great margins. Strong players are powering forward investing in people, technology, channel diversification, and more. Weak companies are trying to figure out how to move into a better position to hold out for the return of robust customer demand.

“E-commerce: We heard of a massive influx of new Asian suppliers showing up on the e-com marketplaces, rendering legacy vendors competing with thousands of unknown companies at extremely low prices.

“Tariffs: The 2018 Trump tariffs are ancient history as most importers have shifted to Vietnam, India, or Cambodia. Canada is enjoying protection with their institution of motion upholstery tariffs. Will the USA take this step? Who would champion this effort? And now President Biden is suggesting more tariffs on China. Will this effect furniture?

“Mexico: We have seen several visible exits from Mexico, while others are doubling down south of the border. We continue to believe Mexico has a meaningful role to play in the industry. 

Interior Designers: There is an impressive cohort of 75,000 women and men leading this growing channel, and furniture companies are working hard to access this group in a cost-effective way. 

“Showrooms: We are still seeing a lot showroom movement. ANDMORE is working hard to create density in the under-utilized IHFC building. Right across the transportation terminal, Showplace remains the place to be. We heard many people wondering aloud ‘who will get the Klaussner showroom?!’ Prominently located on the N. Hamilton artery this will be an interesting one to watch. The new Palecek showroom is stunning. EJ Victor is moving to the N. Hamilton area and Stump is working on selling their destination 20,000 sf showroom on Lindsey Street. 

“M&A: Lots of deals out there. Many distressed ones. Some fabulous companies for sale. PE funds are starting to eyeball our industry. Asians and European buyers were prevalent this market, as the USA market is better than their own domestic markets. We are excited about this next season of transactions.”

Building a sustainable future with low-carbon concrete solutions

How Lafarge Canada’s ECOPact low-carbon concrete can help with your construction projects’ sustainability goals

In a world where sustainability isn’t just a buzzword but a crucial focus, particularly in the construction industry, Lafarge Canada is here to make a bold statement: achieving your ambitious sustainability targets doesn’t have to be a far-off dream. It’s a tangible reality you can grasp today, with the company at the forefront, leading the charge toward a greener future.

Lafarge is revolutionizing sustainable construction, particularly with its innovative low-carbon concrete solution, ECOPact. In doing so, they’re not merely setting the pace but establishing themselves as the go-to partner for realizing ambitious sustainability objectives.

Andy Unger, Vice President and General Manager of Ready-Mix Concrete (RMX) at Lafarge Canada (East), highlights the company’s important role in decarbonization and circular construction solutions. “We are ready and able to assist our clients in meeting their decarbonization goals today. With collaboration and transparency of goals and data, we are able to find practical sustainable solutions. With everyone working together, we can achieve ambitious decarbonization targets for the construction industry and get closer to reaching the Canadian 2030 targets,” he asserts, emphasizing their unwavering commitment to immediate and impactful action.


The impact of ECOPact

Did you know that nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions stem from building activities, with about 30% occurring during the construction phase alone? It’s a stark reminder of the urgent need to decarbonize our built environment. Achieving Ontario’s net-zero targets requires active efforts to accelerate the transition. For construction projects, this means reducing CO₂ emissions wherever possible. 

This is where ECOPact emerges as a game-changer, as the most extensive range of low-carbon concrete available, it has the potential to reduce embodied carbon in buildings, infrastructure, and homes by up to 90%. ECOPact offers many ranges of CO₂ reductions. Since schedule impact and cost are two of the most influential factors in the construction phase, Lafarge’s ECOPact offering allows clients to directly replace all standard concrete with the first ECOPact tier, offering 50% CO₂ reductions while maintaining similar performance and cost.  

It can be easily handled, pumped and finished like conventional concrete, and used in a variety of structural components, including foundations, columns, beams, walls, driveways and walkways.  

With ECOPact, you can:

  • Significantly reduce your project’s environmental footprint
  • Receive EPD III certification with every product
  • Achieve up to a 90% reduction in embodied carbon without offsets
  • Contribute to a circular economy by diverting waste from landfills
  • Obtain green building certifications while maintaining product quality
  • Access a wide range of mixes tailored to different strengths and applications

Certified sustainability

ECOPact’s sustainability is not just a claim but a certified reality. Third-party certification validates its reduced emissions across all stages, from raw materials to production and transportation. Extensive research and development went into its design and the product contains an innovative mix of supplementary cementitious materials and admixtures technology. It is produced locally, recyclable and supports a circular economy. 

“ECOPact’s impact is undeniable, driving low-carbon construction and enabling green building certifications nationwide. It’s a testament to our collective ability to realize end-to-end decarbonization in construction, laying the foundation for a greener, more sustainable future,” says Rob Cumming, Head of Sustainability & Public Affairs, Lafarge Canada (East).


For your green concrete needs, reach out to:

For more information, visit Lafarge.ca. You can also follow the company on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Ross McCredie On Rebranding Sutton Group And The Future Of Real Estate Transactions

It's not everyday that one of the largest real estate brokerages in the country gets sold, so it was big news when Sutton Group announced on December 7, 2023 that it had been acquired.

Who acquired Sutton Group made it even bigger news, as the brokerage had been bought by Ross McCredie, the Founder of Sotheby's International Realty Canada, real estate investment company Dundee 360, and wealth management platform RealWealth.

In between founding and growing those companies, McCredie also spent some time in the US, where he served as Chief Global Strategist for Pacific Union, leading the sale of the company to Compass to create the largest independent brokerage in the US.

After bringing the Sotheby's brand to Canada in 2004, McCredie served as President & CEO as the company expanded across 30 markets and grew to have a roster of over 900 realtors.

Just about two decades later, he's now buying into a brokerage that's already well-established, with over 200 offices across Canada and a roster of more than 6,000 agents.

In an interview with STOREYS in late-April, McCredie discusses how he grew Sotheby's, the rebranding of Sutton Group that was launched this week, and how he wants to change the real estate industry.

I wanted to start off by going back about 20 years, when you founded Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. What was the driving force there? Why was it something you wanted to do?

At the time, I was running Intrawest in Whistler — developing, sales, and marketing — and we were just seeing more and more international buyers, especially in the higher end of the market. I was always looking for different ways, as a developer and developer's rep, to figure out the best way to reach these foreign buyers and international markets.

Sotheby's Auction House had done a licensing agreement with Realogy, which had Century 21 and Coldwell Banker, so I reached out to them in 2004 and said "Hey, I'd love to figure out what you guys are gonna do in Canada because I'm really interested in the Sotheby's brand," and that's how that started.

I wasn't a real estate agent — I've actually never been a real estate agent — so we bought the rights to Canada and I asked my wife to go out and get a real estate license. I just saw a huge opportunity to get an iconic brand like Sotheby's, which has been around since 1744, and owning the rights to Canada seemed like a smart move at the time.

You acquire the Canadian rights and then you set out to grow the company. What was your approach? Looking back at it now, what do you think were some of the key moves? Anything you’d perhaps do differently in hindsight?

We started the first office and we had one agent, which was my wife, and we had no staff. Over the course of 12 years, we opened 40 offices across the country, we recruited all of the people ourselves, we owned and operated each of the offices, and we didn't franchise even though I could've franchised.

I was a bit of a control freak and I really felt like the power of the Sotheby's brand — we really needed to control that. To be honest, it was really hard. I didn't know much about the business. I reached out to a lot of people in the industry and not a lot of people really wanted to help me, so that was a bit interesting.

As we grew, every time we opened a new office I felt like we were making less mistakes. By the time we got to our fifteenth office, we kind of had it dialled. Then the brand really had traction because we won the bid to do the Hotel Georgia here in Vancouver, we launched Revelstoke Mountain Resort, we did the Four Seasons in Toronto, so we really developed, pretty quickly, a strong brand recognition across the country.

And we were really focused on top-level people, but more importantly people that were truly professional and wanted to be in the business and actually wanted to act like fiduciaries. I really felt that the industry had a mix of good, bad, and ugly, and there wasn't a brand out there that stood for what we call "the Navy SEALs of the business." We wanted the best and the brightest, hardest working, and most ethical people, and Sotheby's was a great brand to do that with.

You mentioned that people didn't really want to help you early on. Why do you think that was?

We used to get emails people all the time, forwarded from someone else, saying that "Ross is gonna be broke in six months" or "He doesn't know what he's doing."

We were doing things differently. Our model wasn't to get as many agents as possible. It was literally focused on [sales] volume and people. There's so many real estate agents in North America right now and about half of them last year didn't even do a transaction. It's an industry that sells itself with delusions of grandeur — come in, sell real estate, get rich — and the reality is it's just not true. The vast majority of people that go into the business don't survive three years. In fact, most of them don't survive one year.

So, when we opened our shop, we were just telling people the truth. Usually what I would say is "Go work at RE/MAX for a couple of years and if you make it, come back and talk to us." We stood our ground, whereas every other brokerage was literally just, every week, recruiting more agents.

Fast-forwarding a bit to just before buying Sutton Group, what did you see when you were looking at Sutton Group from the outside looking in?

I had just spent 10 years in California, mainly. I helped Compass reconstruct their business finance and then I saw an opportunity in California to get involved with Pacific Union, which was — at the time — the twelfth largest brokerage in America. I went in as a Partner and Chief Global Strategist and we bought seven more companies and built that business up in California, going from the twelfth to the fifth. At the same time, Compass was growing quite a bit, and was funded by Softbank, so I reached out to [Compass] and I basically got them to merge.

I saw the NAR lawsuit, which has been brewing for seven or eight years now, as a huge opportunity for a company to really move the needle around the conversation. The vast majority of the public doesn't understand why a real estate transaction takes so long and costs so much. In California, I started to become really focused on data. The US consumer has so much more data and when I came back to Canada, I couldn't believe how bad the information Canadians have [is]. Probably the worst of any G7 country in the world. We just don't have access to data and information that we should, so I was looking and had been pretty focused on real estate technology and how we need to reduce time and money, which adds value to the asset itself.

That's been in the background of everything I've done, probably, for the last 15 years. I've continued to seek out ways to do that and really focus on more of a wealth management model than a transactional model. And right now I believe everyone in the real estate industry is focused on the transaction. They're not focused on the homeowner or the asset itself.

What data is available to consumers in the US but not here?

For instance, if you pull up a property address for somewhere in Seattle, you can get almost all of the registry information, you can see who's owned the asset, you can see previous sales, how much it traded for, property tax information. Crazy enough, you can see information like the number of times that police officers have been called to that address. There's a lot of datapoints.

It's one thing to have a lot of data and information, but a lot of the time it's not verified, so it's really about getting verified data and information. In Canada, if you wanted to pull up a property address in Vancouver, it's pretty hard to get information on that asset. You either got to pay or you have to go to somebody in the industry who has access to BC OnLine.

So, my point there is that I think everybody keeps talking about affordability and housing, and the first thing we can probably do to help people is give them really good and accurate information at the time that they're looking to buy or potentially sell an asset. Also [important is] information related to the cost of the asset, because a lot of people get involved in real estate thinking that real estate is always a good investment, and it's not always true, right? So the true cost of ownership of an asset is incredibly important for people to make a decision.

This seems like an ambitious and grand goal. How do you plan on making it happen?

Well, I think it's by asking people for help, but a lot of people in the industry aren't necessarily interested in helping us achieve our goal, cause they're pretty short-sighted. That middle-aged stock broker that existed in 1993 who probably didn't add a lot of value to the transaction? They're gone. They're completely gone. E-Trade came in and people started to realize it doesn't need to take 10 to 15 days to trade an asset and I can get a lot of this information myself online, I can buy the asset myself, so the role of that stock broker had to change to much more of an advisory and fiduciary role.

With real estate, about 40% to 50% of transactions occur through death or divorce. A lot of people don't talk about this, but that's a highly emotional time, usually, and people don't make great decisions, and a lot of bad actors come into play and a lot of financial elder abuse happens. I've experienced it in my own family and I kept asking people, "Why hasn't anybody created a transparent platform that allows digital information to be provided to potential homeowners and fiduciaries so you can prevent financial elder abuse from happening?"

The other thing that happens a lot of times in this world is a lot of Canadians don't have a will, and if you don't have a will, it's a huge problem in the event of a death. I just saw this movie happen when I was at Sotheby's over and over again and I kept thinking, "There's gotta be a better solution here." So we built this first platform inside Sotheby's and it was called 1744 and the goal there was to create portfolios of data and information around an asset, cause we knew that if you did that, the asset itself actually became more valuable.

An example of that is collector cars. If you're buying a collector car and you've got a lot of detailed information on the asset, you'll get a premium of anywhere from 5% to 10% and if you don't have it, the asset gets discounted heavily. When you think about a real estate asset, the majority of information you're getting is from MLS or Realtor.ca, and a lot of the time that data may not be accurate. I just think that it's crazy that people are making one of the most important financial decisions you'll ever make based on data that can fit on a single sheet of paper. That, to me, is just nuts.

With Sotheby's, you founded the company. Now with Sutton Group, you're taking over a company that's already established. Was that part of the appeal for you, that it's a different kind of challenge?

Sutton revolutionized the business 41 years ago. They came in and they completely disrupted the entire industry with desk fees rather than [commission] splits. At the time, back in the early 80s when Block Brothers [Realty] was a big player, the splits between the agents [and brokerage] was 50/50. When Sutton came in, they were the first people to just charge you a desk fee and then the transaction fee, so you went from paying half of your commission to keeping 97% or 98% of your commission, so they grew very, very fast.

But in the past 10 to 15 years, the brand started getting a little tired, the ownership wasn't really investing in the business, and I saw an opportunity to acquire it. We're about to launch, in about two weeks, a new brand and brand identity, we're transitioning the business much more from a transactional business model to a wealth management model. With 200 offices and 6,000 agents, about $40B in transactions, it's a pretty good distribution for launching a digital platform that I think is going to change the way people manage and transact real estate.

The other thing that has been really beneficial to me is — as much as I didn't want to do franchises when I owned Sotheby's, now I see them truly as my partners. I don't have to manage those brokerages; they do. I don't need to know those markets, because they live in and breathe in those markets. They seem to be very excited about the ownership [change] and what we're bringing to bear.

The previous Sutton Group logo (left) and the new logo (right).The previous Sutton Group logo (left) and the new logo (right).(Sutton Group)

Is there anything else on your agenda for Sutton Group? Where do you wanna take the company?

Right now, it's to establish ourselves as a brand and truly transition it from transactional to wealth management. I'm not looking at any of the other brands or business models for real estate brokerages in Canada. I'm looking at financial service companies, wealth management companies, private banks.

Our goal this year is to reinvigorate the brand. We're in deep discussions with municipal, provincial, and federal people related to data and information and housing affordability, because everybody talks about affordability when they talk about housing and they never really talk about the role the government plays in terms of the costs. It's a huge part of an asset. People don't really understand, when you buy a house, how much of that dollar is paid out in taxes and permits. I think Canadians need to know that.

If you look at the cost of housing in the US and the cost of housing in Canada, it's dramatically different. Everybody knows that to be true, but nobody really understands why. And what I can tell you is that by providing a digital platform and giving people information, they're gonna start asking their municipal leaders, provincial leaders, and federal leaders why they're paying so much money either to manage or transact real estate.

We're also growing the brand. I've hired a new President and Chief Operating Officer. He's phenomenal. I've hired a new Chief Marketing Officer who's incredible. We're building a new website, we're launching a new app, and Cornerstone — it will be Sutton Group powered by Cornerstone — is the technology partner [for the digital platform.] I'm equally as excited as I was in 2004 when I bought Sotheby's.

Having spent time in the US and now being back in Canada, what do make of the NAR commissions settlement and how it may or may not impact Canada?

I feel like the industry is finally having to change. [As a result of] COVID, a lot of people had to figure out how to do things digitally. We had appraisals being done for properties that nobody actually went into. We had transactions of real estate where buyers and sellers never met. That revolution forced the industry to start behaving differently and in order to do that, a higher degree of trust needed to be provided when it came to data and information.

The lawsuit in the US, and [the one] ongoing in Canada, I think is a really good thing. Consumers need to be asking the industry "Isn't there a better way to manage and transact real estate?" And the answer is "Yes."

We're not in that space. Our agents, it's up to them to negotiate the fee they charge with their homeowners and we had the same mindset when I owned Sotheby's. I really never understood why the industry would set a standard where if you're a real estate agent and you've been in the business for two weeks, you're gonna charge me the same as someone who's been in the business for 20 years? The industry was protecting the business model and commission structure that made no sense.

Things like title insurance. People are starting to ask the question, "Do I even need title insurance?" And the answer is probably "No." That's a cost to the transaction. Appraisals in Canada cost $600 and take 10 days, and they shouldn't. It should be $100 and take 24 hours. All these little things — inspections, appraisals, title insurance, the taxes, commissions — go into the cost of an asset and also the timing of why it takes so long.

The Land Title Office is the one that holds all the information that allows that transaction to occur. With a stock or a bond, you've got six different intermediaries and they figured that out so you and I could've been buying and selling stocks on this phone call right now. And that's a much more complicated transaction than a real estate transaction. I'm 100% focused on figuring out how to do this better. That's what's got me excited.

‘Unsellable Houses’ Stars Reveal Money-Saving Renovation Tips

Unsellable Houses stars Lyndsay Lamb and Leslie Davis are on a roll. The twin sisters and real estate agents recently won season five of Rock the Block, appeared on House Hunters: All Stars, and are gearing up for a fifth season of their HGTV series. They even started a podcast, Twin Win Unfiltered, that digs into the behind-the-scenes of their busy lives. While fixing many homes over the years, the duo has learned major ways to save money on renovations—and anyone can follow suit. From refreshing cabinetry with new doors to finding materials in unexpected places, take a look at their top tips below.

Reuse Cabinetry

For a kitchen renovation, the duo says one of the biggest ways to save money is to reuse cabinetry and some appliances. "You can paint cabinetry and replace hardware," they tell House Beautiful. "If you need more than just paint to make it feel right, you can still save a ton by just replacing the doors to a new style and leaving the cabinet body in place."

Source Leftover Materials

Another option for building or revamping a kitchen is to ask a cabinet installer for remnant boxes. This way, you can design a fresh kitchen for a fraction of what a custom job will cost. “If we are going to have colored cabinets, we will ask the cabinet installer to use 'leftover' cabinet boxes from any job they had that fit the space and layout so that we are getting a lower price by using mix-and-match boxes and not ordering a new complete matching set," Lamb says.

Through this method, Lamb and Davis usually end up with white, natural, and even blue boxes when the kitchen is installed. "This is totally fine with us because we then have it painted the color we want the boxes to be," Lamb says. "Often, this is because we are going for a color that is not 'in stock' with standard cabinet colors. We will paint them our custom color, and no one would [be any] the wiser.”

Turn to Unexpected Places

Lamb and Davis recommend buying materials and fixtures from a salvage yard, Habitat for Humanity, or building material auctions for good deals on quality pieces. Classic buy-and-sell websites (like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and AptDeco) are also a great place to start. "People are always moving and need to sell perfectly fine appliances quickly, or you may end up finding a ton of lumber left over from someone else's project they need to sell before moving," they say.

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Headshot of Kelly Allen

Kelly Allen is the Associate Editor at House Beautiful, where she creates design, culture, and travel content online and in the magazine. She’s been on the team since 2019, writing features on and , in-depth , and inspiring . From researching to discovering can’t-miss onscreen, she’s always eager to answer burning pop culture questions through a design lens. In her five-year career, she’s built a strong network of designers across disciplines to tap for their invaluable expertise. Her background includes honing reporting skills while tackling viral news for Delish and contributing to Cosmopolitan’s entertainment coverage. When she’s not watching every new and , she’s browsing vintage home stores, attending industry events, and wandering around —highlighting it all .