ACCC Air Asia court proceedings commence

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has commenced legal proceeding against Air Asia for allegedly failing to disclose full airfare prices on flights between Australia and international destinations. In an online statement the ACCC said it is seeking a declaration from Air Asia for failing to follow Australian laws, an injunction restraining any future mishaps, penalties, ACCC costs as well as a public apology on its website. Expected to return to court for discussion on 2 March this year, the Commission explained that the alleged misleading conduct was in relation to flights between Melbourne and Macau, London, Ho Chi Minh City, New Deli, Hangzhou and Chengdu, Perth and Macau, London, Ho Chi Minh City, New Deli, Hangzhou and Chengdu as well as the Gold Coast to Ho Chi Minh City. last_img read more

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Travellers Yak their NT stories

first_imgUp to 500 people from around the globe have put on an Akubra hat and shared their unforgettable stories from the Northern Territory as part of the region’s long-term online campaign.Launched last November, The Great NT Hat Yak promotion has distributed up to 100 Akubra hats to date, according to NT Government statistics, and seen the hats travel over 108,000 kilometres to travellers willing to share their experiences in the region on hatyak.com.As well as travellers revealing their tales of the region, agents were also given the opportunity to put on the hat and yak last night at the annual NT Muster in Sydney.Attracting up to 200 in Sydney alone, Tourism Minister Malarndirri McCarthy said presents operators and agents with a “two-way learning process”.“The value of meeting face-to-face in strengthening connections is significant when communication for the rest of the year is generally conducted remotely by phone or email,” she said.“Our tourism operators get the opportunity to speak directly to the agents who will be promoting Territory tourism products; and the agents get to learn exactly what the product is.This year’s event marks the eleventh NT Muster for the region.Click here to see pictures and for more information from the event. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Luxury Travel takesover in Danang

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P The team at Luxury Travel Ltd set to open on 01 June According to Luxury Travel Ltd. more and more holidaymakers are choosing Danang as their holiday destination over Bali or Phuket, with its beach being voted one of the world’s best by Forbes magazine.Launching luxury tours in Danang with Vietnam’s first luxury tour operator ‘Luxury Travel’ opening a new office in Danang from 1 June 2012, Luxury Travel Ltd chief executive officer Pham Ha said the increased demand for Luxury tours in Danang is going to boost the regions tourism growth.“Danang is going to boom, our business has increased by 30 per cent, and much of that has to do with the new airport and air links to the central coast of Vietnam,” Mr Pham Ha said.With the completion of the new terminal at Danang International Airport and the completion of many new luxury resorts including the Hyatt Regency, Nam Hai, Accor, Intercontinental and Fusion Maia, Danang is ready to welcome the increase in visitors.Mr Pham Ha said he was extremely excited and proud to be the very first to open their own office in central Vietnam.“Currently, there very few tour companies in Vietnam who have their own offices in Central Vietnam, only sub-contracts with local tour operators,” Mr Pham Ha said.“We have just won several new big accounts and we are so glad to open our new Danang Office to meet the increased demand. “We have launched a new concierge hotline phone number… for our customers who can call us at around the clock for any assistance while holidaying in Centre Vietnam.”last_img read more

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Red Gum acquires Asia Escape Holidays

first_imgRed Gum Resources Limited has announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Asia Escape Holidays, following its acquisition of Holiday Planet Pty Ltd earlier this month as well as ongoing negotiations regarding additional travel acquisitions as part of its travel aggregation strategy.The acquisition of Asia Escape Holidays forms part of Red Gum’s travel aggregation strategy and provides significant expansion of the company’s proposed new growth platform, The Australian Travel Group.With sales currently in excess of AUD $30 million per annum, Asia Escape Holidays is one of Australia’s largest privately owned wholesalers selling its Asia and Indian Ocean rim focused destinations offerings to more than 3,000 retail travel agents throughout Australia.The aggregation brings Asia Escape Holidays’ profitable trading history and extensive database combined together with Holiday Planet’s online and high end retail leisure tourism focus, and is predicted to generate total sales revenue for Australian Travel Group of around AUD $75 million for the 2014 and 2015 period.Following the completion, Asia Escape Holidays principal Mason Adams, will join the board of The Australian Travel Group.“We are very impressed with Mr Adams’ ability to work through the external peaks and troughs that affect the travel industry and his ongoing innovation and proactive approach to the introduction of new product and we share a common view that going forward as a listed entity, this Group will have excellent opportunities for enhanced revenue growth,” Holiday Planet executive chairman Alan Dodson said.Source = ETB News: Tom Nealelast_img read more

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Emirates Empowers Airport Staff with Launch of New Mobile App Technolo

first_imgEmirates continues to be a trailblazer in technology, recently empowering its airport staff with the latest mobile application designed to deliver the best service to customers. Called the Journey Manager, this custom-designed application enables the airline’s team of airport staff to get real-time information that will enable them to respond to customers’ needs with greater efficiency, regardless of where they are in the airport.Developed by Emirates in cooperation with Samsung and Etisalat, Journey Manager runs on the recently launched Samsung Note 4.“Emirates has always been in the forefront of innovation, and our aim is to continue delivering excellent and more personalised service to our customers. The size and scale of our operations at the airport can be a challenge, especially during peak times where we can see up to 140 departures and arrivals in a four hour window,” said Mohammed H Mattar, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Airport Services.“That is why we have always looked at ways to use technology and automation to improve the customer journey as well as empower our staff whose jobs means they are constantly on the move across the airport terminal. Emirates is again leading the way by using the latest mobile technology in our airport operations. We are proud to have launched the Mobile Journey Manager application on the Samsung Note 4 devices on the same day these devices were released in the market,” added Mr Mattar.Emirates’ managers and supervisors using the application now have increased operational awareness. At a glance they are able to check the status of both inbound and outbound flights, which helps them to assess potential areas of concern and better manage operations, especially in the event of a disruption.Emirates airport staff use Journey Manager at the transfers area to assist transit passengers.  Up to 20,000 transit passengers go through transfers desks during peak times in a six-hour period, with 40% of these customers queuing to get information about which gates their next flights depart from. By scanning a passenger’s boarding pass using the device, staff can readily provide customers the most up-to-date information on gate assignments – thus significantly reducing the need for people to queue.Transfer staff are also using the application to check on delayed flights or where passengers have short connection times.  The application allows staff to identify these passengers and pass on the information to the gate supervisor at the connecting flight. For passengers who have missed their connections, staff again can simply scan the boarding pass to see what flight re-bookings have been made and direct them accordingly.According to Mr Mattar, “Before Journey Manager – most of these functions were done through transactions behind a desktop, and information retrieved from printed reports, which only capture status updates at the time that they were printed. With the ability to quickly scan a passenger’s boarding pass and access “live” flight information – our staff are able to find on time solutions and make decisions with more confidence knowing they have the most up-to-date information right at their fingertips.”Over the coming months, Emirates will continue to roll out the Mobile Journey Manager among its 2400-strong airport staff with the vision of making it accessible at all customer touch points, including check-in, re-booking flights, and requests for seat change.Samsung launched the Samsung Note 4 globally last October 17. Emirates is the first airline in the world to use the Samsung Note 4 with staff receiving the device on the same day it went on sale globally.Source = Emirateslast_img read more

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NZ hotels increase yield productivity in 2015

first_imgNZ hotels increase yield & productivity in 2015New Zealand hotels enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2015, increasing yield and productivity, according to new Tourism Industry Association statistics.TIA’s Hotel Sector members recorded a national average occupancy rate of 79%, up 3 points on 2014 and the highest level in at least five years.TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says returns are also improving, which is needed to encourage investment and refurbishment.The average room rate (across all star grades) was $157 (up $12 on 2014). Combined with the improved occupancy rate, this pushed the average Revenue Per Available Room (RevPar) up by $14 (13%) to $124.“For hoteliers, RevPar is a key statistic as it provides owners and investors with yield information they need to proceed with refurbishments and developments.“Hotel revenues in New Zealand are still below what is being achieved in Australia and high land and construction costs in New Zealand remain a barrier. But the upward trend is encouraging,” Mr Roberts says.TIA has identified infrastructure investment as a priority and is working with the government to identify opportunities and remove roadblocks.“To meet the goals of Tourism 2025, it is essential that we encourage investment to improve the quality of current infrastructure to meet rising visitor expectations, as well as creating a positive environment for investment in new facilities.”The tourism industry set itself a big goal with the Tourism 2025 growth framework – an industry worth $41 billion by 2025 – but as we head into 2016, it looks very achievable, Mr Roberts says. Tourism Industry Association NZSource = Tourism Industry Association NZlast_img read more

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Marriott International opens first Courtyard

first_imgSource = Marriott International Marriott International opens first CourtyardMarriott International opens first CourtyardMarriott International, Inc. celebrates the opening of the first Courtyard by Marriott in Singapore Novena today. The largest brand by distribution in the Marriott International portfolio, Courtyard by Marriott is introducing Singapore to an invigorating environment that inspires modern travellers to be at their most creative while traveling, connect with others and use travel as an opportunity to expand both personally and professionally.“As an established hub for business with an ever-growing tourism industry, Singapore is the ideal location for the Courtyard by Marriott brand.  The property offers modern services and amenities that will appeal to next generation travellers,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand & Marketing Asia-Pacific, Marriott International. “This opening is not only a brand milestone but significant to the portfolio as we continue to expand our footprint across Asia.”Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is centrally located at the threshold of Health City Novena, providing a gateway to Singapore’s top healthcare centres.  The hotel is also close to the shopping and entertainment hub, Orchard Road, and Singapore’s Botanic Gardens (a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site). The new property provides guests with easy access to local transportation and is minutes away from cultural, entertainment, retail and dining destinations. The hotel is also part of the vibrant Royal Square at Novena, a mixed-use development that combines upscale shopping, dining, offices and medical suites into one convenient destination.“Courtyard by Marriott is the leader in the Select Service category of hotels, with properties all over the world and now in Singapore,” said Peter Khong, General Manager, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena. “This new property provides guests with the ideal setting to feel inspired and refreshed for whether traveling on business or pleasure.”Guests will feel welcomed the moment they step into the stylish and inviting lobby, designed with communal tables and outdoor patios to encourage socializing and networking. All 250 guest rooms are stylishly appointed with contemporary furnishings in a palette of soothing colours. In addition to bathing the room with natural sunlight, the expansive windows expose the panoramic views of the beautiful city.Guests can enjoy a variety of culinary and cocktail delights at the hotel’s three distinct dining options – SKY22, the all-day dining restaurant offering a mix of wholesome culinary curations and distinctive Singaporean dishes; Urbana, the highest rooftop bar in the Novena district serves classic cocktails and gourmet bites, and the Lobby Lounge, provides a perfect place to relax, work or socialize.Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena also features a host of amenities and executive offerings including an outdoor rooftop infinity pool with an amazing view, fitness centre, executive lounge and two meeting rooms. Guests can also make the most of their stay by participating in the fitness activities and guided community tours provided by the hotel.For more information and reservations, please visit: http://www.courtyardsingapore.comlast_img read more

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Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket wins Best Hotel and Restaurant

first_imgAnantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket wins Best Hotel and RestaurantAnantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket wins Best Hotel and RestaurantAnantara Vacation Club, Asia’s premiere shared holiday ownership programme, is pleased to announce its signature Club Resort in Mai Khao, Phuket has been named as Southern Thailand’s Best Hotel and Restaurant of the Year as part of Luxury Travel Guide’s Asia and Australasia Awards 2018.Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket is a peaceful, secluded oasis on Thailand’s largest island and provides impressive offerings, including elegant apartment suites and one-to-three-bedroom private pool villas fitted with Southeast Asian design touches. Guests indulging in a stay at the Club Resort can choose from a tempting range of cuisines, such as local and international favourites at Chaam, al fresco dining at Crust, or an intimate dinner for two with the use of in-villa barbecue or Dining by Design options.The tranquil sun-kissed sands of Mai Khao beach lie a quick stroll away, while the nearby Sirinath National Park acts as a gateway to an impressive range of sea caves, mangroves, coral reefs and dazzling islands. The property offers a truly luxurious escape to travelers, with the advantage of being located just 15 minutes from Phuket International Airport.“Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket’s 2018 win for Best Hotel and Restaurant – Southern Thailand at the Luxury Travel Guide Awards Asia and Australia reflects its impressive inclusion of luxury facilities, dining options and activities, in addition to its exquisite setting, impeccable design and enviable level of upkeep,” said Rocky Singh of Luxury Travel Guide.Guests at Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket have access to the Anantara Spa and Spice Spoons cooking school, as well as picturesque resort grounds and the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea at Mai Khao beach. The extensive variety of activities on offer includes boat trips to Phang Nga Bay, fitness classes, interactive programmes tailored to all ages, sea sports and exploring the local Sino-Portuguese architecture in Phuket Town.“We are honoured to be recognised as Southern Thailand’s foremost destination and look forward to continuing to help our Club Points Owners and guests create unforgettable travel memories for years to come,” said Lyndon Ellis, General Manager at Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket. “There are some planned changes to the resort coming soon and the surrounding retail area is set to expand in 2019”.More details about the resort and award is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MA_5R8cSM4About Anantara Vacation ClubAnantara Vacation Club is Asia’s premier vacation ownership programme. It was launched in 2010 by Minor International PCL, the owner of Minor Hotels. The Club offers a portfolio of nine luxurious Club Resorts across Thailand, Indonesia, China and New Zealand and provides Club Points Owners and their guests with the opportunity to explore top holiday destinations. Club Points Owners’ travel opportunities are further enhanced through the use of the flexible Club Escapes and Global Traveller programmes, which provide access to hundreds of partner resorts and hotels internationally.For more information, please visit www.anantaravacationclub.com, or follow Anantara Vacation Club’s blog or social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Weibo.About Minor HotelsMinor Hotels is an international hotel owner, operator and investor currently with 158 hotels in operation. Minor Hotels passionately explores new possibilities in hospitality with a diverse portfolio of properties designed intelligently to appeal to different kinds of travellers, serving new passions as well as personal needs. Through our Anantara, AVANI, Oaks, Elewana, Tivoli, Four Seasons, St. Regis, Marriott and Minor International properties, Minor Hotels operates in 25 countries across Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Europe and South America.With dynamic plans to expand existing brands and explore strategic acquisitions throughout opportunistic markets, Minor Hotels pursues a vision of a more passionate and interconnected world.  For more information, please visit www.minorhotels.com. Source = Anantara Vacation Clublast_img read more

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Its time to shellebrate World Turtle Day

first_imgLIFE Sydney Aquarium shell-ebrates World Turtle DayIt’s time to shell-ebrate World Turtle DayToday is World Turtle Day – a day to bring attention to and raise awareness, knowledge and respect of turtles. World Turtle Day is a great opportunity for everyone to consider the ways in which human activities can tip the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners.Worldwide, six of the seven Sea Turtle species are classified as threatened or endangered due to human actions and lifestyles – a major threat to turtles is plastic pollution. This was experienced first-hand in February, when SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium opened its Animal Rescue Centre and welcomed its first patient, a Green Sea Turtle named Matilda. Emily Best, Senior Aquarist at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said: “We got a call back in February from a member of the public who advised us that a Green Sea Turtle was found struggling in Dolans Bay, Port Hacking (NSW). The female turtle was underweight, suffering from buoyancy issues and covered in barnacles.” After naming her Matilda, the member of the public that found the sick turtle, contacted the curatorial team and a home was immediately set up for her in SEA LIFE Sydney’s Animal Rescue Centre.“Matilda wasn’t eating much at the beginning and we were becoming quite concerned, then after two weeks we came in to see that she had passed plastic during the night. The poor thing had ingested over one meter of fishing line and a sticker from a Turkish candy bar, which had clearly caused her discomfort, pain and impacted her appetite.“After gaining 4kgs and receiving approval from the vet, the team from SEA LIFE transported Matilda by boat to deeper waters, a few kilometres from Maroubra Beach and released her back into the wild last month. Matilda’s rescue reinforces the devastating impact that plastic pollution is having on marine life, who mistake plastic for food. Fortunately for Matilda, there was a happy ending but this won’t always be the case if we don’t start to change our ways,” added Emily.Tips to reduce plastic consumption this World Turtle Day:Consider if a straw is necessaryInvest in a recycled drinking cup or water bottleTry and stop using plastic bagsRecycleSEA LIFE attractions across Australia and New Zealand have launched a limited edition World Turtle Day Keep Cup in order to raise much needed funds for these ancient creatures, many species of which are critically endangered. $5 from the sale of every Keep Cup will go to SEA LIFE’s charity arm – the SEA LIFE Trust – to help in their endeavour to protect turtles through research, campaigns and education. The limited edition Keep Cup can be purchased online when buying a SEA LIFE ticket, or via the SEA LIFE attraction’s gift shops. For more information on the turtles at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, visit: https://www.sydneyaquarium.com.auAquarists at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium shell-ebrate World Turtle Day with cheeky resident Loggerhead Turtles, Dave and Chuong who love eating squid! A video of the feed is here (from 01:17). Source = LIFE Sydney Aquariumlast_img read more

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Radisson Rewards Collaborates with WeHotel

first_imgSource = Radisson Hotel Group Radisson Rewards Collaborates with WeHotelRadisson Rewards Collaborates with WeHotel, Jin Jiang’s Global Hotel Booking PlatformRadisson Rewards, the global rewards program of Radisson Hotel Group, today announced an exciting new collaboration with WeHotel, the global hotel booking platform for Jin Jiang International.Effective June 30, 2019, 53 Radisson Hotel Group properties will become bookable on the WeHotel platform, with the remaining 1,100+ participating hotels becoming available by the end of the year. As part of this collaboration, Radisson Rewards and WeHotel Prime, the loyalty program for Jin Jiang’s high-end hotels, are working together to provide localized, in-hotel benefits to members of both programs.Radisson Hotel Group is now part of Jin Jiang International, which currently includes over 8,500 hotels worldwide. By going live on WeHotel, Radisson Hotel Group’s properties will benefit from significant exposure in China, the world’s largest travel market, access to more than 148 million members of Jin Jiang WeHotel’s loyalty programs, local language booking options, Chinese digital payments and more.WeHotel Prime members will be able to book Radisson Hotel Group properties through the WeHotel platform, while also earning points and elite qualifying nights for all eligible stays. When staying at hotels outside China, WeHotel Prime members will enjoy localized, in-hotel member benefits provided by Radisson Rewards.Radisson Rewards members will also enjoy localized, in-hotel benefits, provided by the WeHotel Prime program, when they stay at Radisson Hotel Group properties in China beginning June 30, 2019. This complements the Radisson Rewards points and elite qualifying nights they will earn for all eligible stays.“This global loyalty collaboration marks an exciting and important step forward in the relationship between Jin Jiang International and Radisson Hotel Group. Our companies have a combined loyalty base of nearly 170 million members, so it’s vital that we create consistent benefits for all our members, wherever in the world they travel. Through this integration we are paving the way for a bright future,” said Eric De Neef, Executive Vice President & Global Chief Commercial Officer, Radisson Hotel Group.“Jin Jiang International and Radisson Hotel Group are building an industry-leading hospitality company that combines the best of both our companies. Becoming part of WeHotel puts Radisson Hotel Group’s properties literally at the fingertips of millions of Chinese travelers, including WeHotel Prime’s huge loyal customer base. By driving deeper synergies, we will continue to create exceptional benefits for our hotels and loyal guests,” commented Jin Jiang.Of the 53 Radisson Hotel Group properties that will go live on WeHotel by the end of June 2019, 18 are in China, with others located in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, UK, USA and Vietnam.To learn more, visit radissonhotels.com/rewards/memberbenefits/chinalast_img read more

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Paytm reveals travel insight for Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra

first_imgPaytm recently revealed interesting travel insights of the people travelling to  Maharashtra from all parts of the country during the festive season of Ganesh Chaturthi. Abhishek Rajan, Vice President, Paytm said, “The enthusiasm and zeal around Ganesh Chaturthi in Maharashtra is unmatched. This is reflected in the way the festival is celebrated across the region, with people from every caste, creed, language and religion coming together to indulge in the celebrations. This year has seen a massive surge in the number of people travelling to Maharashtra during this period of revelry, and this has reflected in the booking trends on Paytm. We are delighted to contribute to this momentous annual occasion by facilitating seamless and affordable travel reservations through our platform.”According to research by Paytm, the largest share of travellers belonged to the 24-34 years age group, which accounted for 35% of the total bookings. Users between the ages of 35 and 44 years comprised 31% of the total, while those belonging to the 45-59 years accounted for 16%. Meanwhile, 5% of the ticket bookings were from youngsters aged less than 18 years. A majority of the travellers were male (74%), whereas female users comprised 26% of the booking total.The top five tier-II cities in Maharashtra were Nashik, Aurangabad, Solapur, Kolhapur, and Amravati. The state also witnessed a huge influx of Ganesh devotees, along with holidaymakers, from other states and cities. City dwellers travelled the most this festive season with Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur topping the charts. Meanwhile, Delhi, Bangalore, and Hyderabad were the leading non-Maharashtrian cities to book tickets towards Maharashtra during the festive season.last_img read more

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IndiGo takes delivery of its first ATR 72600 aircraft in Toulouse

first_imgIndiGo recently announced the induction of its first ATR aircraft. The airline took delivery of its first ATR 72-600 aircraft (VT-IYA) to join its ever-growing fleet during the ceremony held at ATR headquarters in Toulouse, France. The aircraft was received on behalf of IndiGo by Captain Ashim Mittra, Vice President- Flight Operations IndiGo.While addressing a media gathering at Toulouse, Captain Mittra, read out a message from Aditya Ghosh, President and Whole Time Director of IndiGo saying, “We are now one step closer to the launch of our Turboprop operations by the end of this year.”IndiGo in October 2017 had announced its plan to further strengthen its regional operations with over 90 new flight connections that include routes to and from Tirupati, Rajahmundry, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Madurai and Nagpur. The induction of ATR is in sync with IndiGo’s plans for regional aviation and in response to the growing demand on its existing routes.With the introduction of ATR 72-600 aircraft to its fleet, IndiGo is poised to take on-time and hassle-free experience to passengers in Tier II and Tier III cities. By the end of 2017, IndiGo will operate over 1000 daily flights connecting 46 destinations.Commenting on the announcement, Christian Scherer, Chief Executive Officer, ATR said, “IndiGo is a highly-respected airline which pays particular attention to every single detail relating to quality. Today’s delivery to such a renowned airline underlines once again the quality and the suitability of the ATR -600 and shows why it is unrivalled in the regional market.”last_img read more

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Meritage Shows Strong SecondQuarter Home Order Data

first_img Arizona-based “”Meritage Homes””:http://www.meritagehomes.com/ has reported second-quarter data that shows eight consecutive months of year-over-year increases in orders for the company. [IMAGE]In addition to home orders numbers, Meritage’s recently released survey also catalogs the company’s closings and backlog figures.[COLUMN_BREAK]According to Meritage, home orders reached 1,353 units for the quarter ended June 30, representing a 49 percent rise year-over-year. Home order value shot up by 63 percent versus 2011 numbers, totaling $385,829.Meritage closed 1,042 units, demonstrating an uptick of 22 percent year-over-year. In terms of revenue, Meritage’s home closings rose 28 percent from totals recorded in 2011, hitting $281,340 for the second quarter of 2012.The company’s backlog of units to end the quarter was 1,611, which indicates a 62 percent increase year-over-year. By value, Meritage’s backlog was 75 percent higher on a year-over-year basis, ringing in at $457,650 to conclude the second quarter.Steven J. Hilton, chairman and CEO of Meritage, commented on the company’s findings stating, “”Our quarter-end backlog has swelled by 62 percent from one year ago, increasing our confidence that 2012 will be a year that puts Meritage on its way to achieving more normalized operating results.”” in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Share Meritage Shows Strong Second-Quarter Home Order Datacenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-07-13 Abby Gregory July 13, 2012 442 Views last_img read more

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Downward Trend Continues for Mortgage Rates

first_img April 25, 2013 432 Views in Data, Origination Mortgage rates dipped this week–some of them hitting record lows–as unstable economic news left investors with visions of another potential economic slowdown.[IMAGE]””Freddie Mac’s””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaging 3.40 percent (0.8 point) for the week ending April 25, down slightly from 3.41 percent last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed averaged 3.88 percent.Meanwhile, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.61 percent (0.7 point), a new all-time record low. Last week’s average was 2.64 percent. The previous record low for the 15-year fixed was 2.63 percent, first set the week of November 21, 2012.In adjustable rates, the 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.58 percent (0.5 point) this week, down from 2.60 percent last week, while the 1-year ARM averaged 2.62 percent (0.3 point), down from 2.63 percent previously. This week’s 5-year ARM average was also a new low in that category, Freddie Mac reported.””Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/ also reported its sixth straight week of declines. According to the site’s weekly national survey, the benchmark 30-year fixed rate retreated to a four-month low of 3.57 percent, while the 15-year fixed fell to a new record low of 2.80 percent.The 5/1 ARM slipped slightly to 2.65 percent, meanwhile.””Mortgage rates continue to trend lower as uneven economic data has raised concerns about another economic slowdown,”” Bankrate said in a release. “”The accompanying stock market volatility has also been good for mortgage rates by increasing demand for both government- and mortgage-backed bonds, to which mortgage rates are closely related.”” Sharecenter_img Downward Trend Continues for Mortgage Rates Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Service Providers 2013-04-25 Tory Barringerlast_img read more

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FirstTime Jobless Claims At PreRecession Levels

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Labor Statistics Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Payrolls Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-08-15 Mark Lieberman First-time claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending August 10 fell to the lowest level since January 2008, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/081513.asp reported Thursday. The department said there were 320,000 new claims for unemployment insurance, a drop of 15,000 from the previous week. Economists expected the number of claims to drop to 330,000 from the 333,000 originally reported for the week ending August 3. The number of filings for that week was revised to 335,000.[IMAGE]The four-week moving average of initial claims fell to 332,000, the lowest level since November 2007–one month before the recession began.The number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance for the week ending August –reported on a one week lag–also fell, dropping 54,000 to 2,969,000. The number of continuing claims for the week ending July 27 was revised up to 3,023,000 from the originally reported 3,018,000.The plunge of first-time claims continues a longer-term pattern of decline, which has seen the four-week moving average tumble almost 9 percent from 364,500 a year ago.While a large part of the decline is due to fewer layoffs, some is attributable to favorable seasonal adjustment factors applied by the Department of Labor for predictable and annually recurring events that affect claims. The adjustment factor for the week ending August 10 was 87.7. An adjustment factor below 100 reduces the raw number of claims to the seasonally adjusted number, which is used for reports. The factor will continue to remain low through Labor Day, when it bottoms at 78.1, suggesting further declines in reported claims.Thursday’s report on first-time claims was consistent with a trend with other reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing a slowdown in layoffs and discharges–events that lead to unemployment insurance claims.This report on initial claims will have no impact on the August Employment Situation report to be released September 6 by BLS. That report will be based on employment data for the week including the 12th calendar day of the month (covered by the claims report to be released next week).The week-over-week decrease in continuing claims, which largely reflects hiring, was the third in the last four weeks. The four-week moving average of continuing claims has fallen a net 35,250 in those four weeks.The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending July 27 was 4,586,860, an increase of 65,906 from the previous week. There were 5,704,310 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended benefits were not available in any state during the week ending July 27.According to BLS, 11,514,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in July, with 4,246,000 “”long-term”” unemployed–that is, out of work for at least 27 weeks. Of those individuals counted as unemployed, 6.93 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending July 27, down from 6.99 million one week earlier.The Labor Department said states reported 1,552,910 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending July 27, an increase of 36,635 from the prior week. There were 2,373,969 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC benefits this year were directly threatened by the federal budget sequester. According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest increases in initial claims for the week ending August 3 were in California (+3,715), Ohio (+1,270), Texas (+1,151), Pennsylvania (+999), and Puerto Rico (+816), while the largest decreases were in Oregon (-1,638), Illinois (-999), New Jersey (-762), New York (-712), and Connecticut (-632).California reported the increase in first-time claims for the week ending August 3 was attributable to more layoffs in the service sector, while Ohio cited more layoffs in manufacturing. _Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing August 15, 2013 404 Views center_img Share First-Time Jobless Claims At Pre-Recession Levelslast_img read more

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Home Finance Balances Up for Third Straight Month

first_img Equifax First-Time Homebuyers Home Equity Mortgage Debt 2014-03-03 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News, Origination Home Finance Balances Up for Third Straight Month March 3, 2014 437 Views center_img Outstanding home finance balances increased for the third straight month in January, signaling what might be the start of a long-term resurgence in borrowing, Equifax reported in its most recent National Consumer Credit Trends release.According to the company, home finance balances outstanding totaled $8.59 trillion as of January. That number includes first mortgage, home equity installment, and home equity revolving balances. It was the first time in more than three years that balances have increased for a full three-month period.“Home purchase transactions, in which first time homebuyers take on entirely new mortgage debt and move up buyers increase their existing mortgage debt, have finally overtaken foreclosures and accelerating pay-downs, resulting in increases [in] home finance balances,” said Equifax chief economist Amy Crews Cutts. “American consumers have shed more than $1.5 trillion in mortgage debt since the start of the financial crisis and only now seem interested in investing in housing again.”From the start of 2013 to the start of this year, first mortgage balances increased 2.5 percent, rising from $7.7 trillion to $7.9 trillion—the biggest annual increase in more than three years. In that same time, total home equity balances fell more than 6 percent, dropping to $622.3 billion from $664.3 billion.Meanwhile, from January 2013-2014, Equifax reports first mortgage delinquencies (at least 30 or more days overdue) dropped 22.8 percent, while home equity installment delinquencies fell 22 percent. Home equity revolving delinquencies were down 10.6 percent. Sharelast_img read more

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Housing Stands Firm Despite Economic Volatility

first_img March 29, 2016 561 Views Existing-Home Sales Home Prices Inventory Ten-X 2016-03-29 Staff Writer Global market turmoil and weak GDP growth have not restrained home sales in the housing market that remain at high yearly levels.Ten-X’s Residential Real Estate Nowcast expects existing-home sales to perform better in March with a 4.8 percent increase from the previous month and a 2.6 percent year-over-year increase. The company projects that sales will fall between seasonally adjusted annual rates of 5.15 and 5.55 million, with a targeted number of 5.32 million.“Though U.S. home sales have seen significant volatility in recent months due to external factors, sales remain at a high overall level,” said Peter Muoio, Ten-X Chief Economist. “The housing market stands on solid ground despite global economic volatility and weaker U.S. GDP growth, with the firmer labor market and enhanced household budgets from low oil providing a boost to consumer confidence.”Existing-home sales have suffered in recent months due to the continuous imbalance of extremely low inventory levels and rapid home price appreciation, and industry experts believe that this trend will not end anytime soon.Rick Sharga, Ten-X’s EVP, does not believe that existing-home sales will normalize anytime soon with inventory shortages prevalent in the market.“Both January and February home sales were slightly better than a year ago, and our nowcast predicts that March will continue that trend,” he said. “But inventory levels remain low, and home price appreciation continues to outpace wage growth. These factors suggest that, even with mortgage rates near their historic lows, a return to more ‘normal’ levels of home sales is still off in the distance.”The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that existing-home sales fell in February 2016 after reaching the highest annual rate in six months last month. The report found that existing-home sales decreased 7.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in February from 5.47 million in January. However, the report noted that despite last month’s large decline, sales remain 2.2 percent higher than a year ago.The existing-home sales report from NAR for January 2016, showed that lenders are well on the path to recovery from TRID delays.  The report found that existing-home sales increased 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.47 million in January from a downwardly revised 5.45 million in December. Existing sales are now 11.0 percent higher than a year ago, the highest annual rate in six months and the largest year-over-year gain since 16.3 percent July 2013.”The overall demand for buying is still solid entering the busy spring season, but home prices and rents outpacing wages and anxiety about the health of the economy are holding back a segment of would-be buyers,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist.The decline in existing-home sales in February did not slow down home prices appreciation. According to the NAR, the median existing-home price in February was $210,800, up 4.4 percent from last February’s median price of $201,900. This marks the 48th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Home prices fell within Ten-X’s range of $209,607 to $231,671 predicted in last month’s nowcast. Now, Ten-X expects that sales prices for existing homes will fall between $209,207 and $231,229 for March with a targeted price of $220,218, representing 4.5 percent month-over-month and year-over-year gains. in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Originationcenter_img Housing Stands Firm Despite Economic Volatility Sharelast_img read more

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Which College Graduation Class Holds the Most Housing Weight

first_imgWhich College Graduation Class Holds the Most Housing Weight? The class of 2008 is the most likely to buy and mortgage a higher-priced home, according to recent data from LendEDU, a student loan debt consolidation company based in New Jersey. With the highest median credit score in the last 10 years, this group of young adults also boasts the highest median home loan debt, at $395,038.According to the data, 2008 graduates outpace other classes in home loan debt by more than $115,000. The classes with the next-highest home loan debts are: 2013, with $279,300; 2016, with $274,384; 2009, with $260,008; and 2014, with $249,100.Classes with the lowest home loan debt were 2010, 2011, and 2015—all of which saw a median debt of $200,000 or below. These results were unexpected, according to LendEDU.“While we expected to see graduates of earlier class years borrowing more home loans,” the report stated, “we instead see a trend indicative of the housing market over time—a peak in 2008 followed by a large recession and tentative recovery starting in 2012.”The report also breaks down home loan debts by college degree and, according to the data, graduates with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) have the highest median home loan debt at $445,900. This is followed by Doctor of Pharmacy ($387,625), Juris Doctor ($323,000), Doctor of Philosophy ($262,200), Masters ($260,008), Bachelors ($200,111), and Associates ($164,225). LendEDU’s data shows all groups but Associate-degree graduates have at least a good or very good credit score. Something that could indicate the true value of a higher degree.The report explained, “After the recession hit and a college degree no longer guaranteed a job, many began to wonder: what’s the real value of a college education? With some patience, perhaps a good credit score.”Ultimately, it seems higher education, over time, leads to higher credit scores and therefore larger mortgage loans and higher debts. This means that while this year’s class is currently on track for the poorest credit scores in recent memory, that doesn’t indicate they’ll be unable to secure a home in the not-too-distant future.“In general, higher degrees do equate with higher credit scores and bigger home and auto loans,” LendEDU stated. “Students who graduated longer ago have better credit scores and bigger loans than current students. The class of 2017 has the poorest scores, but if the trend holds, they’ll be back up into the ‘good’ zone soon enough.” February 3, 2017 600 Views Data LendEDU Median Home Loan Debt 2017-02-03 Staff Writercenter_img in Data, Headlines, News Sharelast_img read more

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Collingwood Announces New Managing Director

first_img The Collingwood Group, a Washington, DC-based advisory firm led by the former head of FHA, recently announced along with its partners who have held senior leadership positions focused on housing policy and regulation in HUD, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, that Justin Burch will be joining the company as Managing Director and head of the Federal Housing Practice.Prior to the announcement, Burch lead FHA’s quality assurance and counterparty risk management activities, including compliance evaluation of origination, underwriting, and servicing practices, lender examinations, and management of FHA’s Credit Watch Initiative. Recently deployed with the introduction of the new FHA Loan Review System, Burch also was a key stakeholder in the development and implementation of FHA’s Loan Quality Assessment Methodology.“Justin’s extensive experience as an integral part of FHA and Ginnie Mae, coupled with his unique insight and understanding of the operations and risk management and compliance strategy of both organizations, will offer our clients a unique perspective on many of the most pressing business issues in housing finance today,” said Brian O’Reilly, President of The Collingwood Group.Serving as a critical voice for FHA, Burch presented at numerous industry events and interacted with the lending community. He was active in broader federal housing policy discussions as a member of the Joint Federal Housing Agency working group composed of leadership from the CFPB, Ginnie Mae, FHFA, FHA, the VA Loan Guaranty Service, and Rural Development. Before FHA, Burch worked as a Senior Risk Analyst for Ginnie Mae where his responsibilities included issuer performance evaluations and monitoring of a $520 billion portfolio of mortgage-backed securities, and was principal architect behind the development of the Finnie Mae HMBS program, enabling reverse mortgage lenders the opportunity to securitize FHA Home Equity Conversion Mortgages.“I am excited to join such a progressive organization. The partnership between Collingwood and Situs presents a unique platform to explore growth opportunities in the commercial and residential real estate market. I look forward to joining the team,” said Burch. Collingwood Announces New Managing Director in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News Sharecenter_img The Collingwood Group 2017-07-07 Brianna Gilpin July 7, 2017 521 Views last_img read more

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Ocwen Assists Nevadas Hardest Hit Homeowners

first_img Ocwen Financial Corporation, announced on Thursday that members of the Company’s home retention team will be at an upcoming Nevada Hardest Hit Fund borrower outreach event in Las Vegas to discuss potential loan modification options with families having trouble making their mortgage payments.The event, coordinated by the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation will be held from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at Legacy High School in North Las Vegas. Registration for the event is not required and all services will be free.“Ocwen collaborates proactively with states to ensure that our customers are aware of the variety of mortgage assistance programs that are available,” said Jill Showell, SVP, Government and Community Relations at Ocwen. “We are excited about our ongoing work with the Nevada Hardest Hit Fund to help families access available resources and explore mortgage solutions to better afford their homes. We strongly urge Ocwen customers in Nevada to attend this event.”Nevada homeowners whose loans were serviced by Ocwen benefited from $3.6 million of Nevada Hardest Hit Fund assistance since October 2011. In an effort to increase the number of families able to access these resources, Ocwen has collaborated with the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation to develop a targeted mailing campaign to share information about HHF programs with potentially eligible Ocwen customers.“Even after 10 years the impact of the financial crisis is still being felt by many homeowners across Nevada,” said Verise Campbell, CEO of the Nevada Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation. “Working with trusted servicers like Ocwen is critical to helping Nevada families remain in their homes and part of their community. This important event will offer borrowers the opportunity to ask questions, get answers and clearly understand their options for a possible mortgage solution to address their unique circumstance.” Ocwen Assists Nevada’s Hardest Hit Homeowners in News Sharecenter_img Nevada Ocwen 2018-09-21 Seth Welborn September 21, 2018 445 Views last_img read more

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