France wants Europe to do more to fight Islamic State

first_imgPARIS (AP) — France’s foreign minister wants European countries to do more to fight the Islamic State group, and is seeking support from Russia in international talks about defeating the group.France, which joined U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State extremists in Iraq, is hosting a conference Tuesday on the international efforts against IS.Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on France-Inter radio Thursday that European countries “aren’t doing many things” against the group, even as hundreds of European extremists have joined IS fighters. Comments   Share   Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober He also said France is including Russia in the anti-IS discussions.Fabius criticized the Iraqi government for “ostracizing” Sunni communities who could help fight IS. Doubts have grown recently about whether the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government can overcome the sectarian divisions.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 4 must play golf courses in Arizona 3 international destinations to visit in 2019 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Sponsored Stories last_img read more

In letter South African official asks FIFA to channel funds

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility “We reject the Mail and Guardian article that frames an honest correspondence between SAFA and FIFA,” Mbalula said in a statement.The letter is part of communication that proved that South Africa donated funds to development projects in the Caribbean, Mbalula said.In another letter published this week, former South African Football Association President Molefi Oliphant wrote to Valcke in March 2008 asking FIFA to withhold $10 million from the budget of the 2010 World Cup organizers and to use the money to finance a “Diaspora Legacy Programme” under the control of Warner, then CONCACAF president.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories File – Danny Jordaan speaks during a FIFA and Local Organizing Committee press conference, in Johannesburg, South Africa, in this Friday, June 12, 2009 file photo. A South African newspaper on Friday June 5 2015, published a 2007 letter linking the country’s chief World Cup organizer to a $10 million payment made to projects linked to Jack Warner, then a FIFA executive and now a suspect in a corruption probe. In the letter published by the Mail and Guardian newspaper, Danny Jordaan, then head of South Africa’s World Cup organizing committee, says the money should be paid by FIFA, not the South African government. (AP Photo / Themba Hadebe, file) Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African newspaper on Friday published a 2007 letter linking the country’s chief World Cup organizer to a $10 million payment made to projects linked to Jack Warner, then a FIFA executive and now a suspect in a corruption probe.In the letter published by the Mail and Guardian newspaper, Danny Jordaan, then-head of South Africa’s World Cup organizing committee, says the money should be paid by FIFA, not the South African government. U.S. investigators have accused unnamed South African officials of channeling $10 million through FIFA to Warner as a bribe for backing the country’s successful World Cup bid.center_img Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Quick workouts for men 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches The letter is addressed to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, with the subject line “US$10.0m promised by the South African government,” and printed on a letterhead with the branding of the 2010 World Cup.“Dear Jerome, Dear Friend,” Jordaan wrote, “I want to suggest that FIFA deducts this amount (US$10.0m) from the LOC’s (Local Organizing Committee) future operational budget and deals directly with the Diaspora legacy support programme.”The South African government has described the legacy program as projects aimed at developing soccer in countries recognized as the African diaspora, which includes Caribbean nations.Jordaan tells Valcke that he has discussed the payment with then-South African Deputy Minister of Finance Jabulani Moleketi and then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.Jordaan, who is president of the South African Football Association and now mayor of the city of Port Elizabeth, could not be reached for comment. Moleketi, who is no longer in government, referred The Associated Press to the South African sports ministry. Dlamini-Zuma is now the chairwoman of the African Union Commission.South African Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has acknowledged the existence of Jordaan’s letter but says South Africa was not involved in bribery.last_img read more

TravelManagers celebrated motivated at annual conference

first_imgThe two day conference was organised to offer travel managers working from home the social interaction with other agents as well as provide a little motivation. Personal Travel Manager Robin Woods told e-Travel Blackboard she looks forward to the annual event, particularly to hear the motivational speakers. “As a sole agent I love the motivation I get from hearing other people share their success stories,” she said. “The conference is a great way to wake people up, to make us work harder and sometimes I need that.”Click here for the Photo Gallery. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N. J. A cocktail party to celebrate the end to a successful first day of the annual TravelManagers conference saw home-base travel managers, industry partners and suppliers glam up outside the Sydney Opera House. Violins and friendly chatter drowned out Sydney rain as the group swapped success stories with views of a stormy but still-beautiful Sydney Harbour.last_img read more

Webjet posts soaring half year results

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J The last six months of 2010 proved profitable for Webjet, experiencing a 17 percent hike in revenue to $21.6 million compared to a $18.4 million profit posted in the same period of 2009. In a financial report posted earlier this morning the online airline store noted trading profits after tax were up slight to $5.3 million from $5.2 million despite using profits to set up operations in Asia and North America. Among other spending, Webjet managing director David Clarke said in a statement that the set up of Service Centre a pilot outsourcing program will cost the company $1 million from its profits for the year. Profits will also be tipped by the organisation’s completion of “a hotel supply contract which will substantially expand our global hotel offering and provide a hotel product platform for all markets”. While Mr Clarke would not elaborate on the expectations for the coming six months, he said he expects natural disaster in Queensland, Melbourne and parts of NSW to impact the company’s development.“The resultant TTV and income will take some time to reach optimum level,” he said.last_img read more

Air India to spice up Melbourne route with 787

first_imgDirect Air India services between Delhi and Melbourne have been scheduled to finally commence in October this year with the carrier planning to fly its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route.The long awaited service, originally earmarked for a November 2010 start, will see the airline become just the second carrier behind ANA to receive the new jets, Indian newspaper The Telegraph reported. Boeing flew a demonstration Dreamliner to New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport late last week.  An Air India official told the newspaper direct flights to Australia were a “priority” for the airline.“The route will be profitable for Air India and is a key ingredient of the turnaround plan,” the official said.According to the newspaper, Air India also intends to operate services to Melbourne from Chennai and Mumbai.The carrier has ordered around 27 of the 259-seater wide-body jets for its medium to long-haul flights, with trials on the aircraft to begin in August.“Training for the Air India pilots will begin next month,” Boeing India president Dinesh A. Keskar remarked.As well as Australia, Air India plans to fly its Dreamliner to North America from the end of October, the airline official said. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: M.H Air India plans to fly directly to Melbourne from Octoberlast_img read more

European City Tourism on the rise

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P Despite the regions economic woes, figures have revealed European City tourism increased by 5.9 percent in 2011, with international room nights up eight percent.The report by European Cities Marketing reveals that London, Paris and Berlin maintain their position as the three most popular cities with annual room night levels reaching over 20 million last year.Meanwhile, Barcelona and Prague achieved the highest year-on growth rates of 11 percent and nine percent respectively.The most vital source market for Europe continues to be The United States, followed by Germany, the UK and Italy.China and Russia have showed the highest year on growth rates with an impressive 36 percent and 30 percent respectively.In addition, when comparing tourism at the national level with tourism in European cities between 2007 and 2011, European cities tourism performed better than tourism at the national level.European Cities Marketing president Dieter Hardt-Stremayr said that the 2011 result show that city tourism is the most dominant aspect of European tourism.“With respect to the key bednights indicator, we can see that last year many cities recorded all-time highs and impressive growth rates,” Mr Hardt-Stremayr said.“BRIC countries, especially Russia and China, are emerging as important source markets with lots of potential for the future.”last_img read more

Jetstar Japan takes off

first_imgThe anticipated arrival of Qantas’ new low-cost subsidiary has arrived five months ahead of schedule, with Jetstar Japan taking off on its first flight today.Departing from Tokyo’s Narita Airport for Sapporo with up to 180 passengers on board the A320, Qantas’ chief executive Alan Joyce said the new airline would “reshape” domestic travel across the world’s third largest economy, Japan. “With Jetstar we have developed a highly efficient low cost carrier model that enables us to stimulate new demand by making air travel more affordable,” Mr Joyce said.The company’s head added that the market’s “huge appetite” for a low-cost carrier was evident in the airline’s launch five months ahead of its proposed start-up date and less than a year after announcing its arrival to the world.As well as starting up in Japan, Jetstar Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka added that the airline was part of the Group’s plans to expand its network across the Asia Pacific region, a location for which the airline company is already “the largest low fare airline”.Jetstar Japan is a product of Qantas, Japan Airlines, Mitsubishi Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing. To date, the new airline said it has sold up to 100,000 fares for Jetstar Japan since sales commenced in April this year. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Intercontinental most awarded in Australasia at World Travel Awards

first_imgInterContinental Hotels & Resorts has been recognised as the most awarded hotel brand in Australasia at the 18th World Travel Awards, as voted by travel professionals worldwide and announced last night in Singapore.No stranger to the World Travel Awards honours roll, InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto picked up one of the top awards of the night, celebrated as Australasia’s Leading Business Hotel for a third consecutive year.  Adding to this, the hotel was recognised as Australia’s Leading Hotel.InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa in French Polynesia was recognised as Australasia’s Leading Spa Resort, for a second year in a row.  Now a regular fixture on the World Travel Awards winners list, the resort also received a regional accolade, being named French Polynesia’s Leading Spa Resort.Also picking up a back-to-back World Travel Awards distinction was InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, winning French Polynesia’s Leading Resort for a second year.InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has been welcoming travellers for more than 60 years, across its portfolio of more than 150 hotels in 60-plus countries. Properties blend consistent international service standards with the distinctive cultures of their locations to deliver a truly authentic, local experience to guests. The World Travel Awards were launched in1993 to acknowledge and celebrate excellence in the travel and tourism industry. The results are based on more than 167,000 travel agencies and industry professionals from more than 160 countries. Source = InterContinental Hotels & Resortslast_img read more

ShangriLa Philippines Food Festival

first_img“The Shangri-La is proud to present a taste of the Philippines for our Australian guests,” Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts director of sales and marketing Jenny Williams said. Executive sous chef Gene del Prado and two of his top chefs from the Makati Shangri La have been flown to Sydney in order to prepare the most authentic cuisine for guests over the next fortnight. “It’s wonderful to see the return of this popular food festival in Sydney… the response last year was absolutely phenomenal and judging by this year’s offerings, it’s sure to be a hit again,” Philippines Tourism Attaché to Australia Consuelo Jones told ETB News. Shangri-La Hotel Sydney has commenced its annual Philippine Food Festival at Café Mix, featuring an extensive buffet of delectable dishes prepared by experienced Filipino chefs. The event, part of the hotel’s Good Food Month, is being run in partnership with the Philippine Department of Tourism. Dishes available include melt-in-your-mouth ox tail Kare-Kare, tempting pork Sisig, chicken Inasal, beef shank Bulalo soup, salted egg and tomato salad, fish curries, rice dishes and more. “Sitting down to a traditional meal is the perfect way to introduce yourself to a new culture, often inspiring the desire for travel.” The Philippine Food Festival is running at Shangri-La’s Café Mix from 1-15 October 2013. Source = ETB News: P.T.last_img read more

Brand USA America is more than stars and stripes

first_img$AUD 1.5 million will be used to finance the campaign and build on the record increase in Australian visitors going to the US – going from 582,000 in 2005 to 1,112,000 in 2012.  “It’s not just a once in a lifetime holiday destination; the U.S. offers a lifetime of holidays and that’s what we’ve tried to portray in this first TV commercial.” Source = Source: ETB News, T.N. In a joint collaboration with Qantas, Brand USA’s campaign will incoporate tv, outdoor and digital advertising and will run until mid-April 2014. center_img Brand USA, the partnership promoting the USA’s image as a tourism destination has created its first ever Australian branding campaign, called ‘Land of Dreams’.  “Brand USA’s goal is to continue to sustain and grow this market by showcasing to Australians the limitless possibilities that are on offer in the United States,” Brand USA australia director, Joe Ponte said. last_img read more

CLIA Global Snapshot predicts growth in 2015

first_imgCruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its yearly State of the Cruise Industry Report, the report is predicting another year of strong growth for the global cruise industry in 2015.A record 23 million passengers is expected to sail in 2015, and the CLIA report shows that cruise lines are enticing more global travellers to sea with new, exotic locations, and the debut of 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2015.CLIA Australasia General Manager Brett Jardine said the report shows Australia and neighbouring Asia as regions set for more robust growth in 2015.“This year is set to be another big step forward for the entire industry as our members continue to strive to make cruising the best overall holiday experience for Australian travellers,” Mr Jardine said.As part of the report, the global cruise association collated research from around the world to reveal its key industry outlooks.The first outlook is cruise passengers intend to continue cruising, CLIA member ocean passenger volume is projected to increase to 23 million in 2015, a 4 per cent increase over 2014 estimates.Another outlook is that size doesn’t matter, five years ago, the largest cruise ship in the world was introduced with a 6,300-passenger capacity, with 22 new ocean, river and specialty cruise ships scheduled for debut this year, the focus is less on size and more on unique design and amenities.Specialty cruises continue to thrive, sophisticated ships, luxury yachts, elegant ocean liners and the newest river cruises all continue to experience double digit passenger growth with specialty cruises growing by 21 per cent annually from 2009 to 2014 estimates.Travellers are expanding horizons, with regions including the Mediterranean, Asia and Australia are set to grow. In 2015, 52 ships will offer 1065 Asian cruises with capacity for 2 million passengers.Finally travel agents are key, despite the Internet and mobile devices have overtaken how consumers make purchases, travel agents continue to be the most popular and best way to book a cruise.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

Australias newest and largest megaliner arrives in Melbourne

first_imgMelbourne, get ready to say g’day to the largest cruise ship ever to be based in Australian waters. Royal Caribbean International’s 3,800-passenger Explorer of the Seas arrives in Melbourne on Thursday 19th November, for the very first time as she undertakes her maiden season down under.Australia’s newest megaliner arrives fresh from a USD$80 million dollar revitalisation that took place in April this year. Standing tall with an impressive 15 decks, she is packed with a host of signature Royal Caribbean features, just like twin sister Voyager of the Seas.“We are thrilled to welcome Australia’s biggest cruise ship, Explorer of the Seas, to her new home. We live for big ships, and the huge variety of experiences that our megaliners offer our guests,” said commercial director for Royal Caribbean International, Adam Armstrong.“The Royal Caribbean difference is our commitment to offering Australians the very best in cruising product, right from their doorstep. Explorer of the Seas is testament to this commitment – she offers incredible onboard features you wouldn’t expect to find on a cruise ship, like the FlowRider surf machine, ice skating rink, sports court, rock climbing wall, plus an indoor street lined with cafés, bars and shops. Not to mention world-class dining and exceptional service to boot.”At 138,194 tons, 311 metres long and 38 metres wide, Explorer of the Seas takes the crown of Australia’s largest cruise ship from twin sister ship Voyager of the Seas. At full capacity the megaliner can carry almost 5,200 passengers and crew.“Explorer of the Seas is our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise ship to sail locally for the 2015/16 summer season and she boosts our capacity by 45 per cent. During her five month season Explorer of the Seas is expected to inject almost $44 million into the Australian economy including over $600,000 into VIC in passenger spend alone in one day,” continued Adam.Thanks to her multi-million make over in April this year, Explorer of the Seas is virtually a brand new ship and offers the same signature features found onboard twin sister Voyager of the Seas. Guests can now test their surfing skills on the new FlowRider surf simulator; watch a film come to life in the 3-D Movie theatre or on the poolside movie screen; and experience three new delectable dining options.New specialty dining restaurants include fresh sushi at Izumi Japanese Cuisine, Royal Caribbean’s signature Chops Grille steakhouse and family-style Italian trattoria Giovanni’s Table. Two new bars have also been added – the sophisticated and retro-chic R Bar and the upscale sports bar, The Tavern.All staterooms and suites have been updated with new furnishings, carpets and technology as well as two new stateroom categories – new “Virtual Balcony” cabins that offer a door-sized screen which projects real time views of the ship’s actual surroundings, as you would see from a balcony; plus new Panoramic staterooms with floor-to-ceiling wrap around windows.The latest technology can also be found onboard, including ship-wide WiFi, Digital Wayfinders to help guests find their way around the ship and what’s happening onboard, plus each stateroom is now fitted with flat panel televisions.Explorer of the Seas departed Fremantle Friday 13 November for a 16-night Australia & New Zealand sailing. When the ship arrives in her new home of Sydney on 28 November, guests will take part in a historic rendezvous with sister ship Voyager of the Seas in the middle of Sydney Harbour: the first time that two Royal Caribbean vessels have met in Sydney. Royal Caribbean InternationalBook hereSource = Royal Caribbean Internationallast_img read more

Geelongs metamorphosis as an engaging cultural hub

first_imgGeelong’s metamorphosis as an engaging cultural hubThe regional city of Geelong has a strong manufacturing history, but is now turning over a new leaf and emerging as a cultural tourism destination. The new $45 million nine-story architecturally designed library has recently opened its doors, there is an emergence of new galleries and the city will play host to two world-class exhibitions and three vibrant arts and culture focused events over the coming months.Everything in the cultural hub located around the library and gallery is within easy walking distance and you’ll be amazed at how much cultural interaction you can achieve in just one day. There is a cultural buzz in Geelong which makes it well worth a visit in more ways than one.ExhibitionsGeelong’s National Wool Museum will be the first venue in Australia to host theWildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition. This spectacular exhibition from the Natural History Museum, London runs from January 29 to May 15. The exhibition showcases wildlife images from all over the world and features the best of the best images. See wrestling komodo dragons, egrets, thirsty squirrels and eerie octopus. Open daily, entry to the exhibition is included in your entry to the National Wool Museum ($8.25 for adults, $4.50 for children). 26 Moorabool Street, GeelongOne of Australia’s best known and most influential landscape painters, Sir Arthur Streeton, is the focus of an exhibition at the Geelong Gallery, on display from 27 February to 13 June. Land of the Golden Fleece – Arthur Streeton in the Western District brings together works by this much-loved artist. This highly anticipated exhibition will focus on his landscape paintings of Victoria’s Western District where he was born, and associated coastal vistas, from 1920 to 1932 and following the artist’s return from an extended period in Europe. Entry to the exhibition is $10 for Geelong Gallery members, $13 for adults and $5 for children.55 Little Malop Street, GeelongEventsThe long established Pako Festa returns to Geelong’s cosmopolitan Pakington Street on Saturday 27 February.  This much loved, free, annual community arts festival incorporates an extravagant street parade featuring around ninety floats and hundreds of performers representing ethnic communities and other community groups and organisations. Six separate stages in the precinct will offer performances of music and dance as well as interactive workshops and exhibitions.In May Geelong will host two events designed to celebrate the city’s vibrant arts scene. Geelong After Dark is central Geelong’s award winning, free pop up night of arts. Taking place on Friday 6 May, this annual event takes over the CBD’s streets and laneways after dark, with a jam-packed program of exciting, unique and surprising art installations and pop up performances.Taking place over the same weekend (6-7 May),Mountain to Mouth (M~M2016) is an 80km Extreme Arts Walk. The event is a two day journey of discovery that will see participants walk from the You Yangs mountain range, crossing Geelong’s industrial heartland at nightfall and arriving into the city centre to collide with Geelong After Dark. The next day, walkers will follow the Bellarine Rail Trail to Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale before following the sea to the river mouth at Barwon Heads at sunset. Walkers have the choice of walking the full distance, or choosing the distance and challenge of sections of the 80km course. The route is punctuated with edgy artworks commissioned especially for M~M.Cultural offeringsThe new Geelong Library and Heritage Centre which opened in November is a spectacular addition to the city’s cultural landscape. The magnificent nine-storey dome structure features state-of-the-art facilities, an event space, children’s tactile area, archive collection, café and of course a library. In keeping with the magnificent dome structures of libraries and museums around the world, Geelong’s newest building takes on a modern edge. Free tours run daily at 11am and 3pm. 51 Little Malop Street, GeelongThe Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) is located opposite the library and Geelong Gallery. It hosts a huge number of shows, including theatre, opera, dance, comedy and live music. GPAC punches well above its weight in terms of performing arts and events offering big name acts, emerging artists and blockbuster shows. 50 Little Malop Street, GeelongJust out of town is Narana Creations, an Aboriginal Cultural Centre that offers free visitor programs and an annual arts and music festival. Here you’ll find a gallery, native garden, retail space, café and performing arts area. 410 Torquay Rd, Grovedale. Visit Geelong BellarineSource = Tourism Greater Geelong and the Bellarinelast_img read more

MTA Top Achiever Balticbound with Insight Vacations

first_imgMTA Top Achiever Baltic-bound with Insight VacationsMTA Top Achiever Baltic-bound with Insight VacationsPictured standing in the grounds of picturesque Wilanow Palace in Warsaw, Poland, MTA – Mobile Travel Agents’ Jennifer McCullough who recently visited Poland and the Baltic States as part of an Insight Vacations’ Top Achievers study tour.Jennifer’s program also included the Baltic State capitals of Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. MTA Traveldiscover more hereSource = Mike Parker-Brown, MTA Travellast_img read more

LPS Acquires LendingSpace to Enhance Origination Technology

first_imgLPS Acquires LendingSpace to Enhance Origination Technology in Data, Origination, Servicing, Technology Acquisitions Agents & Brokers Company News Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-07-03 Tory Barringer “”Lending Processing Services, Inc.””:http://www.lpsvcs.com/Pages/default.aspx, (LPS) announced today that it has acquired LendingSpace, a provider of mortgage loan origination software solutions.[IMAGE]The LendingSpace technology platform is expected to boost LPS’ origination technology solutions, including Empower and PCLender, programs used by mortgage lenders, credit unions, and community banks.””The addition of LendingSpace’s robust capabilities expands the number of innovative origination solutions we offer lenders,”” said [COLUMN_BREAK]Jerry Halbrook, senior managing director of LPS Origination of Technology Solutions. “”We evaluated a number of lending platforms, and LendingSpace provided the best product features with the necessary scalability to expand our product suite. More importantly, LPS and LendingSpace share a common commitment to excellence, integrity, and customer dedication,”” he added.The LendingSpace product suite features a lending platform that includes full web-enabled capabilities to enhance collaboration between retail originators and their lending partners. It also features lead management and reverse mortgage product capabilities, as well as third-party vendor integrations. All LPS origination systems, including the LendingSpace suite, will incorporate LPS’ Loan Quality Gateway to help originators with their loan quality requirements.””LPS is deeply respected throughout the mortgage industry for its highly successful technology and expertise,”” said Ravi Varma, CEO of LendingSpace. “”By combining the strengths of LendingSpace and LPS, we can better help mortgage professionals meet the complex challenges of today’s lending environment.””The acquisition is scheduled to close later this month.center_img July 3, 2012 440 Views Sharelast_img read more

SingleFamily Starts Permits Drop In July

first_img Share Led by multifamily activity, new housing permits and starts rose in July with new construction, continuing a shift from single-family homes. The “”Census Bureau and HUD””:http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/pdf/newresconst_201307.pdf reported Friday builders broke ground on new homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 896,000 units, up 5.9 percent from June, and filed permits for construction of 943,000 new units, up 2.7 percent from June.[IMAGE]However the rate of single-family starts fell 13,000 (2.2 percent) to 591,000–the lowest level since last November–and the rate of single-family permit filings dropped 1.9 percent (12,000 to 613,000)–the lowest level since March. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the pace of total starts to increase to 900,000 and total permits to increase to 918,000. The annualized rate of total starts for June was revised up to 846,000 from the originally reported 836,000; permits were revised to 918,000 from 911,000. There was no forecast for single-family activity.The drop in both single-family permits and starts came despite increasing builder confidence. According to the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Housing [COLUMN_BREAK]Market Index (HMI), builder confidence has increase 34 percent in the last three months (June through August), though buyer traffic to showrooms has stalled.According to the Census/HUD report, builders in July completed single-family homes at the rate of 571,000 in July–the fastest pace since March–up sharply, 5.9 percent (32,000) from June. Total completions rose 1.8 percent (14,000) to 774,000 in July from June’s revised 760,000. The pace of total completions in June had originally been reported as 755,000.In June, new home sales totaled 497,000, 42,000 fewer than the 539,000 completions that month. New home sales for July will be reported next week.The July report on starts and permits continues the shift in building activity to multifamily housing. Single-family starts have averaged about 67.6 percent of all starts in the last 12 months, down from 69.3 percent in 12 months ending July 2012 and 74.4 percent in the previous 12 months.In the last 12 months, single-family permits averaged 63.5 percent of total permits, down from 64.4 percent in the 12 months ending July 2012 and 69.9 percent in the 12 months ending July 2011.The annualized rate of all permits rose 15,000 in the West to 225,000; 5,000 in the South to 463,000; 4,000 in the Midwest to 149,000; and 1,000 in the Northeast to 106,000. Permits for single-family homes were up 3,000 in the Midwest to 105,000. They fell 9,000 in the West to 131,000; 5,000 in the South to 326,000; and 1,000 in the Northeast to 51,000._Hear Mark Lieberman every Friday on P.O.T.U.S. radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._ August 16, 2013 393 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Servicingcenter_img Census Bureau Confidence Home Sales Homebuilders Housing Permits Housing Starts Housing Supply Mark Lieberman Multifamily National Association of Home Builders Processing 2013-08-16 Mark Lieberman Single-Family Starts, Permits Drop In Julylast_img read more

Fed Says Interest Rates to Expected to Increase

first_img Share Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen confirmed in speech held today at the Providence Chamber of Commerce in Providence, Rhode Island, that interest rates will likely increase later this year due to the gradual improvement in the economy.“Because of the substantial lags in the effects of monetary policy on the economy, we must make policy in a forward-looking manner. Delaying action to tighten monetary policy until employment and inflation are already back to our objectives would risk overheating the economy,” Yellen said.In her speech, Yellen discusses the condition of the improving, but still wavering, economy and says that if the it improves as expected, she believes it will be a good time for the Fed to raise the Federal Funds Rate this year, which in turn, would affect mortgage interest rates.“For this reason, if the economy continues to improve as I expect, I think it will be appropriate at some point this year to take the initial step to raise the federal funds rate target and begin the process of normalizing monetary policy,” Yellen said. “To support taking this step, however, I will need to see continued improvement in labor market conditions, and I will need to be reasonably confident that inflation will move back to 2% over the medium term.”She also talks about employment rates, consumer price inflation, and the housing crash. She noted that these factors affect the economy overall and even though it is improving, there is still more work to be done. She adds that households are seeing the benefits of improving jobs situations, consumer confidence has been solid, and the drop in oil prices encouraged household purchasing power.“The housing crash left many households with less wealth and higher debt, weighing on consumer spending, Yeller said. “Many homeowners lost their homes, and many more ended up “underwater,” owing more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. Economists have noted that areas of the country that saw a larger boom and bust in housing have subsequently fared worse economically than other areas of the country.”Residential construction activity remains low, despite the recovery in home prices and home sales, Yellen says. She noted the ongoing issues with mortgage credit, a weakening job market, and slow wage gains seem to have made many people double-up on housing, and many young adults live with their parents.“Population growth is creating a need for more housing, whether to rent or to own, and I do expect that continuing job and wage gains will encourage more people to form new households, Yellen said. “Nevertheless, activity in the housing sector is likely to improve only gradually.”Yellen added that although she believes the Fed will raise rates, ultimately, their decision will be dependent upon new economic data and improvements.“We have no intention of embarking on a preset course of increases in the federal funds rate after the initial increase, Yellen concluded. “Rather, we will adjust monetary policy in response to developments in economic activity and inflation as they occur. If conditions improve more rapidly than expected, it may be appropriate to raise interest rates more quickly; conversely, the pace of normalization may be slower if conditions turn out to be less favorable.” Fed Says Interest Rates to Expected to Increase in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, Newscenter_img Federal Reserve Mortgage Interest Rates Providence Chamber of Commerce 2015-05-22 Staff Writer May 22, 2015 489 Views last_img read more

The EverPresent Down Payment Dilemma

first_img Down Payments Homebuyers 2016-09-15 ScottMorgan1 Share Buyers saving up to buy a home had better be patient. No matter what the city or what the age group, saving for a new home will take years‒‒in some cases, decades.This is especially true in California, according to a new report by Magnify Money. The five hardest places for everyone to save up for a home are in the Golden State, as are nine of the 10 hardest places for the young to buy. California, the report stated, “is where homeownership dreams go to die.”Overall, the report found that homeownership is out of reach for 20 percent of Americans. Even those within reach need years to save up. According to Magnify Money, 45 to 65 year-olds need an average of 4.69 years to save up; 25 to 44 year-olds need an average of 5.63 years; and 15 to 24 year-olds need an average of 27.2 years.“In 79 out of 380 areas analyzed, workers of all age groups wouldn’t be able to qualify for a mortgage loan large enough to cover the cost of a median-priced home,” Magnify Money said.The easiest place to save up for a home for 25 to 44 year olds is Johnstown, Pennsylvania. There, the report found, A median-priced home costs $74,900 and the median salary is $53,164. Assuming the standard 20 percent down payment, “this buyer would have to save at least $14,980,” the report stated. “On top of that, he would pay another $3,370 in closing costs (assuming an estimate of 4.5 percent) and set aside $1,370 in an emergency cash reserve. In total, he’d need to save $19,720,” and assuming the buyer could set aside a third of his earnings for the down payment, “it would take him 1.85 years.”Even qualifying for mortgages can be tough, the report found. Twenty-one percent of borrowers in all markets and age groups wouldn’t qualify for mortgages; and 94 percent of those under 25 would not qualify anywhere.Salinas, California, is the most out of reach for the 25 to 44 year old demographic. The city’s median salary of nearly $55,000 is paltry compared to the median home price of $750,000. Here, it would take the median buyer almost 47 years to save up for just the down payment. Nine of the top 10 toughest markets to buy for 25 to 44 year olds were located in California (Salinas, Santa Maria, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Jose, Napa, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Rosa). The only non-California market in the top 10 least affordable list was Kahului-Wailaku-Lahaina, Hawaii, which ranked sixth. The time needed to save for a home in the top 10 most expensive metro areas for this age group is 29 years, according to the report.Other markets on the top 10 list of easiest places to buy for the 25 to 44 year old age group after Johnstown were Danville, Illinois; Bay City, Michigan; Racine, Wisconsin; Terre Haute, Indiana; Weirton-Steubenville, West Virginia-Ohio; Manfield, Ohio; Saginaw, Michigan; Decatur, Illinois; and Muncie, Indiana. In fact, “nine out of the 10 most affordable metro areas are in the Midwest, where housing prices are significantly lower compared to other regions,” the report stated. “On average, it would take just 2.28 years for a 25 to 44 year-old to save for a home in the 10 most affordable metros.”For 45 to 65 year olds, Danville, Illinois, was the most affordable market while Salinas, California, remained the most expensive market to afford a down payment for a home. In fact, the results for this age group largely paralleled those of the 25 to 44 year old age group; Midwest markets were found to be most affordable while California markets ere found to be most expensive.Click here to view the complete study. The Ever-Present Down Payment Dilemmacenter_img September 15, 2016 541 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newslast_img read more

Mortgage Lenders Become Frugal as Competition Heats Up

first_img in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination Borrowers Business Strategy Costs Demand Fannie Mae homes HOUSING Inventory Lenders mortgage sentiment Supply 2018-06-21 Radhika Ojha As the market gets more competitive, mortgage lenders are looking for ways and means to cut costs. According to the latest Mortgage Lenders Sentiment Survey published recently by Fannie Mae, cost-cutting jumped from the second least important priority in 2017 to the third most important one for lenders, coming in after consumer-facing technology, and business process streamlining.In a blog, Doug Duncan, SVP and Chief Economist at Fannie Mae wrote that the rise in cost-cutting as a priority should not come as a surprise for the industry. “Today, lenders are facing an increasingly difficult market environment,” Duncan wrote. “Mortgage rates have risen about 80 basis points since September 2017, pushing refinance activity down sharply. Refinance applications fell every week in May, dragging the monthly average to the lowest level since December 2000.”According to industry estimates, profits for mortgage lenders declined to 10 basis points in the first quarter of 2017 “until, finally this past quarter, the industry took a loss of eight basis points per loan, the first loss in four years.” Now, Duncan wrote, “they appear to be turning to cost-cutting as a means of managing their bottom lines.” Citing another industry estimate, Duncan said that personnel expenses made up 66 percent of total loan production expenses in the first quarter of 2018 and was little changed from the prior quarter a year ago.“Payroll reduction could potentially assume a more prominent role in future cost-cutting efforts,” Duncan predicted. Additionally, he saw the mortgage industry employment approaching the cyclical peak, even as hiring among nonbanks and mortgage brokers hovered near expansion highs in April. Like so many other factors being impacted by it, the problem with the purchase market also boils down to the lack of housing supply that has challenged the otherwise favorable market conditions. “The for-sale inventory of existing homes has remained below the year-ago level for nearly three years. While the number of new homes for sale has continued to trend up, the increase has been concentrated in incomplete units. Ongoing tightness in the for-sale inventory of existing homes and completed new homes is likely to continue to restrain new home sales and boost prices” Duncan said.All these factors together, have led to increasingly tight margins for lenders, a trend, according to Duncan, that is likely to persist as a top driver of lenders’ mortgage business strategy as interest rates continue to rise and inventory remains tight. The quarterly Fannie Mae survey of lenders had found that despite lenders making significant investments to improve operational efficiencies, margins had declined over the past few years. The survey also painted a sobering picture of the housing market, indicating that mortgage demand sentiment had reached a three year low. Lenders’ profit margin outlook also took a dive and remained in the negative territory for the seventh consecutive quarter. Mortgage Lenders Become Frugal as Competition Heats Upcenter_img June 21, 2018 824 Views Sharelast_img read more