5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Mesa family survives lightning strike to home New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments Share New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Sponsored Stories Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, dropped 2.2 percent in May, even weaker than a preliminary report last week that had estimated a 1.8 percent drop. Orders for nondurable goods edged up a slight 0.2 percent.American factories have struggled this year because a strong dollar has made U.S. goods more expensive overseas, hurting American exports. Falling energy prices have also trigged sharp cutbacks in investment spending by oil companies.Those factors, combined with an unusually harsh winter, sent the economy into reverse in the January-March quarter. But economists are optimistic that economic activity rebounded in the April-June quarter to growth of around 2.5 percent and will strengthen further in the second half of this year.They expect continued solid gains in employment will boost household incomes and spur stronger consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. A separate report Thursday showed that the labor market created a solid 223,000 jobs in June, and the unemployment rate dropped to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.Giving hope that manufacturing prospects are brightening, the Institute for Supply Management reported Wednesday that its gauge of manufacturing activity rose to 53.5 in June, up from 52.8 in May. The June reading matched January’s level for the highest this year, and it offered evidence that manufacturing growth has accelerated over the past two months. Any reading above 50 signals expansion. WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories fell in May by the largest amount in three months, while a key category that signals business investment plans dropped for a second month.Factory orders declined 1 percent in May from April, when orders retreated 0.7 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Orders in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment were down 0.4 percent.Much of the weakness in May reflected a big 35.3 percent fall in demand for commercial aircraft. But even outside of the volatile transportation category, orders were up only a tiny 0.1 percent. The lackluster showing suggests that manufacturing is still struggling with challenges such as lower energy prices and a strong dollar, which dampens exports. Top Stories Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day
Men’s health affects baby’s health too New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Sponsored Stories Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous of (dpa/AP Photo) Police vans stand in downtown Muenster, Germany, Saturday, April 7, 2018. German news agency dpa says several people killed after car crashes into crowd in city of Muenster. Top Stories Comments Share Mesa family survives lightning strike to home A leading German newspaper is reporting that authorities believe there is no terrorist motive behind the deadly van crash in Muenster and the driver is believed to be a middle-aged German man who had psychological issues.The Sueddeutsche Zeitung paper also says the suspect’s apartment was being searched for possible explosives.German officials haven’t yet indicated what they think is the motive behind Saturday’s crash into a crowd at a popular Muenster bar, which killed two people and left 20 others injured. They have urged people in Muenster to avoid the city’s downtown area.At the same time, police say they are checking witness reports that other perpetrators might have fled from the van at the scene of the crash.Mayor Markus Lewe told reporters that “all of Muenster is mourning this horrible incident. Our sympathy is with the relatives of those who were killed. We wish the injured a quick recovery.”In December 2016, a truck driven by Anis Amri, a Tunisian with links to Islamist groups, hijacked a truck killing 11 people in a market place around Christmas.Muenster is five hours west of Berlin near the border of Germany and Netherlands.The Associated Press contributed to this report. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall PHOENIX – A German police spokesman said two people were killed and 20 injured when a van crashed into a crowd in front of a popular bar in downtown Muenster.Andreas Bode told reporters the driver of the van shot himself dead inside the car after the crash Saturday afternoon.The van crashed into people sitting in front of the famous Kiepenkerl bar on one of the first spring days in the western German city.Bode said six of the 20 injured were in severe condition.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.F A proposal by five car rental companies to collectively negotiate with Perth Airport has been objected to by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). According to the ACCC, the bid, made by Hertz, Thrifty, Avis, Budget and Europcar, was objected to on the grounds that it may reduce competitive tensions between the companies by facilitating the sharing of commercially sensitive information. In a statement released last Friday, the acting ACCC chairman Michael Schaper said that the arrangement could also put other car companies outside the group at a competitive disadvantage.“In this case it is difficult to see how collective bargaining will be successful and achieve the public benefits claimed by the companies,” he said. This official objection follows a draft objection notice that was issued by the ACCC shortly after the car companies’ lodged their proposal in early May. The original draft objection had centred on concerns that collective bargaining could undermine the competitiveness behind the Request for Proposal process Perth Airport was using at the time to allocate counter space and parking bays to car rental companies.Offers for new car rental licences have now been lodged by the car rental companies in accordance with this process. <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/25df8/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>
Air New Zealand wins Oscars of the airline industry- again Air New Zealand has been awarded as 2012 Airline of the year in the Air Transport World (ATW) 38th Airline Industry achievement awards for the second time in three years.According to ATW judges Air New Zealand had reached the highest level in the tourism industry in a range of categories including market position, product innovation, yield and social media trendsetter.The awards ceremony, which will be held in Singapore on 13 February, will be attended by hundreds of aviation leaders from around the globe. Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe, who will be travelling to Singapore to accept the award, said he was thrilled that Air New Zealand had won the award again.“Winning ATW Airline of the Year in 2010 was in my view one of the greatest accolades that had ever been bestowed on Air New Zealand,” Mr Fyfe said.“In our industry it is equivalent to winning an Oscar, to pick up the award again this year is simply outstanding,” he added. Mr Fyfe said for the airline to be recognised as the number one airline for a second time amongst its competitors demonstrates the continued hard work and passion from their 11,500 staff around the globe. The airline boss said the award reflected Air New Zealanders’ commitment to delivering customers with a uniquely Kiwi experience in one of the world’s most competitive industries. Mr Fyfe added the airline continued to be recognised internationally for its innovation, particularly in its marketing approach and products such as the game-changing economy Skycouch seating on its new 777-300ER aircraft. “Air New Zealand will never be afraid to push the boundaries in striving to deliver a fabulously memorable experience to customers at every point in their journey, both on the ground and in the air.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
Gold Coast Airport and Queensland’s local Government have called for a fast track on the implementation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the airport to allow safe aircraft landing during rough weather.After aborting dozens of landings earlier this week after experiencing strong storms in the region, Queensland Liberal MP Karen Andrews told the federal government this week the device needed to be installed to safely guide pilots along the runway when visibility is low, Herald Sun reported.She explained that as the sixth busiest Australian airport’s passenger movements increase the region would need to be equipped with “first class, world class facilities”.”There is obviously a safety concern here, as well as a risk to aircraft,” she said.”And the financial burden on operators of aborted landings, go-arounds, holding patterns and diversions to other airports such as Brisbane.’”I call on the government to fast track this project as a priority.”Meanwhile, yesterday a Virgin Australia flight preparing to take-off from Gold Coast Airport to Sydney was forced to evacuate passengers after receiving a bomb scare.The aircraft was swept by the Australian Federal Police for signs on a bomb shortly after two in the afternoon, couriermail reported. A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed to media that the evacuation was a precaution.The aircraft was cleared of any threat shortly after 3.30pm. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
As the government eases its enforcement of strict regulatory controls, China has witnessed double-digit booking growth for airlines across all reservation platforms.Since October foreign airlines have had the option of using global distribution systems, following a change in the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) Computerised Reservation System (CRS).This legislative adjustment has enabled a wider network of travel agents to book fares and access content.Previously, the state-controlled reservation system, TravelSky, possessed a near monopoly on the sale of any information technology solutions to the air travel industry.800 million new air travellers are expected to be flying from 2009 to 2014, with at least a quarter coming from China, providing enormous distribution and sales potential. The number of passengers on foreign airlines is growing and non-Chinese airlines account for more than half of the Chinese international flight market, according to CAAC.International bookings by foreign carriers for the China market are estimated to be 16 million this year.Despite this only being a small portion of the total China booking volume, this figure is expected to increase by 10-20 percent in the next few years.The CAAC regulation change provides airlines a choice when deciding on the right distribution partner.“One can choose to be proactive or reactive to these changes, but one thing is certain – being armed with the proper tools and a sense of readiness will give an airline the edge in supporting current and future moves by CAAC,” according to distribution company Abacus. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T
Jetstar Japan adds Matsuyama as Jetstar Pacific includes Buon Ma Thuot. Jetstar Group has increased its reach across Asia, bringing first time low-cost flights to new regions.Commencing 11 June, Jetstar Japan will launch services from Tokoy, to Matsuyama, the airline’s ninth destination.While from 26 March, Jetstar Pacific will commence new flights from Ho Chi Minh and Vinh to Buon Ma Thuot.Utilising its A320 on new routes, Jetstar Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said introducing LCC services to new markets previously served by full service carriers continue to be part of the group’s Pan Asian growth strategy.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J
Luxury Hotels Group has launched a private label chain code through Pegasus Solutions. The company will offer three London hotels in the global distribution system (GDS) under the LU chain code, targeting consumers as the brand continues to grow. “Launching a private label chain code with Pegasus allows us to easily target that consumer through the GDSs with a branded presence,” Luxury Hotels Group vice president sales and marketing Mark Jones said. Source = ETB News: P.T. “The Pegasus-provided chain code also affords us a simple way to manage hotels in the GDSs today and as our collection grows.” Luxury Hotel group owns and operates the London City Suites by Montcalm, The Marble Arch by Montcalm and The Park Grand London Hyde Park Hotel. “Groups of hotels like Luxury Hotels Group have an opportunity to gain access to the GDSs with a branded presence by creating a private label chain code,” Pegasus Solutions senior vice president global sales Alexis Dobbelaere said. “Introducing the private label chain code through Pegasus is a fast and effective way to give buyers affordable and immediate access to their hotel portfolio.” The luxury hotel group is set to expand its brand to include properties in Dubai and South Asia.
Meanwhile, Viator’s successful mobile app continues to be a key tool for its customers, especially with the Australian market of which 18 percent use to book their tours, compared to a global average of 15 percent. Moreover, us Aussies currently make up 15 percent of Viator’s bookings, and while we do love an overseas getaway to old favourites Paris, New York and Rome, we enjoy exploring our own backyard too, with the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant tour in Melbourne the most popular product booked. Taking travellers “on location” to the sets of their most loved tv shows, Game of Thrones fans can experience a sense of the medieval era within the cobblestoned city walls of Dubrovnik, as well as Belfast, Malta and Iceland, while Downton Abbey fans can visit Highclere Castle in London. During a visit to Sydney yesterday, Viator vice president of marketing, Kelly Gillease, said that with the ever-increasing popularity of these shows, the destinations and activities associated are continuing to trend highly amongst travellers. With Viator’s focus on unique destination tours and activities, the company’s most popular offering continues to be tours inspired by top rating television shows such as Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey and Aussie soap favourite Neighbours. Viator, a global leader in destination activities, was in Sydney yesterday to share its recent trends as well as announce its new look mobile website and upcoming Android app, due for release next month. Sydney also listed as another high ranking destination, coming in as the ninth highest clicked destination in searches of things to see and do, with the Vivid Festival encouraging travellers to book various harbour activities from cruises to Sydney BridgeClimb. The award winning app, which has had more than one million downloads since its 2011 launch, including 90,000 downloads in Australia alone, will be redesigned with a release due in June. Source = ETB News: Lana Bogunovich
Inland New South Wales (NSW) welcomes the announcement of new air services commencing this year that will bring the total of Tamworth’s commercial carriers from one to three.From 2 March 2015, Brisbane-based airline JETGO will introduce three flights a week to Tamworth and from 6 April 2015 they will increase flights to twice a day three times a week.As of 25 May 2015, Virgin Australia will introduce six return flights a week between Tamworth and Sydney in addition to the current Qantas Link Sydney to Tamworth services offered daily.Across the three carriers, a total of 96 flights in and out of Tamworth will be available each week, aimed at both corporate and leisure passengers.Inland NSW chief executive officer Graham Perry says the inclusion of these new flights prove Tamworth is a successful commercial hub and will provide better services for increased domestic and international tourists.“It also highlights the potential and benefit of increasing air capacity for targeted regional routes, which is very important for growing regional centres,” Mr Perry said.“Qantas Link must be recognised for the long and supportive service it has provided our regional destinations.“Coupled with the NSW Government’s announcement of increased funding for the business conferencing and events market, these announcements are good news for Tamworth and the broader New England region, which will benefit from the improved air capacity.”Mr Perry also noted the increased air capacity will help the city in peak periods like during the annual Tamworth Country Music Festival which welcomes Australian and international visitors.In February this year, Tamworth Regional Council approved modifications to the Tamworth Regional Airport valued at over AUD$500,000 which will help cater for the increased passengers soon to come.Source = ETB Travel News: Brittney Levinson
Source = Sheraton Hotels & Resorts Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced plans to debut its iconic Sheraton brand in South Australia with the signing of the Sheraton Adelaide.Owned by the Makris Group, South Australia’s largest privately owned retail property group, Sheraton Adelaide will form the centrepiece of a mixed-use development including luxury residential apartments, office and retail space located at 88 O’Connell Street.Slated to open in mid-2019, Sheraton Adelaide further expands Starwood’s growing presence in the South Australian state capital and, following the recent signing of Aloft Adelaide, brings another internationally branded hotel to the city.“Starwood’s second hotel signing in Adelaide this year further demonstrates our robust pipeline and growing footprint in Australia and the Pacific region,” said Sean Hunt, Regional Vice President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Pacific.“As one of the most global brands in our portfolio, the Sheraton brand continues to experience accelerated international growth.“Our recently announced Sheraton 2020 10-point vision will see us add more than 150 new hotels by the year 2020 across the globe, and the signing of Sheraton Adelaide is an important step in building that momentum here in Australia.”Sheraton Adelaide Hotel will offer 160 modern guest rooms and two dining venues along with a range of leisure facilities, including a state-of-the-art fitness centre and indoor swimming pool.Business guests will enjoy a range of innovative work spaces and meeting rooms, including a 300-square-meter ballroom and a total of 700 square meters of function space, as well as an additional pre-function area.Located on one of Adelaide’s most affluent boulevards, Sheraton Adelaide sits within a new luxury residential, retail and hotel development at the long-vacant former Le Cornu site on O’Connell Street – a hub of restaurants, cafes, pubs and boutiques, lined with striking Victorian architecture.“Sheraton Adelaide will be the new heart of O’Connell Street, providing a quality legacy for current and future generations,” said Con Makris, Executive Chairman for the Makris Group.“The Sheraton brand is an ideal fit for the location and our overall vision; we’re delighted to welcome a brand that matches the stylish yet welcoming atmosphere we aim to create.”Set to be an iconic development, 88 O’Connell Street includes the new Sheraton hotel and a 16-story apartment tower, along with a diverse mix of retail stores and restaurants, all spread over eight buildings linked by a piazza and gardens. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts
Xiamen Air www.au.xiamenair.com/en/Xiamen Airlines additional capacity to see China visits top 1,000,000 markA dramatic increase in seat capacity, and continued strong demand from Chinese tourists, will see the annual number of Chinese visitors to Australia top one million in coming weeks (according to data from Tourism Research Australia).By December, Xiamen Airlines will be one of six Chinese carriers with direct flights to Sydney, the multi award-winning Fujian based carrier will bring an estimated 36,000 visitors to Australia. That extra capacity will help push the annual Chinese visitor number beyond 1,000,000. For a country that once boasted it lived “off the sheep’s back”, Chinese Tourism is now worth more than two-and-a-half times the entire wool export industry.Xiamen Airlines inaugural Sydney Flight (MF 807) landed at 09:55hrs this morning at Kingsford Smith Airport. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (Registration B-2763) is a brand new aircraft having commenced service in September 2015. Source = Xiamen Airlines Xiamen Airlinesbook and fly here
Etihad Aviation Group appoints Robin KamarkEtihad Aviation Group appoints Robin KamarkEtihad Aviation Group has announced the appointment of Robin Kamark as Chief Executive Officer, Airline Equity Partners. Mr. Kamark will be responsible for leading and developing the Group’s minority equity investment strategy, which includes stakes in airberlin, Alitalia, Jet Airways, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Etihad Regional and Virgin Australia.Reporting to the Group President and CEO, Robin Kamark takes over from Bruno Matheu, who has held the role since May 2016, and is leaving for personal reasons.Mr. Kamark is a 17-year veteran of the airline industry, rising through a range of strategy, commercial and general manager roles at SAS Group to become Chief Commercial Officer. For the last five years, he has been Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Storebrand ASA, a leading Nordic financial services business.H.E. Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of the Board of the Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad Aviation Group continues to invest in world-class talent at the most senior level, building our executive team to lead the business into the next stage of its development.“Robin is a well-respected leader in global aviation, with wide-ranging experience at SAS Group. He performed important roles in the restructuring of that airline and has broadened his experience more recently in financial services.“Our equity partner strategy continues to be an important element of our business model, and Robin will drive the strategy by adjusting and progressing our approach.“We would like to thank Bruno for his sterling efforts over the last two and half years, as we have built and consolidated our equity partner approach.”Mr. Kamark will lead strategic developments to optimise business performance, revenues and cost synergies between Etihad Airways and its equity partners across the world. He will also provide strategic leadership for airline partners where Etihad Airways has management responsibility.Mr. Kamark holds Bachelor and Master of Business Administration qualifications from the Norwegian School of Management. He began his career in finance roles in the manufacturing sector, following his military service, before joining SAS in 1995.Mr. Kamark will take up his new position in October 2017. He said: “I am grateful to the Board of Etihad Aviation Group for their confidence in me. This is an exciting role, offering the opportunity to develop and refine an important element of the Group’s strategy.”Kevin Knight, Group Strategy and Planning Officer, will also work with Bruno Matheu to provide continuity across Airline Equity Partners as the group manages the transition over the coming months.Mr. Kamark will become one of the five key business unit executives within the Etihad Aviation Group, joining Peter Baumgartner, CEO of Etihad Airways; Jeff Wilkinson, CEO of Etihad Airways Engineering; and Chris Youlten, Managing Director of Airport Services. Hala, the company’s destination marketing and global loyalty unit, will announce a permanent CEO shortly.The EAG Board is currently involved in a search for a new Group CEO. Long-serving President and CEO James Hogan announced that he would step down from the company later this year.Source = Etihad Aviation Group
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a large number of people had travelled via airlines in 2016.The agency said in its official statement that there were nearly 3.7 billion people who had taken a scheduled flight in the year 2016,a figure that was six percent better as compared to 2015. The growth was mainly attributed to low-cost carriers. ICAO said that about a billion passengers representing 28% of the world’s total passenger traffic were served by low-cost carriers.The Revenue Passenger Kms (RPKs) that is used to calculate the passengers who bought airline ticket relative to the distance that they travelled, hit the mark of 7,015 billion RPKs. The figure marked a 6.3% rise from 2015, but it was slower than the 7.1% growth that had been recorded in 2014.ICAO said that the above conditions along with the cheaper cost of oil have also helped the profitability of the airline in the year 2016.In 2016, the airline industry had witnessed a profit of $60 billion that was an increase from $58 billion in 2015. ICAO also added that the industry-wide operating margin was quite stable at eight percent. For a consecutive year, over one-third of the profits are believed to come from the carriers of North America. The domestic market represents about 66% of the total operations, as revealed by ICAO. It also added that improving the economic conditions that have been forecast by the World Bank would also observe a greater air traffic growth and air carrier profitability momentum, in 2017.Budget airlines in Europe accounted for about 32%. It was followed by Asia-Pacific and North America that accounted for 31% and 25% respectively. ICAO said that even though the economic conditions were weak, the global passenger traffic continued to grow, strengthened by lower air fares because of lower air fares as a result of the slump in oil prices.
Kathryn Kannampuzha | MumbaiThe Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) debuted with four-city Penang Sales Mission in the Indian market, targeting the MICE and leisure travellers from India. Penang is a state in the northwest of Malaysia comprising mainland Seberang Perai and Penang Island.PCEB has come up with a Bookers Initiative Programme for travel agents where travel agents who book a minimum of 200 travellers to Penang can win a complimentary tour package for three days and two nights to the destination.Speaking at the sales mission in Mumbai, Ashwin Gunasekeran, Chief Executive Officer, PCEB, said, “Nine new hotels will be opened soon in Penang and there will be additional 3,000 rooms to the already available 20,000 inventory. We also have a convention centre which can accommodate 30,000 people and a new convention centre is in the pipeline which will open in 2021.”In 2016, Penang recorded 1,251 events with an estimated economic impact of USD 200 million. From January to September 2017, Penang hosted 1,731 events with an estimated economic impact of USD 230 million. This translates to a 27.7% increase in the number of events and 7% increase for the estimated economic impact.Comprising a delegation of 17 local partners, the Penang Sales Mission started off in Kolkata and then moved on to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru in India.
September Brings Seasonal Declines in Sales, Prices, Inventory Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Redfin Service Providers 2013-10-10 Tory Barringer in Data, Origination October 10, 2013 417 Views The frenzy that has characterized the 2013 housing market has officially come to a close, “”Redfin””:http://www.redfin.com/ says in its latest Real-Time Price Tracker.[IMAGE]The tech-powered brokerage reported a seasonal decline in home sales, prices, and inventory in September, though the recovery’s strength is still evident in year-over-year gains.According to Redfin, home sales totaled 73,781 across the company’s 19 tracked markets, a decline of 18.8 percent from August–“”in step with normal seasonal trends,”” said analyst Tommy Unger. Compared to September 2012, though, sales were up 8.1 percent.Based on current pending sales data, Redfin anticipates another 6 percent monthly decline in October compared to the 8 percent gain recorded last year.[COLUMN_BREAK]Home prices experienced their third straight month-over-drop drop, falling 2.2 percent from August but still coming up 15.9 percent ahead of last year. The median sales price across all markets was $330,470.Eleven of the cities covered posted weaker prices compared to August, just more than 10 cities in the same period last year.””Colder climates, as usual, showed larger seasonal declines in prices,”” Unger said. “”For example, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Long Island posted 8.2 percent, 6.1 percent, and 5.7 percent month-over-month declines while Riverside, CA, San Diego and Austin kept things hot a bit longer with 2.4 percent, 1.5 percent, and one percent month-over-month increases.””Finally, low inventory continues to be “”the thorn in the market’s side,”” as Unger describes it. The total number of homes for sale in Redfin’s markets in September was 234,670, a decrease of 3.4 percent month-over-month and 17.5 percent year-over-year.””Homes continue to sell quickly, but they are not being replaced by new listings,”” Unger said. “”There are two big reasons why people are not listing their homes: they are underwater on their current mortgage, or their mortgage interest rate is so low that a new loan would be much more expensive.””Not surprisingly, we do not expect the inventory situation to improve as the holidays approach,”” he finished. Share
Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Credit Availability Credit Standards Demand Investors Lenders & Servicers OCC Service Providers 2014-01-31 Tory Barringer in Data, Origination Underwriting Standards Ease as Banks Vie for Business January 31, 2014 416 Views The “”Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s””:http://occ.treas.gov/index.html (OCC) latest underwriting survey shows lending standards have continued to relax as banks duke it out over a dwindling market.[IMAGE]Out of the 86 banks reported on in OCC’s “”19th Annual Survey of Credit Underwriting””:http://occ.gov/publications/publications-by-type/survey-credit-underwriting-practices-report/pub-survey-cred-under-2013.pdf, 22 percent loosened overall underwriting standards on retail products, examiners say–up from 15 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, only 10 percent tightened lending criteria, down more than half from the previous survey.Singling out residential mortgages, OCC examiners report 11 percent of banks offering loans eased standards, up slightly from the 2012 survey. Thirteen percent tightened standards (compared to 25 percent previously), while 76 percent left them untouched.””This year’s survey showed a progression toward easing underwriting standards as the economic environment [COLUMN_BREAK]stabilizes,”” said John Lyons, senior deputy comptroller and chief national bank examiner for OCC. Another factor behind last year’s loosening in standards was “”a desire to achieve loan growth and increase earnings”” as competition grows.””Against this backdrop, banks eased their underwriting standards from the prior year in response to significant competition for limited borrower loan demand making it difficult to achieve loan growth goals,”” the agency said.Despite the drop in standards, examiners indicated risk in residential mortgage portfolios remained unchanged or decreased at 87 percent of banks.Still, OCC cautions banks to ensure they’re giving “”appropriate attention”” to underwriting, loan structures, and loan administration.””[A]s banks ease standards to improve margins and compete for limited loan demand, examiners will continue to monitor underwriting standards to ensure they are prudent and are applied consistently regardless of whether loans are underwritten to hold or distribute,”” Lyons said.While credit opened up for mortgages, the same wasn’t true for home equity loans–both conventional and high loan-to-value (HLTV). Five percent of banks eased underwriting standards for conventional home equity loans, down from 18 percent, while 22 percent tightened their standards.For HLTV home equity loans, half of banks surveyed tightened their standards, while half left them unchanged. Share
Share Millennials often face many obstacles when trying to purchase a home such as financial hardships and the inability to afford the down payment, a task that is much more difficult for them compared to their predecessors.Recent survey data from Credit Karma showed that Millennials (ages 18-34) have a different outlook on homeownership than the Baby Boomer generation (ages 50-65).According to Credit Karma, approximately 60 percent of millennials own a home, while nearly 80 percent of Baby Boomers indicated that they own a home.The majority of both Millennials (almost 80 percent) and Boomers (almost 90 percent) noted that their spouse and/or themselves paid most of the down payment, or the entire purchase price if the home was bought in cash. On the other hand, very few of both generations said that either their parents, spouse’s parents, or another source paid for the down payment.As far as future home purchases are concerned for those that do not own a home yet, about 45 percent of Millennials are sure they want to purchase in the near future, while almost 50 percent said they would like to buy but are not sure when.One surprising piece of data that the survey showed was that over 80 percent of Millennials believe owning a home is an essential part of financial success, while a little over 70 percent of Boomers feel this way.Yesterday, existing-home sales reversed the downward trend recorded in August due to stock market declines, and rose 4.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rates of 5.55 million in September, the highest pace since February 2007.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Thursday that September’s rebound in existing-home sales marks a year-over-year increase for 12 consecutive months and all four major regions experienced gains.The biggest shock that the NAR reported was that the first-time buyer share declined from their highest share of the year at 32 percent in August to 29 percent in September, the same total recorded a year ago.Realtor.com Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke noted that despite the decline, “we estimate from the monthly sales data this year that first-time buyers have been responsible for 45 percent of the growth in sales over last year. The September share decline may simply reflect more competition in September by repeat buyers whose closings slipped in August due to the stock market disruptions.” in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News, Origination Credit Karma Financial Woes Homebuying Millennial 2015-10-23 Staff Writer Millennial Homebuying Attitudes Mixed Due to Financial Woes October 23, 2015 595 Views
Share The Week Ahead: State of the Union or ‘State of Housing?’ Here’s a look at the news and events that will shape housing and mortgage finance in the week ahead for The MReport.On Tuesday, January 12, President Barack Obama will deliver his eighth and final State of the Union Address as he heads into the home stretch of his administration. In last year’s address, he merely glossed over the subject of housing policy, nearly avoiding the topic completely except for mentioning the FHA’s lowering of the mortgage insurance premiums that occurred last January. Instead, he focused the speech mostly on job creation.The Obama Administration has been self-congratulatory when it comes to the housing industry recovering from the devastation of the 2008 crisis despite the fact that the homeownership rate fell to its lowest level in nearly five decades during the summer of 2015. Not only that, but housing affordability is a major concern for housing heading into 2016 as prices draw closer to their pre-recession peak, the inventory of available homes for sale is low, student debt continues to mount, and wage growth has been slow.Various top officials in the administration have stated that housing policy will not be a priority in Obama’s last year as President. Some, such as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury Antonio Weiss, have come right out and said the administration will not recap and release Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from the FHFA’s controversial, now more than seven-year-old conservatorship as Obama heads into his final year in office.For the broader economy, data shows this has been the slowest recovery since World War II. GDP growth has fallen short of expectations. The Fed finally began tightening last week, noting on several occasions that they would not do so until they had seen sufficient economic growth to warrant raising the short term rates.Given the Obama Administration’s position on economic and housing recovery, it is unlikely that the President will spend any length of time talking about it during Tuesday’s speech. One economist noted last year that one of the major reasons the President barely mentioned housing in last year’s State of the Union address is that the urgency has faded, since many (though not all) housing metrics and default numbers are “back to normal.”That does not mean there is nothing to talk about in the housing industry heading into 2016, however. Many within the industry believe that 2016 will bring more positives for housing despite the headwinds that persist.“I believe 2016 will see continued improvement in the housing market with the 30-year mortgage rate staying below 4.5 percent, and continued low unemployment and declining underemployment resulting in increases in the first time buyer,” said Patrick Stone, Chairman and CEO of Williston Financial Group, based in Portland, Oregon. “With growth in first time buyer participation, move up buyers will increase and new residential construction will increase….the net result being improved inventory and an overall increase in purchase transactions of up to 10 percent.”Matt Martin, CEO of Dallas-based Chronos Solutions, stated: “It’s easy right now to get caught up in the reaction to some of the more turbulent developments in the industry, such as the impact of TRID or the Fed’s interest rate hike. But when I step back, I see some real positives for the year ahead. There are enough positive indicators right now, such as improved employment and salary figures, to suggest the purchase market will continue to grow. We’ve also seen a lot of M&A activity recently. While that means consolidation, I also see hungrier, more innovative players in the market competing for share. Once the initial gloom and doom response to the interest rate increase dissipates, we will realize that it remains historically low. It’s even quite possible we’ll see some increased HELOC activity later this year.” Housing Policy President Obama State of the Union 2016-01-08 Seth Welborn January 8, 2016 555 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News
February 5, 2016 513 Views HSBC Mortgage Abuse Origination Servicing 2016-02-05 Staff Writer HSBC will be required to implement standards for the servicing of mortgage loans, the handling of foreclosures and for ensuring the accuracy of information provided in federal bankruptcy court. These standards are designed to prevent foreclosure abuses of the past, such as robo-signing, improper documentation and lost paperwork, and create new consumer protections. The standards provide for oversight of foreclosure processing, including third-party vendors, and new requirements to undertake pre-filing reviews of certain documents filed in bankruptcy court. The servicing standards ensure that foreclosure is a last resort by requiring HSBC to evaluate homeowners for other loss-mitigation options first. In addition, the standards restrict HSBC from foreclosing while the homeowner is being considered for a loan modification.“Mortgage servicers have a responsibility to help struggling borrowers remain in their home, not to push them into foreclosure,” said General Counsel Helen Kanovsky of HUD. “This agreement is another example of how multiple agencies in the federal government and state attorneys general across the country are working to make sure the mortgage industry treats consumers fairly.” HSBC Agrees to Pay $470 Million to Settle Mortgage Abuse Allegations in Daily Dose, Foreclosure, Government, Headlines, News, Origination, Servicing The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that HSBC Bank has reached a settlement with several federal agencies and almost every state attorney general regarding “mortgage origination, servicing, and foreclosure abuses.”HUD, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 49 state attorneys general and the District of Columbia’s attorney general, were all other parties involved in the settlement.According to the DOJ, HSBC has agreed to pay $470 million in consumer relief and payments to federal and state parties, and will now be bound to mortgage servicing standards and be subject to independent monitoring of its compliance with the agreement.“This agreement is the result of a coordinated effort between federal and state partners to hold HSBC accountable for abusive mortgage practices,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery. “The Department of Justice remains committed to rooting out financial fraud and holding bad actors accountable for their actions.”Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division noted,”This settlement illustrates the department’s continuing commitment to ensure responsible mortgage servicing. The agreement is part of our ongoing effort to address root causes of the financial crisis.”“Even as the mortgage crisis recedes, the U.S. Trustee Program will continue to combat mortgage servicer abuse of the federal bankruptcy laws so that homeowners are given their legal right to try to save their homes,” said Director Cliff White of the Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee Program. “Homeowners in financial distress sometimes depend on chapter 13 bankruptcy to help them catch up on their payments. When banks violate bankruptcy laws at the expense of homeowners and other creditors, they must pay a price. This settlement holds HSBC accountable for its actions and helps to protect the most vulnerable homeowners.”The Federal Reserve also hit HSBC with a $131 million penalty on Friday “for deficiencies in residential mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure processing,” according to an separate, but related, announcement on their site.The Fed said that the penalty reviewed HSBC’s “unsafe and unsound practices and foreclosure activities” and can be resolved by “providing borrower assistance or remediation in conjunction with the Department of Justice settlement, or by providing funding for nonprofit housing counseling organizations.”If HSBC does not satisfy the full penalty amount within two years, the remaining amount must be paid to the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Fed noted.HSBC was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.According to the DOJ, under the terms of the agreement in the settlement, HSBC is required to:Pay $100 million: $40.5 million to be paid to the settling federal parties; $59.3 million to be paid into an escrow fund administered by the states to make payments to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between 2008 and 2012; and $200,000 to be paid into an escrow fund to reimburse the state attorneys general for investigation costs. By July 2016, HSBC will complete $370 million in creditable consumer relief directly to borrowers and homeowners in the form of reducing the principal on mortgages for borrowers who are at risk of default, reducing mortgage interest rates, forgiving forbearance and other forms of relief. The relief to homeowners has been underway and will likely provide more than $370 million in direct benefits to borrowers because HSBC will not be permitted to claim credit for every dollar spent on the required consumer relief. Share