Hertz acquires Ace joins with Apollo

first_imgIn a move signalling its expansion into the Australian and New Zealand market, Hertz today announced the acquisition of budget car rental company Ace Rental Cars and an alliance with Apollo Motorhome Holidays.At a press conference in Sydney, visiting Hertz International president Michel Taride said the two ventures were steps in Hertz’s plans to diversify the company’s brand and product offerings.Despite continuing with its core business, Mr Taride said, “we recognise also that we need to continue refining and developing our product offerings in order to meet the changing requirements of our customers, and to position ourselves for emerging opportunities.”Mr Taride said he was surprised to learn that almost half of the car rental market in New Zealand was in the “second tier” segment and that the aim of the Ace acquisition was to “try to grow the brand further” in Australia and across the Tasman.   “Even in a downturn, people still want to travel and we want to be part of the low cost offerings without diluting the product.”“Companies with a long history like ours have to adapt.”Seeing the growing popularity of campervan and motorhome holidays, Hertz has partnered with the largest privately-owned operator of recreational vehicles in the world, Apollo Motorhome Holidays.According to Mr Taride, the commercial alliance with Apollo will allow Hertz to enter the Australian motorhome market quickly with a ready-made product range. Effective 1 April 2011, motorhome customers will be able to book Apollo vehicles through Hertz websites in Australia and New Zealand or via the Hertz telephone reservations network.Hertz recently acquired Melbourne-based car sharing company Flexicar and partnered with Australia’s Virgin Blue Airlines group and Middle Eastern Etihad. “[These acquisitions and partnerships] are all strategic decisions designed to ensure that we have the travel products and relationships that our customers expect in various market segments,” Mr Taride said.Hertz estimates the value of the Australian rental car market at AUD1.5 billion, a large portion of which Hertz shares in. Michel and Karina Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hlast_img read more

Virtual tourism showing real growth nDreams

first_imgVisiting Mexico in the future may only take seconds Digital tourism may be the next big thing in tourism, with a recently launched floating archipelago receiving over a million visitors in its first six weeks; more than the Taj Mahal and London Eye combined. Developed within the fast-growing PlayStation® Home virtual world by UK publisher nDreams, ‘Aurora’ gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy digital views, games, and even the chance to buy their own floating island.     Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.Hcenter_img “We certainly didn’t expect to have so many visitors in such a short timeframe,” nDreams chief executive Patrick O’Luanaigh said. “The space itself is still in a very early stage; we have so much more planned for Aurora, and we’ll be adding to it regularly.”The nDreams boss said that virtual worlds offered “a great way to escape from the stresses and strains of real-life without having to jump on a plane”.“And we believe that the next decade will see rapid growth in the number and the quality of virtual world experiences available online.”Jetaround Holidays managing director Zaia Bazi told e-Travel Blackboard he wasn’t concerned about the growing interest in virtual tourism, saying digital sightseeing could only “inspire people to travel” and never replace the real thing.“An image, even a 3D one, could never offer the same real-life experiences conventional travelling does,” Mr Bazi said.last_img read more

HotelClub Travel Agent Rewards Club 5 Back

first_imgCreate your Member Reward account here.  Here’s how it works: If you book $500 with HotelClub for Travel Agents you’ll get back 25 Member Rewards – that’s USD25 or if you book $3,000 you earn USD150 to spend on your own hotel getaways! Source = HotelClub Steven VoakTravel Agent Manager &  Marketing – HotelClubLevel 29, 680 George Street. PO Box Q773, QVB Post Office Sydney NSW 1230 Australiap | +61 2 8263 5103     e | travelagent_support@hotelclub.com   w | hotelclub.com/travelagent.aspw | HotelClub.com | RatesToGo.com | asia-hotels.com | ABN 85 092 445 442  HotelClub for Travel Agents has revamped its Agent Rewards Club. Members receive 5% back on every booking over $500 made with HotelClub Travel Agents this May.Claim your 5% with these simple steps: By joining the HotelClub Travel Agent Rewards Club you will access advance notice on all Flash and Destination Sales, plus Member Only promos. If you don’t already have an Agent ID to the HotelClub Travel Agent website join now atwww.hotelclub.com/travelagent.asp and take advantage of our amazing nett rates for your clients or even your own hotel stay.                     Need some help? Then email  Steven Voak HotelClub BDM with your Agent ID and “5%” as the subjectlast_img read more

Search for a Home is Nearly Over

first_imgBrad Blaze – Entertainer of the Year 2011winner, closing the ceremony for 2012 The Australian Event Awards is the peak industry awards program for Australia, and is currently on the search for a home. Destinations from around Australia can bid to host the event for three years, from 2013-2015. The winning destination will position themselves as the events capital of Australia, attracting the movers and shakers from the events industry for this annual Industry Night of Nights.The Australian Event Awards aims to celebrate the achievements of Australian’s in the industry who make magnificent events possible both nationally and overseas. Not only do the awards reward the “Best Event Manager of the Year”, but categories also include “Best Tourism Event”, “Best Venue”, and “Best Charity Event”, with the coveted golden trophy going to the “Australian Event of the Year”.Having already received nation-wide interest, the search is coming to a close on the 14th of July, with organisers urging people to get their bid in now to be considered. “We are extremely pleased with the attention we’ve received from destinations across the country, and are looking forward to seeing who else submits a bid before the cut off” said Ian Steigrad, Managing Director of the awards.In 2012 The Event Awards finished its 3 year agreement with Sydney Olympic Park, after which organisers noticed a range of interest from around the country to become the next host. After careful consideration, they decided the best and fairest approach would be to launch a Search for a Home – providing a unique chance for destinations to bid for this opportunity.Since bidding opened on the 13th of May, organisers have received interest from a range of venues and organisations, including government bodies, convention and entertainment centres, and private venues.  “It has been exciting to see how organisations have collaborated in order to improve the strength of their bid” said Chris Twyman, Project Manager.  Bidding closes soon, at 5pm on Friday the 14th of June.Source = Australian Event Awards Lifetime Achievement – John Allen and Lena Malouf, Lifetime Achievement Award winners 2012last_img read more

Virgin Australia welcomes ACCC decision on Etihad alliance

first_imgVirgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said: “With the launch of the Alliance in October 2010, Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways introduced unprecedented choice and competition for Australians travelling between Australia, the Middle East and beyond to Europe.“Over the past five years, we have worked closely with Etihad Airways to ensure the alliance continues to generate benefits for consumers.“We have introduced more codeshare destinations, delivered further enhancements to the customer experience and more than doubled seat capacity between Australia and Abu Dhabi, through the launch of new routes, more flight frequencies and larger aircraft.“We welcome the ACCC’s assessment of the public benefit the alliance brings to travellers”, Mr Borghetti said.The Alliance has delivered significant public benefit for Australian travellers including:More frequencies, greater capacity and new services including a 30 per cent increase in seats between Sydney and Abu Dhabi through use of larger aircraft on the route such as the Airbus A380, the introduction of a second daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi service, the launch of a daily non-stop service between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi using Boeing 787-9 aircraft and the launch of a daily non-stop service between Perth and Abu Dhabi using Airbus A330 aircraft.More destinations across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Australasia through a codeshare network of 89 destinations, including 39 international destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan and 50 destinations in AustraliaGreater loyalty program benefits through reciprocal earn and burn, status recognition and international and domestic airport lounge access.The ACCC is expected to make its final determination following public comments on its draft determination. Fly VirginSource = Virgin Australia Holdings Limitedlast_img read more

CHOICE makes airline super complaint

first_imgCHOICE makes airline super complaintCHOICE is calling for an overhaul of the way airlines deal with customers after an extensive investigation into the industry revealed systemic breaches of the Australian Consumer Law, including widespread use of “no refund” signs, excessive cancellation fees and a lack of compensation for airlines’ mistakes.“From repeatedly informing travellers they do not have a right to a refund to charging sky-high cancellation fees, our domestic airlines have been flying below the radar when it comes to consumer protection,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns, Communications and Content Matt Levey.“Our investigation reveals the significant power imbalance between consumers and airlines, who are not being held to the same basic standards as other industries.“Businesses across the country are banned from making blanket ‘no refund’ claims, but the airlines do so blatantly when selling tickets.“Under the Australian Consumer Law, you have a right to a refund no matter how many times an airline lands you with a no refund message as you make your way through an online checkout,” Mr Levey says.The CHOICE report, Fare Play? Terms and conditions in Australia’s Airline Industry, identifies systemic breaches of Australian Consumer Law by the domestic airlines. It also reveals that excessive cancellation fees, a lack of redress when flights are delayed and cancelled, and other unfair terms and conditions are the norm in the industry.“The ACCC’s guidance to travel providers says cancellation fees should be reasonable and reflect the actual costs to the business, with fair deposits generally 10% of the total cost. When a consumer can’t or chooses not to travel they can loose up to 100% of the fare, even there is ample time to re-sell the seat. “Particularly unfair are ‘no show’ clauses, that allow airlines to unilaterally cancel your tickets on multiple flights if you are unfortunate enough to miss a leg of your journey. These clauses have been banned in other countries such as Germany and Spain and it’s high time our domestic airlines put an end to the practice,” Mr Levey says.CHOICE’s airline super complaint follows its Complane campaign, which has drawn attention to the fact that Australians are currently not entitled to fixed compensation when they experience a delay or cancellation within an airline’s control.“Our research shows very few consumers receive compensation when their flights are cancelled, delayed or changed, and when they do, it’s often inconsistent. In some cases this leaves travellers paying hefty cancellation fees for flights, which through no fault of their own, are no longer fit for purpose,” says Mr Levey.CHOICE is calling for:The airlines to immediately remove “no refund” signs from their online checkoutsThe airlines to immediately remove “no show” clauses from their contractsThe ACCC to take action against any airline breaching Australian Consumer LawFor more go to: choice.com.au/playfareCHOICE investigation key findings:3 of 4 major domestic airlines make blanket “no refund” claims in the booking process without informing a consumer of their right to refund under the Australian Consumer Law.Airlines are charging cancellation fees of up to $550 per ticket, or not offering the option of a refund at all even when there is ample time to resell.Airlines take no responsibility to deliver passengers to their location in a reasonable time, despite charging higher prices for peak flight times.Consumers are not offered adequate remedies when their flights are delayed or cancelled, with some consumers being offered no remedy at all.Some consumers are being provided with credit for future flights when with no information on how to access that credit.Passengers who miss the first or subsequent leg of a flight risk having their ticket voided, despite having paid for their onward flights. Source = CHOICElast_img read more

45 percent growth in expenditure caps off record year

first_img45 percent growth in expenditure caps off record year45 percent growth in expenditure caps off record yearThe Sunshine Coast attracted a 45% increase in expenditure (to $266.5 million) by international tourists in the year to September 2016, an all time record for the region.The sharp rise in spending was revealed in the International Visitor Survey (IVS) released today by Tourism Research Australia.The record expenditure figures were built on a 6.4% growth in international visitors (to 272,000), with holiday visitors up 9%. Holiday visitors also stayed considerably longer – up 27.9% – to an average 7.8 nights per stay and expenditure grew 19.5% to $89.3 per night.Star inbound performer for the Sunshine Coast was once again the United States of America (up 40% for the year), with the rise of the US dollar and the ‘Bindi factor’ (Bindi Irwin’s high profile in the 2015 US version of Dancing with the Stars) having time to significantly influence 2016 travel decisions.Extension of direct flights from New Zealand saw 21.3% growth in holiday visitors from New Zealand, and overall NZ visitor growth of 11.6% (to a total of 66,000 annually).The uncertainty caused by Brexit and the mooted backpacker tax, along with a sharp decline in the pound may have influenced a 7.1% fall in UK holiday visitors, but German holiday makers continued their strong growth, with an increase of 12.2% for the year.The Sunshine Coast has begun to resonate in a number of Asian destinations, with 24% growth in Asian visitors.Commenting on the international visitor results, Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) CEO, Simon Latchford, said that the emphasis on the region’s ‘diversity’ of attractions, major events hosted over the past year and its pro-active marketing campaigns had not only grown visitor numbers in a sustainable manner, but importantly attracted high yielding visitors to increase their length of stay and spend more contributing greater economic returns for the region.“The strength of the Sunshine Coast is that we are far more than just another ‘beach destination’,” said Mr Latchford.“The fact that we can offer some of Australia’s most attractive beaches, along with our spectacular Hinterland scenery, adventure options and trekking, complemented by high-quality food and events, have really hit a chord with international travellers.“Our partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) has been very effective as has been our partnership with Fraser Coast Tourism and Events in marketing ‘Australia’s Nature Coast’, an initiative that has been very successful in countries like Germany. In addition and on the back of a highly successful campaign in the UK last year, the group in partnership with Tour Operators; Freedom Australia, Dial-A-Flight and Austravel UK have rolled out phase two of a digital campaign to jointly promote the combined regions as a world class eco-tourism destination. This campaign commenced in mid-October and will run through until early 2017, and we look forward to seeing positive results reflected in future statistics.“We anticipate continued strong growth from America, with GOWAY North America’s ’Go Beyond The Ordinary’ campaign perfectly suited to our product. It is part of a fully integrated marketing campaign, which will target the USA and Canadian markets over the next three months.“Extensive sales, marketing and media activities in the New Zealand market combined with direct services from Auckland produced a bumper year for the Kiwi market, and that is likely to continue.”New Asia FocusMr Latchford said that the growth figures out of Asia were particularly encouraging and it had prompted VSC to add simplified Chinese to its 2017 International Travel Planner for the first time, and also hold a dedicated Singapore Sales Mission in early January, in conjunction with TEQ, and Australia’s Nature Coast marketing partners Fraser Coast Tourism and Events, Destination Gympie Region and Tourism Noosa.“The timing is perfect, given recent confirmation of the expansion and international status of Sunshine Coast Airport and this week’s announcement of an ‘open sky’ agreement between Australia and China,” said Mr Latchford.“Our proximity to Brisbane, the international air linkages provided by Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin, Air New Zealand and our reputation as a ‘green and natural’ destination provides outstanding potential to establish the region as a premium destination for discerning international travellers.“It is now important for the Sunshine Coast to match the upgrading of Sunshine Coast Airport with new high-quality accommodation and attractions and we are already seeing that take shape, with recent announcements of a 5-star Westin and the $400 million water park. The signs are very encouraging.”View or download the 2017 International Travel Planner:  Click HERE Source = Visit Sunshine Coastlast_img read more

Rwanda Calling 2015 targets the Indian outbound travel market

first_imgRwanda Calling 2015, an initiative of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), aimed at enhancing trade, tourism and investments into the country, held its International Business Forum recently at the Lemigo Hotel, Kigali.Guldeep Singh Sahni, President, Outbound Tour Operators Association of India (OTOAI) led the 15 member delegation, which consisted of businessmen and investors from diverse sectors such as tourism, education, healthcare, manufacturing, trading as well as communications and information technology.The highlight of the Conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) and OTOAI. Sahni, signed on behalf of OTOAI, while Joseph Birori, Chairman, signed on behalf of RTTA.Birori remarked, “This MoU will help in marketing Rwanda as a must -visit tourist destination in India, which we expect to significantly increase number of tourists from the country.”Birori was of the opinion that the agreement will enable Rwanda to tap the huge Indian market and help improve the sector’s foreign exchange earnings.Sahni added, “Rwanda is an attractive country with its natural resources. Our members will work with you to encourage more Indians to visit Rwanda.”Faustin Karasira, Head, Tourism Department, RDB said, “We want to penetrate the Indian market, especially by targeting business tourists. Besides, when more Indians visit the country, they will recommend Rwanda to their friends and business partners, which will help us to tap investors for the tourism and hospitality industries.”Clarence Fernandes, the Mumbai based Representative of RDB said, “We are indeed delighted to bring in the first ever familiarisation tour from India, which consists of top producing outbound tour operators, including Kuoni, Thomas Cook, Kesari Tours, Urvi Tours, Akbar Travels, Harshil Travels, Weldon Travels and High Flyers.”“Actually showcasing a MICE event, Rwanda Calling 2015, to these MICE planners, alongside with the various attractions that Rwanda has to offer, has given our travel and tour partners a firsthand experience of the destination and we do believe that it is now only a matter of time, before we shall be able to see tangible results of this FAM tour organised in collaboration with Kenya Airways – the Pride of Africa.”last_img read more

IRCTC to manage catering service in a phased manner

first_imgMinister of State for Railways, Manoj Sinha announced that the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) would begin to manage catering service in a phased manner, as announced in the Rail Budget Speech 2016-17.In 2015, Sreedhran Committee set up by the Ministry of Railways, recommended the transfer of catering services back to IRCTC since IRCTC was setup as an extended arm of the Indian Railways to professionalise catering services on Indian Railways. It has been decided to give back the catering services to IRCTC in a phased manner with unbundling catering services by creating a distinction primarily between food preparation and food distribution. In order to address the problems faced earlier, it has been decided that there will be no complete handing over of the catering service by IRCTC to private licensees and Zonal Railways will have powers of supervision and monitoring.last_img read more

Seychelles taps on Indian arrivals extensively in 2018

first_imgTo market adventure tourism and experiential travel segment Shruti Dugar | Kolkata Since its official launch of a representative office in India in 2013, Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) has been eying the Indian market exponentially. While speaking exclusively to Travel News Digest on the sidelines of Arabian Travel Mart, Sherin Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Seychelles Tourism Board, informed that India has emerged as a very positively growing market. Within a year after reaching the top 10 in 2016, India ended 2017 as Seychelles’ seventh-leading source market from the Asian continent, with over 14,000 Indian tourists having visited the island destination, a 15% up from the previous year’s statistics. Speaking about the promotional strategies planned for India, Francis revealed that India being a new source market for them has performed extensively well and hence this year they plan on positioning the country as an ideal destination for family and MICE segment. Though Seychelles is renowned for welcoming honeymooners across the world, they want to grow beyond. “Yes, tourists travelling here are primarily for romantic honeymoon travel, but we have realised that there’s so much more one can do in Seychelles. The possibilities are still unexplored and that’s why we want to pass the message that this year we plan on expanding our segments to family, MICE and business travel,” said Francis.In 2018, Seychelles plans on encouraging its adventure tourism potential by promoting snorkelling, cruising, jet skiing, unique fishing experiences and windsurfing. Seychelles recorded the highest source market from Germany, welcoming around 50,000 arrivals. France and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) recorded 42,000 and 25,000 tourists and emerged as second and third largest source revenue generating the market for the island country respectively. Italy and UK welcomed on an average around 20,000 visitors.last_img read more

Brazil to promote gayfriendly tourism

first_imgTo promote Brazil as a gay-friendly tourist destination, Brazil’s Tourism Ministry recently signed an agreement with the Brazilian LGBT Trade and Commerce Chamber. With the help of the agreement, the Brazilian government aims to increase awareness of Brazil as a gay-friendly destination and also improve treatment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).Vinicius Lummertz, Tourism Minister of Brazil confirmed that the country is still a very conservative nation, but the agreement will help bridge gaps and improve communication in the tourism sector. Brazil is home to many natural resources and dozens of tourist destinations with the potential to attract millions of people. Last year, according to the Tourism Ministry, the country received a record high of 6.5 million foreign tourists.last_img read more

Feds Sue Allied Home Mortgage Alleging 834M Fraud

first_imgFeds Sue Allied Home Mortgage, Alleging $834M Fraud November 1, 2011 460 Views in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Prosecutors slapped “”Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corp.””:http://www.alliedhome.com/ with a lawsuit Tuesday, seeking to recoup $834 million in bad claims from two executives for their alleged roles in bilking the government over the course of a decade.[IMAGE]The “”complaint””:http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/pressreleases/November11/alliedhomemortgagepr.pdf accused president and CEO Jim Hodge and EVP Jeanne Stell of violating federal law by knowingly misrepresenting mortgages to authorities, failing to keep up with quality control guidelines, and originating federally insured loans at unapproved branch offices across the country.In a statement, “”U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara””:http://www.justice.gov/usao/nys/ called the Houston-based company’s alleged conduct “”egregious”” and pledged to continue an ongoing investigation against the company.””Allied and its CEO exploited a government insurance program to engage in a wholesale shifting of risk away from itself ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô playing a lending industry equivalent of heads-I-win and tails-you-lose,”” he said. “”The losers here were American taxpayers and the thousands of families who faced foreclosure because they could not ultimately fulfill their obligations on mortgages that were doomed to fail.””Added “”HUD””:http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD “”General Counsel Helen Kanovsky””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/about/principal_staff/general_counselor_kanovsky: “”We will not tolerate mortgage lenders who play fast and loose with [COLUMN_BREAK]FHA’s standards. These defendants demonstrated a pattern of recklessness and utter disregard for how we do business. They’ve harmed FHA, hurt homeowners, and now they’ll be held to account for their actions.””Spokespeople for neither Allied Home Mortgage nor HUD could be immediately reached for comment.According to the complaint, the company originated more than 110,000 loans insured by the “”Federal Housing Administration””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/federal_housing_administration (FHA) for nearly 10 years.Of the borrowers with those mortgages, it said, more than 30 percent have defaulted on their loans, with the rate for defaults hitting 55 percent between 2006 and 2007. The office said that loans fraudulently certified by Allied Home Mortgage have resulted in $834 million in payout claims from the FHA, with potentially $363 million more on the way.Bharara and his office lodged accusations that the company deployed 600 “”shadow”” branches to originate loans with false identifiers that it presented to HUD.Hodge allegedly directed senior staff to sign off on false statements to federal authorities despite their concerns. The complaint cites one instance in which Stell ordered a senior manager to execute a report on her behalf, saying in an e-mail that it “”serves [Hodge] right… thinking he doesn’t have to play by the rules.””The complaint said that Allied Home Mortgage also fraudulently obtained tax credits by standing up quality control centers in the U.S. Virgin Islands, staffed by employees that one visiting manager said “”did not know what HUD was or even what a mortgage was.””The company also allegedly misrepresented their staff names and criminal records to federal authorities by knowingly employing felons with convictions in numerous states.HUD and “”Ginnie Mae””:http://ginniemae.gov/ suspended the lender earlier Tuesday.center_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News FHA Ginnie Mae HUD Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Mortgage Insurance Processing Service Providers Top Stories of 2011 2011-11-01 Ryan Schuette Sharelast_img read more

Platinum Data Appoints SVP of Sales

first_img September 25, 2013 437 Views New,Platinum Data Appoints SVP of Sales In California, “”Platinum Data””:http://www.platdata.com/ hired industry veteran Norm Koenig as its new SVP of sales.[IMAGE]Koenig has worked in mortgage technology sales for more than 23 years and in that time has developed a track record of working with lenders to develop unique technology solutions to address their specific needs. Prior to joining Platinum, he spent nearly five years in sales and management roles with DocMagic, starting as a sales executive before working his way up to executive sales manager and, most recently, director of strategic initiatives.As SVP of sales at Platinum, he has the responsibility of developing and implementing sales strategies for achieving the company’s goals within the mortgage lending segment. He will also play a key role in introducing new and upgraded products to the market.””Norm knows the issues, challenges and needs of mortgage lenders far better than the vast majority of his peers,”” said Platinum CEO Phil Huff. “”He’s a creative, free thinker who, like everyone else at Platinum, is passionate about empowering lenders with the customized technologies that address their specific needs.””Koenig is the company’s fourth tactical addition to its executive management team in the past 18 months. Each member has been selected to fulfill a specific, defined role in Platinum’s strategic plan.””I was amazed to discover the level of talent on the Platinum team,”” Koenig said. “”With the technology, operations and management expertise they have on staff, this company is poised to take off even more than its impressive triple digit growth over the past few years. It’s really exciting to be a part of a company that is destined for the level of success that Platinum is on target to achieve in 2014 and 2015.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Service Providers 2013-09-25 Tory Barringercenter_img in Technology Sharelast_img read more

Forecast Calls for Economic Thaw

first_img As it turns out, the entire U.S. economy has been suffering from seasonal affective disorder. According to the UCLA Anderson Forecast, the one-two punch of harsh winter weather in the East and a nagging drought in the West (namely California) stalled industries from real estate to factory production, putting a tight chokehold on the national economy.However, according to its latest economic outlook report, released Wednesday, Anderson expects the national GDP to growth by roughly 3 percent now that warmer and wetter spring weather is on the way. Moreover, as the GDP rises, increased housing and business investments and consumer spending should keep that growth rate steady through 2016.Accordingly, as the U.S. GDP grows, so should grow job opportunities and salaries. In March, Freddie Mac announced that it expects home sales to grow along with wages this year, despite a still-tough job market in most sectors. Mirroring UCLA’s GDP predictions, Freddie is projecting a 3 percent rise in home sales and a 20 percent rise in new home construction in 2014, which the agency expects to level out to a 5 percent overall growth.In the Wednesday report, UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist David Shulman stated: “We can visualize the economy creating between 200,000 and 250,000 jobs a month, with the unemployment rate dropping to 5.4 percent by late 2016. Total payroll employment will surpass the prior 2007 peak, but the economy will remain well below its pre-Great Recession growth path.”Shulman’s words echo Freddie’s, which stated last month that construction and manufacturing jobs, though still struggling, are on a steady rise. Construction is roughly 80 percent of its 2007 peak and manufacturing at about 90 percent, according to Freddie.Shulman also expects the core consumer price index to increase from 1.8 percent (its 2013 low) to 2.5 percent by 2016. This uptick in inflation, he said, should bring a corresponding—and much welcomed— rise in salaries nationally, as much as 4 percent this year. This, of course, bolsters a recovering housing market as more money and more stable jobs generate more interest in homebuying among U.S. workers.Shulman also said that the Federal Reserve’s long experiments with zero-interest rates and quantitative easing are slowly waning. He expects that the monthly bond buying program, once at $85 billion and now at $55 billion, will essentially ground to a halt by September. “We forecast that the Federal Funds rate will rise, to use ‘Fedspeak,’ at a measured pace, reaching 3 percent by the end of 2016,” Shulman said.Specific to California, UCLA Anderson Forecast senior economist Jerry Nickelsburg that the state’s lingering drought choked its four main economic engines—agriculture, fisheries and the environment, households and industry—but not beyond what Californians are long used to.”Overall, the state is not likely to be greatly impacted,” Nickelsburg said.  He expects the state’s total employment to grow by more than 2 percent for the next three years. Share Forecast Calls for Economic Thaw April 2, 2014 400 Views center_img in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Consumer spending Forecast GDP Jobs 2014-04-02 Scott_Morganlast_img read more

Freddie Mac Posts Net Loss of 475 Million in Q3

first_img Department of Treasury Freddie Mac Net Loss Q3 2015 Earnings Statement 2015-11-03 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, News Freddie Mac Posts Net Loss of $475 Million in Q3 Sharecenter_img Freddie Mac reported a net loss of $475 million for Q3 2015 in its 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, the first time the GSE has reported a quarterly net loss in four years. The good news is that Freddie Mac will not need another draw from the Department of Treasury to continue operations.In the second quarter of 2015, Freddie Mac reported a net income of $4.2 billion. The Enterprise also reported a comprehensive loss in Q3 of $501 million, compared to a comprehensive income of $3.9 billion in the previous quarter. According to Freddie Mac CEO Donald Layton, the dropoff of $4.675 billion in net income from Q2 to Q3 is largely due to changes in interest rates that drove down the value of its derivatives (securities with a price derived from underlying assets—a contract between parties based on the assets, with the value of the contract determined by fluctuations in the underlying assets).“For the first time in four years, Freddie Mac had a net loss in the most recent quarter,” Layton said. “This $0.5 billion loss was caused mainly by the accounting associated with our use of derivatives, whereby the derivatives are marked-to-market but many of the assets and liabilities being hedged are not. The resulting difference between GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) reporting and the actual underlying economics, which has created significant GAAP income volatility in our quarterly financial statements, reduced the after-tax earnings in the quarter by an estimated $1.5 billion as interest rates declined significantly. In the prior quarter, we had the opposite result with a $1.5 billion positive contribution to earnings as rates rose significantly.”The loss will not cause Freddie Mac to need another draw from Treasury since it was only a fraction of the $1.8 billion net worth reserve the Enterprise has under the Preferred Stock Agreement, according to Layton. The dividends paid into Treasury by Freddie Mac remained unchanged at $96.5 billion, which is about $25 billion more than the $71 billion the Enterprise received in a taxpayer-funded bailout in 2008.Click here to see Freddie Mac’s complete Q3 earnings report.Dallas-based servicer Nationstar Mortgage Holdings on Tuesday reported adjusted earnings of $32 million and a quarterly net loss (for GAAP purposes) of $66 million. Nationstar reported a quarterly net income of $75 million in Q2, which followed a quarterly net loss of $48 million in Q1.The company’s servicing segment achieved an adjusted pretax income of $36 million in Q3, which computes to 3.6 basis points of profitability based on average servicing during the quarter. For Nationstar’s originations segment, revenues increased sequentially during Q3 for the fifth straight quarter, up to $180 million.During Q3, Xome sold more than 4,900 properties and ended the quarter with about 8,000 in its inventory, increasing third-party revenues to 34 percent of total revenue as Xome continues to diversify its revenue streams and client base, according to Nationstar.”Our servicing segment delivered on our profitability goal by improving delinquency levels which resulted in higher base servicing fees and continued to focus on driving down expenses that have the most impact to our profitability,” said Jay Bray, CEO of Nationstar. “Our originations team also met its primary goal to replenish our servicing portfolio in a cost effective manner by funding $5 billion in mortgages, the highest volume since the fourth quarter of 2013. Furthermore, Xome continues to simplify real estate transactions by enabling buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals to successfully operate in the most efficient, transparent manner possible.”Click here to see Nationstar’s Q3 earnings statement. November 3, 2015 572 Views last_img read more

A Common Vision at Chase Bank

first_imgA new Chase Bank is on the horizon. We sat down with the man leading the charge.By: Xhevrije WestTo say Chase Bank is big would be an understatement. After all, the banking behemoth has worldwide operations and assets totaling $2.6 trillion. Although almost half of American households do some form of business with Chase—whether personal banking, small business lending, credit card services, auto financing, investment advice, or mortgage lending—it’s unlikely that many have put much thought into the leadership helm behind the Chase name.However, despite it’s size, Chase is far from a nameless, faceless corporation. Like any good story, there is more to Chase than what is on the surface—namely the professionals who make up the lifeblood of the company. Chase is home to the elite, the best in the field, and the company’s employees happily welcome the challenge of tackling today’s regulated market.One such professional is Mike Weinbach, the recently appointed CEO of Mortgage Banking at Chase. A wunderkind in his position at only 42, Weinbach is ushering in a new era. The Chase mortgage department is shifting its focus to make homeownership a possibility for millions of Americans.The Beginnings of Weinbach’s Chase Appointed to lead Chase’s mortgage banking division in December 2015, Weinbach previously served as Head of Mortgage Servicing and has been with the company since 2004, when Chase merged with Bank One.With a Bachelor of Science from The Wharton School already under his belt, Weinbach began his career in financial services 20 years ago when he became a mergers and acquisitions investment banker at Smith Barney. It was while working on a number of deals for Citigroup that Weinbach decided to enroll in business school at Harvard. During a short stint away from financial services, he started U-inspire, a company focused on employee motivation and communication services.“It was a great experience, but after several years of the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, I was ready to join a company where I would have a bigger platform to drive change. It was at this point, I realized that I really enjoyed financial services,” Weinbach said.After coming on board at Chase, he quickly recognized an area of opportunity in the bank’s small business banking division and requested to be placed in this sector.“I’ve been very fortunate during my time at Chase and have gained a broad set of experiences through positions in sales, finance, operations, and general management across consumer banking, business banking, auto finance, and mortgage,” Weinbach said. “It can be challenging to move into new areas, but each move has made me a better banker and more effective advocate for our customers, employees, and shareholders.”All Roads Lead to TechnologyIn recent years, lenders have become more aware of the growing demand for digital origination, especially as millennials enter the market. “One of the bigger trends we’ve seen is more millennials buying their first home,” David Beck, Chase’s CFO for Mortgage Banking said. “Over the last few years, millennials delayed jumping into the market, but now are ready. Like past generations, millennials will need financial advice but will receive it in digital as well as traditional forms.”To better understand how today’s consumer interacts with technology, Chase conducted an online survey of 1,014 adults. According to the survey, 72 percent of homeowners don’t expect to stay in their homes long-term. Chase suggests that the endless sources of information available through technology are leading homeowners to continually look for the next best thing. In addition, Chase found that 68 percent of consumers are starting the home buying process on their own.The survey showed that 45 percent of consumers are using a computer or laptop as the first step, while 13 percent use their mobile device. Meanwhile, only 11 percent of Americans first check their local listings in a newspaper or magazine.“Across the industry, I think you can expect to see further innovation with digital enhancements to simplify the mortgage process,” Weinbach said. “Customers don’t want to place a phone call to ask a question or resolve an issue. Today’s consumer wants to do most things online and they want an online experience that empowers them to easily track down answers to their questions and complete almost any transaction they need related to their mortgage.”Regulators and Lenders Working as OneTechnology isn’t the only arena where Chase is experiencing rapid change. The regulations governing mortgage banking have seen significant growth since the housing crisis. Executives like Weinbach have had to juggle helping their companies remain profitable, while successfully complying with evolving regulations.Lela Wingard, Chase’s Head of Community Reinvestment & Community Partnerships notes that in today’s market the focus is on being an accountable and trustworthy lender.“Lenders have intensified their focus on responsible mortgage lending so that customers who choose to buy have a positive and sustainable homeownership experience, which also helps the communities in which they live, thrive,” Wingard explained.With banks now having to own up to their regulatory responsibilities, it’s comply with the new rules or pay the price. The nation’s top lenders have fiercely debated for the last eight years whether or not the added compliance costs imposed on businesses justifies the benefits of the regulations themselves.“As an industry we have no one to blame but ourselves for the enhanced regulation as a result of the financial crisis. The new regulations are well intended and many have improved the industry and customer protections,” Weinbach said. “However, the collective weight of federal, state, and local regulations, not to mention investor rules from the GSEs, Federal Housing Administration, and others, have put the industry on its heels and consumed investment which would otherwise go toward growth and innovation.”“Regulation is undoubtedly a crucial and permanent part of the mortgage business, but I hope the pace of regulatory change will slow given the great progress that the industry and regulators have made together,” Weinbach noted. “However, with a greater emphasis on regulating traditional banks, there’s been a lesser focus on some of the more aggressive lending that the non-traditional banks employ. There should be equal oversight of all lending institutions in the effort to prevent another crisis.”Upward and Onward—Charting the Future of ChaseIn many ways, despite today’s market challenges, the Chase mortgage-banking department has been a source of strength for the company over the past year. While JPMorgan Chase as a whole reported that its first quarter profits for 2016 were down year-over-year by 7 percent, Chase’s mortgage banking net revenue increased by 7 percent up to $1.9 billion in the first quarter. The increases were driven by better results in its mortgage servicing rights risk management and strong loan growth, partially offset by lower servicing revenue, according to a company earnings report.Maribeth Robinson, a member of Weinbach’s team and Head of Mortgage Banking Human Resources, explained, “In the mortgage bank and at Chase more broadly, we’ve put an increased focus on improving the customer experience as well as employee engagement.”As the new head of mortgage banking, Weinbach intends to keep up the momentum in this division by making it easier for Chase customers to get a mortgage or home equity loan. The company has added over 1,000 new employees since the beginning of the year in areas like underwriting, loan processing, and closing to meet the anticipated wave of activity in the industry.According to Weinbach, this growth will not sacrifice the standards that have become so important to remain complaint in today’s regulated industry.“This doesn’t mean a return to lax underwriting standards, but rather the opportunity to leverage technology and what we already know about our customers to simplify what can often be a daunting process. For most customers, buying a new home is the largest purchase they have made in their life and we want to be there to guide them through the experience,” Weinbach said. “We’re continuing to invest in technology that makes it easier for our customers to do business with us and that offers a simpler, faster journey to the front door of their new home.”At the core of all Chase operations are the customers and communities it serves. Weinbach says the company’s goal is to “better integrate with the bank’s extensive branch network and deepen relationships with new and existing Chase customers who don’t have a mortgage, and educate them on the benefits and ease of having one bank handle all of their financial needs.”“As consumer behavior evolves, so goes the mortgage industry. The majority of Americans now expect a faster, simpler buying process, and big purchases like homes and cars are no exception. To meet those needs, avenues that make purchasing a home a more seamless, user-friendly experience are a hot commodity.”Weinbach and his team are dedicated to navigating these new frontiers, paving the way for success not only for Chase, but the entire financial industry. “I am excited for the future of our industry and what we can do for our customers at Chase,” Weinbach concluded.Editor’s note: This select print feature appears in the June 2016 edition of MReport magazine. Chase Bank JPMorgan Chase Mortgage Banking 2016-05-30 Staff Writer May 30, 2016 788 Views in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Print Featurescenter_img Share A Common Vision at Chase Banklast_img read more

Are Slow Pending Home Sales a Bad Omen for Housing

first_img Pending home sales cooled off in August for the third time in four months, and it could be a sign of a stalling housing market, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).According to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR, evidence is piling up that without more new home construction the current housing recovery could stall. While housing slowed in August and even reached its lowest point since January, housing inventory has declined year-over-year for 15 straight months.Time on the market is shrinking, though, and prices are growing. While that sounds good, it signals a choking due to limited inventory. According to NAR, properties in August typically sold 11 days quicker than in August 2015 and after increasing 5.1 percent last month, existing-home prices have risen year-over-year for 54 consecutive months.“There will be an expected seasonal decline in new listings in coming months, which could accelerate price appreciation and make finding an affordable home even more of a struggle for would-be buyers,” Yun said. “Contract activity slackened throughout the country in August except for in the Northeast, where higher inventory totals are giving home shoppers greater options and better success signing a contract.”Overall, NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI) declined 2.4 percent to 108.5 in August. That’s also slightly lower (0.2 percent) than August 2015. The Northeast index did rise, by 1.3 percent to 98.1 in August. That’s 6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index decreased 0.9 percent to 104.7 in August, and is now 1.7 percent lower than August 2015. But the Midwest, South, and West all dropped noticeably. The West suffered most, with a 5.3 percent decline in August.Earlier this month, NAR released a new study that revealed single-family home construction is not keeping pace with job creation and is lacking overall in 80 percent of measured metro areas. When combined with the scant supply levels for existing homes, these tight inventory conditions continue to hamper affordability in many of the largest cities in the country—especially those in the West.“Given the current conditions, there’s not much room for sales to march again towards June’s peak cyclical sales pace,” said Yun.The lack of available residential housing inventory has been well-documented for the last several months. But while NAR cautions that a lack of new construction may hinder housing’s recovery, some analysts noted that the August pending sales report along with other recent macroeconomic measures may be a good sign for housing.“[B]uilder confidence surged in September along with consumer confidence,” said Stephen Melman, Director of Economic Services with the National Association of Home Builders. “Also, August new home sales recorded their second strongest month since the Great Recession. These reports suggest good news for new construction as the housing recovery continues to address demand among first-time buyers and broaden across a wider range of markets during the balance of 2016.” September 29, 2016 613 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News National Association of Realtors Pending-Home Sales 2016-09-29 ScottMorgan1center_img Share Are Slow Pending Home Sales a Bad Omen for Housing?last_img read more

CFPB TRID HMDA and Servicing Rules Updates

first_img Share CFPB: TRID, HMDA, and Servicing Rules Updates CFPB HMDA Servicing Rules Updates TRID 2017-01-09 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Servicingcenter_img January 9, 2017 653 Views Three of the initiatives by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that have had the biggest impact on the mortgage industry—the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule (a.k.a. the Know Before You Owe, or KBYO rule), the updated Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) rule, and the August 2016 updates to the mortgage servicing rules were highlighted in a report on the Bureau’s activities from Q4 2015 to Q3 2016.In its recently-released fourth report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations coving October 1, 2015, through September 30, 2016, the Bureau laid out some of the materials and helps it provided during that 12-month period to assist institutions implement those three initiatives.“As the Bureau has issued regulations to implement Dodd-Frank Act requirements, it has focused intently on supporting the implementation process for these rules with both industry and consumers,” CFPB stated in the report. “The Bureau has provided substantial implementation support for these regulations, including engaging in public outreach, speaking at conferences, and publishing guides, summaries, charts, webinars, and other resources.”The implementation of TRID, which went into effect on October 3, 2015, caused no small amount of consternation among mortgage lenders and other stakeholders in the industry. Among the helps the CFPB has provided are several implementation resources that include a plain-language guides containing an overview of TRID’s key aspects, illustrated instructions on how to complete the new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure Forms. The Bureau has also conducted several public webinars on TRID to answer specific questions on the implementation and/or interpretation of the rule’s requirements the Bureau has received since the rule went into effect.In July 2016, the Bureau proposed updates to TRID aimed at providing greater clarity and certainty surrounding the rule.“The proposed changes would augment implementation of the KBYO rule, which took effect in October 2015, and further help to facilitate compliance within the mortgage industry,” CFPB stated. “Bureau staff continues to engage in outreach and market monitoring activities to identify implementation issues as they arise, and provide informal oral guidance in response to interpretive inquiries from a myriad of stakeholders.”The CFPB issued its updated HMDA rule in October 2015 along with resources to help industry stakeholders understand and implement the new rule, including a summary and overview of the final rule, a timeline of the rule’s effective dates, coverage charts for financial institutions to determine if they are HMDA reporters, a summary of reportable data explaining the HMDA data points that are to be collected, recorded, and reported per the updated rule, a compliance guide with a plain-language explanation of the rule, a webinar with an overview of the final HMDA rule, and a number of data submission resources for HMDA filers available on the CFPB’s website.“In addition to publishing implementation resources, the Bureau continues to engage in extensive outreach activities, including speaking at conferences and other events, to support the implementation of new HMDA mortgage lending data reporting rules and to identify and address implementation issues,” the Bureau said.The CFPB published a number of resources along with the August 2016 updates to its mortgage servicing rules, including a summary of the new rule, a fact sheet, and a table summarizing how the rule affects small servicers, and a fact sheet explaining the definition of “delinquency” under the new rule and how the new rule applies to TILA-RESPA requirements.“The Bureau plans provide additional support to facilitate implementation and compliance with the August 2016 amendments to the mortgage servicing rules, and to update the existing compliance guide to reflect the August 2016 amendments,” the CFPB wrote in the report.Click here to view the CFPB’s full report.last_img read more

What Will a Restructured Ditech Look Like

first_img Bankruptcy ditech 2019-02-11 Rachel Williams On Monday, Ditech Holding Corporation announced it is entering into its second Chapter 11 bankruptcy agreement since 2017, citing added pressure from accelerated market challenges for the push to take further action. Thomas F. Marano, President and CEO of Ditech, said, “Since we completed a recapitalization last February, we have made important progress on our strategic initiatives and our expense management effort.” Although signs of financial trouble persist, the company is seeking authorization to continue operations in the ordinary course of business, according to a number of first-day motions filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. In connection with the court-supervised process, Ditech has received commitments for up to $1.9 billion in debtor-in-possession financing to support its operations during the Chapter 11 process. Under the Restructuring Support Agreement, Ditech will pursue a recapitalization that extinguishes over $800 million in corporate debt, while the company simultaneously continues to consider a broad range of options. This includes a potential sale of the company and/or a sale of all or a portion of the company’s assets, and changes to the company’s business model. Marano added, “As we move forward, we remain firmly committed to our mission of serving customers through the homeownership journey. I want to thank our employees for their continued dedication to serving our customers. Our people will continue to be the driving force behind our success.”  In an effort to provide more information Ditech and RMS sent letters to their customers and put out FAQs about the process on Ditech Holding’s website in addition to the Company’s Restructuring Hotline, toll-free at 866.486.4809 or 503.597.7698 for calls originating outside of the U.S.Additional court filings and other documents related to the court proceedings are available by clicking here. February 11, 2019 2,438 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, journal, News, Servicingcenter_img What Will a Restructured Ditech Look Like? Sharelast_img read more

With the growing customer demand for free twohou

first_imgWith the growing customer demand for free, two-hour delivery from Whole Foods Market via Prime Now, Amazon and Whole Foods Market continue to expand the service in existing metros to serve even more customers, and develop coverage for new metros, including to nine additional U.S. metros.Currently, delivery from Whole Foods Market via Prime Now is available in 75 U.S. metros, and grocery pickup from Whole Foods Market via Prime Now is available in 30 metros, though the company expects these numbers to rise this year.A further change concerns the corporation’s embrace of financial assistance programs at its Whole Foods Market – Amazon now accepts New York-issued Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT cards as part of an online pilot launched in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture.This means millions of beneficiaries can now use their nutrition assistance benefits to order groceries online and have them delivered directly to their door, including through free access to Prime Pantry and Amazon Fresh. You might also be interested in Amazon boosts ties with French food retailer Casin … Amazon.com has released the financial results for its first quarter, reporting marked increases for its net sales and net income, and also highlighting some of the biggest developments it has made with fresh produce.The quarter, which ended on March 31, 2019, saw the company’s total net sales rising 17% to US$59.7 billion. Net income increased to US$3.6 billion during this time, a total more than double year-on-year.Regarding Amazon’s latest fresh produce policies, over the quarter the company announced a third round of price cuts for all produce at its Whole Foods Market, and says it’s offering additional Prime benefits with more exclusive weekly deals on popular products across departments. U.S.: Amazon reportedly planning to launch new gro … center_img How Amazon sparked change in grocery industry … April 29 , 2019 U.S.: Amazon, Walmart to pilot online grocery purc … last_img read more