Global governments should take a leaf from China’s book and shift tourism higher up on their agendas said tourism ministers during the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Ministers Summit.“China is seeing the benefits from giving tourism a very high priority within government,” UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai. “It is an example other countries should try to follow.”The Summit of over 150 tourism ministers and aides revealed a massive difference in the importance countries place on tourism, with the United Kingdom’s tourism minister John Penrose stating he was “the first dedicated tourism minister” for the country.Findings from the Summit revealed that ministers needed to re-evaluate the ways in which they appeal to their governments, namely: rather than focusing on arrival numbers, data should incorporate economic value.According to China National Tourism Administration chairman Qiwei Shao, by showing that 109 other sectors were affected by tourism and 15 million people directly employed in the sector (as well as 85 million indirectly employed), he enlisted the Chinese government to support tourism.Inevitably, taxes were a key theme of the Summit, as debate circulated around the UK’s controversial Air Departure Tax and the similar German and Austrian versions.Australia’s Tourism and Transport Forum managing director Christopher Brown warned that governments “could drown small island nations in a sea of taxes before the tidal waves arrive.”This was both China’s and Iraq’s first time appearance at the UNWTO Summit. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
A security breach has forced evacuations at the Qantas domestic terminal in Melbourne Airport, delaying five Qantas and Jetstar flights.A man is said to have walked into a “sterile” area of the terminal through exit doors located at the baggage collection area, The Age reported.The man was seen entering the exit by security watching a “closed circuit TV” monitor, but lost sight of him after he entered the terminal, a Qantas spokesperson told the source.Investigating the breach could take up to an hour and a half, the spokesperson added and Qantas will be looking to review its security around the breached area.According to the source, Qantas is responsible for the gap in security at the terminal because the carrier has not stationed security to monitor the exit doors. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
With the number of visitor nights across Australia forecast to rise by 1.7 per cent annually to 2020, Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) chairman, John King, has urged the industry to work hard to ensure the benefits of growth are distributed across the entire country.Talking to figures released by the Tourism Forecasting Committee which assess the projected growth of travel in each state and territory, Mr King said the growing market represented a major challenge for the industry.“While growth in any part of the industry is welcome, Australia must continue to support and develop the unique opportunities our regions offer, particularly for the international visitor,” Mr King said. With revenue raised from the Federal Government’s Passenger Movement Charge expected to rise from AU$630 million to AU$755 million by 2014/15, the ATEC chairman has called on authorities to spend more on industry development.“With the bulk of these increased visitors coming from abroad, it is an important time for both the industry and government to recognise the importance of reinvesting in tourism infrastructure and facilitation,” Mr King said.Acknowledging the need for development, Minister for Tourism Martin Ferguson said “the tourism industry must improve on the supply side”.“By working with state governments and industry on capacity-building measures such as planning, transport and skills, Australia will be in better shape to welcome more visitors,” Minister Ferguson said. The 2020 forecasts show:•An additional 27 million visitor nights for NSW to almost 170 million a year•An additional 14 million visitor nights for Queensland to 125 million a year•An additional 1.6 million nights for the NT to 11.8 million•Tasmania’s visitor nights to grow to 12.2 million, an additional 1.1 million annually•An additional 5 million visitor nights for South Australia up to 30.8 million annually•Western Australia will see an extra 9.7 million visitor nights to 55.3 million•An additional half a million visitors to the ACT up to 9.3 million•Victoria up from 90.1 million in 2010 to 112.4 million annually NT can expect 11.8 million visitor nights by 2020 Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H
The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has utilised the inaugural Business Events Week to highlight the critical role exhibitons and events play in the growth of the Australian economy and business.EEAA general manager Joyce DiMascio said that the association will continue to promote the success of business events in driving business, trade, employment and visitiation to Australia.”In 2013, we will continue to work with our members to tease out further proof of the value of this tier of the business events sector and its potential to stimulate the success of businesses that use the channel,” Ms DiMascio said.The exhibition industry is expected to grow by 35 percent in 2013 with Ms DiMascio highlighting the challenge of transitioning major shows in Sydney from the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre to Sydney Harbour Expo @ Glebe Island.”It is vital that all parties, epecially the NSW Government agencies, work together to ensure business continuity and a quality experience are delivered at the temporary site,” Ms DiMascio said.The new AUD$1 billion International Convention Centre (ICC) development in Sydney is slated for completion in 2017 and represents the first public private partnership for the NSW Government.Reed Exhibitions will be the first organiser to hold an event at the temporary site in February 2014 with three additional Reed shows also moving across next year.”We will need to ensure that the NSW Government supports the marketing of the interim site as this will be critical to the success of shows impacted by the closure of Darling Harbour,” Reed Exhibitions managing director Debbie Evans said.The EEAA also announced the results of their EEAA Market Monitor survey for the 2011/2012 financial year with 62 percent of suppliers reporting turnover had increased over the financial year.The report also found that, on average, 12,000 potential buyers attend an exhibition with 38 percent of trade shows and ten percent of consumer shows running a paid conference attached to the event.”The core data reveals the growing strength of the industry and is proof of the power of doing business through exhibitions,” Ms DiMascio said.”EEAA will be working the floor at AIME and Business Events Week to continue to spread that message.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A.
Source = British Airways Orlando Bloom surveys the sweeping Abu Dhabi cityscapeBritish Airways yesterday celebrated the launch of its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its daily London-Abu Dhabi-Muscat service by hosting a secret island party with a star studded line up.Australian actress Margot Robbie and fellow Hollywood star Orlando Bloom flew in for an exclusive VIP party on Zaya Nurai Island just off the coast Abu Dhabi.Margot Robbie at the British Airways launch event.Over 200 guests, celebrities and VIPs who attended the event were also treated to a live performance by Jessie J to celebrate the latest addition to British Airways’ fleet – which made its inaugural flight into Abu Dhabi on Thursday, 5 November.The UAE and Omani capitals become only the second and third destinations, respectively, operated by a British Airways 787-9 Dreamliner – an aircraft poised to become the mainstay of the UK carrier’s fleet.The Boeing 787-9 features an evolution of British Airways’ First cabin, with just eight seats compared to the usual 14. It is 20 feet longer and four inches taller than its predecessor, the 787-8, with 30 per cent larger windows and 60 per cent less engine noise both inside and outside the cabin.British Airways’ Head of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia Sales, Paolo De Renzis, opened last night’s event before award-winning British singer Jessie J took to the stage to perform a string of her hits, including Domino, Ain’t Been Done, Nobody’s Perfect, Masterpiece, Bang Bang and Price Tag.Jessie J doing a live performance at the British Airways launch event.Chart star and judge of TV’s The Voice Jessie said it was her first time visiting Abu Dhabi and that she had been hugely impressed by the new aircraft.She said: “Flying is a huge part of my life now. Over the years I have flown so many airlines but British Airways has always been my favourite. I love Abu Dhabi and am excited to have been able to perform for the people who have helped me travel around the world with my music safely and comfortably. What I love even better – my bed tonight will be on the new 787-9 British Airways plane!”Wolf of Wall Street actress Margot Robbie – who stars as Harley Quinn in the hotly anticipated cinematic adaptation of cult graphic novel, Suicide Squad – told guests she had fallen in love with the city. She added: “I’ve only been in Abu Dhabi for a day or so but it is a place of beautiful contrasts. I visited the desert yesterday and the vast tranquillity of that landscape is the opposite of the cosmopolitan modernity of the city – it is a beautiful place.”Actor Orlando Bloom also took to the stage to hail the new 787-9 and spoke of his love for Abu Dhabi. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved to travel. There’s nothing quite like the luxury of the new First cabin on British Airways. I’m sure it will be warmly received by British Airways’ passengers in Abu Dhabi. I have no doubt that travellers will love it,” said Bloom.British Airways’ Head of Middle East, Africa and Central Asia Sales, Paolo De Renzis, said the introduction of the new 787-9 Dreamliner, which is the most technologically advanced aircraft in the British Airways’ fleet, marked a new era of luxury travel for customers in Abu Dhabi and Oman.“We have a long heritage in the UAE with over 80 years of operations and it is entirely fitting that our loyal premium customers in Abu Dhabi can now experience the new First cabin that has been created specifically for this aircraft,” said De Renzis.British Airways’ first 787-9 Dreamliner recently launched on its Delhi route, with plans to roll out the aircraft on several more destinations including Kuala Lumpur, Austin and the airline’s upcoming new route next year to San Jose, California. Fly British Airways
Penny Spencer Founder of TIMEMentoring A Pathway to Career Success in TourismI recently attended one of those rare travel industry functions which leave you with a sense of elation. The Travel Industry Mentor Experience is the brainchild of Australia’s most awarded travel agent, Penny Spencer, Managing Director of Spencer Travel.However, TIME has been embraced by a wide range of leading industry companies from all sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry.Most travel profesionals seek out a mentor to give them some independent guidance as they develop in their careers. I’m sure most readers of ETB can point to a significant other who has given them the right advice at the right time to help you advance in your company or your own business.A factor which makes TIME quite unique, in my experience of professional mentoring is that TIME supports mentoring for industry professionals at all stages of their career. The mentor process goes for about a year and the engagement between mentor and mentee is quitre intensive.At the function I attended in February TIME was graduating Mentees and celebrating their Mentors who included some of the leading lights in the Australian travel industry. Some of the Mentees were at the beginning of their career, some were at the middle stages of their career.Some were in transit to a new job or a new sector of the travel industry and one Mentee was a CEO of a successful travel company. The exciting lesseon to be learned is that irrespective of whether you are a new kid on the tourism career bock or an experienced veteran we can all benefit from a guiding hand.TIME excites me because this is a sign that the travel industry is really making strides to go beyond being a career to being a profession. The stories that mentees had of their experiences and the benefits that the mentoring experience gave to their professional and personal development were inspiring.The concept of TIME is well worth adopting as a global travel industry benchmark for advancing professionalism. More information: www.travelindustrymentor.com.auSource = Dr David Beirman Ph.D
Destination Asia China make senior executive appointmentsDestination Asia China promote Kaci McAllister to General Manager & Karen Cheng to Deputy General Manager of Shanghai officeDestination Asia, Asia’s leading destination management company recently announced the promotion of Kaci McAllister to General Manager of Destination Asia China, and Karen Cheng to Deputy General Manager of their Shanghai office. Kaci will now lead all country operations and business development in China. Karen will lead the Shanghai team in creating outstanding and unique experiences for all of their guests.Linda Wang, Managing Director of Destination Asia China said, “I am so happy to announce the promotions of Kaci and Karen. Since they joined the company, they have both played an integral role in DA China’s development and continued success. I am very confident that having them on the management team will lead to an even brighter future for us.”Kaci joined the Destination Asia team in early 2014 to lead the company’s product development throughout China and was promoted to General Manager in January 2017. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Kaci earned a Bachelor’s degree in German and a minor in Mandarin Chinese from Vanderbilt University. After graduating in 2010 she was awarded a Fulbright Research Grant in Germany, where she spent one year at the University of Tübingen conducting historical research.Upon completion of the grant, she moved across the world to rural Guizhou, China to pursue a career in tourism development and hospitality. She is thrilled to serve the Destination Asia China team and our clients as General Manager moving forward.Karen joined the Shanghai team in 2011 and has fourteen years of experience in the tourism industry. A native of Shanghai, she has handled hundreds of MICE programs throughout her career, including the Beijing Olympic Games and the Shanghai Expo. Karen holds a degree in Tourism Marketing from Tongji University and is a true travel enthusiast. Her most recent adventure took her all the way to Antarctica!About Destination AsiaDestination Asia is a comprehensive destination management company (DMC) specializing in East and Southern Asia based operations since 1996. We provide cutting-edge destination management services for; incentive houses, cruise lines, convention/exhibition and conference organizers, tour wholesalers and operators, corporate meeting planners, cultural and historical associations and business travel organizers. The Destination Asia Group operates in 11 destinations; Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.Source = Destination Asia – China
“Forever in Our Hearts” Art Exhibition Sky Lobby, Centara Grand at CentralWorld“Forever in Our Hearts” Art Exhibition Sky Lobby, Centara Grand at CentralWorldCentara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld would like to cordially invite you to “Forever in our hearts art exhibition” by Mana Kwangsue, Dinhin Rakpong-asoke, Gulached Kaochaimaha and Sahashanat Tagoenggorn at Sky Lobby, 23rd floor of the hotel from 27th September 2017 to 3rd January 2018, 10.00 hrs. – 20.00 hrs. Every day. A part of the total revenue received will be donated to “Siriraj Hospital” to provide medical equipments at Navamindrapobitr 84th Anniversary Building, Siriraj Hospital.“Forever in our hearts” art exhibition presents stories by 4 talented artists;Mana Kwangsue – Impressionism style, Oil painting on CanvasPresents Thailand beauty of nature that the King Rama IX visited even in upcountry sideDinhin Rakpong-asoke – Charcoal on paperInspired from the simple living life of HM King Bhumibol AdulyadejGulached Kaochaimaha – Clutch pencil 4B on paperShown the hardworking of HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej for Thai peopleSahashanat Tagoenggorn – Watercolor painting on paperTo commemorate the reign of King Rama IX Source = Centara Grand at CentralWorld
2019 – Hotel – WTFHighlights and lowlights of hotels in 2019Stuba has been growing in a number of ways. Fortunately, financial growth which means a larger number of bookings. We’ve also added a number of new suppliers, pushing our hotel count over 100,000, so we deal with more properties. We’ve also grown in team size. …..and they all create little complexities. Suppliers provide information differently, describe rooms differently (we know you love that), staff see things differently. The more growth, the more variety we see.Some hotels behave differently, and sometimes despite myself, I just want to yell out. W.T.F.My favourite is the new definition of twin versus double. For as long as I can remember, double is (probably) one big bed that two people share. “Twin beds” on the other hand would generally mean two beds, often a little smaller, suitable for those, such as grandparent/grandchild, for when “Grandpa farts and snores…”.Apparently twin can mean that the only bed is just smaller. Suitable for twins. Who are small. Apparently. Just the one bed for the twins.My second favourite comes from an accommodation provider near a big Australian airport… The direct to public rate was “you will pay $230…” Until you got to the next page which added on“Tax Recovery Charges and Service Fees :$79.23”Twice the price of a resort fee in Vegas, which is another way for saying “fuel surcharge” which is another way of saying “we are not allowing travel agents to make a margin of this portion of the bill”.But my all-time favourite is“I’m sorry, there is no record of booking……. “(Angry call to Stuba, Stuba calls hotel with hotel confirmation number)“Chasing up this booking…”Keyboard sounds in the background“Oh, that’s how you spell Smith“Special mention for the travel agent“I just love using you guys” – the agent who we haven’t given a login to yet“I had massive issues last time I booked with you” – same office, different person, also who doesn’t have a login“Mark, somebody has to take ownership of this problem” – Different office, strongly worded complaint about the weather on a recent trip“I’m never using you again. Last time I booked concert tickets with you guys it was a total disaster” – we’ve never sold concert tickets.www.stuba.com Source = STUBA.com learn more about stuba.com here
Dates announced for 2017 editions of BLTM to be held across Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi NCR– Over 4700 appointments conducted between the Sellers and Buyers– 50 Seller Booths and Destination Pavilions with 150 Individual Sellers– 150 qualified Hosted Buyers from all over India– 150+ Invitees from travel trade associations and members of the media– India’s first MICE CLUB launchedBusiness & Luxury Travel Mart (BLTM) at Hyatt Regency Gurgaon on 24-25 October 2016 has set a new milestone for MICE-focused travel shows in India. BLTM was very well received as India’s first full-fledged travel mart focused on specialised Business, MICE and Luxury Travel Sellers from all over the world.For the first-time ever in a B2B travel mart, over 150 qualified and fully Hosted Buyers from corporate companies and travel organisations from all over India were fully hosted with airfare, accommodation and all meals at the venue hotel. In addition, international Buyers were also extended similar host hospitalities from South Africa, Thailand, USA, Taiwan, France and Malaysia.In this two-day trade event, more than 150 Seller delegates from 50 exhibiting booths and destination pavilions met with over 150 Buyers on the exhibition floor.Global destination representations in the inaugural BLTM included Nepal, Taiwan, Korea, China, Fiji, Dubai, South Africa, Liberia, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and Russia.Byungsun Lee, Director of Korea Tourism Organisation- India Office, said, “The main reason for our participation was to capture the MICE business from North India. BLTM belongs to a reputed travel trade brand and as expected witnessed a good first inaugural show.”Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu & Kashmir participated at full throttle along with several private sector companies from all parts of India showcasing India at its best as a Business, MICE and Luxury destination.Premium hotel chains at BLTM included FRHI Hotels & Resorts showcasing Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel, Royal Orchid Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt Hotels. Other leading hotel brands like Shanti Maurice- A Nira Resort, Royal Orchid Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Blu Hotels, Lemon Tree & Red Fox Hotels, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Clark & 1589 Group of Hotels, The Ambassador Group of Hotels, The Pride Group of Hotels, DS Group of Hotels, Mahindra Hotels, The Chancery Hotels, The Tamara Coorg, Minor Group, TGB Banquets & Hotels, Vythiri Village Resort were present.The 1:1 Hosted Buyer to Seller ratio at BLTM was in line with global standards. Our post show report confirmed each Buyer and Seller managed at least 30 business meetings at the mart, resulting in a total of 4,700 appointments between Sellers and Buyers on the two days of BLTM.In the lead-up to BLTM, there were 450 hosted buyer applications of which only 150 qualified intense screening and confirmed signifying great buyer interests and strict qualification.The two on-site Buyer-Seller appointment sessions designed to facilitate quick face-to-face appointment requests were a huge hit.The online meeting diary of BLTM for making appointments between the Buyers and Sellers before the show registered over 2200 confirmed appointments show. On-site 2500 additional meetings were scheduled.Major sponsor of BLTM2016, Bengal Tourism hosted the networking lunches and dinners for the Buyers and Sellers. A great exposure was given to the branding of Beautiful Bengal throughout the exhibition halls.Hyatt Regency Gurgaon was the Venue Partner for BLTM with several Hyatt properties on prominent display at a corporate pavilion at the BLTM.In addition to the Hosted Buyers, there were an equal number of invitees from travel trade associations like Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) India, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI), Network of Indian MICE Agents (NIMA), Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI), Enterprising Travel Agent’s Association (ETAA), Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India (ADTOI) and members of the media.Akbar Holidays was the official Travel Partner of BLTM and Eco Rent A Car was the Transportation Partner.Institutional Partners included SITE, OTOAI, NIMA, IATO, TAAI, TAFI, ETAA, ADTOI, The Film & Television Producers Guild of India Ltd and WedWise.In another first, the MICE CLUB was launched at BLTM, with an objective to facilitate focused interaction and networking among a community of Buyers and Sellers from the specialised Business Travel and MICE segments. The missions and objectives of the club include organising the Buyer and Seller communities serving the Business Travel and MICE markets in India, facilitating ongoing interaction and networking, sharing knowledge and creating standards and accreditations.In addition to buying and selling opportunities at the show floor, there was an equally interesting line up of Panel Discussions conducted on the sidelines of the exhibition. The eminent panelists at the sessions deliberated on the latest issues related to Incentive Travel, MICE, Luxury, Destination Weddings, and destination promotion through film shoots.The session on Incentive Travel was organised by SITE, followed by that on MICE by NIMA. Back-to-back discussions were conducted on the emerging opportunities and destinations for weddings by WedWise. Another interesting session was dedicated to destination promotions through film shoots, curated by The Film & Television Producers Guild of India.“BLTM filled a vacuum in the evolution of travel trade shows in India, by introducing a sustainable large-format show focused on Business Travel and MICE Buyers in a format where fully Hosted Buyers meet Sellers based on pre scheduled appointments,” remarked Sanjiv Agarwal, Chairman of Fairfest Media Ltd.Based on overwhelming positive feedback from both buyers and sellers, BLTM will be expanded to three cities in 2017 – Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi NCR, to cater to the West, South and North India markets of business travel and MICE.The dates for BLTM in 2017 are as follows: Mumbai (21-23 February), Hyderabad (14-15 July) and Delhi NCR (26-27 October). The Mumbai edition of BLTM will be held side-by-side OTM – India’s largest travel trade show, with participation from more than 50 countries every year.With India being a continent size country, this source market is potentially huge but scattered in different geographical regions. This is the reason for rolling out BLTM 2017 in three cities, to support sellers reach out to the top markets of West, South and North India.The BLTM 2017 series has already received good initial response, with most of our 2016 exhibitors showing confirmed interest in multiple cities for next year.BLTM is brought to you by Fairfest Media Ltd, India’s oldest and the leading travel trade show organisers since 1989.Fairfest also organises OTM, India’s largest travel mart with more than 1000 exhibitors from 50 countries and TTF organised in 9 cities every year.For more information on BLTM, visit http://bltm.co.in/
Booking.com announced the expansion of the pilot version of its new service and support chatbot, the Booking Assistant.As the latest evolution of Booking.com’s messaging platform, the Booking Assistant merges proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology with Booking.com’s customer service support. Available to an increasing number of travellers in advance of the busy end-of-year travel season, the Booking Assistant empowers customers to get first-line support for their upcoming bookings, including timely responses to their most common stay-related requests, all through a single intuitive chat interface.James Waters, Global Director of Customer Service at Booking.com, said, “As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we’re always trying to fine-tune and optimise throughout every stage of the consumer journey, including with the Booking Assistant.”Built entirely in-house, the Booking Assistant leverages natural language processing technology to identify the most frequently asked questions from customers, including topics such as payment, transportation, arrival and departure times, date changes, cancellation requests, parking information, extra bed requests, pet policies, Wi-Fi and internet availability, as well as a wide variety of greetings and thank-you messages.Booking.com is currently training the model to refine the current number of questions it can manage into more than 90 specific subtopics that can be quickly identified and handled appropriately.
Home Sellers Concerned About Economy, But Not Enough to Delay Plans in Data November 1, 2013 423 Views Share In the aftermath of the federal government shutdown, “”Redfin Research Center””:http://www.redfin.com/research/reports finds home sellers harbor concerns about the state of the economy and declining optimism toward selling their homes.[IMAGE]””Almost certainly due to the U.S. government shutdown and debt ceiling battle in October, sellers this quarter were most worried about the state of the U.S. economy, with 39 percent naming ‘general economic conditions’ as a concern about listing their home,”” Redfin stated Thursday in its “”_Real-Time Seller Survey._””:http://www.redfin.com/research/reports/real-time-market-sentiment/2013/home-sellers-disappointed-43-percent-find-buyer-interest-waning.html The survey is conducted once per quarter over a one-week time period, across about 24 major metros. The number of survey respondents who say now is a good time to sell their homes fell significantly from 48 percent in the third quarter of this year to 34 percent in this quarter. Still, 45 percent said now is an “”ok”” time to sell their homes, and just 11 percent say now is a “”bad”” time to sell their homes. [COLUMN_BREAK]However, while home sellers may be worried about the economy, their concerns have not deterred their plans to sell. Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents said the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate had no bearing on their plans to sell their homes. Only 9 percent said they put off selling their home because of the shutdown and national fiscal debate. Additionally, 43 percent of survey respondents who have listed their homes for sale say they have received less buyer interest than they expected. “”Perhaps sellers still base their expectations of buyer demand on the spring and summer housing frenzy,”” Redfin said. “”They may not recognize that the market has shifted under their feet, so even stronger-than-normal autumn demand seemed like a let-down.”” “”Redfin””:http://www.redfin.com/ real estate agent Paul Reid, of Riverside, California, has found a decline in buyer demand but says homes are still receiving one or two offers within their first week on the market compared to 10 previously. The biggest difference Reid noted was “”buyers are more emboldened.”” “”Some are making offers below list price and contingent on the sale of their home… and winning,”” he said. Regardless, 27 percent of homeowners said buyer demand met their expectation, and 34 percent said buyer demand exceeded their expectations. After concerns about the economy, the second-most cited concern for home sellers in the Redfin survey was low inventory. Thirty percent of survey respondents reported concerns about the limited number of homes available for them to purchase after they sell their current homes. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Demand Home Prices Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Redfin Service Providers 2013-11-01 Krista Franks Brock
Big Investors Shore Up Stock in Fannie, Freddie in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News, Secondary Market October 13, 2014 553 Views Two major investors have shored up their stock in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after a judge dismissed two lawsuits regarding the sweeping of GSE profits into the U.S. Department of Treasury, causing the price of GSE stock to plummet.William A. Ackman, head of Pershing Square, and Bruce Berkowitz, head of Fairholme Capital, have both added to their respective stakes in the two GSEs. In the last week of September, Judge Royce Lamberth threw out lawsuits filed by Fairholme and Perry Capital against the government claiming that the sweeping of GSE profits into Treasury was illegal. The judge ruled the sweeping of the profits was legal under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act.Pershing Square filed two similar lawsuits against the government in mid-August, and those suits are still pending. Fairholme and Perry have each filed an appeal of the judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuits. Pershing Square no longer regularly reports its holdings in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but it is known that the New York-based hedge fund is the largest non-government owner of GSE common stock.”Fairholme’s conviction in its Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac positions has not changed, and Fairholme actively monitors all of its positions – particularly during periods of market overreaction,” a source familiar with Fairholme said.Pershing Square could not immediately be reached for comment.The share price for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac experienced gains of more than 5 percent last week after the announcements by Ackman and Berkowitz, but the price of shares for both is still down by more than 30 percent since the judge’s ruling.The government seized control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back in September 2008 at the height of the nation’s financial crisis, after which Treasury provided $188 billion to bail out the companies. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have since become profitable and have returned $218.7 billion in dividends to taxpayers. The Obama administration wants to phase out the two GSEs, which have been in conservatorship since the government takeover six years ago. Share Fairholme Capital Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Investors Pershing Square 2014-10-13 Seth Welborn
Report Details Highlights and Lowlights of 2014 Forecast Home Prices Housing Supply Mortgage Rates New Home Sales Realtor.com 2014-12-24 Tory Barringer December 24, 2014 472 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News It’s been a rollercoaster year for the U.S. housing market, but analysts at Realtor.com say the patterns seen in 2014 could be the foundation for more stable growth in the coming year.Earlier last month, the company predicted a comeback in first-time homebuyers as young adults prepare to take the next step in their lives amid improving economic conditions. With job growth and home inventory making strides toward recovery and mortgage rates remaining historically low, Realtor.com expects the momentum seen this year will carry over into the next.”Overall, this year’s housing market showed steady advances over 2013 with significant improvement in key housing metrics, despite some remaining challenges,” said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com. “Increases in job creation and gross domestic product have had a significant impact on consumer confidence and home buyer demand. Paired with historically low interest rates, these factors kept properties moving quickly.”In its year-end review, Realtor.com outlined some of the major trends seen in 2014 that signal a strengthening housing recovery, including:Improving economic fundamentals: After coming off the start line in a stagger, the U.S. economy bounced back from a weak first quarter and showed the strongest growth seen in years. On Tuesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that third-quarter growth came in at an annual rate of 5.0 percent—a reversal of Q1’s contraction of 2.1 percent. Meanwhile, monthly payroll numbers continue to look encouraging, inspiring more confidence among Americans.Continually low mortgage rates: While interest rates remain above the rock-bottom lows seen in 2013, they’re still averaging around 4 percent for 30-year fixed-rate products, even as the Federal Reserve takes a less dovish approach to monetary policy. Realtor.com attributes the trend to global economic weakness, along with actions by the European Central Bank and other Asian banks to battle recessionary conditions.Decelerating home price gains: While ongoing price increases had some commentators worried about a new housing bubble in the making, the large-scale slowdown of home price growth has brought the trend more in line with historical performance.Declining distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales continued to fall throughout the year—and while that might have put a drag on total sales volumes, the share of non-distressed transactions grew over last year, indicating a healthier market.Investor pullback: Going hand-in-hand with the drop in distressed sales, the retreat of investors from the housing market created more room for traditional buyers, driving down competition and putting a cap on prices.On the other hand, there remain a few headwinds that are likely to be a problem in the next year:Tight credit standards and limited mortgage availability: While there’s been some debate on the issue of loosening lending criteria, mortgage data over the past 12 months indicates credit standards have seen little change, preventing many households from taking advantage of low interest rates. By Realtor.com’s estimate, the “tight spread between approved and declined FICO Scores shut out nearly half of the potential population this year.”Tight inventory: While inventory has seen some progress at the national level, supply has still failed to keep up with demand. In many markets, the months’ supply of new and existing homes remains under the normal balance between a buyers’ and sellers’ market.Low levels of first-time buyers: According to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the share of first-time homebuyers fell this year to its lowest in close to three decades. On the bright side, “the first-time buyer share is showing signs of modest improvement by the year-end,” noted NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. As federal agencies push to expand low-cost housing options, advocates hope to see a greater presence from first-timers in 2015.Record levels of renters and climbing rent prices: The national homeownership rate continues to look weak at 64.4 percent, indicating more adults are renting rather than buying. Unfortunately, as rent increases outpace home price growth, analysts are concerned that today’s renters are unable to save to become tomorrow’s buyers.Lack of recovery in homebuilding and weakness in new home sales: The new home market has struggled over the course of the year, and despite increasing confidence levels, homebuilders aren’t breaking ground on as many homes as some would hope—especially in the lower price tiers. “New home prices increased substantially again this year, revealing that higher priced product is limiting the demand,” Realtor.com said. Share
in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Community National Banks Economic Growth and Paperwork Reduction Act Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Federal Savings Associations Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 2015-05-06 Staff Writer May 6, 2015 583 Views OCC Works to Decrease Regulatory Burden on National Banks, FSAs The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) took steps toward reducing the regulatory burden placed on community national banks and federal savings associations (FSAs) by participating in an outreach meeting as part of the Economic Growth and Paperwork Reduction Act (EGRPRA) on Monday.Thomas J. Curry, comptroller of the currency, led discussions at the meeting, which is the third in a series of meetings under the EGRPRA.According to Curry, the OCC is working on an interagency basis and with the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) to make regulatory compliance easier for FSAs and national banks – particularly those on the smaller side.“Smaller banks and thrifts don’t have the same kind of resources that large institutions can bring to bear on regulatory compliance,” Curry said, “and if we can eliminate unnecessary rules and streamline others, we can make it easier for these institutions to serve the economic needs of their communities.”Curry even said there would be an outreach meeting the future that would specifically focus on rural banks, which he said have “their own unique challenges.”In his speech, Curry recognized that regulations are, by nature, burdensome, but he said it’s the ever-increasing regulatory chances that have him concerned.“What worries me is the way that the regulatory rulebook builds up over time, adding layer after layer of requirements that can be quite onerous for small banks,” Curry said. “So we at the OCC are taking this process very seriously.”After Curry’s introduction panelists and audience members were allowed to ask questions and voice concerns about regulatory compliance. They could also submit ideas for improving or bettering the process.“We will consider carefully all of the comments received today,” Curry said, “and a summary will be published on the regulations.gov Web site and included in our report to Congress.”So far, the OCC has submitted three proposals to Congress that aim to eliminate regulatory burden. The first would change the asset threshold to allow more institutions a longer, 18-month examination cycle. The second proposes that community banks be exempt from the Volcker Rule, while the third would provide FSAs an opportunity expand their business model to better meet the needs of the community.But as to when these proposals–or any regulatory reform, for that matter—would go into effect, Curry said it could be a while.“While this process will unfold over some time, I can assure you that we at the OCC will not wait until it is over to make changes when a solid case has been made for reform,” Curry said. “If it is clear that a regulation is unduly burdensome, and if we have authority to make changes to eliminate that burden, we will act. However, many regulatory requirements are rooted in laws passed by Congress, and changes may require legislative action. In those cases, we will work with Congress to remove unnecessary burdens.”See all of Curry’s comments at OCC.gov Share
September 15, 2015 457 Views Ocwen’s Ratings Revised from ‘Stable’ to ‘Positive’ Fitch Ratings Ocwen Financial Corporation Positive Stable 2015-09-15 derektempleton Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC recently received an upgrade in their rating outlook from stable to positive due to stronger risk management framework and management oversight, according to a Servicer Report from Fitch Ratings.In February 2015, Ocwen experienced rating downgrades to stable due to weak corporate governance and operational control framework. However, in June 2015, the company’s ratings were pushed up to positive as Ocwen strengthened their risk management framework and management oversight.Among the ratings, which were all labeled as RPS4 were: Primary Prime, Primary Alt-A, Primary Subprime, Primary HELOC, and Specialty Closed-End Second Lien.One of the key rating drivers was Ocwen’s commitment to alleviate governance and operational control weaknesses within the company, which include changes to its “three lines of defense” approach to risk management, expansion of regulatory compliance and compliance testing departments, and completion of a risk and control self-assessment (RCSA) process.Another contributor to Ocwen’s rating change was a shift in focus to PLS servicing, where the company initiated a strategy to sell off a large portion of it mortgage servicing rights (MSRs). The company has closed or entered agreements to sell MSRs on about $90 billon in unpaid balance (UPB) of performing agency loans.Fitch also reported that Ocwen’s use of a highly integrated technology environment and concentration on off-shore servicing operations were also major contributors to the upgrade.Although Ocwen’s servicing operation has grown more than 300 percent in the past serveral years, their portfolio continues to decrease. Fitch found that the company has serviced 2,361,220 loans totaling $376.6 billion including 1,252,409 totaling $195.6 billion in non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) transactions as of March 31, 2015.Ocwen’s portfolio also includes 3.9 percent non-agency first lien prime, 8.1 percent first lien Alt-A, 28.6 percent first lien subprime, 1.7 percent HELOC, and 2.0 percent closed-end second liens by loan count.Click here to view Fitch Ratings’ complete Servicer Report. Share in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicing
Mortgage Fraudsters Ease Up in Q2 October 15, 2015 427 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Market Studies, News, Origination, Uncategorized As interest rates continue to lower and home values rise, mortgage fraud application risk has fallen 8.9 percent from the second quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2015, according to CoreLogic’s October 2015 Mortgage Fraud Report.The Mortgage Application Fraud Risk Index showed that approximately 12,814 of mortgage applications, or 0.67 percent, contained fraud in the second quarter of 2015. Last year, during the same time, 11,100 mortgage applications, or 0.69 percent, contained indications of fraud.The index calculates fraud risk based on the share of loan application with a high risk of fraud. The index is standardized to a baseline of 100 for the share of high-risk loan applications nationally in the third quarter of 2010. Each one point change represents a 1 percent change in the share of mortgage applications have a high risk of fraud.CoreLogic points out two factors that are affecting declining fraud risk rate: interest rates and home values.Declining interest rates from 2013 through April 2015 are welcoming more qualified buyers in the refinance market and lowering mortgage fraud risk. In addition, higher home values are adding equity to homes, which allows homeowners with previously marginal equity to purchase a new property, refinance, or obtain a home equity loan.Susan Allen, SVP, Mortgage Analytics at CoreLogic noted that “although overall fraud trends are stable to decreasing for most of the country some geographies warrant scrutiny.”The Miami, Florida metro currently ranked number one in terms of mortgage fraud risk, with an index of 339, down 9.1 percent year-over-year and down 2.9 percent quarter-over-quarter.”One such area is the Miami CBSA, which ranks atop the CoreLogic fraud list of metropolitan areas. Of particular concern is that house prices in Miami appear to be overheated, as indicated by the CoreLogic Market Condition Indicators. Moreover, house prices in the Miami CBSA have been accelerating at a far greater pace than have rents for single family homes, suggesting that prices may not be a good indicator of sustainable value. This combination of risk factors makes areas like Miami worth paying attention to.”Tampa, Florida; Orlando, Florida; North Port, Florida; and New York City, New York wrapped up the top five metro areas with the highest risk indices.Click here to view the full report. Share CoreLogic Miami Mortgage Fraud Risk 2015-10-15 Staff Writer
Invitation Homes Adds Two Senior Executives April 26, 2016 595 Views in Headlines, News Home Leasing Invitation Homes Single Family Rental Market 2016-04-26 Seth Welborn Share Holly CostelloJiggs FosterInvitation Homes, a nationwide provider of home leasing headquartered in Dallas, Texas, has announced the addition of two senior executives, Elizabeth “Jiggs” Foster and Holly Costello.Foster joins the Invitation Homes management team as SVP of marketing and Costello has been named VP for operations with responsibility for Central and North Florida.“I am delighted to welcome Jiggs and Holly to the Invitation Homes team,” said Invitation Homes CEO John Bartling. “Jiggs and Holly bring to Invitation Homes the knowledge, leadership skills and experience that will continue to position us to seize opportunity in the home leasing arena. As the premier company in the single family rental industry, we’re excited to be attracting top talent to our growing company.”Foster brings 25 years of leadership experience across industries to Invitation Homes. As SVP of marketing, she will lead the company’s marketing initiatives. Her experience includes positioning and managing successful brand portfolios with Procter & Gamble, Dr Pepper, and many companies. Most recently, Foster was with Trion Consulting, a boutique firm with clients that included Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, and Abbott Labs. She was a CPA with Arthur Andersen early in her career. Foster has an undergraduate degree in business and accounting from Tulane University and an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School.Costello, who has a 25-year career in the property management industry, will have operational oversight for approximately 6,000 homes across Florida as VP for operations with Invitation Homes. Costello’s most recent position before joining Invitation Homes was VP of the Multifamily Division and Vice President Navy Military Division of Balfour Beatty Communities, where she served for nine years. She has also served as SVP with Walden Residential. Costello attended Florida State and the University of South Florida and has achieved honors in the industry that include a Certified Property Management Designation from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and Certified Property Manager of the Year by IREM in 2014. Costello is currently serving as president of IREM West Coast Florida.
Fannie Mae has announced the implementation of enhancements to its Desktop Underwriter (DU) Version 10.0 aimed at providing more simplicity and certainty to lenders.DU 10.0’s goal is to help lenders by using trended credit data—the first widespread use of trended credit data in the mortgage industry—to provide enhanced credit risk assessment, new underwriting capabilities to serve borrowers with no traditional credit, and to serve borrowers who own multiple financed properties.“Desktop Underwriter transformed the industry when it was introduced over 20 years ago. (These) DU 10.0 enhancements highlight the continued investments and improvements we’re making in our technology to be better partners for our customers, and to provide access to mortgage credit for creditworthy borrowers,” said Marianne Sullivan, SVP, Single-Family Business Capabilities, Fannie Mae. “We continue to listen to our customers and make improvements to DU that take into account how our lenders tell us they want to work and to help them better serve today’s market.”The enhancements to DU 10.0 include:Using trended credit data for credit risk assessment: Considering monthly payment amounts a borrower has made on revolving accounts for the past two years; providing lenders with a more comprehensive risk assessment by offering more insight on a borrowers’ tendency to pay off revolving lines of credit each month; and giving borrowers more control over their credit evaluation and increasing the likelihood that DU will recommend borrowers for approval who regularly pay off (or pay more than the required amount) of revolving debt.Automated underwriting for borrowers with no traditional credit: DU 10.0 helps lenders more efficiently serve borrowers who are without a traditional credit history by automating and streamlining an underwriting process that was previously manual and time-consuming. The new system requires at least two non-traditional credit sources to be verified, and at least one of these sources must be housing-related.Automated underwriting for borrowers with multiple financed properties: The enhancements provide lenders with a simplified multiple financed properties policy, simply for the underwriting process for lenders, improve operational efficiency, and help ensure fewer eligibility overlays, automate remaining eligibility requirements, and determine required reserves for all financed properties. in Featured, News, Secondary Market Share September 27, 2016 564 Views Desktop Underwriter Fannie Mae Lenders 2016-09-27 Seth Welborn Fannie Mae Upgrades Desktop Underwriter
in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News, Origination The True Cost of Poor Credit for Homeowners January 8, 2018 659 Views Share Borrowers with lower credit scores are likely to be paying more in additional costs in mortgage according online loan marketplace, LendingTree’s Mortgage Offers Report for December 2017.According to the report, consumers with the highest credit scores (760+) saw offered APRs of 4.26 percent in December, against 4.56 percent for consumers with scores of 680-719. The APR spread of 30 basis points between these score ranges was 3 points wider than in November and the widest since this data series began in April 2016. “The spread represents nearly $15,000 in additional costs for borrowers with lower credit scores over 30-years for the average purchase loan amount of $233,586. The additional costs are due to higher interest rates, larger fees or a combination of the two,” said Tendayi Kapfidze Chief Economist at LendingTree.The report, which was released on Monday indicated that December’s best offers for borrowers with the best profile had an average annual percentage rate (APR) of 3.8 percent for conforming 30-year fixed purchase loans, up from 3.75 percent in November. The report contains data from actual loan terms offered to borrowers on LendingTree by lenders, and helps to empower consumers by providing additional information on how their credit profile affects their loan prospects.In terms of refinance loans, the report indicated that refinance loan offers were up 1 basis point to 3.7 percent. For the average borrower, purchase APRs for conforming 30-yr fixed loans offered on LendingTree’s platform were up 12 basis points to 4.42 percent, the highest since July 2016. The loan note rate hit the highest since March 2016 at 4.32 percent and was up 14 basis points from November. “We prefer to emphasize the APR as lenders often make changes to other fees in response to changing interest rates,” Kapfidze said.The report indicated that while refinance APRs for conforming 30-yr fixed loans were up seven basis points to 4.31 percent, the credit score bracket spread widened to 24 from 20 basis points, amounting to $12,000 in extra costs over the life of the loan for lower credit score borrowers given an average refinance loan of $241,973. Average proposed purchase down payments have been rising for eight months and reached $63,740 in December, the report noted. APR Borrowers Consumers Homebuyers LendingTree mortgage 2018-01-08 Staff Writer