Homes of the Future: Kevo Deadbolt

No more digging for keys?? Yes please!

I am a big fan of my new Ford Focus with keyless entry and push start. ¬†My hands are always filled with a huge Samsung phone, my bottomless purse and tons of paperwork, all of which makes finding my keys a daunting task to say the least ūüėČ So this new technology for home security seems awesome for me!

The Kevo turns any Bluetooth 4.0-enabled device into a key that recognizes you are in proximity and unlocks your deadbolt at the touch of your finger. Another cool feature is you can send temporary or permanent eKeys to family, friends and neighbors.

You can buy them at many retailers… one example is Home Depot for $249.99. ¬†Here is what they say:

With Kevo, your Smartphone is now your key. No more fumbling for your keys. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse and just touch the lock to open. No Smartphone? No Problem. Enjoy the same touch to open convenience with the fob. You can send an electronic key (eKey) to family, friends, or visitors who have a compatible Smartphone so they can use their phone as a key too. Receive notifications of lock activity and manage the lock and eKeys with the Kevo Mobile App. In addition to the convenience, Kevo is incredibly secure. You can add, delete or disable eKeys from the mobile app or utilize the Lost Phone Reset should the unthinkable happen. The SmartKey¬ģ¬†deadbolt cylinder provides peace of mind for a backup traditional key and offers superior security against lock picking and bumping.

Your Smartphone is now your key!

– Touch to open convenience

– Share eKeys via your Smartphone

– Kevo fob included for touch to open convenience without a SmartPhone

– Receive notifications and manage lock & eKeys through Kevo Mobile App

– Easy to install, no power or internet required

Bank of Canada interest rate cut: 5 ways consumers may be affected

Today news hit that the¬†The Bank of Canada surprised financial markets by¬†cutting its key interest rate¬†by 0.25 per cent on Wednesday. ¬†Here is what CBC said about how it may affect us… the consumer ūüôā

1. Cheaper mortgages for some, but not all

“This is good news if you’re a variable-rate mortgage holder,” said Penelope Graham, editor at RateSupermarket.ca.

Variable-rate mortgages are determined¬†by the prime interest rate, which is in turn linked to¬†the overnight interest rate the Bank of Canada just lowered. “It remains to be seen just how much [the banks] are going to cut the prime rate, but it will be cut,” said Graham.

However, in a surprise move Wednesday evening, TD Bank said it will not cut its prime interest rate. “Today’s announcement by the Bank of Canada was unexpected,” said Mohammed¬†Nakhooda, a spokesman for TD Bank. “Our decision regarding our prime rate is impacted by factors beyond just the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate.¬†Not only do we operate in a competitive environment, but our prime rate is influenced by the broader economic environment, and its impact on credit.”

Holders of fixed-rate mortgages, of course, won’t enjoy an immediate cut in monthly payments. Canadians taking out a new fixed-rate mortgage or renewing their old one right now could see rates edge down. Fixed mortgage rates are linked to long-term government bond yields. Those bond¬†yields have already begun to fall in light of the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cut.‚Äč

Graham warned Canadian home buyers that what goes down, must come up.

“When rates do eventually go up, when the economy recovers, [mortgage¬†holders] are going to see their monthly debt servicing costs go up,” said Graham. “If they can’t handle that, they could see themselves underwater on their mortgages.”

2. Borrowing on lines of credit, credit cards

Like variable-rate¬†mortgages, interest rates for lines of credit are generally tied to a bank’s prime interest rate, which is usually¬†tied to the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate. That means Canadians borrowing money through¬†a line of credit may¬†see their borrowing costs to come down,¬†depending on whether their bank cuts its prime interest rate.

Canadians hoping for a break on their credit card bills, though, are out of luck.

“Your credit card interest [rate] is actually a stated amount,” explained Craig Alexander, chief economist at TD Bank. “So when the Bank of Canada cuts rates or raises rates it doesn’t have an influence on them.”

As with mortgages, Canadians shouldn’t necessarily take further advantage of cheaper borrowing costs just because they can.

CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal sees a potential risk to the Canadian economy if Canadians start racking up even more debt.¬†A credit-fuelled spending spree is “something that the Bank of Canada would like to avoid,” said¬†Tal.

“Our debt-to-income ratio, at 165 per cent, is relatively high,” said Tal. “That’s a risk that the Bank of Canada is taking.”

3. The loonie flies south

The Canadian dollar fell dramatically against a variety of major currencies as soon as the Bank of Canada made its announcement, and that means Canadians immediately have less¬†purchasing power abroad. That’s bad news for snowbirds with homes¬†in the U.S., or any Canadian planning an international trip.

If Canadians are wondering when to transfer money to a foreign bank account, they can try to take advantage of short-term volatility in exchange rates, according to Karl Schamotta, director of foreign exchange research at Cambridge Mercantile Group.

“Typically exchange rates do not follow a nice linear trend,” said¬†Schamotta.¬†“There’s certainly potential to harness any gains that might occur over the coming months, but at the same time it’s very important to look at that overall backdrop and understand that the Canadian dollar is likely to remain depressed for a long period of time.”

How long could the¬†loonie¬†fly so low?¬†Schamotta¬†sees a clue in¬†the Bank of Canada’s own outlook, which says lower oil prices will have an “unambiguously negative” effect on the Canadian economy for 2015 and beyond.

“What we’re looking at here is a relatively bearish outlook for interest rates and for growth in Canada for at least a one- to two-year period here, and that is likely to keep the Canadian dollar contained,” said¬†Schamotta.

That negative outlook could turn more positive, added Schamotta, if some kind of geopolitical shock causes oil prices to surge once again.

4. No immediate effect on auto loans

Auto loans tend to be fixed-rate, not variable-rate. That means the Bank of Canada’s interest rate cut won’t have an immediate effect on auto financing, according to Canadian Auto Dealers Association chief economist Michael Hatch.

“I don’t think that tomorrow¬†automotive consumers are going to wake up necessarily to easier or harder financing conditions,” said Hatch. “It’s going to remain par for the course.”

Still, Hatch didn’t rule out cheaper auto financing in the near future.¬†“It’s a very competitive [interest rate]¬†environment out there.¬†It could well happen in the next few months, going into the spring selling season.”

5. A bad time for savers

If you enjoy interest generated from a traditional savings account, the Bank of Canada’s move is¬†bad news for those returns.

“We saw when the Bank of Canada cut interest rates during the last recession that interest rates on savings accounts went down almost linearly with the decline in the Bank of Canada overnight rate,” said Randall Bartlett, senior economist at TD Economics.

“There’s not going to be a massive change, but at the same time ‚Ķ¬†ifyou’re not¬†earning much interest before, you’re going to be earning less interest now,” added Bartlett.

This could be a good time for savers to think about changing their strategy, said Bartlett.

“As interest on things like savings accounts¬†and government debt¬†‚Ķ comes down, at the same time it does provide incentives for people to invest in other types of assets that have higher¬†returns,” said Bartlett. “Things like stocks, ETFs, mutual funds ‚Ķ tend to benefit from rate cuts” as businesses take advantage of cheaper credit to make investments that could improve their share prices down the line.

CREB¬ģ forecasts price stability amid easing demand

Here is an overview from the 2015 Economic Outlook & Regional Housing Outlook from CREB¬ģ

 

Housing sales are forecasted to ease by four per cent this year, due to market uncertainty and changes in economic climate, while prices are expected to remain relatively stable with a modest increase of 1.58 per cent on an annual basis, CREB¬ģ said today in its annual forecast.

Although sales levels are expected to ease, previously tight conditions throughout 2014 indicate that rising supply would push the market into more balanced conditions, supporting price stability in 2015. However, CREB¬ģ warns there are multiple risk factors attached to this forecast, which estimates a total of 24,503 homes will be sold in the city this year.

‚ÄúThe housing risks lie mainly with employment levels and net migration, both of which can be more severely impacted by a prolonged period of weakness in the energy sector,‚ÄĚ said CREB¬ģ chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie. ‚ÄúThere is also the impact that energy prices have on consumer confidence. If energy prices stay low throughout the year, concern regarding job stability could cause consumers to delay unnecessary changes regarding housing.‚ÄĚ

The report notes that while sales activity is expected to ease in 2015, it remains consistent with long-term levels. By comparison, sales in 2014 were nearly 15 per cent higher than the long-term trends for the city.

‚ÄúThe economic situation is far better today than what is was in 2009, where the fallout of the financial crises resulted in a U.S. recession, weakness in energy sectors, a pullback in investment and ultimately job losses in Calgary,‚ÄĚ said Lurie. ‚ÄúWith economic indicators remaining more positive in this period, the pullback in housing is not expected to mirror activity during the 2009-2010 period.‚ÄĚ

CREB¬ģ‚Äôs forecast also notes that housing activity can vary significantly depending on location, price range and property type. For example, in 2014, there were less detached homes within city limits available in the lower price ranges. This caused many consumers who were looking for lower priced product to move to the attached and apartment sectors within city limits as well as other surrounding areas. Many consumers turned to the larger surrounding areas of Airdrie, Cochrane, Okotkoks and Chestermere, which all recorded record levels of sales in 2014.

‚ÄúWith more supply in the market expected this year, buyers will likely have more alternatives in all price ranges,‚ÄĚ said 2015 CREB¬ģ president Corinne Lyall. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs a nice scenario for buyers, but it also means that sellers will likely have to adjust their price expectations and be realistic about the amount of time their home will be on the market.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúA REALTOR¬ģ can help navigate market conditions and real estate options, which are always unique to each consumer,‚ÄĚ said Lyall. ‚ÄúWhile challenges in the market can raise concerns for buyers and sellers, it really comes down to their personal situation and knowing what‚Äôs right for them. Real estate is truly local.‚ÄĚ

 

President’s Gold Award

Annually Royal LePage recognizes the success of realtors within their particular market – in my case Calgary. Today‚Äôs consumer wants to know they are working with a proven professional and I am pleased to announce that I was presented the President’s Gold Award for my achievements in 2014!

A huge thank you to all my friends, family and amazing clients – I couldn’t have done this without you and your support. Working with each and every one of you in the past year was truly incredible for me, and I‚Äôm glad I could be of service.

This is such an extraordinary way to start the New Year, I am energized by all your referrals and I am making a constant effort to enhance the level of service I provide to my clients.  If you have any friends or family that are thinking of buying or selling I would love to help them too. So, just give me a call with their name and number and I’ll be happy to follow up and take excellent care of them.

I am extremely grateful to have clients who are such a pleasure to work with.  This New Year let us raise a toast to those wonderful journeys we made together, and be hopeful about many more to come.  THANK YOU!

The President’s Gold Award is given to the top 6 to 10 percentile of each residential market’s sales representatives’ earnings. Earnings are defined as gross closed and collected commissions in the preceding year.