CHOICE welcomes ACCC action against MeritonCHOICE welcomes ACCC action against MeritonConsumer group CHOICE welcomes the ACCC’s decision to initiate proceedings against Meriton for misleading or deceptive conduct over reviews of its properties on the TripAdvisor website.“If Meriton is found to have taken steps to prevent unhappy customers from posting their experiences online, we’d like to see the Federal Court issue the maximum penalty,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.The regulator claims Meriton took steps to prevent guests from providing negative reviews about the chain on TripAdvisor.“When consumers are booking the holiday of a lifetime, they need to be confident that the reviews they’re reading tell the whole story about a property and don’t simply reflect what a business wants them to see,” Mr Godfrey says.“User reviews only work when positive and negative reviews are posted so consumers can form a balanced view.“A one-way tide of positive reviews could be a sign something is amiss.”Last year a CHOICE investigation into fake online reviews found that 20 short-form reviews can be purchased for as little as US$5 and 2500 Facebook likes can be bought for just $70.“The staggering popularity of user reviews, as consumers share and rate their experiences, has unfortunately also given rise to the practice of companies faking reviews to promote their own business,” says Mr Godfrey.“Section 29 of Australian Consumer Law prevents businesses from making or inducing false or misleading representations through testimonials or reviews.“Businesses that pay people to write reviews who have never used their products or services are clearly misleading consumers but those same considerations also apply to editing or deleting less favourable ratings.”For further information please Click Here CHOICElearn more hereCHOICE tips for spotting fake reviewsCheck reviews about the same business from different sourcesKeep an eye out for tell-tale signs of fakery such as a sudden increase in positive or negative reviews over a short timeframe that are out of sync with earlier reviewsBeware of reviews that are allegedly from different people but are suspiciously similar in tone and style http://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/accc-takes-action-against-meriton-over-online-reviews https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/consumer-rights-and-advice/your-rights/articles/product-reviews-fake-or-realSource = CHOICE
From Left to Right> Mr. Walter Cho, President and COO of Korean Air, Mr. Yang Ho Cho, Chairman and CEO of Korean Air, Mr. Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, Mr. Steve Sear, President – International and Executive Vice President – Global Sales, Delta Air Lines.Korean Air and Delta Air Lines to deepen partnershipKorean Air and Delta Air Lines, founding members of SkyTeam have reached an agreement to deepen their historic partnership with an expanded cooperation in the trans-Pacific network that will increase travel choices and boost competition between the Asia and U.S.The airlines signed a memorandum of understanding to implement a joint venture, which will offer customers access to the most comprehensive route network in the trans-Pacific market, industry-leading airline products, world-class airport facilities and a seamless customer experience. Present at the ceremony were Mr. Yang Ho Cho, Chairman and CEO of Korean Air, Mr. Walter Cho, President and COO of Korean Air, Mr. Ed Bastian CEO of Delta Air Lines and others.Highlights of the agreement, subject to regulatory approvals and signing of definitive contracts, include:· The intent to create a fully integrated trans-Pacific joint venture with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues on flights and coordinating schedules for seamless, convenient connections.· A combined network serving more than 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia, providing customers of both airlines with more travel choices than ever before.· Enhanced frequent flyer benefits, providing customers of both airlines the ability to earn and redeem miles on Delta’s Sky Miles and Korean Air’s SKYPASS programs.“This Joint Venture will benefit our customers by providing more convenient connection schedules and widen their opportunities in earning mileages.” Said Korean Air’s Chairman and CEO, Yang Ho Cho. “With this agreement, we will reinforce Incheon airport’s position as a major international hub in North East Asia and support the growth of Korea’s aviation industry.” He added.“This agreement deepens our longstanding partnership with Korean Air and will provide the global access and seamless service our customers demand,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We look forward to providing customers of both carriers with industry-leading service between the U.S. and Asia.”Upon the signing of the final joint venture agreement and subject to regulatory approval, Delta and Korean Air will work together to implement all aspects of the enhanced co-operation including expanded codesharing, frequent flyer programs and joint growth in the trans-Pacific market, with co-location at key hubs with seamless passenger and baggage transit experience.Source = Korean Air
Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts launches global campaignMövenpick Hotels & Resorts has launched its global ‘It’s your Summer’ campaign, inviting guests to take advantage of discounts of up to 30 per cent on room rates at more than 80 hotels and resorts globally.The Swiss hospitality firm’s Summer 2017 promotion, which applies to bookings of two nights or more, also offers guests who book their stay online a complimentary US$20 voucher to spend at any participating hotel restaurant.With a vast selection of upscale properties spanning Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts is encouraging travellers to make the most of their summer and the 30 per cent savings offer by booking multiple stays.“Our portfolio spoils guests for choice, with properties ranging from chic city hotels to beachside resorts in destinations that cover four exciting and diverse continents,” said Paul Mulcahy, Senior Vice President Commercial of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts.“We operate multiple hotels in many countries and with our Summer 2017 campaign offering value-for-money room rates, it provides travellers with the perfect excuse to book more than one property or holiday to experience all that a destination – or even a region – has to offer.”The ‘It’s your Summer’ campaign is valid for stays between 1st June and 31st August, 2017.Guests staying with Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts this summer will also have the chance to sample two new initiatives launched by the hospitality firm this year – its global family programme and, at some European properties, an innovative sleep concept.The ‘Mövenpick Family’ programme offers guests travelling with youngsters a range of complimentary benefits including ‘on demand’ baby essentials such as strollers, change tables and bottle warmers; healthy children’s menus; family-friendly services; local activities; and special room discounts. These added extras are available at Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts globally.Guests staying at properties in Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland, can opt for a pioneering personalized sleep experience by booking a new ‘SLEEP individually different’ room.The new rooms feature Mövenpick’s YouBed – hailed as the world’s first spring-system bed with adjustable firmness to suit personal comfort preferences – as well as complimentary amenities including sleep masks, ear plugs, lavender pads and black-out stickers that cover lights on electronic devices. Movenpick SummerSource = Movenpick Hotels & Resorts
Source = Lufthansa Group APEX EXPO for the first time ever opens with an exclusive event above the cloudsAPEX EXPO for the first time ever opens with an exclusive event above the cloudsThe upcoming APEX EXPO, the world’s largest event on the passenger experience in the aviation industry, will be held from 24 to 27 September in Boston. This year, for the first time in the history of the event, the kick-off will take place above the clouds. On 22 September, Lufthansa will treat guests to the Lufthansa FlyingLab APEX EXPO on an Airbus A350, an exclusive pre-conference on board Flight LH424 from Munich to Boston. A special gate event in Munich will set the mood for the passengers. Lufthansa is organizing this FlyingLab in cooperation with APEX and Lufthansa Systems. The IT subsidiary of Lufthansa is a pioneer in aviation digitalization and is providing the technical basis for the conference, among other things.“What better place to present and test new trends for passengers than in a plane?” said Joe Leader, CEO of APEX. “We are delighted to kick off our conference this year with the Lufthansa FlyingLab. In addition to exclusive presentations by renowned industry experts, we will give APEX participants and all passengers the opportunity to try out innovative products on board and discuss new trends.”Expert presentations and innovative test gadgetsDuring the conference 10,000 meters over the Atlantic, passengers will enjoy six short presentations on the passenger experience of the future. The topics will range from innovative lighting concepts – which can already be experienced first-hand on Lufthansa flights – through modern cabin designs, to new seating and communication options. Videos of each 15-minute presentation on board will be streamed live via WiFi to the passengers’ own smartphones, tablets or laptops – regardless of where they are sitting in the plane. During the presentations, passengers can use their devices to send questions to the speakers, which will be answered live afterwards.To ensure that all of the technology runs smoothly, Lufthansa Systems has installed a WiFi network on board. This is based on the multi-award-winning BoardConnect digital platform, the new features of which Lufthansa Systems will unveil at the APEX EXPO in Boston.Along with presentations, the Lufthansa FlyingLab APEX EXPO will offer the opportunity to test new passenger experience products on the eight-hour flight to Boston. There will be innovative in-flight entertainment (IFE) with stylish VR glasses from Skylights as well as a smart temperature regulating blanket with an integrated neck pillow from feel.flight, among other things. Participation in the Lufthansa FlyingLab APEX EXPO is free. Passengers simply need a ticket for Flight LH424 on 22 September 2018, from Munich to Boston.More information about the speakers and the technical devices can be found at LH.com/FlyingLab-APEX2018Digitalization above the cloudsThe Lufthansa FlyingLab is a component of the Group’s digitalization strategy. With this unique in-flight conference, Lufthansa is once again positioning itself as a leader in the field of digitalization, where it is pursuing a strategy of what is called “fast prototyping”. Relevant digitalization topics are implemented in FlyingLabs in order to get direct feedback from the participants. Lufthansa FlyingLabs have already been held on the topics of virtual reality as well as fashion & technology.“We are pleased to be able to hold this special event together with APEX and other partners. The Lufthansa FlyingLab enables us to make efficient use of flying time and offer informative added value. The digital BoardConnect platform from Lufthansa Systems is the key technology for making an aircraft part of a digital journey, enabling us to create extraordinary experiences. BoardConnect is being used by many airlines inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group,” explained Olivier Krüger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems.
Ovolo goes top of the pops as Trip Advisor’s #1 HotelOvolo goes top of the pops as Trip Advisor’s #1 HotelIndependent, design-led hotel collection, Ovolo, picks up the highly contested accolade and guest-voted award for #1 Hotel in Australia and South Pacific, for their unique Ovolo Woolloomooloo property in this years’ TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards for Hotels, 2019.Working hard to rise through the competitive ranks of the hospitality industry, Ovolo Woolloomooloo was first recognised as one of the top 25 hotels in Australia, was then voted #3 in the 2018 Travellers Choice Awards with consistent feedback from guests resulting in the recent announcement of being voted #1 in Australia and South Pacific. Ovolo Woolloomooloo has won over the nation, with guests from all over the world voting for the hotel to take home this first class award, enabling the brand to continue to strive to exceed customers’ expectations and surprise and delight across their entire collection of properties.With all six of the brand’s Australian based hotels ranking in the top 20 of their respective cities and three of those hotels in the top three (including the second Sydney hotel, Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour which was awarded #3 in all of South Pacific!) – it seems that Ovolo is definitely doing something right. Each Ovolo offers a unique yet personable stay for each and every guest who visits. Known for its funky décor, quirky attributes and second to none customer service, Ovolo puts its success down to its faithful staff and generous visitors, as it is them who they continue to learn from and aspire to amaze, throughout the day to day running’s of each hotel within the collection.Ovolo CEO and Founder Girish Jhunjhnuwala said “I’m all shook up! …A great start to the year being named Trip Advisor’s No.1 hotel in Australia and in all of South Pacific! It’s YOU, our Shiny, Happy guests that has made this possible! Thank you!”Ovolo Woolloomooloo is where stunning design, fashion and playful art filled interiors collide. Much of the playful personality of the hotel reflects that of its founder, Girish Jhunjhnuwala, especially his love of ’80s music. Expect to ride in the lifts to the sound of Talking Heads, book a stay in an AC/DC or INXS-themed Rockstar suites and stream Radio Ovolo on Spotify, for some Duran Duran and Terence Trent D’Arby.Within the award-winning property is Alibi Restaurant and Bar, located adjacent to the foyer of Ovolo Woolloomoolo and is Australia’s first hotel restaurant to serve a 100% plant-based menu. Alibi’s philosophy is simple; clean eating need never compromise on taste and they are indeed true to their word.Like all Ovolo properties globally, every detail has been carefully considered at Ovolo Woolloomooloo so guests always feel special and wake up happier and more optimistic whenever they stay.While design is a big part of the Ovolo philosophy, so is its overall experience and signature freebies. Ovolo believe that all visitors are to be treated as the Rockstar’s they are, and so for every guest who books directly through Ovolo, they can expect to receive free continental breakfast, free WiFi, free in-room mini bar, free laundry and free happy hour drinks – which is just the start of Ovolo’s offerings.The brand’s moto of ‘Shiny Happy People’, is aimed at both their employees and guests, because in their eyes happy staff = happy guests = loyal guests.To ensure all staff remain empowered with the best tools for the job, Ovolo has launched a new R.O.C.K solid learning and development program, specifically designed to fit perfectly into the overarching brand model: Fabulous. Unconventional and Never Boring. From O’Boarding to ROCKING as a Leader, Ovolo make sure their people feel supported and offers them the most effervescent learning experience to meet their professional needs.“Ovolo Woolloomooloo – We Need You Tonight! That’s the message from our guests. Without you guys, we wouldn’t be here! A huge high five to all those who took the time to vote and review us on Trip Advisor. Now let’s smash 2019 and stay as No.1 into 2020!” said Ovolo Woolloomooloo General Manager, David Sude.Ovolo work hard to achieve the very best for both employees and guests across their entire portfolio of hotels. The brand continues to grow from strength to strength, but not without the constant practice of trial and error, persistent learning and development and endless hard work. Winning the #1 Hotel in Australia and South Pacific in the 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards is just the beginning for Ovolo, as they continue to strive to exceed their customer and hotel experience throughout Australia and beyond. Source = Ovolo Hotels
Australia’s Qantas to offer first-class passengers a new way to trip while travelling by air. Through a partnership with Samsung, the airline has introduced fully immersive virtual reality (VR) technology to its Sydney and Melbourne International First Lounges and first class cabins on select A380 services.During the three-month trial, first class customers can enjoy a three-dimensional, 360-degree style interactive viewing experience. The Samsung Gear VR headsets will feature popular entertainment content and virtual reality tours which “showcase the delights” of the airline’s network destinations.Qantas Group Executive, Brand, and Marketing & Corporate Affairs Olivia Wirth said, “From an in-flight entertainment perspective, it is an industry first. Qantas is committed to being at the forefront of innovation to give our passengers the very best and latest in-flight experiences, like accessing the virtual worlds of their favourite Hollywood blockbusters from the comfort of their seat 40,000 ft above the ground. It is also a fantastic tool to feature our network’s destinations, inspiring travel and promoting tourism.”“This innovation literally adds a new dimension to how visitors experience Kakadu. Tourism NT (Northern Territory) is delighted to pilot this new technology as part of its suite of marketing projects utilising new, industry leading technology,” said Adam Giles, the Northern Territory’s Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism.
Scotland is gearing up to be positioned as an ‘India ready’ destination after Scottish tourism businesses were trained through a series of industry-led activities by the national tourism organisation.VisitScotland representatives recently met with key tour operators, leading tourism industry figures and strategic partners at a roundtable event in Mumbai. Organised by the tourism body, the forum formed part of a five-day India Business Development Mission in partnership with Etihad Airways, taking place in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Delhi.VisitScotland was joined in India by seven industry partners for a series of trade and networking events across the country. India is the 14th largest international market for expenditure in Scotland and the ninth for a number of nights. Edinburgh is the third most visited city in the UK for Indian visitors, with Glasgow and Inverness also top destinations. Scotland appeals to India through its dramatic landscapes and natural beauty, its cities, whisky and golf. Film tourism is another key driver, with around 24 Bollywood movies having been filmed in Scotland and whose locations are featured in a special online map, Bollywood Scotland, produced by VisitScotland.
Kerala Tourism has won another National Tourism Award in Responsible Tourism for its Wayanad project. With this, the tourism experts now feel the need of taking such initiatives beyond the level of sample or pilot project to turn each and every destination ‘socially, economically and environmentally responsible’.“It’s not an easy task to implement these norms which can ensure local community benefits and lesser impact on environment and natural resources. Even in Kumarakom, where more than 1500 houseboats operate, we can claim only a 50 percent adherence to environment norms adopted while implementing the RT project,” said Anilkumar A R, CEO of Great India Tourism Planners and Consultants (GITPAC), an agency which had prepared RT projects for Kumarakom, Wayanad, Kovalam and Thekkady for a launch in 2007.RT was implemented in Kumbalanghi and Bakel, making them also ‘better places for people to visit and live’. “Responsible tourism is an all-round solution for several issues that might crop up locally in a destination, as there would be new stakeholders including local bodies, villagers and other local organisations. It’s high time we implement RT in all the destinations across the state,” added E M Najeeb, President of the Confederation of Kerala Tourism Industry.
Worldmark, situated at New Delhi’s Aerocity is a pristine business destination in town. It is divided into three buildings, Worldmark 1, 2 and 3. Worldmark was amongst the first pre-certified LEED Platinum developments in the country.The mammoth 15-lakh sq ft space is designed around the principle of dining and shopping at leisure. It is a mixed use project of Bharti Realty and is fast emerging as the leisure and food hub in the NCR because of its location advantage. Aerocity is maintained by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a public-private partnership.Worldmark Aerocity comprises of world class office spaces, F&B and hotels outlets adjacent to New Delhi’s airport. On an average 1.3 lakh travellers use the Delhi airport per day and out of which half of them are business travellers.Worldmark 1 is considered as the food capital. Currently, it operates about 16 popular food outlets such as Bikanerwala, Giani’s, Karim’s- Delhi6, Chicago Pizza, Subway, Keventers, Khan Chacha, Street Foods by Punjab Grill, Biryani Blues, Oh so stoned!, Wow Momo, Asia Seven Express, Dolce Gelato, Go Gourmet, Chai Garam, Café Huddle and Cafe Delhi Heights. Also, Epicuria, a consortium of popular restaurants is going to come in Worldmark in the coming months.Worldmark 2 comprises of Fortune 500 offices with efficient workspaces, floor to ceiling height of over 11 feet. Over 70% of office tenants at Worldmark are companies with international presence. It has an integrated BMS for complete control on elevators, chilled water, HVAC, 100% DG backup and fire-fighting systems. The building has six high-speed spacious elevators (pax 24) in each building for higher efficiency and speed.Worldmark 3 is high street fashion outlet unlike Central outlets and has 500 brands.
NYC & Company announced a promotional partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment on the highly anticipated release of ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’. In 2018, NYC welcomed an estimated 13.3 million family visitors, a nearly 6% increase over 2017. Family visitation to New York City currently represents 20% of total visitation to New York City, with expected growth in the future. For kid-friendly NYC travel materials, guides and itineraries inspired by Spider-Man, visit nycgo.com/spider-man-far-from-home.“We’re excited to partner with Spider-Man: Far From Home—starring a hometown hero and Queens native to highlight all there is to do for families when visiting NYC,” said Fred Dixon, President and CEO of NYC & Company. “Adored by travellers of all ages, Spider-Man is an exceptional representative of the never-ending excitement found across the five boroughs.”“New York is comprised of so many wonderful neighbourhoods and even though Spider-Man is far from home in this film he will always be your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and a native New Yorker,” said Jeffrey Godsick, EVP of Brand Management and Global Partnerships, Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.In celebration of Peter Parker’s native roots to the Big Apple, NYC & Company has put together a list of Spidey-approved activities families can enjoy this summer in NYC, which can all be found on NYCgo.com, including ‘Spidey-Eye Views of New York City’, with 16 exciting sites across the five boroughs; ‘Swing by Spider-Man’s Home Borough’, showcasing must-see locations in Queens; and a complete guide to visiting NYC with family.The campaign will be promoted through out-of-home media in the five boroughs, Boston and Chicago, social media engagement by @nycgo using the hashtags #SpiderManxNYC and #SpiderManFarFromHome and TV spots running in NYC taxicabs. The campaign creative illustrates Spider-Man climbing the Unisphere in his home borough of Queens, incorporating NYC & Company’s global tourism campaign ‘Famous Original New York City’ as well as the official branding for Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Mortgage rates largely stayed the same this week as trouble in the euro zone threatened to upend global financial markets, encouraging investors to stay near the safe haven of U.S. Treasury debt.[IMAGE]Mortgage giant “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ and finance Web site “”Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/?ec_id=m1077678 released separate weekly surveys that found rates hovering at or above figures seen for several weeks in a row.The GSE noted averages for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reaching 4 percent, only two percentage points above 3.98 percent seen last week ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô the fifth consecutive week for lows for the benchmark loan.Bankrate.com differed by few turns, acknowledging a two percentage-point rise for rates that led 4.23 percent for the 30-year loan to crest at 4.25 percent this week.Both mortgage-rate watchers acknowledged a tide of good news for the U.S. economy, which saw consumer spending tilt upward on Black Friday and pending-home sales march forward by 10.4 percent month-over-month in October.””What is keeping mortgage rates steady ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and at near-record low levels ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô is the continually evolving European debt crisis,”” the finance Web site said in a statement. “”Developments in Europe ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô good or bad ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô are the likely [COLUMN_BREAK]catalyst for the next movement in mortgage rates, whenever that should come.””The imminent threat posed by sovereign defaults continues to rile Europe, with Greece and Italy recently booting their prime ministers over the matter, leaving France and Germany to help foot a bailout package worth trillions of euros.Investors cling to Treasury debt as a safe-haven investment, widening yields and keeping mortgage rates historically low, as it remains unclear whether debt-saddled countries will adopt belt-tightening measures. On Wednesday the “”Federal Reserve””:http://www.federalreserve.gov/ announced an “”effort””:https://themreport.com/articles/stocks-soar-on-feds-move-to-save-global-financial-system-2011-11-30 it orchestrated with central banks from five other countries, including the European Central Bank, as a way to fix exchange swaps for the dollar ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a move that will keep the currency easy to borrow and continue to attract investors to Treasury debt.Bankrate.com and Freddie noted few other changes in other mortgage rates. The GSE reported the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage staying the same from last week at 3.30 percent, with the finance Web site in observance of a change from 3.47 percent last week to 3.48 percent this week for the loan.Freddie saw the 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) falling from 2.91 percent to 2.90 percent this week, with the 1-year ARM climbing down from 2.79 percent to crest at 2.78 percent.The finance Web site likewise saw few changes among ARMs, with rates for both the 5-year and 1-year climbing to 3.21 percent this week, up from 3.20 percent last week.Not all was bad news.””More optimistic consumers, lower house prices, and bargain mortgage rates may have contributed to the 10.4 percent jump in pending home sales in October to the strongest pace since November 2010 and may bode well for future home sales,”” “”Frank Nothaft””:http://www.freddiemac.com/bios/exec/nothaft.html, VP and chief economist with Freddie, said in a separate statement. Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Europe’s Crises Keep Mortgage Rates at a Standstill December 1, 2011 446 Views Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Debt Crisis Euro European Union Fannie Mae Fixed-Rate Mortgage Freddie Mac Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers Treasury Yields 2011-12-01 Ryan Schuette
in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology December 19, 2012 433 Views In the Sunshine State, economists have revealed projections for 2013, and their outlook presents a positive, if somewhat sluggish, forecast for the region’s housing market. According to experts from “”Florida Realtors””:http://www.floridarealtors.org/ and “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html, upward trends are set to continue in Florida, while the state’s pace of recovery is expected to fall behind the national average.[IMAGE]Speaking during the recent 2013 Real Estate and Economic Forecast Conference in Orlando, Dr. John Tuccillo, chief economist for Florida Realtors, noted, “”Florida’s housing market is back, with great possibilities for the future – but those possibilities are only beginning to be realized.”” Doug Duncan, Fannie’s chief economist, stated, “”We believe the housing market is on firm footing. … Most of the improvement we’ve seen has come from the supply side of housing. Distressed properties are coming down from about 5 million to more like 3 million.””[COLUMN_BREAK]Providing additional commentary, Duncan cited the country’s low mortgage rates as an indication that improvements for housing would continue, while acknowledging that tighter lending standards and credit availability would create headwinds for the mortgage industry in Florida and around the U.S. “”The trend has been established for the housing recovery, but robust growth awaits more jobs and a stronger economy. Three years into the recovery, the current economic expansion is the weakest since World War II. Just over half of the jobs lost in the Great Recession have been recovered,”” Duncan emphasized.Reporting year-end findings in Florida, Tuccillo pointed to signs of progress including declining months’ supply of single-family homes, which is now below six months; strong investor interest, with 44 percent of closed sales transacted in cash as of October; and growth for traditional, non-distressed sales, which now account for more than 50 percent of closings in the state. Tuccillo went on to tout Florida’s rising median sales prices for both existing single-family homes and condominiums. However, he also revealed concerns regarding the state’s active distressed property market, noting that foreclosures and short sales continue to inhibit pricing gains. Referencing data from the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ and other sources, Tuccillo reiterated his opinion that Florida’s real estate market “”bottomed out in late 2008,”” concluding, “”Since the beginning of 2009, we’ve clearly seen a regrouping and a recovery underway.”” Economists Project Slower Pace for Florida’s Housing Recovery Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers 2012-12-19 Abby Gregory Share
Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Demand Homebuilders Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers 2013-05-14 Tory Barringer May 14, 2013 403 Views The “”National Association of Home Builders'””:http://www.nahb.org/default.aspx (NAHB) 55+ single-family Housing Market Index (HMI) jumped year-over-year for the sixth consecutive quarter in Q1, the association reported.[IMAGE]As of the end of March, the index rested at 46, 19 points above the same period last year and the highest first-quarter number recorded since the inception of the index in 2008.””Builders and developers for the 55+ housing sector continue to report increased optimism in the market,”” said Robert Karen, chairman of NAHB’s 50+ Housing Council and managing member of the Symphony Development Group. “”We are seeing an increase in consumer demand for homes and communities that are designed to address the specific needs of the mature homebuyer.””There are two separate 55+ HMIs to represent two segments of the market: single-family homes and multifamily condominiums. Each index measures builder [COLUMN_BREAK]sentiment based on a survey gauging current sales, prospective buyer traffic, and anticipated six-month sales. A number below 50 indicates more builders view conditions as “”poor”” than “”good.””According to NAHB, all of the components of the 55+ single-family HMI showed significant growth on a yearly basis. Present sales climbed 19 points to 46, expected sales increased 21 points to 53, and traffic of prospective buyers rose 15 points to 41.The 55+ multifamily condo HMI posted a gain of 23 points to rest at 38, the highest first-quarter reading since the index was created. All 55+ multifamily condo HMI components increased compared to a y ear ago: The present sales component was up 23 points to 37, expected sales climbed 23 points to 43, and prospective buyer traffic rose 23 points to 38.In addition, the 55+ multifamily rental indices showed strong gains in the first quarter. Present production increased 12 points to 43, expected future production rose 13 points to 48, current demand for existing units rose 14 points to 56, and future demand increased 13 points to 58.””The strong year over year increase in confidence reported by builders for the 55+ market is consistent with year over year increases in other segments of the home building industry,”” said NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “”While demand for new 55+ housing has improved due to a reduced inventory of homes on the market and low interest rates, builders’ ability to respond to the demand is being limited by a shortage of labor with basic construction skills and rising prices for some building materials.”” in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Builder Confidence in 55+ Market Reaches Record High in Q1
Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Deloitte For-Sale Homes Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-06-21 Tory Barringer June 21, 2013 446 Views Analysts: Short-Term Shaky for Originators, Long-Term Prospects Solid in Data, Origination Though rising mortgage rates and the current supply and demand situation present short-term difficulties for originators, researchers at “”Deloitte””:http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/index.htm say the long-term picture is rosier.[IMAGE]With demand, prices, and credit conditions all on a path to recovery, Deloitte Banking & Securities research leader Val Srinivas examined the problems still facing originators and how they must adapt to overcome.The biggest challenge to the housing market in general right now is low supply. According to data collected from the Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors, supply of new and existing single-family homes has nearly halved in both categories since 2011. “”All else equal, limited supply means fewer purchases–and fewer originations. And that could mean banks may not see hoped-for, short-term growth in origination [COLUMN_BREAK]volume from such demand,”” Srinivas said. “”The picture is one of strong demand and a market caught flat-footed. However, builders have taken note, and housing starts [in March] surpassed the one million mark for the first time since 2008.””Also changing the landscape is imminent end of the refinance boom, which has been drawing to a close as mortgage rates start to pick up again. In addition, the purchase market is unlikely to provide immediate relief to originators trying to make up for declining refinance volume.””Supply constraints, a large number of cash purchases, and continuing weakness in other sectors of the economy probably mean weak prospects across the board for the near future,”” Srinivas noted.That’s not to say there’s no hope for the future–if past trends hold up, supply will catch up to demand as builders and homeowners adjust to the market, and lenders will make changes to standards and strategy to increase purchase loans. Then there are next year’s regulatory changes, which should provide as many opportunities as they do challenges, Srinivas said.””Originators may also benefit from the increased regulatory clarity given by the recent qualified mortgage and ability-to-repay rule as well as the forthcoming qualified residential mortgage rule, which governs securitization and risk retention. In preparing for renewed challenges in the near term, originators should find home in their long-term prospects.”” Share
Realtor.com Unveils List of Top Turnaround Towns for Q2 California markets dominate “”Realtor.com’s””:http://www.realtor.com/ list of “”Turnaround Towns””:http://www.realtor.com/news/turnaround-towns-for-q2-2013/ for the second quarter of this year, claiming the top four spots on the list and six of the top 10. [IMAGE]While California may take the most spots on the top 10 list, Realtor.com says Detroit’s presence on the list is “”most noteworthy.”” “”Though the city recently filed for bankruptcy, the market nonetheless posted strong improvement in the second quarter,”” according to Realtor.com. In fact, Detroit may soon be “”one of the most balanced markets in the nation,”” according to Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, an online real estate network. The top 10 “”Turnaround Towns”” are determined by an algorithm that relies on data including inventory levels, median list prices, median number of days on market, and search and listing activity on Realtor.com. [COLUMN_BREAK]Detroit claimed the No. 7 spot on the list after its inventory age fell to the second-lowest in the nation at 45 days on market. The city’s list price increased 37.8 percent from the second quarter of last year to the second quarter of this year, and its inventory declined 26.5 percent. The No. 1 spot went to Oakland, California, where the median number of days a home spends on the market is just 15–the lowest in the nation. Oakland also claimed the greatest increase in list price across the nation in the second quarter on an annual basis. The median list price in the second quarter of this year was $479,000, up from $339,000 in the same quarter last year. Oakland’s inventory declined more than 34 percent over the same period. Orange County, California, took the No. 2 spot on the list, while also staking claim to the country’s greatest decline in inventory over the year ending in the second quarter of this year–a 36.6 percent decline. Orange County’s home prices were up 29.4 percent, and the median number of days a home spent on the market in the second quarter was 51. The third and fourth spots on the list went to Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, California, and San Jose, California, respectively. Santa Barbara’s median list price rose 34.3 percent to a notable $685,000 over the year. Seattle, Washington; Los Angeles, Calfornia; Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; and Reno Nevada also made it onto the second quarter list of top 10 “”Turnaround Towns.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Move Inc. Processing Service Providers 2013-08-12 Krista Franks Brock August 12, 2013 443 Views Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing
Housing Market Strong Enough to Bear Fed Rate Hike, Poll Suggests August 26, 2015 548 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, Market Studies, News As the housing market strengthens, many economists believe that it could withstand an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year, pending stabilization among home prices.According to a Reuters poll, 20 of the 22 economists surveyed said that the market could withstand the Fed’s anticipated rate hike, indicating that employment and housing demand from millennials as the major contributors to the markets stability.However, earlier this month, the minutes from the July 28-29, 2015 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting confirmed that the economy is still unprepared for a hike in the federal funds rate, but the increase is imminent.In the Committee members’ discussion on economic conditions and monetary policy most participants “judged that the conditions for policy firming had not yet been achieved, but they noted that conditions were approaching that point,” according to the FOMC minutes.However, Yellen did allude to the rate increase possibly occurring before the end of the year in a Senate Banking Committee hearing also held in mid-July .”If the economy evolves as we expect, economic conditions likely would make it appropriate at some point this year to raise the federal funds rate target, thereby beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy,” Yellen said. “Indeed, most participants in June projected that an increase in the federal funds target range would likely become appropriate before year-end. But let me emphasize again that these are projections based on the anticipated path of the economy, not statements of intent to raise the rates at any particular time.”Further doubt about the pending rate increase were shown Monday as the performance of the stock market brought about some anxiety among big U.S. businesses and other stakeholders, while the Dow Jones dropped by 1,000 points and spent the rest of the day fighting its way back toward the break-even point.”The real effect—if any—from the stock market volatility of the last few days won’t occur for a while,” said Sean Becketti, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac. “It will take time for investors to analyze the depth of the economic weakness in China, the effectiveness of the Chinese government’s responses, and the ultimate impact on various sectors of the U.S. economy. The interesting near-term impact is on the Fed’s September decision to raise rates or not. Market sentiment was split roughly even before this event. Today it’s tilting toward no action in September.”In terms of housing, the committee found that recent data on housing starts and permits as well as the higher levels of sales and prices are signs of continued recovery in the market, according to the minutes.The Reuters survey predicts that the S&P/Case Shiller composite index of prices in 20 metropolitan areas would rise at an average pace of 5.0 percent this year.”Economists say home price increases of about 5 percent are just strong enough to raise equity for homeowners to encourage some to put their properties on the market and help address a persistent shortage of houses available for sale,” Reuters said. “The increase is also not big enough to price out first-time home buyers.” Share Economists Federal Reserve Housing Market Interest rates Reuters 2015-08-26 Staff Writer
Assurant Calls American Title Acquisition a ‘Strong Fit’ Share Assurant, Inc., acquired American Title, Inc., a company specializing in title and valuation services for home equity lenders. American Title will operate as part of Assurant’s Mortgage Solutions business as announced by Assurant, Inc.“American Title is a strong fit with our focus on risk management in the housing market,” said Michael Campbell, President, Global Home, Assurant. “As a leader in home equity title and valuation, ATI adds another important dimension to the expansion of our capabilities across the home and mortgage value chain, to more holistically serve our clients.”American Title’s team of approximately 400 professionals will remain in their current offices in Omaha, Nebraska, and Palm Bay, Florida. American Title will expand Assurant’s businesses and services in the home equity field. The company was acquired for $45 million and Assurant expects the transaction to gradually increase earnings in 2017.“We have the highest regard for the business the Mackintosh family and their team have built in ATI, and we welcome them to Assurant,” Campbell said.American Title, a privately held company, was founded in 1994 and acquired in 2004 by Bill Mackintosh, who led the company until his death earlier this year. Co-owners Mike Mackintosh and Ashley Horgan will continue to lead the business while Assurant and the American Title team work to create a seamless transition for employees, clients and customers according to the announcement.“Joining with a respected Fortune 500 leader builds on our company’s legacy and brings us greater capabilities and resources,” Mackintosh said. “We’ve always been committed to our clients, our people and the communities where we serve. That won’t change now that we’re part of the broader Assurant team.” American Title Inc. Acquisitions Assurant 2016-07-07 Seth Welborn July 7, 2016 544 Views in Headlines, News
Homeowners and Appraisers: The Gap is Shrinking in Daily Dose, Headlines, News Appraisals Home Values Homeowners’ Perceptions Quicken Loans 2016-12-13 Seth Welborn For the fifth consecutive month, the gap between appraised values of homes and homeowners’ perceptions of what their homes are worth shrunk, according to the Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index (HPPI) for November 2016.In an effort to better understand appraisers’ opinions of home values, home value expectations of homeowners refinancing gravitated toward the values given by appraisers through 2016. The National HPPI displayed that the average owner’s estimate of value was 1 percent lower than the appraiser’s perspective.Bob Walters, Chief Economist for Quicken Loans, shared that homeowners and appraisers are slowly coming to an agreement. “The HPPI compares the perceived gap between the homeowner and the appraiser’s opinion of a home’s value and has provided an intriguing look into the psychographics of our housing market,” he said. “The most recent HPPI indicates homeowners and appraisers are closer to agreeing at the end of 2016 than they were at the start of the new year. It’s our hope that with this information the only surprises this holiday season are the ones wrapped under the tree.”Despite some monthly variations, appraisal values measured by the Quicken’s National Home Value Index (HVI) have been rising throughout 2016, with home values rising 5.54 percent since January. The average appraiser valuation increased 0.42 percent and 5.28 percent year-over-year in November.The West Coast is persistently leading the country in home value growth, with an approximately 7.23 percent increase in 2016. The top five metro areas with the most HPPI growth are Denver (+3.10 percent), San Francisco (+2.19 percent), Portland (+2.12 percent), Dallas (+1.94 percent), and San Jose (+1.69 percent).Walters saw that home values were driven by a lack of inventory in 2016. “Home values pushed higher throughout 2016, largely driven by lack of supply in the hottest markets,” said Walters. “It’s yet to be seen if these increases will continue or wane as homebuilding grows, boosting inventory.” December 13, 2016 784 Views Share
Janet Yellen: A Look Back Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen announced Monday that she will resign from the Federal Reserve Board in February 2018. The resignation comes after President Trump’s nomination in early November 2017 of Jerome Powell to succeed Yellen as Fed Chair. Yellen could have continued to serve out the remainder of her term as a Fed governor, which would have run through 2024. However, Yellen will instead resign after Powell is sworn in.Nominated by President Obama in 2014, Yellen succeeded Ben Bernanke and was the first woman to serve as Fed chair. Trump’s nomination of Powell marked a break with longstanding tradition: since G. William Miller’s stint as Fed Chair under President Carter, typically Fed Chairs have been reappointed for a second term.Yellen’s resignation marks the end of nearly three decades spent serving at the Fed, beginning with her appointment to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in 1994. She served in that role until 1997, when she became chair of President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers. Prior to her nomination under President Obama, she served as vice chair of the Fed Board of Governors under Bernanke.Yellen’s resignation letter to President Trump made the case that the economy is now stronger than it was a decade ago, citing 17 million net jobs produced over the past eight years. The U.S. unemployment rate also dropped from 6.7 percent to 4.1 percent during her stint. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, Yellen earned controversy among Republicans for taking on $3.5 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. In more recent months, Yellen and the Fed had begun trying to shrink the organization’s balance sheet, allowing some of its assets to mature without being replaced.Yellen defended her policies during a speech in October, saying:While I believe that influencing short-term interest rates should continue to be our primary monetary policy lever in normal times, our unconventional policy tools will likely be needed again should some future economic downturn drive short-term interest rates back to their effective lower bound.Yellen’s resignation adds to several vacancies currently waiting to be filled on the Fed board. President Trump has the opportunity to significantly shape the Fed for decades to come, with a vice chair position and three governor slots now vacant.The U.S. Senate Banking Committee is set to begin confirmation hearings for Powell on November 28. If confirmed, he is widely expected to follow in Yellen’s footsteps and gradually raise interest rates, a process Yellen began in late 2015.In her resignation letter, Yellen said:I am enormously proud to have worked alongside many dedicated and highly able women and men, particularly my predecessor as Chair, Ben S. Bernanke, whose leadership during the financial crisis and its aftermath was critical to restoring the soundness of our financial system and the prosperity of our economy. in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Headlines, journal, News Share November 20, 2017 760 Views Fed fed chair Janet Yellen Jerome Powell 2017-11-20 David Wharton
D-backs president Derrick Hall: Franchise ‘still focused on Arizona’ July 27, 2012: Lunchtime with WhizFLAGSTAFF — Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt meets the media daily at lunchtime:He was pleased with yesterday’s first practice in pads saying it was “probably a little better than I expected.”He also said he’s considering holding running back Ryan Williams out of this afternoon’s practice as a precaution. “I’ve been so pleased with what he’s done. I’d like to see him tomorrow coming off of a day where he’s had rest and he feels good.” Top Stories Comments Share on the Red & White practice Saturday“It’ll be very similiar to what it was last year. We’ll have drives that start at different points on the field: The minus-40, the plus-40 and in the red zone. It’s going to be more of a game-type situation so we’ll make the calls on the field offensively and defensively. It’ll be ten plays and at the end of those ten plays, if you still have it on downs you can continue the drive. If not, then it’ll start over again. And if we’re in field goal range, then we’ll kick a field goal.”on which quarterback will start the Red & White practice“You know what, I haven’t even thought about that really, honestly. We got a rotation going based on different days and who goes. It could purely be just be whose day it is. Today is Kevin’s (Kolb) day so it may be John (Skelton) tomorrow or we may just split it up based on how we’re doing with the (offensive) line. What we try to do usually is get those guys equal number of reps with the first line and first receivers.”on how it will be perceived with which quarterback will get the start“People are probably going to read a lot into it but it really doesn’t mean anything at this point. We’re just trying to get an evaluation. Both of them have done well in camp so far. They’ve looked good. Tomorrow will be the first opportunity to really see them in a situation where they’re having to make the calls without us standing there. We’ll be close but not as close as it is in practice and it won’t be off of a script. It’ll be situational based so more of a game-type.” What an MLB source said about the D-backs’ trade haul for Greinke Nevada officials reach out to D-backs on potential relocation on the addition of guard Russ Hochstein“We had a player that we released (Blake DeChristopher) so we had an open spot at the line. I think that it never hurts to have a veteran that’s been a very good player, that’s played on two championship teams. We had an opportunity to do that and I think it was a good move for us.” – / 23 Cardinals expect improving Murphy to contribute right away