Inertia keeping Aussies homebound

first_imgWhile economic uncertainties push most Aussies into a state of inertia, up to 47 percent continue to harbour fantasies of travelling and exploring different cultures and countries.A Carnival Cruise Lines nationwide study found that although the economy has left the majority of Australians with a lacking sense of adventure, the dream of travelling still persists with 41 percent dreaming of packing in their jobs and travelling around the world.Among the most important things to try, 35 percent said they were eager to travel solo, while almost half of survey participants said they were keen to try different foods and 34 percent enthused to meet new people.According to the survey, up to 31 percent said their routine and family limited them from travelling or trying something new while 84 percent cited uncertain economic climate conditions.“Getting caught up in the nitty-gritty of our day-to-day, the financial austerity of the last few years… these are all things that have the effect of constraining our lifestyles,” social trend analyst Mark McCrindle said.  “We’re all looking for a full colour life but can easily get temporarily stuck in a grey zone.  “Australians value an adventurous spirit and just need a little motivation and support to push them from their inertia.”Results of the study found that most Aussies are stuck in a routine that is dissolving their spirit of adventure and trying something new.74 percent of respondents said they wear the same style of clothing and eat the same meals every day, 59 percent explained that they socialise in the same places every weekend and 68 percent said they sleep on the same side of the bed every night and wouldn’t consider swapping. Attempting to break Australians out of their routine and achieve their travel dreams, Carnival Cruise Lines announced early this year that it is bringing its Carnival Spirit down under on a full time basis from October 2012.“We recognise that Aussies have an adventurous spirit, which is just one of the reasons we decided to bring our cruise experience to this market,” the cruise line’s director Jennifer Vandekreeke said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Inaugural IMEX America hailed a success

first_imgIMEX America debuted in Las Vegas last week ‘Everything we had hoped for’: IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom on IMEX America IMEX Group Chairman Ray Bloom says the first ever IMEX America has done what it set out to do, delivering to the US meetings, incentives and events industry a tradeshow with a truly “fresh dimension”. Sharing feedback given by the 2,000 hosted buyers and nearly 2,000 exhibitors from 140 destinations, Mr Bloom said the inaugural IMEX America had “successfully delivered a new, collaborative business model”, which had not just been “a US trade show in Las Vegas but a truly global marketplace in America”.“That was always our vision but, of course, over the past four days thousands of industry professionals have been able to see and experience it for themselves,” he stated.“They now completely understand what we set out to do and have appreciated the fresh dimension it has brought to the industry here in the US.”Highlighting an enormous booking made for the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre) by a ‘walk-in’ buyer, Mr Bloom said the more than 30,000 scheduled and impromptu appointments had been particularly pleasing.According to the IMEX Group chairman, downloads of the IMEX App also reached high levels with 2050 people using the App.e-Travel Blackboard was on the ground at IMEX America, which wrapped up in Las Vegas late last week.center_img Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Hilton Lake Taupo Named Best New Zealand Regional Property at The HM

first_imgMulti-Award-Winning Hilton Lake Taupo Has Added Yet Another Award To Its Impressive Line Up, HM Magazines Best New Zealand Regional Property Award 2012Hilton Lake Taupo has won the coveted award for Best New Zealand Regional property for the second year in a row at the tenth annual HM Awards for Hotel & Accommodation excellence, held recently in Sydney on the 7 September 2012.The HM Awards, regarded as the leading awards in the accommodation industry, recognizes excellence in people, departments, properties and chains across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. The 2012 HM awards saw a record number of 2300 entries across the 46 categoriesSince opening in November 2009 Hilton Lake Taupo has gone from strength to strength, receiving numerous national and international awards, receiving outstanding accolades such as Best New Hotel Australasia at the World Travel Awards 2010, the Hilton Worldwide Connie Award for top Hilton Asia Pacific property two years running in 2010 and 2011, Trip Advisors Travellers choice award for luxury in 2011 and Certificate of Excellence in 2012.Commenting on the accolade, Chris Partridge, general manager of Hilton Lake Taupo and Hilton Auckland said “I’m delighted to see the Hilton Lake Taupo take out its 12th award in its three year history. Winning this award two years in a row reflects the dedication of the team at Hilton Lake Taupo in exceeding our guests’ expectations and providing the highest possible levels of service.”“We were thrilled to hear of our nomination for this award for the third year running and then to take out top place again for the second year in a row is an outstanding achievement by the entire Hilton Lake Taupo team” said Clinton Farley, hotel manager The HM Awards judging panel is made up of more than 20 industry professionals and travel media who decide on all of the finalists and the winners. Written submissions for each category are considered and all judging decisions remain anonymous. All results are audited by Ernst & Young.Hilton Lake TaupoThe historic Hilton Lake Taupo is one of Taupo’s architectural icons located in the Onekeke Thermal Valley, famous for its ancient pumice flows. Situated 1 km from the lake front along State Highway 5, the hotel overlooks the lake and the central plateau mountains beyond offering spectacular views. Built originally in 1889, exclusively from New Zealand native timbers, Hilton Lake Taupo is one of only two remaining hotels from that era and offers a luxurious haven of comfort and relaxation.The hotel features 113 spacious accommodation rooms including suites and apartments. Leisure facilities include an infinity swimming pool and spa pool, tennis courts and a beautifully appointed fitness centre with steam room and sauna. Offering the Cellar Ball Room, Conservatory and Cellar Cocktail Bar, Hilton Lake Taupo is the perfect destination for executive retreats, incentive travel groups and company conferences.Hilton AucklandHilton Auckland has a unique waterfront location 300 metres out to sea at the end of Princes Wharf just minutes from Auckland’s Central Business District and the vibrant Viaduct area. This 165 room hotel, including seven suites, has stunning views over Waitemata Harbour and features spacious balconies in every room. Hilton Auckland offers seven multi-purpose function venues, all bathed in natural light and flowing to balconies overlooking the water, catering for cocktails for up to 750 guests and dinner for up to 370 guests. Hilton Lake Taupo Source = Hilton Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

Leadership Forum Better TransTasman connectivity needed

first_imgThe Australian New Zealand Leadership Forum has advocated four reforms to improve Trans-Tasman air travel.The Forum believes that cutting travel times at Australian airports, halving Australia’s Passenger Movement Charge, opening more Australian regional airports to Trans-Tasman flights and creating a combined Australian/NZ visa to ensure Asian travellers visit both countries in one trip.Forum Australian co-chair Rod McGeoch says the Forum strongly supports TTF’s  recommendations.“Removing the barriers to trans-Tasman travel would significantly enhance trade and  relations between our two countries and would position both of us to do more  business with Asia,” Mr McGeogh said.“We would urge action by the Australian Government to make these  recommendations a reality.”Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

TAT welcomes Yuthasak Supasorn as the new governor

first_imgTAT welcomes Yuthasak Supasorn as the new governorThe Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on Friday (28 August, 2015) welcomed Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn as the new governor. His official start date is 1 September, 2015.Mr. Yuthasak, 49, was appointed by the TAT Board of Directors as the TAT Governor after Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik who completed his term at the end of March 2015. He was previously the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Thailand’s MCOT Public Company Limited (MCOT).Commenting on his appointment, Mr. Yuthasak said, “I’m very honoured to have been selected to this very important post. Thailand has excellent tourism products and services and that TAT itself is staffed by capable people who have done a great job in helping to make tourism one of the main pillars of Thailand’s economy.”Mr. Yuthasak said he planned to introduce three immediate strategies upon taking the Governor post at the TAT, including reassuring global confidence and stimulating domestic tourism in the wake of the recent tragic incident in Bangkok, as well as creating a better TAT.On reassuring global confidence, TAT’s domestic and overseas offices are providing regular updates on the ‘business as usual’ situation in Thailand and reiterating that the country continues to be a welcoming tourist destination. In December, TAT will organise a major event to draw tourists.Promoting domestic tourism will also be a top priority, he said, especially for students and senior citizens. He said new ways would be found to promote domestic travel not just during school holiday periods and weekends but during weekdays, all-year.On creating a better TAT, Mr. Yuthasak said, “I plan to further strengthen the confidence among the people within and outside the organisation and to build on the existing ‘TAT SPIRITS’ concept to promote good governance and transparency as well as to reinforce TAT’s positioning as the ‘Guardian of Thai Tourism’ to extend its expertise to other organisations.”He added the plans were to build on the TAT’s strong foundation to improve cooperation with other government agencies, the private sector and partners abroad, and to streamline internal procedures to upgrade the operational efficiency of the TAT, a state enterprise.Source = Tourism Authority of Thailandlast_img read more

Captain Cook Cruises partners with Royal Australian Navy

first_imgAnthony Haworth, General Manager Captain Cook Cruises & Captain Neville TeagueCaptain Cook Cruises has partnered with the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre to launch the best kept secret on Sydney Harbour.Recently, the RAN Heritage Centre and Captain Cook Cruises launched the new ferry service connecting Garden Island to Circular Quay and seven other Sydney Harbour tourist destinations onboard Captain Cook Cruises Hop-On Hop-Off Sydney Harbour Explorer cruise.The RAN Heritage Centre exhibits the physical history of Australia’s Navy. Displays range from large weapon systems to personal momentous representing the developments and events in Navy over more than 100 years.‘The centre is a hidden gem on Sydney Harbour and presents a great partnership opportunity to work with Navy collaboratively to offer all our domestic and international visitors a unique heritage and historical experience,’ said Anthony Haworth, General Manager Captain Cook Cruises.A unique venue for private corporate functions, the RAN Heritage Centre features the on-site Salthorse Café, outdoor picnic grounds, private ferry wharf, meeting rooms and a gallery function floor with stunning harbour views.The RAN Heritage Centre is open daily to the public from 9.30am to 3.30pm and is included free in Captain Cook Cruises, Hop-On Hop-Off Sydney Explorer service.Security access for private functions can be arranged through Captain Cook Cruises fleet of ferry and charter vessels. Captain Cook CruisesSource = Captain Cook Cruiseslast_img read more

Sabre presents a global vision for the Asia Pacific travel community

first_imgSabre presents a global vision for the Asia Pacific travel communitySabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), the leading technology provider to the global travel industry has announced a rebrand of all its acquired Abacus assets in Asia Pacific, effective today.Over 100 wholly owned and affiliated offices across the region will now operate as Sabre, with travel agency and supplier customers engaging with their local teams at Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific and via an expanded corporate domain at www.sabre.com/apac.The rebrand reflects Sabre’s aim of connecting its entire travel community so that Asia Pacific agents can shop the world’s largest marketplace for travel, while suppliers gain access to a global distribution channel of over 425,000 on and offline wholesale, corporate and leisure travel outlets.“The rebrand recognizes the global potential of Asia Pacific’s evolving travel businesses, especially those focused on the opportunities online,” said Roshan Mendis, senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific. “We want every travel agent and regional supplier to readily access our global and local software, data, mobile and distribution services, to enjoy the benefit of one unified and market-aligned global Sabre brand.”From today, www.abacus.com.sg visitors will transfer to www.sabre.com/apac to discover more about the global travel technology leader and its presence, support and investment in the Asia Pacific region.“For our customers and prospects, the message is that Sabre is the partner of choice for faster shared innovation and accelerated growth. We will help all our Asia Pacific customers to compete in new markets and win,” added Mendis.Today’s brand change also coincides with Sabre’s acquisition of a third national marketing company, based in Malaysia to follow Singapore and Hong Kong. Abacus Distribution Systems (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. is now a wholly owned, integral part of one Sabre. SabreSource = Sabrelast_img read more

Community spirit key focus on final day of TravelManagers Conference

first_imgSource = TravelManagers Australia About TravelManagers Travel Managers operates in all Australian States and is a wholly owned subsidiary of House of Travel, Australasia’s largest independent travel company which has a forecast turnover of $1.5 billion for 2015. TravelManagers is a sister company to Hoot Holidays, also owned by House of Travel, and has more than 490 personal travel managers throughout Australia with a dedicated support team at the company’s national partnership office in Sydney. TravelManagers places all customer money in a dedicated and audited Client Trust Account which is separate from the general business accounts, ensuring client funds are only used for client purchases. Fly THAI Amazing Thailand Community spirit key focus on final day of TravelManagers Conference Personal Travel Managers and suppliers get help from police when repairing and renovating tricycles for the disabledCommunity spirit key focus on final day of TravelManagers ConferenceAn early morning start was on the agenda for the final day of the 2016 TravelManagers conference in Bangkok. Over 170 personal travel managers, national partnership office staff and suppliers gathered to learn about this year’s national Conference’s community project, which had been organized in conjunction with Hands Across the Water.“You would expect after a night of partying at Bangkok’s Zense Gourmet Deck and Lounge Panorama, the excitement of getting up early would be not that appealing. A key philosophy of the TravelManagers culture is the difference we can make to the communities within which we live and work, directly and indirectly, locally or further afield. This is a part of the conference everybody loves – the ability to make a real difference so everybody was excited and rearing to go,” says Chief Executive Officer Joe Araullo.Looking good, personal travel manager Nicole Edgar puts a finishing touch to a repainted school wallThe second keynote speaker Peter Baines OAM, founder of the Australian and New Zealand charity Hands Across the Water set the scene for the mornings’ charity event.“After meeting the children left orphaned by the Tsunami, I felt compelled to act. This charity which gives at-risk Thai children and their communities a helping hand has gone on to create opportunities for hundreds of children across Thailand,” says Baines.The group was split into teams, each consisting of personal travel managers, national partnership office staff and suppliers who volunteered their helping hands working together for the morning in the Khlong Toei district, a slum and low social economic area of Bangkok.Khlong Toei is located approximately a 30 minute drive from the city centre. The area is made up of a number of small one way roads, with the dwellings being a mixture of single story shacks and multi-story apartment blocks.In light of the recent bombings in provincial Thailand, TravelManagers retained a New Zealand-based security specialist company to survey all locations where conference activities were being held, including the Khlong Toei area.“The safety and security of our people is paramount. We are extremely comfortable following the professional assessment of the Khlong Toei area that security issues are low to medium. It will be important for everybody to be vigilant but the rewards of helping this community far outweigh the potential risks,” says Araullo.Personal travel manager Neil Saunders shows painting can be rewarding and fun by giving the thumbs while painting school fencesWith many helping hands, collectively the group achieved: Repairing seven tricycles for the disabledSewing nearly five hundred craft dolls for the childrenConstructing and painting vegetable garden framing within the kindergartenPainting of the playground and playground equipment within kindergartenPainting walls and furniture at several locations within the low cost housing areaIt was not only the children of Khlong Toei district that was touched by the TravelManagers support.Supplier representative Harley Ilott – American Airlines, Nadine Jones – CIE and Cam McDonell – G Adventures assemble vegetable garden framing for a local kindergarten“This experience was one of those moments in your life that you never forget. Seeing the looks on the faces of the handicapped tricycle riders as they saw their tricycles that had been unusable and badly in need of repair for so long, give them reliable and convenient mobility again is something that will stay with me forever,” says personal travel manager Phil Kimberlee.TravelManagers has been supporting local community projects during its national conference for five years starting with its highly successful 2012 Fiji conference project where all participants worked together to give a local primary school a makeover, after it was damaged by floods earlier that year.“The strongest message for TravelManagers is the culture of our business and our desire to give back to the community. The opportunity for our personal travel managers to do something that benefits the community mirrors our business philosophy of going the extra mile. The entire TravelManagers’ team has done something they wouldn’t ordinarily have had the chance to do and it’s touched their lives. That sums up the culture of TravelManagers and we are extremely proud of that,” says Araullo.The afternoon resumed a more business focus for the final day of this years’ national conference.“From a business perspective the conference objectives focussed on equipping personal travel managers with the skills they need to truly make a positive difference, enhancing the clients’ travel experience from itinerary planning right through to returning home. It’s all about adding value,” says Araullo.The TravelManagers 2016 national conference is being held 19-21 August at the Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel in Bangkok.last_img read more

Qatar Airways official international airline partner for Sydney Swans

first_imgQatar Airways official international airline partner for Sydney SwansQatar Airways official international airline partner for Sydney SwansQatar Airways marks its first foray into the Australian Football League (AFL) with a three-year sponsorship of the Sydney Swans, signing on until the end of 2019 season.The multiple-award winning carrier was named Official International Airline Partner earlier today at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground, home of the Sydney Swans. Officials in attendance included: Qatar Airways Country Manager for Australasia, Mr. Adam Radwanski; Sydney Swans Chairman Mr. Andrew Pridham; Chief Executive and Managing Director Mr. Andrew Ireland; Coach John Longmire; Co-captain Kieren Jack; and members of the Sydney Swans team.Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways has long supported some of the best sports clubs and events in the world. We strongly believe in connecting with our global travellers through their passion for sport, and have been looking for the right partner for Qatar Airways in Australia’s sports arena.“Since we first started serving Australia in 2009, Qatar Airways has received tremendous support from the Australian community. This partnership with Sydney Swans, one of the country’s best-supported and most elite sporting teams, is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to Australia. We look forward to sharing in our travellers’ love for football, supporting their commitment to the Sydney Swans and in building an even stronger brand connection with our Australian market through this multi-year partnership.”Sydney Swans chairman Mr. Andrew Pridham said, “Qatar Airways is a global brand and leader in international air travel, so we’re delighted to have them join the Sydney Swans as our Official International Airline Partner.“Both organisations share a common goal in that we are passionate about delivering premium experiences and strive for excellence in everything we do. This is a significant partnership for our football club and, as the airline’s own brand message suggests, we’re excited to be going places together. We look forward to welcoming Qatar Airways to our Sydney Swans family and working with them in the years to come.”As part of the sponsorship deal, Qatar Airways will receive prominent branding at the Sydney Swans’ home games and training, and will engage the players in exclusive marketing and promotional activities. Supporters can also look forward to an enhanced match day experience at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the seasons to come.The Sydney Swans sponsorship marks a new milestone for Qatar Airways in Australia. The airline has doubled its footprint in Australia in 2016, with Sydney and Adelaide joining its global network in March and May respectively, joining Perth and Melbourne on the Qatar Airways map. Australian travellers can now go more places with Qatar Airways than with any other airline serving Australia today. Qatar Airwaysbook your flights hereSource = Qatar Airwayslast_img read more

Tourism campaign for North Queensland

first_imgTourism campaign for North QueenslandTourism campaign for North QueenslandThe Palaszczuk Government will invest an extra $1 million to promote North Queensland and support tourism businesses in the wake of the recent monsoon.Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the marketing investment, via Tourism and Events Queensland, would be used to promote Townsville, the Whitsundays and Tropical North Queensland.“What we’ve seen in North Queensland, especially Townsville over the past two weeks has been truly devastating,” she said.“But the clean-up has well and truly begun and now it’s time to help the region get back on its feet.“Townsville, the Whitsundays and Tropical North Queensland are three of our most important destinations for tourists. The tourism industry is vital in these regions, supporting thousands of local jobs and pumping millions into the economy.“This investment will be used by the regional tourism organisations, in close collaboration with Tourism and Events Queensland, to market all three destinations in key domestic markets and ensure travellers know we’re ready to welcome them again.“It’s especially important heading into the Easter break in April and into the winter months, when people living in the cold southern states dream of escaping to the warm, tropical climate of north Queensland.“Taking a holiday in Townsville, the Whitsundays or Tropical North Queensland is the perfect way to help those people and businesses who have been hard hit by the floodwaters.”Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the marketing support reinforced the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to tourism in Queensland.“It’s crucial that we work quickly to help businesses in north Queensland recover from the floods – that’s what makes today’s announcement so important,” she said.“Tourism is a $25 billion industry for Queensland, supporting 217,000 jobs. This sector has boomed under the Palaszczuk Government.“We’re working hard to ensure these numbers continue to grow, particularly in north Queensland.”Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said today’s announcement comes after the government recently announced additional marketing support for the Whitsundays for a campaign to coincide with the re-opening of several resort islands after Cyclone Debbie.“We’ll continue to work hard to ensure we support the industry, through good times and bad, because we understand that a healthy tourism industry plays a major role in a strong Queensland economy.”Patricia O’Callaghan CEO Townsville Enterprise welcomed this announcement.“The support from the Queensland Government will assist Townsville Enterprise to spread the word we are open for business,” she said.“We will work with our tourism operators, airline partners and Tourism and Events Queensland to re-enforce the unique reef, rainforest, outback and island experiences we have on our doorstep across Townsville North Queensland to welcome visitors back to the region.”Source = Tourism and Events Queensland,last_img read more

Peru aims at doubling exports and tourism

first_imgPeru’s new Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros has announced his goal to attract seven million tourists to Peru and export $70 billion of goods per year by 2021.Ferreyros’s aim essentially means doubling both the annual number of visitors to Peru as well as the value of Peru’s exports by the end of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s five-year term in 2021.Ferreyros has proposed creating an ‘exporters’ ombudsman’ who will advocate for Peru’s producers who experience problems with unnecessary red tape, delays and other costs. “We want to centralise all the problems that users report and find solutions to make life easier for the people,” Ferreyros said.Ferreyros also wants to launch a ‘One Window’ program where exporters can complete all paperwork and other legal procedures in one place. Peru has seen success with similar programmes which simplified business registration. The platform, which will be called VUCE 2.0, will connect with the other member states of the Pacific Alliance to facilitate procedures in Chile, Colombia and Mexico.The Minister also wants to establish a working agreement to draft a free trade agreement with India within the first 30 days of his term. He will look to enact an agreement with Honduras, expand the current agreement with Brazil and push Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership.last_img read more

ExistingHome Sales Fall in March for Second Straight Month

first_imgExisting-Home Sales Fall in March for Second Straight Month Existing-home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March from an upwardly revised February rate of 4.60 million, the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR) reported Thursday. [IMAGE]Economists had forecast the March sales pace would be 4.62 million. At the same time, the median price of a new home rose to $163,800, its highest level since last November’s $164,000 and up 2.5 percent since March 2011, the first year-year increase in prices since December 2010.The sales pace was the weakest since November 2011. Sales have slipped in three of the last four months.The inventory of homes for sale dropped to 2.37 million, the first decline in three months, bringing the months’ supply of homes on the market to 6.3.March sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô completed transactions ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô were down 2.6 percent from February but are up 5.2 percent from March 2011. February’s sales pace was originally reported as 4.59 million.As sales fell for two straight months, the median price of an existing-home rose for the second straight month to record the encouraging year-year price increases.[COLUMN_BREAK]Distressed homes ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô foreclosures and short sales sold at deep discounts ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô accounted for 29 percent of March sales – 18 percent were foreclosures and 11 percent were short sales – compared with 34 percent in February and 40 percent in March 2011, the NAR said. Foreclosures typically sold for an average 19 percent below market price in March, while short sales were discounted 16 percent.Total home sales inventory at the end of March fell 1.3 percent to 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, a 6.3-month supply at the current sales matching February. The dip in inventory was the first in three months. The months├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó supply of existing homes for sale remains well below the July 2010 cyclical peak of 12.4 which had been the highest level since 1982.Inventories as tracked by the NAR are 21.5 percent below their year ago level however anecdotal evidence though suggests there is still a large “”shadow”” inventory of homes available for sale, especially bank-owned properties. Regionally, existing-home sales fell in March in every region of the country except the Midwest where sales were flat. The steepest drop in sales was in in the West, down 110,000 to 1.13 million, below the 1.14 million sales pace in March 2011 Sales in the other regions were all above year-ago sales levels. The median price of an existing home rose month-over-month in all four regions and was up year-over-year in three of the four regions, falling only in the Northeast. “”Lawrence Yun””:http://realtorbenefitsprogram.org/research/chief_economist_bio, the NAR├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós chief economist, characterized the report as signaling a recovery in housing.├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£The recovery is happening though not at a breakout pace, but we have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases,├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├é┬Ø he said. ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├àÔÇ£Existing-home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year. With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year,”” he added. Share April 19, 2012 393 Views center_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Home Sales Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers 2012-04-19 Mark Liebermanlast_img read more

Bank of the West Touts Rise in Refinance Applications

first_img HARP 2.0 is stimulating an uptick in mortgage applications for “”Bank of the West””:https://www.bankofthewest.com/. [IMAGE]The financial institution recently reported notable increases in loan applications during April as homeowners move to capitalize on the government’s enhancements to the refinancing initiative.[COLUMN_BREAK]The California-based bank is currently predicting that roughly 20 percent of its loan volume for 2012 will come from refinancing borrowers taking advantage of HARP 2.0. Bank of the West has been savvy in its pursuit of homeowners interested in refinancing, recently creating an educational series via YouTube.com that provides eight key tips for those looking to tap into HARP 2.0.””We are anticipating that one out of every five new borrowers will be a homeowner seeking a HARP 2.0 refinance loan this year,”” said Karen Mayfield, Bank of the West’s national sales manager for the mortgage banking division. “”This program is providing real relief for homeowners who are current on their mortgage but have been unable to refinance due to a decline in the value of their home.””Mayfield went on to add that low 30-year fixed rates are facilitating the wave of refinancing applications. Referencing data from Freddie Mac, Mayfield stated that interest rates for such mortgage have remained below 4 percent throughout the year. May 18, 2012 536 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Sharecenter_img Bank of the West Touts Rise in Refinance Applications Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies HARP Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-05-18 Abby Gregorylast_img read more

Report Q3 Sees Boosted Gains on Sales Elevated Buyback Requests

first_img Share Report: Q3 Sees Boosted Gains on Sales, Elevated Buyback Requests Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Fannie Mae FHFA Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Profits Service Providers 2012-11-20 Tory Barringer November 20, 2012 421 Views center_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Banks continued to enjoy boosted earnings in the third quarter from increasingly strong gain-on-sale (GOS) margins, according to an analysis released by “”Keefe, Bruyette & Woods””:http://www.kbw.com/ (KBW).[IMAGE]According to KBW, the strength reflected several items, including industry capacity constraints (“”which continue to give originators pricing power””), strong application demand in the low-rate environment, and strong margins on refinances under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).””Anecdotal evidence suggests that margins have been very strong on HARP 2.0 loans. We believe this reflects the pricing power that originators have as we believe most HARP refinances thus far have been same-servicer,”” the firm’s analysts write in its latest _Mortgage Matters_ report. Additionally, because HARP loans demand higher risk premiums, KBW expects servicing costs may see future increases. With HARP demand expected to remain strong well into 2013, GOS margins are likely to remain elevated, analysts say.While GOS margins remained elevated in Q3, so too did representation and warranty costs for loan repurchases. New mortgage repurchase requests in the third quarter were mixed for companies that reported them, while outstanding requests were mostly higher.According to the report, current losses can mostly be attributed to loans sold to the GSEs.””Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html repurchases totaled $2.02 billion in Q3, and its balance of outstanding repurchase requests increased to $16.2 billion from $14.6 billion in Q2, the report says. Meanwhile, “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ repurchases totaled $819 million, and its outstanding requests ticked up to $2.94 billion from $2.91 billion at the end of the second quarter.The outlier in terms of buybacks was “”Bank of America””:https://www.bankofamerica.com/, which reported a decline in new repurchase claims even as it expanded its rep and warranty loss reserves. According to the report, new claims declined significantly to $4.98 billion from $8.21 billion in the previous quarter, falling more in line with first-quarter levels of $4.7 billion. At the time, BofA noted “”that the sharp increase [in Q2] reflected both higher private label claims and GSE claims as a result of the company’s ongoing dispute with Fannie Mae.””Because BofA is “”in a unique position,”” KBW’s analysts say they “”tend not to extrapolate from their numbers.””While KBW expects claims to remain elevated through next year, the firm notes that trends suggest new rep and warranty claims from the GSEs seems to have peaked in 2011. However, given the high level of outstanding requests, “”lenders are likely to see elevated levels of provisions over the next year as well.””In September, the “”Federal Housing Finance Agency””:http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx (FHFA) released an announcement outlining a new rep and warranty framework for conforming loans sold beginning in 2013. The major changes include a 36-month statute of limitations for repurchase obligations on loans that meet specific requirements. The new framework also includes a 12-month statute of limitations for HARP loans that meet the same conditions.The changes should be viewed as “”a positive for the mortgage industry,”” KBW’s analysts say.””Underwriting guidelines are very tight currently, partly because of uncertainty about GSE rep and warranty risk, and to the extent this risk becomes more transparent, lenders could potentially be more flexible in their underwriting standards,”” they write.last_img read more

Home Prices Recover to Near PreCrisis Levels

first_img July 24, 2015 560 Views Source: FHFAEarlier this month, Fannie Mae’s June 2015 National Housing Survey found that consumer attitudes toward the current condition of the home selling market and future home rental prices may launch purchase activity forward for the rest of 2015.  Optimism among consumers about the housing market has reached new survey highs and strong job and income growth are making consumers appear more favorable in the selling market, indicating a possible increase in the existing home supply.According to the survey, an increase in housing supply from sellers along with higher rental cost expectations, may motivate more potential homebuyers to purchase. Among those questioned, 52 percent believe that now is a good time to sell a home, an increase of three percentage points, a new survey high, and the first time in history this number has surpassed the 50-percent threshold. Simultaneously, 59 percent of those surveyed said they expect rental prices to go up in the next 12 months, an increase of 4 percent and also a new survey high. Tying a survey low, 63 percent of respondents say that now is a good time to buy a home.“Our June survey results show the positive impact on housing of job and income growth,” said Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “The expectation of higher rents is a natural outgrowth of increasing household formation by newly employed individuals putting upward pressure on rental rates. A complementary rise in the good time to sell measure suggests that limited inventory, which is putting upward pressure on house prices, gives an increasing advantage to sellers. Together, these results point to a healthier home purchase market, with more renters likely to find owning to be more cost-effective than renting and more sellers likely to put their homes on the market.” Home Prices Recover to Near Pre-Crisis Levels Share The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently determined that the U.S. Purchase-only House Price Index has recovered to pre-crisis levels recorded in April 2006, leaving the national index of house prices just 1.8 percent below the peak level of May 2007.The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) showed this rising change of home prices in a chart the organization released on Friday.Industry reports have also revealed that other major house price indexes have also recently closed to within 10 percent of their respective peak price levels, the MBA says.”According to FHFA’s purchase-only regional indexes, the recovery has varied around the country,” MBA said. “Relative to the peak, the regional prices indexes range from 11 percent higher in the West South Central region, to 12.7 percent lower in the Pacific region. Continued increases in prices should reduce the number of households with negative equity, and increase mobility as it improves homeowner’s confidence and ability to “move up.” While affordability is a concern, in many places house prices have not yet recovered to their 2007 levels, while wages and salaries are now 16 percent higher according to the Employment Cost Index.”The MBA says that another potential market impact is that increasing prices could lead to the first post-crisis change in the conforming limit. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Federal Housing and Finance Agency Mortgage Bankers Association U.S. Purchase-only House Price Index 2015-07-24 Staff Writerlast_img read more

Selene Finance Welcomes New EVP of Business Development

first_img Tom DonatacciSelene Finance, LP, a specialty mortgage servicer, has added Tom Donatacci is to lead all business development efforts in the role of EVP of Business Development.Donatacci previously served as EVP of Sales at Clayton Holdings. Prior to Clayton, he was the Senior Managing Director of sub-servicing and MSR transactions at GMAC ResCap. Here, he was in charge of all fee-based, third-party businesses including primary mortgage servicing, master servicing, and special servicing.Donatacci also occupied a few senior positions in sales, MSR trading, and mortgage banking mergers and acquisitions at Lehman Brothers/Cohane Rafferty and PaineWebber.”Our two top priorities are to accelerate the growth of our servicing operations and to position Selene as a premier residential special servicer to a broader group of investors and lender partners,” said Joseph Pensabene, CEO of Selene Finance. “As a recognized leader across the mortgage finance industry with a remarkable track record for achieving growth in all areas of the business, Tom will play an important role in helping us achieve these goals.””The cost and complexity of servicing non-performing loans has never been greater, nor has the market’s need for more high quality servicing options,” Donatacci noted. “Selene has demonstrated its commitment to the specialty servicing market and set itself apart from the competition delivering consistently strong performance results and customizable, creative solutions for investors. I am pleased to be joining Selene and to be working with Joe and his team.” Share November 25, 2015 652 Views in Headlines, News, Servicingcenter_img Business Development mortgage servicing Selene Finance 2015-11-25 Staff Writer Selene Finance Welcomes New EVP of Business Developmentlast_img read more

The Week Ahead Will New Home Sales Rise Higher

first_imgThis Week’s ScheduleMonday, September 26New Home Sales for August 2016, 10 a.m.Tuesday, September 27Case-Shiller Home Prices for August 2016, 9 a.m.Consumer Confidence for September 2016, 10 a.m.Thursday, September 29Pending Home Sales for August 2016, 10 a.m. The Week Ahead: Will New Home Sales Rise Higher? September 25, 2016 532 Views New single-family home sales took a notable upturn in July, with the month becoming the best month for new sales since 2007, according to HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau.The HUD/Census report showed that July sales leapt 12.4 percent over June, which recorded 582,000 sales, and 31.3 percent above last July. The median sales price of new houses sold in July was $294,600; the average sales price was $355,800.July’s numbers are the latest in a steady trend toward more new home sales overall, and some industry insiders think the trend is only going to continue.“Expect greater stability in the next few months,” said Tian Liu, chief economist at Genworth Mortgage Insurance. “We see tremendous growth potential in new home sales as housing demand continues to grow and the continued supply shortage of newer vintage homes.”Liu said that if anything will limit growth, it will be the limited supply of land and labor, and homebuilder’s focus on higher-price segments. Inventory shortage has been a drag on growth in many areas, particularly affecting new-to-market buyers who can’t compete with wealthier buyers in the bidding wars taking place.The new home sales report for August will be released on Monday, September 26 and the question remains whether or not this upturn will continue.To read more about July’s reported new home sales click HERE. Case-Shiller Home Prices for July 2016, Tuesday, September 27, 9 a.m.Single-family home prices have been steadily appreciating since bottoming out a little more than four years ago—in fact, June 2016 marked the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year home price appreciation, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices for June.The indices also offered a sign that price appreciation may be slowing. June marked the fifth consecutive month that year-over-year price appreciation was either flat or slower compared with the previous month. June’s national rate of appreciation was 5.1 percent, unchanged from May; the 10-city composite index posted an over-the-year increase of 4.3 percent in June, down from 4.4 percent in May; and the 20-city composite index reported a year-over-year increase of 5.1 percent in June, down from 5.3 percent in May.“Though this is a sign that the U.S. housing market continues to stabilize, homebuyers are still being challenged as prices outpace income growth yet again,” Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin said.The Pacific Northwest experienced the strongest year-over-year price appreciation in June with more than 10 percent. Among the 20-city composite index, the three cities with the highest year-over-year price gains were Portland (12.6 percent), Seattle (11 percent), and Denver (9.2 percent). Even with the slower national appreciation, six out of the 20 cities reported greater year-over-year price appreciation in June than in May.“Prices in last month’s three hot markets (Portland, Seattle, and Denver) continue to lead the pack with increases between 9.2 percent to 12.6 percent,” McLaughlin said.  “Though Western markets dominate U.S. price growth, San Francisco continues to show a noticeable cooldown. Home prices in the City by the Bay increased of 6.4 percent, which is the smallest annual gain since August 2012. The continued slowdown suggests the San Francisco housing market might start looking more ‘normal’ by the end of the year, but the market still has a long way to go before most Bay Area homebuyers would agree.”The latest Case-Shiller report is release on Tuesday, September 27.To read more about the Case-Shiller June report click HERE.center_img Case-Shiller New Home Sales The week ahead 2016-09-25 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Headlines, News Sharelast_img read more

Rates Spike While FICO Scores Decline

first_imgRates Spike While FICO Scores Decline While 30-year notes rose in January, average FICO scores on refinances dropped across the board, according to the latest Origination Insight Report by Ellie Mae.“Rates continued to increase in January and with that we began to see an uptick in adjustable rate mortgages, a trend that we will watch throughout the year,” said Jonathan Corr, President and CEO of Ellie Mae. “Additionally, FICO scores began to drop slightly across the board while closing rates remained high as homebuyers locked in rates to close their loans.”Ellie Mae reported that FICO scores dropped from 726 in December to 722 in January overall. Conventional refinance FICO scores dropped from to 732 from 739; FHA refinance FICOs dropped three points to 651; and VA refinance FICO scores dropped two points to 707. Refinances represented 47 percent of closed loans in the month, up slightly from 46 percent the month prior.Home loans for purchases also dipped slightly in January, down from 54 percent in December to 53 percent. Closing rates for all loans were also down 1 percent from December’s 73.2 percent. Refinance closing rates decreased 2 percent to 67.9 percent, while purchase closing rates remained mostly flat near 77 percent.Originations remained flat across the board from December. The debt-to-income ratio for all closed loans was 25/39, and the loan-to-value ratio remained at 78.One increase, though equally mild, was the average time it took to close all loans‒‒51 days in January, up from 50 days in December. The time to close a refinance increased to 53 days while, time to close a purchase held at 48 days. Ellie credited the holiday season with the blips.According to Ellie Mae, the Origination Insight Report retrieves its application data from a robust sampling of approximately 75 percent of all mortgage applications that were initiated on the Encompass® all-in-one mortgage management solution. Ellie Mae believes the Origination Insight Report is a strong proxy of the underwriting standards employed by lenders across the country. in Data, Headlines, News Data Ellie Mae FICO Score Origination 2017-02-20 Scott_Morgancenter_img Share February 20, 2017 645 Views last_img read more

Top 10 States for Retirement

first_img Share A dream retirement is living in a location that’s affordable, safe and popular with older residents. These were the considerations that MoneyRates.com took into account while looking for the most retirement-friendly states in the U.S.It ranked the states across the country on five parameters—healthy environment, personal security, local economy, weather conditions, and popularity with older residents. By averaging each state’s ranking in these five categories, MoneyRates.com determined the 10 best states to retire.Coming in at a surprising No.1 position was Iowa, with its across-the-board consistency on all parameters. Despite its high cost of living, Hawaii was the second alternative for people looking to retire in style. The Aloha state’s tropical climate offered an attractive alternative as did its record of life expectancy at age 65, which is longer in Hawaii than in any other state.With its maximum number of clear weather days, Arizona was ranked third on the list especially for people who valued sunshine. On the downside though, it wouldn’t be ideal for those looking at security. With some of the highest incidents of property crime, Arizona is one of the worst states as far as home security is concerned, the study found.It’s no surprise that Florida found a place among the top 5 states in these rankings. At No. 4, Florida has been associated with retirement for a long time, with the highest portion of residents aged 65 or older. However, despite its favorable climate conditions, the study found that like Arizona, Florida too had a high incidence of both property and violent crime—fifth-highest across the U.S. to be precise.At No.5 Maine trailed Florida only in the proportion of its population that is aged 65 or older. But unlike Florida, Maine is one of the safest states in the country with the second-lowest rate of violent crime.While Idaho, Vermont, and New Hampshire came in at sixth, seventh, and eighth rank respectively, Kansas and Virginia tied for the ninth spot in these rankings. March 5, 2018 586 Views Affordability HOUSING Location property real estate Retirement 2018-03-05 Radhika Ojhacenter_img Top 10 States for Retirement in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img read more

Zeroing In On HQ2

first_img Share in Daily Dose, Data, News, Origination Amazon Dallas Home Prices Homebuyers homeowners New York Prices Renters virginia 2018-11-07 Seth Welborn Zeroing In On HQ2center_img Amazon is closing in on its location for the company’s second headquarters. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Amazon has narrowed the race down to three contenders: Arlington, Virginia; New York City, and Dallas. However, The New York Times reports that Dallas has already been cut, leaving the decision split between Arlington and New York.As in Seattle, home of Amazon’s main headquarters, homebuyers in the chosen city may expect increases in home prices and values.“All three cities represent larger metro areas with an educated workforce and established technology industry,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, Realtor.com. “The opening of HQ2 in any of the top three would complement the existing infrastructure and industry. From a housing perspective, the number of homes on the market is very limited in each area, in Northern Virginia there are 11 homes on the market per household, in New York there are seven and Dallas there are 10.”The home price escalation may be alleviated if, as the Wall Street Journal reported, Amazon decides to split HQ2 between two cities, ensuring more hires and less impact on rental and home prices.Hale notes that in each of the possible HQ2 locations, home prices are expected to increase, though this may be welcome for homeowners in Arlington and the surrounding D.C. area, as homeowners in the area have dealt with slowing price growth over the past several months. Additionally, Hale notes that the Dallas area is well-suited to handle the expansion HQ2 would bring.“Despite available land for expansion, an Amazon-size influx of demand would heat up housing again in the urban core and outlying areas,” says Hale.As it is already a job center, New York City would see a smaller impact. However, New York may benefit from the increase in luxury home sales, after suffering losses in Manhattan and Brooklyn.“No matter which market is chosen, residents can expect a significant increase in home prices, especially in the immediately surrounding area,” Hale added. November 7, 2018 685 Views last_img read more