Recent figures show that only 11 per cent of airport users are taking the Sydney Airport Link to reach the airport.As a result, The Productivity Commission’s recent review of the expense of rail travel to Sydney Airport has been welcomed by the Tourism & Transport forum (TTF). The TTF called for state subsidy on Sydney airport rail tickets in its major report, “Accessing Our Airports”, released in February 2011 by Booz&Co. The Commission has identified the impact of access charges at airport train stations, which add AUD$11.80 to the cost of a one way ticket.In its draft report on the Economic Regulation of Airport Services, the Commission has also found that reducing or waiving the access charge could potentially increase rail patronage to the airport by more than 26 per cent.“The access charge is a considerable deterrent for many travellers and airport employees to use the rail link and reducing or removing the charge would be a positive outcome for Australia’s gateway airport,” TTF chief executive John Lee said.This call for the New South Wales state government to consider abolishing the access charges on ticket prices has been supported by the TTF. The government is looking to develop a cost-benefit analysis of such funding against the cost of reducing traffic congestion through road works and other surrounding infrastructure.“There is no doubt that increasing rail patronage to the airport can play a significant role in reducing congestion to and in the vicinity of Sydney Airport,” Mr Lee said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
The Hawaiian tsunami advisory has been cancelled after the islands were placed on a high alert last night following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake near the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of British Columbia. At a depth of 17 kilometres, the earthquake struck at just after 5pm Hawaii time with people urged to move to higher ground out of inundation zones along the coastline and holidaymakers sent to higher floors in their hotel s. The largest waves to hit were measured at approximately 1.5 metres high in Maui and there have been no immediate reports of damage on any of the islands. “We have sustained no damage at all, it’s business as usual here,” a spokesperson from Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki told e-Travel Blackboard this morning. One person was reported dead and six injured following a fatal three-vehicle accident shortly after midnight on Kaukonahua Road near Oahu’s north shore.“From what we understand, vehicles were on the shoulders of the roadway, I guess waiting out the tsunami,” Honolulu Police Lt. Robert Towne told Hawaii News Now. All beaches are now open apart from Hanauma Bay in O’ahu, which is expected to remain closed for the remainder of the day, with beachgoers warned to be aware of strong currents across all the islands.“We’re very, very grateful that we can go home tonight counting our blessings,” Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said. The National Weather Service has also cancelled tsunami advisories for Canada, Alaska, Washington, Oregon and California. Rising waters in Waikiki last night. Image: Sky News Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A The 650-passenger Azamara Journey has escaped a suspected pirate attack 15 nautical miles off the coast of Masirah island, Oman.Two white skiffs suspected of belonging to Somali pirates, approached the vessel before Azamara Journey’s security team reportedly fired flares at the two skiffs causing them to change direction and abort their approach. The Muscat Daily reported that the skiffs, a favoured attack craft used by Somali pirates, were equipped with a large outboard engine and each contained four persons onboard.Director of global corporate communications for Azamara’s parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises, Cynthia Martinez, was reported by The Mirror as saying, “The captain took precautionary measures, which included asking that guests move to the interior areas of the ship, as well as evasive manoeuvres.”Ms Martinez went on to add that “certain precautions and additional preparations” are taken when ships are sailing near the Gulf of Aden. “Our crew members, security teams and procedures are capable of responding to a wide variety of challenges and we are always well prepared,” Ms Martinez said. Azamara Journey departed Athens on 14 November and is slated for arrival into Mumbai on 28 November.
Source = ETB News: N.J. TCF will continue to compensatetravel clients until 30 June 2014. The Travel Industry Transition Plan (TITP), which details the unwind and termination of the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF), has been signed off by travel agent regulation Ministers in the States and the ACT, and is due to come into force on 1 July 2013.Unveiled in December last year, the Plan determines that from 30 June 2014, travel agents will no longer be required to hold a license with the TCF, as it will cease operations by mid to late 2015.As the TCF begins to unwind, from 1 July 2013, participants in the Fund will no longer be required to lodge their Annual Financial Review, and the TCF will no longer assess financial viability of new and existing agents.However, travel agents will need to remain or become TCF participants until 30 June 2014, because the TCF will continue to compensate travel clients of licensed travel agents where the clients lose money due to a travel agent collapse occurring prior to 30 June 2014.Consumers will still have 12 months from collapse to finalise claims collapses prior to 30 June 2014.Under the TITP, remaining TCF funds, which amount to roughly $29 million, will be used to fund a voluntary accreditation for travel agents and then rest will return to participating State and ACT governments.
The festivities were enjoyed by all, with a jazz band, cocktails and canapés. The stars of the travel and tourism industry attended the annual Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) Chinese New Year reception last night, with some big name guests from Cathay Pacific, Jetset Travel World and Virgin Atlantic making an appearance. Source = ETB News: T.N. The HKTB Sydney chief executive officer, Andrew Clark, mentioned the importance of tourism professionals in helping the Tourism Board grow since 2004.
New ideas start at JATA Tourism EXPO Japan 2015Travel and tourism delegates from all over the world have gathered in Tokyo to celebrate Japan Travel Week and participate in a range of meetings and exhibitions to mark the event.On Friday 25 September, the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) Tourism EXPO Japan 2015 was officially opened, beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Tokyo Big Sight.Over three days approximately 600 entities will participate in the event including 460 domestic organisations and 140 overseas representatives.The magnitude of the EXPO is impressive and the venue is filled with all the colour and excitement you would expect from a Japanese event.In accordance with the EXPO, Visit Japan Travel and MICE Mart (VJTM) 2015 will also take place at Tokyo Big Sight over three days.VJTM 2015 was officially opened on Friday afternoon with opening remarks presented by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) president Mr Ryoichi Matsuyama.Mr Matsuyama believes VJTM will work to strengthen ties and expand business between Japan and the rest of the world.“I hope everybody will take this great opportunity to generate new ideas and global business,” he said.“New ideas start here.”During the afternoon session, the 342 overseas buyers had the opportunity to meet with Japan’s domestic sellers in scheduled business meetings.To conclude day one of the event, delegates took to the streets of Tokyo to enjoy a night of festivities and performances at Japan Night 2015. Visit JapanSource = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinson
Cape Byron State Conservation Area (SCA) was named the state’s top tourist attraction at the annual NSW Tourism Awards, held at Sydney’s Darling Harbour on Thursday 26 November.The Tourist Attraction Award recognised NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service’s efforts in attracting significant visitor numbers to the popular Cape Byron SCA, the most easterly point in Australia, in Byron Bay.Cape Byron SCA was chosen out of a strong field based on delivering excellence in areas including tourism services and experiences, business planning and innovation, marketing, customer service and sustainability.“We are thrilled with this award and recognition of attracting visitors to one of the most beautiful natural areas in our state,” said NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Wright. “Cape Byron offers something for everyone, from incredible coastal views, walking tracks and lookouts, to the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse and heritage accommodation.”NPWS also won the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Tourism category for the Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming education initiative in Cape Byron SCA. This award recognised NPWS’ achievements in demonstrating authenticity and integrity in fostering a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and traditions.Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming is a successful program that teaches children about the life and culture of Byron Bay’s Aboriginal people through story, dance and creative expression by Arakwal Aboriginal guides.“We are proud of our successful joint management of CBSCA with the local Aboriginal Arakwal People, and this award is testament to our commitment to education and cultural tourism initiatives,” said Michael Wright.The NSW Tourism Awards are presented by the Tourism Industry, a division of the NSW Business Chamber, and celebrate and acknowledge tourism businesses that have demonstrated outstanding achievement and success throughout the year.NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service also received several other accolades on the night, including:Specialised Tourism Services Award – Silver for Sea Acres Rainforest Centre in Port Macquarie, the immersive gateway to Sea Acres National ParkUnique Accommodation Award – Bronze for Byron Bay Cottages, located in Cape Byron State Conservation AreaDestination Marketing Award – Bronze for the Wild About Whales campaign, which encourages people to visit coastal national parks and spot migrating whalesCultural Tourism Award – Bronze for Convict Footprints on the Old Great North Road, a historical outdoor theatre production held in Dharug National Park NSW National Parks and Wildlife ServiceSource = NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Image credit: Air New ZealandRotorua Airport is set to see an 7% increase in capacity from Air New Zealand as a result of schedule changes about to be implemented by the airline.The changes include a 25% increase in capacity on the Auckland-Rotorua route, an increase of up to 20% on the Rotorua-Christchurch route, and improved connectivity between Rotorua and Queenstown, as well as Dunedin and Invercargill.The increased capacity and connectivity will predominantly come from additional frequency on the Auckland and Christchurch routes.These changes will also see an improvement in connectivity with Queenstown, with an increase from two to five connections daily from the end of October.Rotorua Airport chief executive, Nicole Brewer, says the changes are extremely positive for the Rotorua community, economy and tourism sector, and are a reflection of increased patronage and support from local travellers and visitors, and a strong relationship with Air New Zealand.“These changes firmly support our growing tourism industry, our local business community and our goal to achieve greater connectivity with Queenstown, which is a critical tourism route for Rotorua.“The improved capacity and additional flights to and from Christchurch are particularly important, as good connectivity with the south island is essential for international visitors to Rotorua.”Ms Brewer says the new schedule will provide improved choice for travellers, as well as better fare availability.“Further more, the changes mean that a 68 seat ATR aircraft will overnight in Rotorua and provide an early morning flight to Christchurch, returning in the evening. This will deliver an improved service for southbound passengers currently travelling via Wellington.“These changes also reinforce Air New Zealand’s commitment to Rotorua and, if demand is demonstrated and proven, additional capacity will be provided. At the same time, if demand drops, then it is likely we will see a corresponding change in capacity.”The implementation of Air New Zealand’s new schedule will see a change in services on the Rotorua-Wellington route, with the reduction of two flights a week and a change in departure times.Ms Brewer says this route has been under performing for some time, and the schedule changes have been designed to lift performance, and consequently, sustainability of the route.“While the Wellington changes will not suit everyone, we will continue to actively work with Air New Zealand on this route to measure the impact and opportunities, and explore other options.”Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick says the updates to the schedule are “great for inbound and international visitors in a growing tourism market”.“We are certainly making good progress for our wanted north-south link, but recognise that the changes to Wellington-Rotorua flights, from October, will not meet the needs of all travellers and will be watching the situation closely.”Ms Brewer says additional capacity and connectivity is likely to be introduced in the coming months for the peak summer season, including Chinese New Year.The changes in the Air New Zealand schedule will be available for booking next week, for travel from 30 October, 2016. Rotorua AirportSource = Rotorua Airport
QT QueenstownIntroducing QT QueenstownWith unrivalled views over the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and breathtaking peaks of the New Zealand Southern Alps, the highly anticipated QT Queenstown has opened it’s doors in New Zealand’s alpine adventure playground. Mother Nature meets modern design at this lush lakeside hotel. Emulating a luxurious nostalgic alpine and après-ski ambiance, the interiors reflect the dramatic outdoor landscape. QT Queenstown is where adrenaline seekers and lovers of the high life come to satisfy their thirst for all things altitude and attitude – welcome to your new favourite place.QT Hotels & Resorts has bought a chic new designer landmark to Queenstown’s burgeoning tourism landscape with a distinctly creative edge and highly-curated experiences through its public spaces, guest rooms and high-end restaurant and bar offerings.The design philosophy is harmoniously inspired by the all-encompassing nature and grandeur of the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. Mother Nature is complemented by the bold accents seen in the herringbone patterns and leather and brass details, which channel vintage outdoor sports gear. Exposed surfaces and a disruptive bold graphic approach runs throughout the visually intriguing spaces, featuring carefully curated art displays and bespoke furnishings.Luxury design meets contemporary décor across QT Queenstown’s 69 stunning guest rooms and suites, with signature QT Gel Beds, too-many-threads-to-count linen, floor-to-ceiling windows and a cheeky mini-bar. Designed by renowned interior designer, Nic Graham, the inescapable and striking views play homage to this QT property.The ultimate in creature comforts are at one’s fingertips when staying in the Remarkable King room. Perfectly poised on the top floor, flaunting jaw dropping views across the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu – this lavish room is indeed, fit for royalty. This premium experience is complete with personalised bellhop benefits,a welcome G&T waiting on arrival, a lavishly late check-out and a host of plush perks.The in-room elements is where the attention to detail and framework of a designer hotel comes through – in the nic-nacs, wall graphics, cushions, artwork. Sourced by stylist, Anna Roberts, QT Queenstown’s guest rooms and suites are home to countless local treasures such as sweets poured 200 metres down the road by the iconic Remarkables Sweet Shop to New Zealand’s native Tui bird in the form of a ceramic sculpture. The essence of Aotearoa’s fauna and flora, alongside a Central Otago-centric mini bar, inspires a tantalising and quintessentially Queenstown sanctuary. The designer bathrooms features luxurious white marble double vanities paired with copper furnishings, a QT first. Copper as a highlight metal is balanced with the softest tones and surprising bursts of colour. Nic’s first experience of Queenstown Is integral in the development of the colour palette, as he arrived to white packed mountains and a clear blue lake. The tonal cues are reflective in the lavender, soft blues and charcoal grey to balance the furnishings and pops of yellow.QT Queenstown will up the ante balancing small boutique feel, classic QT elements and a sense of, “this is home but a home many of us don’t experience” with all of the tongue-in-cheek quirk you’ve come to expect when immersing yourself in the QT life. Graham achieves this with “.. cues taken on colour and replicated texture. The Lobby and Reception heavily features timber flooring, timber lined ceilings and split rock walls, bringing an earthy-edge and Queenstown’s reputation as an adventure playground indoors. This gives a more residential feeling for guests”. The Lobby breaks the mould of other QT’s which all feature generously sized lounges, coffee shop, bars – New Zealand’s first QT Hotel, QT Museum Wellington showcases a gallery’s worth of art. Breaking the mould, QT Queenstown’s public spaces are understated to focus on the grandeur of the surrounding scenery.With eclectic and eccentric dining and drinking experiences, QT Queenstown’s Bazaar Interactive Marketplace and Reds Bar, have already established the property to be a destination for locals and tourists alike. From early 2017 diners journeyed to Level 6 to find Reds Bar – and uninterrupted views. Reds is the ultimate place to soak in the picturesque sunset with hand crafted cocktail in hand. QT Queenstown’s signature dining offering, Bazaar Interactive Marketplace, awaits post-cocktail – with each experience is designed to satisfy and tantalise the palates of foodies and spoil the senses of those who enter.Reds Bar is the only place to revel in and watch the sunset across the majestic Southern Alps and clear lake. The view sits pretty amongst the hallmark of good design with custom QT furniture, including Eames-era chairs and bold wall graphics. The stunning surroundings only rivalled with an equally impressive bar and cellar to excite wine connoisseurs and mixology fans alike. Satisfying the needs of the modern traveller – a taste of Queenstown awaits. Reds’ cocktail library showcases clever mixes showcasing QT rooftop herbs, locally foraged flora and housemade infusions, from pancetta vodka to wormwood syrup. New Zealand’s best drops and handcrafted concoctions are matched to watch the sun set in this alpine aperitif, good times bar.An innovative QT experience, Bazaar Interactive Marketplace boasts lush views as your backdrop while you become immersed in the rousing hustle and bustle of the marketplace. Bazaar continues the aesthetic direction of the hotel with exposed surfaces – the herringbone pattern on the floor and leather straps came from the original design narrative channeling outdoor sports equipment. Full of a mosaic of cuisines highlighting the finest Central Otago produce, alongside the best of what’s available across the country and internationally, Bazaar chefs provide a theatrical and thoroughly interactive dining experience to create both an ocular and gastronomic experience for guests like no other. For those who have a penchant for fine wines – we’re bringing wine country to your table. It’s a pleasure to be able to pour stunning vintages, fruity and supple drops matched to the best Queenstown has to offer with notable names such as Akarua, Charcoal Gully and Pisa Range Estate.Every element of the QT Queenstown journey has been highly curated and carefully crafted – no detail has been spared; everything from the art, lighting, music selection, quirky nuances and bold design touches, create this quintessentially QT and Queenstown guest experience.The property’s eclectic spaces dare guests to adventure into the wild or enjoy the beautiful tranquility of Queenstown. From the views across dramatic mountain landscapes, to the personal, intimate moments taking in the serenity of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a canvas upon which every individual can choose their own adventure. The property’s interior evoke a signature QT sense of place.QT Queenstown joins an acclaimed collection of unique designer hotels, building on a global reputation for bold interiors with luxurious and equally quirky hospitality. QT Hotels & Resorts redefines the designer hotel experience; with its identity inspired by the surrounding environment along with a touch of signature QT quirk. Locals and tourists can experience luxury with a side of the signature QT quirk, perfect for stay and play.1 December marks QT Hotels & Resorts’ newest installment of the design-driven collection of hotels.For more information or to book at QT Queenstown go to: www.qthotelsandresorts.com Source = QT Hotels & Resorts
According to the Ministry of Indian Railways, a series of new cross-border railways are being planned to connect India with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh and a series of studies have already been conducted into the new lines.The most challenging of these projects would be to Bhutan as the country does not currently have any railway lines. But according to the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR), the feasibility studies have already been conducted for the project. Bhutan borders the Indian states of Sikkim, West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.For Nepal, work is already underway on an 18.6 km cross-border railway line connecting the Indian city of Jogbani, in the state of Bihar, with the Nepalese city of Biratnagar.The most extensive connectivity is likely to be between India and Bangladesh. NFP is planning a new cross-border link to Bangladesh from Agartala. This will form part of the Trans-Asian Railway network and will significantly reduce the overland travelling time between northeast India and the rest of the country.
It’s our first participation at OTM and our experience at the exhibition has been good. This year, we decided to explore other source markets and our participation has been worth here due to the phenomenal range of buyers we had come across. This exhibition not only has a solid hold of the domestic market, but also MICE and outbound segment.
“”RE/MAX””:www.remax.com/ has released the results of its most recent housing survey, and the company’s evaluation of 53 metropolitan areas demonstrates a 7.6 percent rise in home sales year-over-year in September. The findings represent the third consecutive month in which an increase in sales was shown year-over-year for comparable months, and generally, sales have been on the uptick for four of nine months during 2011 based on RE/MAX’s report.[IMAGE]Higher sales pushed the nation’s housing inventory lower by 20.2 percent on a year-over-year basis, representing the fifteenth consecutive month in which market inventory declined. September’s data extends trends seen from data recorded in July and August, during which sales rose by18 percent and 13.1 percent respectively.Home pricing, however, dropped during the survey period, falling 3.3 percent on a year-over-year basis. According to RE/MAX, the current media sales price stands at $183,762, demonstrating a 2.5 percent decrease from August to September.[COLUMN_BREAK]While some regions sufferred, some areas did go against the trend, ringing in a rise in home pricing. Detroit, Michigan; Miami, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Anchorage, Alaska; and Indianapolis, Indiana each saw an uptick in prices; respectively, the cities showed jumps of 13.4 percent, 8.4 percent, 7.8 percent, 5.1 percent, and 4.5 percent. Out of the 53 metro areas evaluated, only 17 demonstrated any forward progress in pricing.Cities faring the most favorably based on sales pace included Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Wilmington, Delaware; Trenton, New Jersey; and Providence, Rhode Island. Respectively, the areas had year-over-year increases in home sales of 31.3 percent, 30.1 percent, 28.4 percent, 27.3 percent, and 23.5 percent. Overall, 44 of the 53 markets examined showed positive sales growth.On average, properties throughout the 53 regions RE/MAX reported on stayed on the market for 94 days. Showing a small increase of four days between months, the length of market stay rose by six days year-over-year. It’s worth noting that numbers from September 2010, which indicated an average market stay of 88 days, represented the lowest on record in the past year, with July of this year also equaling an 88 day market stay average.RE/MAX’s housing reports are delivered every month, following the program’s establishment in 2008. The regular surveys include MLS statistics across all residential property types and the data is not annualized. Additionally, RE/MAX includes at least one metro area from each state in the U.S. for accuracy and maximum representation. October 14, 2011 474 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Dodd-Frank Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-10-14 Abby Gregory RE/MAX Report Shows Sales on the Rise Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology
California Mortgage Fraud Case Nets 11 Indictments Agents & Brokers Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Service Providers 2012-09-14 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing September 14, 2012 422 Views Share Federal agents arrested 10 defendants who worked at a Rancho Cucamonga, California-based business accused of offering false loan modification programs to homeowners, “”SIGTARP””:http://www.sigtarp.gov/Pages/home.aspx announced Wednesday.[IMAGE]Those taken into custody are among 11 defendants named in a federal indictment following a joint investigation by SIGTARP, the FBI, IRS’ Criminal Investigations division, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and FHFA.According to the indictment, defendant Andrea Ramirez and several of her employees operated a loan mod scheme out of 21st Century Real Estate Investment Corp. and several other businesses.[COLUMN_BREAK]Those businesses targeted distressed homeowners and made false promises and guarantees about their abilities to negotiate loan modifications. The indictment also alleges that 21st Century falsely represented that it was operating a government-sponsored loan mod program and instructed homeowners to cease communicating with or paying their mortgage lenders.The defendants are also charged with taking money from homeowners and falsely saying it would be used to help make mortgage payments. They then simply kept the money, the indictment alleges.As a result of the alleged scheme, more than 4,000 financially distressed homeowners lost at least $7 million in fees paid to the company. In addition, many homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure.All 11 defendants are charged with nine felony counts-five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy. Each count carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.””The housing crisis provided fraud artists a new avenue to exploit people in financial distress,”” said United States Attorney Andr├âãÆ├é┬® Birotte Jr. “”Many of the victims in this alleged scheme were in desperate financial straits, and shameless financial predators promised relief they could not deliver. As a result, many homeowners went into foreclosure and now have to deal with the ramifications of losing their homes.””
in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology October 5, 2012 456 Views Donald McGuire will be pulling double duty at “”NewOak””:http://www.newoak.com/ as COO and head of investment banking, the company announced.[IMAGE]McGuire comes to NewOak with more than 27 years of experience in finance and operations, having worked in the major investment banking, pharmaceutical, and technological industries. Most recently, he served as managing partner of KDM Advisors, working with founders, shareholders, boards, and management teams to develop or restructure their companies.He has also worked as chairman and CEO of Metastatin Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and was COO and director of Beenz.com.In his position as COO of the New York-based financial advisory firm, McGuire will oversee day to day internal operations. Meanwhile, he will work to assure the firm’s financial services are best-in-class as the head of investment banking. “”Don will play a key role in the governance of our firm,”” said James Frischling, president and co-founder of NewOak. “”His exceptional track record of operations management and business growth in the domestic and international markets is based on his innate ability to motivate and drive others toward success.””””Executing on our clients’ complex solutions in investment banking, credit services, and financial disputes requires a highly-experienced and disciplined team,”” added CEO and co-founder Ron D’Vari. “”Don has the right combination of infrastructure and team building track record to help lead such an effort.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers 2012-10-05 Tory Barringer Share New,New COO, Head of Investment Banking Appointed at NewOak
Share May 7, 2013 461 Views in Origination Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac HARP Investors Lenders & Servicers Refinance Service Providers 2013-05-07 Esther Cho Refinances through the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) remained strong as mortgage rates stayed near record-low levels, according to the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency’s””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ (FHFA) most recent refinance report.[IMAGE] In February, 97,738 Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans were refinanced under the program, bringing the total to 2.3 million since HARP’s April 2009 inception. The agency also reported HARP refinances accounted for 21 percent of total refinance volume in February.[COLUMN_BREAK] Of the 2.3 million refinances since inception, about 2 million were primary for residences, 233,000 for investment properties, and over 75,000 for second homes. Underwater borrowers also continued to represent a large share total HARP refinance volume. Year-to-date through February, borrowers with loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) beyond 105 percent accounted for nearly half (45 percent) of all HARP refinances, according to FHFA data.In Nevada, Arizona, and Florida, the share was even greater, with underwater borrowers representing 65 percent or more of HARP volume over the first two months of the year. In California and Georgia, the share of HARP refis for underwater borrowers was 58 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Out of the 195,327 total HARP refis seen year-to-date, 45,453 were for borrowers who were deeply underwater, or had LTVs greater than 125 percent. Among the underwater borrowers, 18 percent opted for shorter-term 15-and 20-year mortgages, which build equity faster than traditional 30-year mortgages.HARP, which was set to expire at the end of this year, will live on for two more years after receiving an “”extension””:https://themreport.com/articles/fhfa-to-extend-harp-through-2015-2013-04-11 into December 31, 2015. Mortgage Rates Continue to Attract HARP Activity in February
February 28, 2014 454 Views Bureau of Economic Analysis Consumer spending GDP 2014-02-28 Tory Barringer After delivering a promising first report at the end of January, the government on Friday scaled back its estimate for fourth-quarter economic growth.In the second of three planned reports, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) put gross domestic product (GDP) growth at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in Q4 2013, down from its initial estimate of 3.2 percent in January and its final report of 4.1 percent in the third-quarter.Full-year growth is estimated at 1.9 percent compared to 2.8 percent in 2012.According to BEA, the latest downward revision stemmed from a smaller increase in consumer spending than what was previously reported. First estimated at 3.3 percent, spending growth was scaled back to 2.6 percent.Still, the agency noted personal consumption expenditures contributed heavily to fourth-quarter growth. Also reflected in the latest data are positive contributions from exports, nonresidential fixed investment, and private inventory investment.Putting a drag on GDP were declines in residential fixed investment and federal government spending—down 12.8 percent, a lasting effect of October’s shutdown. Imports, which count as a subtraction in GDP, also increased.Paying close attention to the latest report will be Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, who in a Senate Banking Committee hearing Thursday was questioned on how the recent economic slowdown will affect the Fed’s plans to taper asset purchases.Her response was noncommittal: “Part of that softness may reflect adverse weather conditions, but at this point it’s difficult to discern exactly how much.”Nevertheless, Yellen and the rest of the Federal Open Market Committee will have to reach an answer on that question ahead of its March meeting, which will fall before the government’s final estimate of fourth-quarter economic expansion.The committee voted in its last two meetings to curb its monthly purchases of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Further cuts (or reverses) will be based on how the economy continues to perform.GDP won’t be the only factor the committee will have to weigh in its March decision. Also figuring in will be recent employment reports, which have been painted a discouraging picture, weakness in existing-home sales, and a decline in new homebuilding.On the other hand, indicators released this week indicate a possible comeback from the current slump: New home sales surpassed expectations in January, and pending sales have at least refrained from dropping any further. in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Fourth-Quarter GDP Growth Slashed Share
FHA Commissioner to Step Down in Government, Headlines, News Bailouts Carol Galante FHA HUD 2014-08-11 Tory Barringer Updated.Less than two years after being confirmed as the head of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Commissioner Carol Galante is making plans to step down from her post.In a message sent to her staff Monday morning, Galante revealed that she intends to depart from HUD by the end of this year, after which she will assume a distinguished professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her master’s in city planning.She will also serve as the director of UC’s Berkeley Program in Housing and Urban Policy and will co-chair the Fisher Center on Real Estate’s Policy Advisory Board, according to the letter.Biniam Gebre, currently general deputy assistant secretary for housing, will lead following Galante’s departure.The announcement is expected to come later this week.Galante has been with HUD for five years, starting her career at the department as deputy assistant secretary for multifamily housing. She was nominated by President Obama for the role of FHA commissioner in 2011, receiving her confirmation from the Senate in late 2012, only a month after an audit revealed the agency’s mortgage insurance fund had plummeted deep into the red as a result of losses it took following the housing bust.Despite efforts made to restore the fund, FHA was forced last year to take a $1.7 billion Treasury draw to strengthen its financial position.As FHA continues to see the effects of its push to bolster its capital—including overhauling its reverse mortgage program and bringing up insurance premiums—the White House budget forecasts no further draws this year, a fact Galante celebrates in her message: “By working hard to establish the right pricing, increase recoveries on distressed assets and better manage risk, we have turned the corner on those losses and significantly improved the financial health of the Fund.”Over the next few months, the commissioner said she plans to continue focusing on FHA’s recent Homeowners Armed With Knowledge (HAWK) program, which aims to increase credit availability to first-time homebuyers by offering reduced premiums to those who participate in counseling and homebuyer education programs.”I remain passionate about the work we do to make housing more available and affordable for American families and assist communities to thrive,” Galante said. “It is why I joined HUD and why having the opportunity to work with you has been so rewarding.” August 11, 2014 533 Views Share
in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Consumer Sentiment Lifts in Final August Reading September 3, 2014 425 Views Confidence Consumer spending 2014-09-03 Tory Barringer Share After a poor reading earlier in the month, consumer sentiment in August recovered more than expected, despite concerns about the economy’s future direction.The University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters Index of Consumer Sentiment climbed to 82.5 in the final August reading, slightly better than July’s final value of 81.8 but a sharp upturn from a mid-month reading of 79.2.For nine months now, the index has remained largely unchanged, moving in a range between 80.0 and 82.5.”The stability in consumer expectations during the past nine months has helped to insulate the economy from much larger swings in business investments,” said Richard Curtin, director of the monthly sentiment survey. “At the same time, the problem is that confidence has been unable to rise above those modestly positive levels.”This reflects the ability of the Fed to raise asset prices, which has primarily benefitted upper income households, and their inability to prompt wage increases, which has prevented the reestablishment of a more broadly based optimism,” he continued.Indeed, 59 percent of households with incomes in the top tier reported being better off now than they were before, while only 36 percent of those in the lower tiers said the same. At the same time, 34 percent of the top-income households reported net income gains, while there were no net gains reported in the bottom two-thirds.”To be sure, all households have benefited from the resurgent economy,” Surveys of Consumers said in its report, adding that the data point to a 2.5 percent increase in consumer spending in the year ahead.The index component measuring consumer feelings about current conditions rose 4.8 percent over the month to 99.8, its highest since July 2007.Meanwhile, the expectations component of the index dropped 3.3 percent to 71.3.
in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News FHA Loan Limits to Remain Unchanged in 2015 FHA FHFA Loan Limits Mortgage Insurance 2014-12-05 Tory Barringer The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced Friday it will leave loan limits unchanged for the highest- and lowest-cost housing markets in 2015.For most high-cost housing markets, the maximum allowable amount for an FHA loan will stay at $625,000, a threshold first set at the start of this year.For low-cost metro areas, the limit will remain unchanged at $271,050, the agency announced.FHA recalculates its national loan limit every year, basing its math on a percentage calculation of the national conforming loan limit for mortgages eligible for purchase or guarantee by the GSEs. That limit was also left untouched by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and will stay at $417,000 for most of the country next year.FHA will continue to insure mortgages at a much higher threshold—$938,250—in certain established high-cost areas, including Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.The agency also announced that loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages will also be left untouched. FHA’s reverse mortgage product, the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) will have a maximum claim amount of $625,500. Share December 5, 2014 423 Views
March 23, 2016 595 Views The millennial generation has been dubbed the generation that is not interested in purchasing a home, whether it be due to renting, living with their parents, or because they are saddled with student loan debt. On the surface, it would appear that millennials are not interested in becoming homeowners.According to an analysis from NerdWallet, the idea that millennials do not want to be homeowners is false, and in fact, the majority of this generation would prefer owning over renting. But they are holding off on homeownership because of real and perceived difficulties in affording it.According to the report, millennials total 66 million individuals and 24 million independent households and the median age for first-time homebuyers has remained virtually unchanged for the past 40 years.In addition, two-thirds of millennials haven’t reached that homebuying age of 31, and 22 percent are under 25 years old. Millennials are renting for an average of six years before buying, compared with an average of five years for renters in 1980. Millennials are expected to form 20 million new households by 2025.“There’s a strong indication that millennials do want to become homeowners, which is quite different from what we’ve heard,” says Chris Ling, Mortgage Manager at NerdWallet. “While overall homeownership has declined, millennials do see the long-term value in owning a home.”According to NerdWallet, millennials stated that the biggest obstacles to getting a mortgage are:Insufficient credit score or historyAffording the down payment or closing costsInsufficient income for monthly paymentsToo much existing debtNerdWallet found that many millennials are unaware of down-payment options to help them obtain a mortgage loan.“Many millennials believe they are unable to afford homes, when really many of them are unaware of the different financing options that exist — particularly those that allow for a down payment of 6 percent or less,” Ling says.Another reason that millennials are staying away from homeownership is student loan debt, the data found.“With student debt on the rise, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether the cost of a college degree hurts an individual’s ability to buy a home,” Ling explained. “From what we’ve seen, getting a four-year degree or higher is actually positively associated with homeownership — even when accounting for debt.”NerdWallet found that barriers to homeownership may be not be as high as many millennials perceive them to be. “Although factors like low savings or a poor credit score might seem insurmountable, there’s a variety of resources available to help younger Americans buy their first homes,” the report said.“Millennials—and first-time homebuyers in general—should never just assume they can’t afford a home. The first step to owning a home is knowing how you can finance it, so you should always research your options,” Ling noted. “Buying a home may be more of a possibility than you realize.” What’s Holding Back Millennials From Homeownership? in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News, Origination Share Homeownership Millennials NerdWallet 2016-03-23 Staff Writer