Reasons to buy

+

Easy to use

+

Multi-platform

+

Work on multiple levels

+

Can easily import 3D objects

Reasons to avoid

Not all objects installed initially

Occasionally awkward navigation

DreamPlan is the best home design software if you want powerful tools and simplicity of use. 

The interior design program, out for Windows and Mac, helps you create buildings on multiple levels, furnish them with a library of 3D models, and customize homes inside and out. Yes, that even includes landscape design. It’s built to let you easily make modifications and alterations.

But, in our review, what we really liked about one of the best home design software tools is that it’s “designed to make it easy to make modifications, and even goes out of its way to help you understand the app’s inner workings.”

Trace Mode will be especially handy for those with existing floorplans. These can be imported into the home design software and turned into a 3D model.   

DreamPlan features commercial and home licensing options – priced at $50 and $40 respectively, but check for regular discounts. So, it has a powerful enough toolset to use on a professional basis. But it’s intuitive enough for beginners. 

For those just starting out with the best interior design software, the built-in video tutorials help you understand the inner workings of the app – just look for the subtle blue camera icon. 

Read our full DreamPlan review.

The best browser-based interior design software

(Image credit: Dassault Systemes)

The best interior design app when you’re on-the-go

Specifications

Operating system: Browser, Android, iOS

Plan: Free, Subscription

Reasons to buy

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Simple to use

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Huge customisation

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Can design an entire house for free

Reasons to avoid

3D pan can make some objects temporarily disappear

Long rendering times for low res photorealistic images 

HomeByMe is one of the best interior design apps for when the ideas are racing. It’s browser-based – even mobile browsers are supported – and has Android and iOS apps, so you can map out thoughts for your home whenever and wherever inspiration strikes.

Since the interior design tool is cloud-only, you’ll need to stay connected to use it. During our time with the home design software, we were impressed that “HomeByMe offers a very affordable service with a myriad of options. We particularly appreciated the fact that the free plan doesn’t appear to limit your design options, and lets you work on up to three different projects.” 

However, we were less impressed with the time it took to render low-res images. Worse, we found the free account pastes a giant watermark all across the image, rendering the effect pointless. HD images are rendered in minutes, and don’t have that watermark.

The platform offers three packages: free, one-time purchase, and monthly subscription. It’s a good way to see which works for you, as the free plan doesn’t appear to limit your design options, and lets you work on up to five projects. 

The limit on the number of HD photorealistic images (1920x1080px) is somewhat compensated by offering an unlimited number of lower quality ones (640x360px). You can also place real-world, branded products in your rooms for extra realism. 

HomeByMe has a lot to offer. If you’re not too fussed about those images, you can explore and create very complex designs with ease.

Read our full HomeByMe review.

The best interior design software for mobile

(Image credit: MagicPlan)

Best interior design software for Android and iOS

Specifications

Operating system: Browser, Android, iOS

Plan: Subscription

Reasons to buy

+

Easy to use

+

Free mobile app

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Two free projects

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Professional Report and Estimate tools

Reasons to avoid

AR appears to struggle when furniture is in the way

No desktop app

MagicPlan is one of the best interior software kits for busy creatives and contractors. 

When we reviewed the home design app, we liked its “easy to use features, an interesting AR option, and an original way of generating estimates for work needed to be done. The monthly subscriptions could pay for themselves if designing if your business, and it also offers you two free projects for casual users to explore as well.” 

Like HomeByMe, it lets you build designs from your browser, or within the Android and iOS apps. The free solution lets you design two projects. A monthly subscription is needed to unlock MagicPlan’s full capabilities.

You’ll find three tools in one: Sketch, Report, and Estimate. Essentially, tiered subscription packages that offer additional features. 

Sketch lets you create interior designs – and, for home users, that’s likely enough. Professional designers will appreciate the inclusion of reporting and estimating tools. Enterprise licensing is also available. 

One of the best interior design software tools here is the AR-enabled ‘Scan with Camera’. This lets you scan and measure the room you’re in – although we suspect this augmented reality feature would function a lot better in an unfurnished space. 

Read our full MagicPlan review.

Best interior design software: FAQs

What is interior design software?

best 3D printers. 

Time is a considerable factor. Even some of the best interior design software takes a long time to render concepts, especially when using photorealistic images. It’s a natural price to pay for high-resolution 3D designs. For some, speed may trump quality.

Check the system requirements for the software  In certain cases, highly professional interior design computer programs require high-performance computers. In this case, you may need a machine comparable to the best laptops for architecture students or the best laptops for engineering students.  These are build to smoothly run complex CAD designs. 

Check the price (and pricing model), too. Some options, like HomeByMe, offer free, paid-for, and subscription versions of its home design software. Others offer only one pricing model, so choose the one that best suits your creative budget.

How we test the best interior design software

We’ve tested a massive range of creative apps, including the best digital art and drawing software and the best graphic design software. But whether we’re testing out the top tools for 3D design or the best software for interior decorating, we follow the same fair and rigorous review process. 

When testing the best interior design software for homes, we’re looking to see how easy the experience is, how powerful the tools are, and how well the software performs. Designing in 3D can often take its toll on computers, after all. 

Asset library sizes are a factor — interior design tools should make your creative ideas a reality, not just a loose approximation. We’re also reviewing these design apps based on use. Unlike consumer software, professional-grade tools offer more advanced features, but might also have steeper learning curves and more expensive pricing models. So, we assessed how well the interior design program delivers for its intended market – whether they’re professionals or personal users. 

Essentially, when we test the very best interior design software for ourselves, we expect to see it work for its intended audience — whether they’re professional interior designers or creative enthusiasts. 

During our tests across the best home design software tools, we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or online service. We then tested each app using a handful of files to see how the software for interior design could be used for creating indoor spaces from scratch, bearing in mind issues such as ease-of-use, professional viability, and performance.

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Source: techradar.com

Apache is functioning normally

As those in or near retirement continue to proclaim a preference for aging in place, there may be challenges for people who aren’t sure about how or when they should get started on making plans. A series of home healthcare, renovation and senior care experts offer tips on ways to begin in a column published by U.S. News & World Report.

For reverse mortgage clients looking to use their loan proceeds to fund the goal of aging in place, home renovations and other preparations may be requested from the reverse mortgage loan officer due to the high-touch nature of reverse mortgage origination. LOs often occupy a place of trust among their borrower clients.

For facilitating the goal of aging in place, planning ahead is key. One expert explained that it should start as soon as possible.

“Making small changes now can help you avoid scrambling to make big changes later on when you have limited capacity,” according to James Bowdler, a home healthcare professional.

Connecting with a specialized geriatric care manager can also allow a fuller assessment of potential hazards for aging in place that can be rectified with a retrofit or renovation of some kind, added Texas-based senior care expert Stacey Eisenberg to the outlet.

What was normal for a home with children or younger adults could prove to be hazards in later life, particularly as greater mobility challenges come from more advanced age. Widening doorways, removing clutter (including rugs, which could cause tripping) and improving the lighting in a home can be difference-makers according to architect Diana Melichar.

“Seniors typically have less mobility and physical agility, and their senses can be diminished,” she said in the column.

Another potential hazard is the presence of stairs, particularly if a main bedroom or other living space is located on a second floor, she added.

“Adding a primary bedroom suite to the first floor of your home is ideal,” she said. “If that’s not possible, then adding a chairlift or elevator is a second choice.”

Other elements that could aid the goal of aging in place include replacing door knobs with lever handles, which are easier to operate for people who have or may develop arthritis. Bathrooms are a common target for renovations since it can be easy to slip and injure yourself if you have limited mobility; nonstick mats and additional rails and handles can help mitigate some of this risk.

Smart home technology is also an increasingly common tool for outfitting a home for aging in place. In addition to digital assistants and speakers that are voice-operated, motion sensors that can automatically activate lights and internet-enabled appliances that can allow a user to monitor activation states can assist aging-in-place goals, certain experts say.

Source: housingwire.com

Apache is functioning normally

Spot Bitcoin ETPs are a type of investment vehicle that seeks to track the spot price of Bitcoin. ETPs, or exchange-traded products, are a broader basket of investments that include both exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs), and are listed on an exchange, and can be purchased or sold much like a stock.

But what’s critical to know is that generally, ETFs are regulated by the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”). While the most common type of ETPs are structured as ETFs, not all are, and spot Bitcoin ETPs are a specific type of ETP that are not registered under the 1940 Act. As such, these ETPs are not subjected to the 1940 Act’s rules, and investors holding shares of Bitcoin ETPs may not or do not have the same protections as those that are regulated by the 1940 Act, which may mean these investments have relatively higher associated risks.

What Is a Bitcoin ETP?

As noted, Bitcoin ETPs are a type of exchange-traded fund or product that allow investors to gain exposure to Bitcoin without directly owning it. These seek to track the price of Bitcoin. That means when the price of Bitcoin in U.S. dollars goes up, a spot Bitcoin ETP, trading on the stock exchange should also see its share values go up, and vice versa.

But it’s critical to note that Bitcoin ETPs have a much narrower focus than most other exchange-traded funds, which started out with the aim of giving investors broad exposure to the stock market. But, like all investments, they have various risks associated with them. In fact, it’s possible that an investor could lose the entirety of their investment.

An Introduction to Bitcoin ETPs

Bitcoin ETPs are exchange-traded products that, effectively, allow investors to gain exposure to the crypto markets as easily as they would buy or sell a stock, as discussed. Again, a Bitcoin ETP seeks to track the price or value of Bitcoin, and so the value of a Bitcoin ETP share is designed to rise or fall in relation to the change in value of the underlying cryptocurrency.

It also means that investors don’t necessarily need to directly own Bitcoin to gain exposure to the market in their portfolio — they can invest in a security, the ETP, that seeks to track it, instead. Note, too, that all ETPs have related fees and expenses, which vary.

💡 Quick Tip: How to manage potential risk factors in a self-directed investment account? Doing your research and employing strategies like dollar-cost averaging and diversification may help mitigate financial risk when trading stocks.

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What Are Spot Bitcoin ETPs?

Spot Bitcoin ETPs are investment vehicles that trade at “spot” value. “Spot” value, in this case, refers to the price of the underlying asset at any given time. So, if a buyer and seller come together to make a trade, they would do so at the spot price. There are spot markets for all sorts of commodities.

Where Can Investors Buy Spot Bitcoin ETP Shares?

Investors can buy spot Bitcoin ETP shares via numerous exchanges and platforms. While previously, investors interested in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies would need to trade on platforms that supported cryptocurrencies, since Bitcoin ETPs are exchange-traded vehicles, investors are likely to find them available on many other platforms — that includes SoFi, which allows investors to buy spot Bitcoin ETP shares as well.

Are There Other Spot Crypto ETPs?

Spot Bitcoin ETPs seek to track the price of a fund’s Bitcoin holdings, and other spot crypto ETPs, if and when they are approved and hit exchanges, will do the same.

Spot Bitcoin ETPs were first approved for trading by regulators in early 2024. There are ETPs that seek to track Bitcoin-exposed or Bitcoin-adjacent companies, too, as well as Bitcoin futures. Spot Ethereum ETPs could be similar vehicles to to spot Bitcoin ETPs, in that they would seek to track the price of Ethereum, and allow investors to gain exposure to Ethereum in their portfolios without owning it directly.

What Are Bitcoin Futures ETPs?

Bitcoin futures ETPs are another type of ETP that give investors exposure to the price movements of Bitcoin via futures contracts. Futures are a type of contract that dictates the terms of a trade at a future date, and typically have underlying assets such as precious metals or other commodities — including crypto.

Accordingly, Bitcoin futures ETPs are crypto futures ETPs that specifically seek to track Bitcoin futures contracts. Regulators approved Bitcoin futures contracts in 2021, but again, investors should know that they don’t seek to track the price or value of the underlying asset exactly — which differentiates them from spot Bitcoin ETPs.

💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

Are There US-listed Spot Bitcoin ETPs?

There are U.S.-listed spot Bitcoin ETPs. When the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first granted their approval in January 2024, it opened the door to several Bitcoin ETPs hitting the market. As a result, investors were able to start buying and selling them via the stock market.

The SEC’s approval led to new spot Bitcoin ETPs being listed on a few different exchanges. Here’s a list of the first 11 spot Bitcoin ETPs that gained approval from the SEC:

•   Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC)

•   Bitwise Bitcoin ETF (BITB)

•   Hashdex Bitcoin ETF (DEFI)

•   ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF (ARKB)

•   Invesco Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (BTCO)

•   VanEck Bitcoin Trust (HODL)

•   WisdomTree Bitcoin Fund (BTCW)

•   Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC)

•   Franklin Bitcoin ETF (EZBC)

•   iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT)

•   Valkyrie Bitcoin Fund (BRRR)

Note, too, that it’s anticipated that additional spot cryptocurrency ETPs will become available.

How Are Bitcoin ETPs Regulated?

Bitcoin ETPs are regulated by the SEC, which sets out guidance in terms of legality. Regulation in the crypto space is and has been murky — it’s been largely unregulated for the entirety of the crypto space’s existence. But the advent of crypto ETPs is likely to change that to some degree, as spot Bitcoin ETPs’ underlying asset is and can be Bitcoin itself, rather than Bitcoin derivatives.

Remember, too, that Bitcoin ETPs are not regulated under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as discussed. That differentiates them from most ETFs on the market.

That’s another important distinction investors should note: Spot and futures Bitcoin ETPs may be regulated under slightly different terms, as futures are derivatives. Investors should pay attention to the space and to any SEC guidance released regarding crypto regulation, as it may impact the value of their holdings in crypto ETPs, too.

Pros & Cons of Bitcoin ETPs

Like all investments, there are pros and cons of ETFs and ETPs — including Bitcoin ETPs.

Benefits of Bitcoin ETPs

Proponents of Bitcoin ETPs appreciate that they can give investors exposure to the complicated and volatile cryptocurrency market, without the need to personally hold actual crypto.

Convenience and Ease

Buying a spot Bitcoin ETP requires little tech know-how beyond knowing how to use a computer, open a brokerage account, and place a buy order.

ETPs provide a way for investors to indirectly add exposure to certain assets — like Bitcoin, in this case — to their portfolio. That may result in a return on investment, or a possible loss of principal. On the other hand, holding actual Bitcoin may require a somewhat advanced level of technical expertise.

Secure Storage Options

Some cryptocurrency exchanges might be trustworthy, but some users have also had a controversial history of being hacked, stolen from, or defrauded. Even reliable exchanges open investors up to risk.

Securely storing cryptocurrencies — for example, storing the private keys to a Bitcoin wallet — is most often done by using either a paper wallet that has the keys written in the form of a QR code and a long string of random characters, or by using an external piece of hardware called a hardware wallet.

Risks of Bitcoin ETPs

First and foremost, investors should be aware that it’s possible that they could lose the entirety of their investment when investing in Bitcoin ETPs. There are, of course, other risks to consider as well, including volatility, costs, and the unpredictable and still largely-unregulated nature of the crypto market.

Volatility

The volatility comes from the occasional wild swings experienced in the price of Bitcoin and Bitcoin futures against most other currencies. This could scare investors that have a lower risk tolerance, enticing them to panic and sell.

Fees

One of the risks that comes from holding an ETP of any kind involves its expense ratio. This number refers to the amount of money a fund’s management charges in exchange for providing the opportunity for investors to invest in their fund.

If a fund comes with an expense ratio of 2%, for example, the fund management would take $2 out of a $100 investment each year. This figure is usually calculated after profits have been factored in, cutting into investors’ gains. In other words, some Bitcoin ETPs could be relatively expensive for investors to hold, but it’ll depend on the specific fund.

There can be other various types of fees that may apply to an investment in ETPs as well. While the specific fees will vary from ETP to ETP, investors will likely encounter one or a combination of commissions, account maintenance fees, exchange fees, and wrap fees (a type of management fee). Again, investors will want to look at an ETP’s prospectus or related documents to get a better sense of the costs associated with a specific ETP.

Fraud and Market Manipulation

Regulators have cited fraud and market manipulation as reasons for why they were cautious about approving a spot market Bitcoin ETP. It’s unclear how the SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETPs may affect fraud and market manipulation in the crypto space, but it’s something investors should be aware of.

The Takeaway

Spot Bitcoin ETPs were approved for trading by the SEC in early 2024, and as a result, it’s likely that many more crypto ETPs will also hit markets and exchanges in the future — though nothing is guaranteed. Investors may use them to gain exposure to the crypto markets. For investors curious about the cryptocurrency market but not yet ready to invest in crypto itself, a Bitcoin ETP may represent another option. It may be best to speak with a financial professional before investing, too.

If you’re ready to bring crypto into your portfolio, you can invest in a Bitcoin ETP with SoFi. Along with many other types of investments, SoFi’s platform offers investors access to the crypto space through spot Bitcoin ETPs.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

What are the options for Bitcoin ETPs?

There are Bitcoin futures ETPs and spot Bitcoin ETPs listed in the U.S., which investors can buy. Given the SEC’s approval of Bitcoin ETPs for trading in early 2024, there may soon be additional spot crypto ETPs available to investors in the future.

Are there US-listed Bitcoin ETPs?

As of July 2024, there are U.S.-listed spot Bitcoin ETPs after the SEC approved an initial batch of them, and it’s likely there will be more in the subsequent months and years.

Where can Bitcoin ETP shares be purchased?

Crypto ETPs can be purchased and traded on the stock market, alongside other ETPs.


Photo credit: iStock/JuSun

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