Governments look to offload SAS stakes

first_imgDenmark, Norway and Sweden are all considering the possibility of offloading their stakes in cash-strapped SAS, the Scandinavian multi-national airline.After Sweden last week officially announced that it was considering dropping its 21.4% stake in SAS both Norway and Denmark, each holding a further 14.3% stake, confirmed that they too could consider selling their shares. The other 50% of SAS is already publicly held.“[We are] asking for a mandate from parliament to reduce the state’s ownership in SAS at a suitable point in time,” said Sweden in a statement.It’s understood that Sweden is looking to sell-off a portion of its stake, and is unlikely to let the airline entirely out of its grasp. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.X <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1720c/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=132&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a238f441″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>last_img read more

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CWT expands GM Australia role into New Zealand

first_imgBusiness travel management group Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) announced the expansion of Managing Director Australia David Greenland’s role to lead both the Australian and New Zealand divisions. The announcement made earlier this week is part of the company’s larger plan to expand the business and strengthen its presence in the region under a single lead. “It is the next logical step in growing the New Zealand business as we look to increase our strength across the Tasman,” CWT Asia Pacific chief operating officer Martin Warner said. “The Australian and New Zealand businesses have shared clients, therefore it makes sense for a single role to oversee all business activities in the region.“This structural change also forms part of our global and regional strategic priorities and will benefit clients, employees and both CWT businesses alike.”Mr Warner said the expanded role will also compliment the current shared processes and systems between CWT Australia and CWT New Zealand. “David is a proven leader and his depth of understanding and passion for the CWT business will go a long way to strengthen CWT in these key markets,” Mr Warner said. Mr Greenland has worked at CWT for nine years. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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Cellar door wine festival wins two national awards for excellence

first_imgSource = Adelaide Convention Centre The Cellar Door Wine Festival, established and run by the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC), to showcase the best South Australian wines and local produce to visitors, has been recognised with two national awards for excellence by the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA). The Festival was announced as the winner of the Best Consumer Show under 10,000 square metres and overall winner of the best Australian Show at the Association’s annual awards ceremony, held last night in Melbourne. The awards follow the Festival recently being shortlisted for a national tourism award after it won the 2012 South Australian Tourism Award (SATA) in the Festival and Events category. In 2012, the Festival which is only in its second year, attracted more than 6,500 visitors, and provided an opportunity for visitors to sample free tastings from 150+ wineries across 12 iconic South Australian regions, and all under one roof in the heart of Adelaide. Managed by the ACC, the Festival is now the largest consumer wine event in the country, showcasing two of South Australia’s key tourism drawcards – premium wine and food. Adelaide Convention Centre Chief Executive Alec Gilbert said the awards are well deserved recognition for the hard working team at the Adelaide Convention Centre who came up with the idea for the Festival and who’ve managed it so well. “The concept for the Festival came about when discussing ideas to maximise occupancy at the Centre, particularly during periods like January and February where the conference industry tends to slow down,” said Mr Gilbert. “This has led the Centre to creating the Cellar Door Wine Festival and The Big Slapple – an official Adelaide Fringe Festival event which next year will feature 53 performances by 17 artists in two specially created venues within the Centre.” “Originally, we tried to find an event management company to run the Cellar Door Wine Festival or to share the risk with us but couldn’t find anyone willing or able to take on the event and decided to run it ourselves. “In just two years, we’ve established the Cellar Door Wine Festival as a major consumer event in Australia and have now added a wine trade component to help put the spotlight on South Australia’s premium wine and food producers. “The Festival is already starting to attract international interest, particularly from China, where we’ve been actively marketing the event to local wine buyers.”The 2013 Festival (February 22-24) has attracted 30 new wineries to the annual event bringing the number of participating exhibitors to 170, with thousands of wines to showcased from 13 iconic South Australian regions. The event will also incorporate a series of wine Master Classes including an “SA Seafood and White Wine Showcase” and “Emerging Trends” – a journey through the newest and most exciting varietals to hit the shelves. Next year’s Festival will put a greater emphasis on South Australian food with a Tastes of SA Demonstration Stage and a new food producer’s area, supported by Event Major Sponsor, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA).last_img read more

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Beijing three days visafree

first_imgBeijing is now visa-free for visitors from 45 select countries. Image: eChinaCities Beijing has kicked off the New Year by commencing its 72-hour visa-free policy.Travellers from 45 countries around the world, with outbound air tickets and visas to a third country, are now permitted to visit the Chinese capital for three days without the obligatory visa.This policy will promote Beijing’s regional economy, tourism and civil aviation industry, Air China reported.The 72-hour visa-free stay policy will increase transfer passenger numbers in Beijing.Flag carrier Air China is offering products and services to meet the needs and demands of transfer passengers, ensuring added convenience for travellers to and from Beijing.Air China is planning to work closely with local travel operators to introduce one to three day tours, providing a unique experience for short-time visitors.Below is a list of the 45 countries that qualify for the 72-hour visa-free stay policy.For more information, travellers can visit the official website of the Beijing Tourism Administration.Australia, the United States, Canada, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Russia, Greece, Brazil, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Qatar. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

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TAA Chairman honoured with international award

first_imgTony South, Chairman of Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) will tonight be honoured with a prestigious international accommodation industry award.The ‘Trailblazer Award’ will be presented to Mr South in Singapore tonight (Australian time) at the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) Update in recognition of his outstanding international accommodation industry career.  The Trailblazer Award is intended for individuals who have been pioneers in the Asia-Pacific hospitality industry by their actions, deeds, vision and leadership.  Mr South is a former Chief Development Officer – Asia Pacific for Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) and has been Chairman of TAA since March 2012.TAA Managing Director Rodger Powell said the recognition is well deserved.“Tony South has been a global leader in tourism and accommodation for many years. He was a partner of Horwath and then CEO of the Sydney Visitors and Convention Bureau before heading up the TAHL hotel investment group. He then led IHG in Australia before heading to Singapore to take up the regional role. “This award is a fitting recognition for Tony’s leadership that has included trail blazing activities such as the foundation of TTF, the establishment of TAA and, famously, for standing down from the Tourism NSW board over the bed tax.“The Trailblazer Award is a prestigious industry honour and this announcement highlights how fortunate TAA is to have secured Tony’s services as Chairman in this critical time for the industry in Australia.“Attracting overseas investment in the Australian accommodation industry is increasingly important, and it is great to have access to one of the country’s finest minds on this matter.“On behalf of TAA’s members I congratulate Tony on this award.” …… Source = TAAlast_img read more

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AIME reimagined with new brand future outlook

first_imgThe 23rd Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) officially kicked off today at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, unveiling its new direction and branding, which includes taking the two day annual event to a year-round community interaction.In line with its strategy  to transform the AIME experience and its engagement with the business events industry, the focus will be on enhancing and extending opportunities for inspiration, education and business.The move comes in response to the exhibition industry’s fast changing model, with AIME redefining and executing its business strategy across its three key areas of networking, business and education, by delivering a higher calibre of expertise, knowledge and exchange of ideas to its community of exhibitors, buyers and visitors.Melbourne Convention Bureau chief executive officer Karen Bolinger said that while the value of face to face networking remains significant, technological developments and new media has changed the way we conduct business interactions.“The changes to AIME have been done firmly with our customers in mind and it is about our brand remaining relevant and implementing new ways to continually increase the value to our exhibitors, buyers and visitors, making it easier for people to come together to inspire, connect and do business, which has now shifted to a hybrid of face to face and digital touch-points to connect and converse,” Ms Bolinger said.Supported by the tag line “Where inspiration begins”, AIME’s new branding features its community as an industry led collaboration, while its new logo has been designed to tie in with both traditional and digital media more effectively.With the vision to support and bring the business events community together, the new AIME experience has already been implemented through a number of changes to this year’s two day event.One such example is the Community Hub, a new feature in the centre of the show floor created to encourage interaction and engagement amongst the AIME community through roundtable coaching sessions and a networking area.“The entire show floor has also been redesigned for ease of access and an enhanced attendee experience, while specific sections including geographic regions, hotels, venues, and products and services have been allocated to different ‘zones’, making it easier for attendees to find the suppliers they wish to connect with,” AIME and CIBTM exhibition director Jacqui Timmins said.Ms Timmins stressed the importance of understanding what attendees’ needs are prior to, during and after the event to the new initiatives and in determining how the AIME experience will continue to evolve.“AIME 2015 marks the beginning of a new strategic direction that will ensure we continue to lead the industry and provide added value to the business events community and its business growth.”Source = ETB Travel News: Lana Bogunovichlast_img read more

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Travel Counsellors experience 100 New Zealand

first_imgNew Zealand Mega FamTravel Counsellors experience 100% New ZealandA group of Travel Counsellors agents recently experienced the very best of New Zealand on a five day ‘mega-fam’ organised by New Zealand Tourism. Olivia Glover, Paayal Chandra, Danielle Catrupi and Lara Burgermeister joined 400 other travel agents from all over Australia on the familiarisation tour designed to showcase the highlights of New Zealand. With the group divided up to follow different itineraries, Travel Counsellors agents got to experience the diversity of New Zealand by enjoying a range of culinary, cultural, historical and outdoors experiences.Olivia Glover of Mt Evelyn, Victoria travelled to Waitomo, Rotorua and Hamilton. “Visiting Hobbiton (the village movie set from The Lord of the Rings trilogy) was a major highlight! I learnt so much about New Zealand on this trip, with the training day in Auckland providing so much useful information that will help me sell New Zealand trips to clients in the future,” comments Olivia.Lara Burgermeister of Berwick was very impressed with her stay at the Langham Hotel in Auckland. “This beautiful hotel has a fantastic location as it’s within walking distance of most of Auckland’s harbourside attractions. The Langham’s signature restaurant has by far one of the best buffet offerings I’ve ever experienced. It was especially great for gluten-free or dairy-free dining as all meals were clearly labelled,” Lara comments.Lara also enjoyed time in Christchurch, where bike riding and dining in some of Christchurch’s restaurants allowed her to see how this resilient city has recovered from the devastating earthquake of 2011. Lara counts seeing whales, dolphins and baby fur seals in Kaikoura as another highlight of the trip.“I can only rate my experience in New Zealand as 10 out of 10. This country is right on our doorstop and has so much to offer. It has some of the most diverse and stunning landscapes and the food and wine are amongst the best in the world. I encourage everyone to begin planning their New Zealand holiday today,” says Lara.Managing Director, David Hughes comments, “Familiarisation trips like this offer Travel Counsellors agents a chance to experience popular destinations and enhance their already strong sales skills. We are proud that we offer so many opportunities for our agents to go on trips like this so that our agents not only have the chance to increase their extensive travel knowledge further, but also to help their ability to sell the destination in the future.”About Travel Counsellors:Travel Counsellors Australia was established in 2007 and currently has over 120 Travel Counsellors. Our head office in Australia is in Melbourne. Travel Counsellors Australia is accredited with ATAS. Travel Counsellors is the world’s largest home-based travel company. Founded in 1994 it currently has 1,400 travel consultants who work from home with the support of over 250 staff at the company’s UK headquarters and overseas offices. The company operates in Australia, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, UAE and Belgium. TravelcounsellorsJoin Travelcounsellors Here Source = Travel Counsellors Australialast_img read more

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Lights out on Vivid Sydney 2016

first_imgImage credit: Destination NSWAfter a record-breaking 23 nights, the lights have finally gone out on Vivid Sydney 2016 which has been widely acclaimed as the best ever.The world’s largest festival of light music and ideas has captivated the imaginations of Sydneysiders, as well interstate and international visitors.Visitors to Vivid Sydney have delighted in light art including The Cathedral of Light at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Songlines on the Sails of the Sydney Opera House, Be the Light for the Wild at Taronga Zoo, and the world-record setting Dress Circle installation. Vivid Sydney is owned, managed and produced by Destination NSW, the State Government’s tourism and major events agency.NSW Minister for Trade, Tourism and Major Events, Stuart Ayres, said: “Festivals of this magnitude don’t just happen and I’d like to thank the Vivid Sydney team, who delivered 90 light installations and projections throughout the city, programmed 190 Vivid Music gigs and hosted 658 speakers at 183 Vivid Ideas events.“I’d also like to say a huge thank you to the 509 dedicated Vivid Sydney volunteers who have been the face of the festival and worked across 1,860 shifts helping local and international visitors over the 9,300 hours of the event. We truly appreciate the volunteers taking the time to be a part of Vivid Sydney and contributing to visitors’ positive experiences of the event.Image credit: Destination NSW“Finally, I’d like to thank all the NSW Government agencies and precincts that have been instrumental in bringing this festival to life including the NSW Police, City of Sydney, Willoughby Council, NSW Ambulance, Transport for NSW, Roads and Maritime Services, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Taronga Zoo and countless others. I can’t wait to see Vivid Sydney shine in 2017.”Destination NSW CEO and Executive Producer of Vivid Sydney, Sandra Chipchase, said: “Sydneysiders have fully embraced this festival and are proud to share it with local and international visitors.From fantastic speakers at Vivid Ideas events, wonderful performances at Vivid Music, and of course the spectacle of Vivid Light, we are on track to break a few records when final figures are known.“Whilst there were some challenges this year with severe weather and queues to experience the most popular installations, the Festival continued to shine throughout the city. I’d like to thank all participants, volunteers, sponsors and visitors for their support and contribution to making Vivid Sydney 2016 such a success,” she said.Vivid Sydney cements the global city’s position as a creative capital of the Asia Pacific, showcasing art, technology and innovation. Vivid SydneySource = Vivid Sydneylast_img read more

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South African Tourism launches Fastest 50 campaign for Indian trade partners

first_imgSouth African Tourism has launched the ‘Fastest 50’ a unique incentive campaign for trade partners in India. The first 20 agents to book fastest 50 customers for a 9 nights or more packages will win an all-expense paid trip to the Rainbow Nation.To participate, partners have to be certified SA Specialists (both phases) and have at least two packages featured on South African Tourism website deal page.Commenting on the campaign, Hanneli Slabber, Country Manager– India, South African Tourism, said, “India is an important market for South African Tourism and our trade partners have been vital in our success here. It is essential that we engage with our partners in meaningful and innovative ways to allow them to sell the destination and experience South Africa first hand.”She further said that this campaign is an effort to sustain these engagements so that they have destination loyalists. “We invite all our partners to participate and be the first in this exciting run chase and make the most of it,” added Slabber.last_img read more

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MakeMyTrip launches MMT MyBusiness

first_imgMakeMyTrip Ltd taps into the corporate travel segment with the launch of ‘MMT MyBusiness’. The new path breaking solution, MyBusiness will provide a transparent self-booking tool that employees can use from the same MakeMyTrip app for their business travel.MyBusiness is not only targeted to make businesses with the best corporate travel deals but will also bring down friction in the expense process. The new feature will help the companies to reduce payment inefficiencies, liabilities and potential corporate card abuse. The new corporate wallet on MyBusiness will be supported via dedicated corporate working 24×7.MakeMyTrip, Co-founder and CEO-India, Rajesh Magow said, “MakeMyTrip has always been an enabler of change in the way Indians travel, our focus and investment in MyBusiness underlines our sense of purpose in changing the way corporate India moves. We have an aggressive plan in place to tap into this fast-growing business travel market by moving complex offline processes to a convenient and efficient online booking experience for employees and employers alike.”MyBusiness will be very helpful to the SMEs that cannot afford to set up a travel desk in the office. The self-booking online tool makes it seamless for such offices to move offline with transparent travel policies and online payment options.last_img read more

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VisitBritain promotes Vishal Bhatia as Country ManagerIndia

first_imgVisitBritain recently announced two promotions of Vishal Bhatia and Shuja Mehdi as the Country Manager-India and B2B Manager-India, respectively.Bhatia comes with extensive market knowledge and expertise of the local travel landscape. As the Country Manager-India, he will be taking on the day-to-day aspects of VisitBritain’s operations in India.Bhatia has been working with VisitBritain since February 2013. He started off as the Deputy Manager and subsequently became the B2B Manager. He was also the Interim Country Manager from June to December 2016. During his tenure, he has played an integral role in delivering the India strategy while leading on all B2B activities in the market. He was also instrumental in delivering the first, joint co-operative partnership under GREAT in 2013.In March this year, Mehdi re-joined VisitBritain as the B2B Executive and was recently promoted to the B2B Manager-India, VisitBritain. He brings a wealth of industry experience in terms of product distribution, buyer-supplier management, and product development.Mehdi has been a part of the Indian travel industry since 2004, having begun his career with Amadeus in India. Previously he has worked for British Airways and Air New Zealand before joining VisitBritain in 2011. In 2016, he then moved to the FCO team in Delhi, looking after consular services.last_img read more

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Live Like an Olympian in Michael Phelps 142M Condo

first_img Though his performance during the “”2012 Olympic””:http://www.london2012.com/ games has been less dominant than anticipated, Michael Phelps is proving his commitment to competition, having recently jumped into the volatile real estate market. According to “”Zillow””:http://www.zillow.com/blog/2012-08-01/report-michael-phelps-bachelor-pad-still-on-market/, Phelps has listed his Baltimore condominium for $1.42 million. The 4,000-square-foot property is located in the city’s tony Inner Harbor area, and the three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home features amenities like a rooftop lounge, a master suit with a spa bath, and enviable views of the city and the coastline. Not surprisingly, the condo also comes with access to the building’s heated indoor swimming pool and fitness center. Phelps is believed to have purchased the home for around $1.7 million in 2007, and the high-end property was first listed in March of this year.[COLUMN_BREAK][IMAGE] in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Share Live Like an Olympian in Michael Phelps’ $1.42M Condocenter_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Celebrity Homes Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-08-02 Abby Gregory August 2, 2012 424 Views last_img read more

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NAHBs Improving Markets Index Jumps Again Reaches 242 in January

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing NAHB’s Improving Markets Index Jumps Again, Reaches 242 in January Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Housing Permits Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-01-08 Tory Barringer The “”National Association of Home Builders””:http://www.nahb.org/default.aspx (NAHB)/ “”First American””:http://www.firstam.com/ Improving Markets Index (IMI) continued its trend of marked monthly improvements in January, according to a release from the NAHB.[IMAGE]The index rose for the fifth consecutive month in January to reach 242, once again achieving a record high. The index measured 201 in December.The IMI measures the relative growth (from their respective troughs) of markets across the country, using employment, housing permits, and home prices as a gauge. Markets showing at least six straight months of improvement make the list.According to the NAHB, the list of improving markets now includes entrants from 48 states and the District of Columbia. The only states not represented are Kansas and New Mexico.Forty-seven new metros were added to January’s list, while six were dropped. New entries include Los Angeles, California; Auburn, Alabama; Des Moines, Iowa; Richmond, Virginia; and Cleveland, Ohio.””We created the improving markets list in September of 2011 to spotlight individual metros where–contrary to the national headlines–housing markets were on the mend,”” said NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg. “”Today, 242 out of 361 metros nationwide appear on that list, including representatives from almost every state in the country. The story is no longer about exceptions to the rule, but about the growing breadth of the housing recovery even as overly strict mortgage requirements hold back the pace of improvement.””While the IMI has shown remarkable growth since its inception–reaching approximately 20 times its starting total–NAHB chief economist David Crowe warns that the list might slip in coming months as winter sales data comes in.””The IMI has almost doubled in the past two months as stronger demand during prime home buying season boosted prices across a broader number of metropolitan areas,”” Crowe said. “”Similar home price gains, and hence the IMI, may be tempered in the future as we see data from typically slower months for home sales.””center_img January 8, 2013 440 Views Sharelast_img read more

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FDIC Announces Collapse of Wisconsin Bank

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank Failure FDIC Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-08-12 Tory Barringer in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing FDIC Announces Collapse of Wisconsin Bank August 12, 2013 449 Views center_img For the second week in a row, the “”FDIC””:http://fdic.gov/ had to announce the closure of another insured bank.[IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions closed on Friday the Bank of Wasau, appointing FDIC as receiver. As of June 30, the bank had approximately $40.7 million in deposits and $43.6 million in total assets.To protect depositors, “”Nicolet National Bank””:https://www.nicoletbank.com/ in Green Bay has agreed to assume all of the failed bank’s deposits and will purchase approximately $29.9 million of its assets. FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition.According to FDIC’s estimates, the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund will be $13.5 million. Bank of Wasau is the 18th FDIC-insured institution to collapse so far this year and is the second to fall in Wisconsin. Sharelast_img read more

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Warm Weather Ignites Greater Competition for Homes

first_img Buyer Competition Demand Home Prices Housing Supply Redfin 2014-04-25 Tory Barringer Competition for homes kicked up a notch last month as the spring season started, though bidding wars remain markedly down compared to the same time last year.In March, 63.4 percent of offers written by Redfin agents across 19 markets faced competition from other buyers, the national brokerage reported. While that percentage is up a few points from February—owing in some part to more favorable weather—it’s a full 10 percentage points down compared to March 2013.There are a few reasons why bidding wars may have dropped off over the last year, the most significant of which being the fact that inventory has come up—albeit slightly—in the same period. With more homes on market to choose from in some areas, home shoppers aren’t forced to fight as much over what’s available, says Minni MacFarlane, a Redfin agent in Orange County, California.“Competition can still get intense, but because prices have risen so much, my clients and I try to be more discerning about how far we should go to win a home,” MacFarlane said. “This year, a bidding war is more likely to drive the price of a home higher than it’s worth competing for, and I think it will be easier for us to walk away from a situation like that.”That’s not to say the market isn’t still tough in certain metros: In San Jose, the most competitive market in March, just fewer than 90 percent of homes received multiple offers, and the buying climate in San Francisco and Los Angeles wasn’t much better.Meanwhile, Redfin expects some markets, including Seattle, Portland, and Denver, to see even fiercer competition than last year.All of that buyer demand means higher sale prices. Last month, 37.9 percent of homes sold in the markets surveyed by Redfin went for higher than the asking price, up from 22 percent at the start of 2014 but down from 44.8 percent last year.While competition remains down compared to 2013, Redfin notes a few competitive strategies have gained popularity over the last 12 months—particularly the share of buyers paying all-cash, which was up to 7.2 percent from 3.9 percent.Based on a three-month moving average, Campbell Surveys estimates 26.2 percent of home purchases by current homeowners nationwide relied solely on cash in March, partly due to frustrations stemming from the mortgage lending process. Share in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newscenter_img Warm Weather Ignites Greater Competition for Homes April 25, 2014 475 Views last_img read more

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First Quarter Net Income Nearly Doubles for Freddie Mac

first_img Freddie Mac’s net income for the first quarter of 2015 totaled $524 million, nearly double the total of a profitable but somewhat slow fourth quarter, according to Freddie Mac’s Q1 2015 Financial Report released Tuesday morning.Derivative losses were largely responsible for dropping Freddie Mac’s net income by nearly $2 billion from Q3 to Q4 down to $227 million, but the GSE responded by nearly doubling that net income total in Q1 to $524 million. It marked the 14th consecutive quarter of profitability for Freddie Mac.In Q1, derivative losses declined to $2.4 billion, down from $3.4 billion the previous quarter. About $1.8 billion of Q1’s derivative losses were related to fair value charges, according to Freddie Mac.Comprehensive income nearly tripled in Q1 from the previous quarter, jumping from $251 million in Q4 up to $746 million in Q1. According to Freddie Mac, the increases in net income and comprehensive income were primarily driven by the drop in derivative losses amid declining interest rates and a less-flattening yield curve in Q1. Also in Q1, certain seriously delinquent single-family mortgage loans were reclassified from held-for-investment to held-for-sale.”Our strong business momentum from last year carried into the first quarter, enabling us to again produce earnings despite a continued declining rate environment, so we can return further dividends to taxpayers,” said Donald H. Layton, CEO of Freddie Mac. “We continue to focus on serving our growing customer base better to support the U.S. economy, innovating to become a more competitive company, and reducing risk to the taxpayer. We are also working under FHFA leadership to make the industry stronger, with a growing focus on responsibly increasing access to affordable housing for the nation’s borrowers and renters.”According to Freddie Mac, Q1 results were driven by net interest income, which totaled $3.6 billion for the quarter. Guarantee fees accounted for 40 percent of the net interest income during the quarter.”The company’s use of derivatives reduces exposure to interest-rate risk on an economic basis (duration gap continues to average zero months),” Freddie Mac said in the announcement. “However, this can result in significant accounting volatility during any given period.”Other highlights of Freddie Mac’s Q1 2015 Financial Report include: Helping 14.6 million families buy, rent, or keep their homes since 2009, $2.6 trillion in liquidity provided to the mortgage market during that period, 11.3 million single-family homes, the introduction of the Home Possible Advantage program (which allows single-family homes to be purchased with a down payment as low as 3 percent), and providing foreclosure alternatives to approximately 1.1 delinquent borrowers.Freddie Mac has returned $92.6 billion to taxpayers, including the June 2015 Dividend Obligation of $746 million; both Freddie Mac and its fellow GSE, Fannie Mae, are required by a 2012 amendment to the terms of their 2008 bailout agreement to continue paying Treasury dividends based on their net worth, even after they’ve repaid taxpayers in full. The total of $92.6 billion returned to taxpayers is approximately $21.3 billion more than Freddie Mac needed in the 2008 bailout to continue operations ($71.3 billion).Also on Tuesday morning, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced that their conservator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, had authorized them to review the salaries of their respective CEOs, Donald Layton for Freddie Mac and Timothy Mayopoulos for Fannie Mae, according to a report from Nasdaq. Both CEOs made $600,000 each without bonuses in 2014. The GSEs are reviewing their top executives’ pay largely due to concerns that the GSEs will not be able to stay competitive because the salaries of their CEOs are less than those of some lower-ranked executives.Freddie Mac announced its Q1 results Tuesday morning via webcast. A replay of the webcast, and all other information related to Freddie Mac’s Q1 results, can be accessed by clicking on the Enterprise’s investor relations page. May 5, 2015 451 Views in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News 2015 Financial Report First Quarter Net Income Freddie Mac 2015-05-05 Seth Welborncenter_img Share First Quarter Net Income Nearly Doubles for Freddie Maclast_img read more

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The Pressures On Will the Fed Raise Rates Next Week

first_img Share On Wednesday, December 16, the Federal Open Market Committee (the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve) will wrap its eighth and final meeting of 2015. Nearly everyone from economists, analysts, and even the policymakers themselves are predicting the FOMC to announce the Fed’s first federal funds rate hike in nine years.Many believe that November’s employment summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported 211,000 jobs added during the month and an unemployment rate of 5.0 percent, provided the final piece of the puzzle for a December Fed liftoff. Upward revisions lifted the average monthly job gain for September, October, and November up to 218,000.At a public address in early December, Fed Chairman Janet Yellen hinted that a rate hike will be likely, saying that in September’s FOMC meeting, all participants “agreed that the timing of a rate increase would depend on what the incoming data tell us about the economic outlook and the associated risks to that outlook.” She added that “both economic and financial information received since our October meeting has been consistent with our expectations of continued improvement in the labor market.”According to Fannie Mae SVP and Chief Economist Doug Duncan, the November BLS employment summary “reinforces our view that underlying domestic demand appears to be solid enough for the Fed to finally depart from its zero interest rate policy this month.”On the effect the Fed liftoff would have on housing, First American Financial Chief Economist Mark Fleming stated, “Based on a 25 basis point increase in the 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate, house price appreciation on a year-over-year basis slows down by 1 percent more than expected without the rate increase. Existing-home sales slow by about 2.5 percent on annualized and seasonally adjusted basis, a decline of less than 150,000 sales a year. The housing market isn’t doomed by a Fed rate increase, but demand would fall modestly.”Auction.com EVP Rick Sharga stated: “A Fed rate increases could actually be good for housing. One of the biggest headwinds in the housing market today is tight credit. There’s virtually no non-agency lending…nothing outside of QM, other than jumbo loans to rich borrowers the banks want to grab as customers for other services. Higher interest rates would actually allow for loans to be priced in a way that accommodated some degree of risk.”The FOMC’s announcement will be at 2 p.m. EST on December 16.Tuesday, December 15The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its monthly Housing Index for December, which is comprised of a survey in which participants are asked to rate the general economy and housing market conditions. The index continued an up and down year last month by falling unexpectedly.Wednesday, December 16Will housing starts rebound in November from October’s declines? On Wednesday, HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau will reveal the answer in their monthly housing starts report. In October, single-family rental starts dropped by 2.4 percent down to an annualized rate of 722,000, but dropped by 11 percent overall after being pulled down by a 25 percent decline in multi-family starts down to a 338,000 annualized rate. American Home Free Mortgage Federal Funds Rate Federal Open Market Committee Interest rates 2015-12-11 Staff Writer in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, Newscenter_img December 11, 2015 620 Views The Pressure’s On: Will the Fed Raise Rates Next Week?last_img read more

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Judge Throws Out Disparate Impact Case that Sparked Supreme Court Ruling

first_imgJudge Throws Out Disparate Impact Case that Sparked Supreme Court Ruling in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News August 29, 2016 635 Views The housing advocacy group whose lawsuit last year sparked a controversial decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing disparate impact cases to be brought under the Fair Housing Act has now seen that lawsuit dismissed by a federal judge who ruled that the group failed to meet the Supreme Court’s standard of establishing disparate impact.The disparate impact issue has become a heated one in housing in the last few years, especially since the Obama Administration passed a rule allowing disparate impact claims—which are allegations made based on neutral practices that may have a discriminatory effect—under the Fair Housing Act in February 2013.The Inclusive Communities Project (ICP), a non-profit advocacy group that assists predominantly African-American families eligible for Section 8 housing with finding affordable housing in predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods in the Dallas area, brought a complaint against the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) in 2008 centering on allegations that low-income tax credits were awarded to real estate developers who own property in low-income minority dominated neighborhoods and denied to developers who own property in predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods.A district court originally ruled that the manner in which TDHCA allocated the tax credits, though neutral, had a disparate impact on the basis of race. In March 2014, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s ruling. The Supreme Court heard arguments for the case in January 2015 and subsequently ruled by a narrow 5-4 vote in June 2015 that disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act. The case was remanded back to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas to apply the new standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater in the North Texas court dismissed ICP’s claims on August 26, ruling that ICP failed to provide any evidence that TDHCA’s discretionary application of the low-income tax credits had any disparate impact on low-income housing in North Texas.“For the reasons explained, the court finds and concludes that ICP has failed to prove a prima facie case of discrimination by showing that a challenged practice caused a discriminatory effect, as defined by 24 C.F.R. § 100.500(a),” Fitzwater wrote in his ruling.“As ICP and our attorneys review the District Court’s August 26, 2016 decision in ICP v. TDHCA and consider our next steps, we will continue our efforts to ensure low income families of color are able to exercise their fair housing rights and have access to housing outside of high poverty, under resourced, segregated areas of the Dallas Metroplex,” ICP said in a statement. “Since ICP first filed the case against TDHCA in 2008, a growing supply of low income housing tax credit units have been built and now provide a limited number of families of color with access to neighborhoods free from distress and segregation. ICP intends to use all available tools to pursue its mission and efforts, including the now settled Fair Housing Disparate Impact approach.”TDHCA Executive Director Tim Irvine released the following statement: “We are pleased that the District Court has dismissed this long-standing case, thereby acknowledging that TDHCA’s policies and rules do not create a racially discriminatory impact. As we have steadfastly maintained, TDHCA has sought to administer a tax credit program that carries out fair housing-compliant policies to develop affordable housing options for Texans through leveraging federal tax incentives that attract private investment. As the program continues to evolve, we intend to approach the development of policy with sensitivity to changing community needs, extensive public input, and the desire to provide choice and opportunity in a fair housing-compliant and non-discriminatory manner. ”Click here to view Fitzwater’s complete ruling.center_img Disparate Impact in Housing U.S. Supreme Court 2016-08-29 Seth Welborn Sharelast_img read more

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The Week Ahead Checking in on Home Affordability

first_img homes HOUSING National Association of Home Builders 2018-08-05 Radhika Ojha The Week Ahead: Checking in on Home Affordability On Thursday, August 9, 2018, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) survey for the second quarter.The survey looks at the housing opportunity for a given area and is defined as the share of homes sold in that area that would have been affordable to a family earning the local median income based on standard mortgage underwriting criteria. Therefore, the HOI measures the share of records in a metropolitan area for which the monthly income available for housing is at or above the monthly cost for that unit.For the first quarter, NAHB said that rising income gave a boost to housing affordability. In all, 61.6 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of January and end of March 2018 were affordable to families earning a U.S. median income of $71,900. This was up from the 59.6 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the fourth quarter.“At the national level, median family income rose an impressive 5.7 percent to $71,900 in 2018 from $68,000 last year, and this wage growth helped to boost housing affordability,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “A growing economy, along with tight inventories and increasing household formations, will lift housing production in the year ahead. But we also expect mortgage rates to continue to rise, and this will place downward pressure on affordability.” Average mortgage rates jumped by nearly 30 basis points in the first quarter to 4.34 percent from 4.06 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.Here’s what else is happening in The Week Ahead:MBA Mortgage Apps, Wednesday, 7 a.m. ETStern & Eisenberg Webinar, Wednesday, 3 p.m. ETFreddie Mac, Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Thursday, 8 a.m. ETFed Balance Sheet, Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ETTreasury Budget, Friday, 2 p.m. ET in Daily Dose, Featured, Newscenter_img August 5, 2018 518 Views Sharelast_img read more

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The American Dream Depends on You

first_img America goes to vote on November 6, in a mid-term non-presidential election whose outcome is likely to impact the housing market in more ways than one—much of which will depend on who votes during this election, especially since early voting is already open.Demographics at PlayAccording to a new report on voter demographics by Apartment List, homeowners are more likely than renters to be voting eligible and historically speaking, the report revealed, even among eligible voters only 49 percent of renters cast a ballot in 2016 compared with 67 percent homeowners.“Renters represent a unique cross-section of the American population—the net worth of the median renter is just $5,200, compared to $231,400 for the median homeowner, and the minority share of renters is twice that of homeowners,” said Chris Salviati, Housing Economist at Apartment List and the author of the report. “A coalition of renters could swing elections for politicians offering a vision of inclusive economic hope for the millions of diverse renters struggling in today’s economy.”Whatever the demographic, it’s only the election results and how dramatic the shift in power will be in Washington as a result, that will determine the effect of this mid-term election on housing. “But there are three fairly obvious issues that will be affected one way or another,” Rick Sharga, EVP, Carrington Holdings told DS News. “The fate of the GSEs, the make-up of the BCFP, and affordable housing.”The first issue that Sharga mentions is one that the current administration has clear views about.The Fate of GSEsAfter a decade under the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA’s) conservatorship, the current administration has indicated its intentions to end the conservatorship for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a recent memo Laura S. Wertheimer, Inspector General at the FHFA, identified four serious management and performance challenges that the agency faced in its role as a regulator and supervisor of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs). They included, the agency’s inability to improve oversight of both GSEs while strengthening internal review processes for non-delegated matters; upgrading supervision of the GSEs and Federal Home Loan Banks; oversight in cybersecurity, ensuring an effective information security system will protect the highly sensitive data gathered by the GSEs on borrowers; enhancing oversight over the GSEs’ relationship with counterparties and third parties.Recent reports also point to the fact that the idea of scaling back Fannie and Freddie without legislative approval is gaining traction, making the results of this mid-term election even more important in determining their fate moving forward.“It’s possible that the conservatorship will be unwound over the next year or two regardless of the midterm election outcomes, but if the Democrats take control of the House, they’ll look to build language into the agreement that provides funds for affordable housing, and offers expanded credit provisions for underserved borrowers–both of which Democrats included in the last bipartisan attempt to end the conservatorship a few years ago,” Sharga said. “The size, scope and specific roles of the two GSEs once out of the conservatorship could also vary wildly depending on whether the Republicans continue to control all three branches of government or the Democrats take back the House and/or Senate.”The stewardship of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) is another area that is likely to get affected by the election results. “Who replaces Director Mulvaney—and whether that new director will continue to take the Bureau in the same direction—will depend to a certain extent on which party controls the House and Senate. A more stridently conservative director, for example, is unlikely to be approved by a Democratic House,” Sharga said. He also said that while the BCFP was currently working in tandem with the mortgage industry by soliciting input from practitioners and creating an environment where qualified borrowers got a better chance to secure a loan, “a return to more of an “enforcement” mentality could cause the pendulum to swing back once again, and make it more difficult for borrowers to achieve their dreams of homeownership.”Legislation at StakeAffordable housing legislations are also at stake this election season, with the success of bills such as the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act, the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) Enhancement Act, and others depending on who wins the House and Senate seats. According to a report by Michael Novogradac of Novogradac & Company LLP, “History suggests Democrats will gain seats in the House, although whether they will gain enough to take control is an open question–partly because the redrawing of Congressional maps after the 2010 census created a large number of safe districts for Republicans, reducing the number of swing districts.” The report, which looks at results where Democrats take one or both houses of Congress also projected the leadership changes that were likely in the House should that happen. “If the Democrats take either or both houses of Congress, significant legislation will need to be bipartisan to be enacted,” Novogradac wrote. “If the Republicans hold both houses, we may see another run at tax reform (perhaps making the temporary changes implemented in 2017 permanent) and other changes that might not be friendly to the tax credit community.”Nine months in, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 appears to have had an impact on home value growth. Some of the changes brought by the December 2017 Act were a $10,000 cap on total state and local tax (SALT) deduction, lower threshold for full mortgage interest deductions, and higher standard deductions for most filers. According to a report by Zillow, following the introduction of the Act, home growth appeared to have slowed particularly in areas with homeowners that historically used the SALT deduction, compared to areas with a lower percentage of homeowners who use the SALT deduction.Tax cuts, in fact, could be something that the Democrats might also look at, according to Robert Hockett, Edward Cornell Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, who recently spoke to Yahoo Finance about how the elections’ outcome could impact Tax Cuts. “The progressive wing of the party, which has all the momentum, is not as concerned about the deficits,” he said. “They would look to keep the corporate tax cuts (instead of repealing them), but also add tax cuts for the middle class and those who need it the most.”The Question of Affordable HousingSpeaking of the middle class, the outcome of this election is also likely to unlock around $6 billion for affordable housing in the Bay Area in California, which is one of the most expensive and competitive housing markets in the country. A recent report in The Mercury News said that during this election, California voters would be weighing in on two statewide bonds that could “fund tens of thousands of new homes in the Bay Area and beyond—potentially making a dent in the housing shortage.”However, a lot of this will depend on which party has the power to make these changes, since the Republicans and Democrats have widely different views and approach on the challenge of affordable housing and how to solve it.For example, the Republicans look at overcoming this challenge by expanding the use of HUD-designated Opportunity Zones, offering investors with tax incentives to invest money in areas that desperately need economic development. According to Sharga, the GOP also continues to look at ways to reduce “regulatory burdens that make it difficult for builders to build affordable homes–Fannie Mae estimates that regulatory and zoning requirements cost a builder $80,000 on average before breaking ground–although many of the regulations are at the state and local level.” On the other hand, Democrats have lobbied for more funding to help low-income families pay for housing. Citing a Pew Research Sharga said that 38 percent of renters paid more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income for rent, and 17 percent paid more than 50 percent. “Democrats have also proposed a variety of other programs to reduce housing costs, ranging from rent control to tax incentives for builders to build more affordable units, to having the government build millions of units across the country, or creating a pool of federal funds to reward states that build more housing stock,” Sharga said.For now, though, it’s time to keep your eyes peeled on Capitol Hill to see who wins the Battle of the Houses to chart the future course of the housing market. Apartment List BCFP Carrington Election Fannie Mae Federal Home Loan Banks FHFA Freddie Mac GSEs homes HOUSING Legislation Novogradac 2018-10-30 Radhika Ojha October 30, 2018 753 Views The American Dream Depends on Youcenter_img Share in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, Newslast_img read more

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