TA invites youth to apply for the ‘Best Jobs in the World’. Keeping Australia on the map for younger travellers, Tourism Australia has announced a new AU$4 million campaign inviting the international youth market to apply for the ‘Best Jobs in the World’.A twist on Tourism Queensland’s 2009 ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign, the global competition will involve six of Australia’s State and Territory Tourism Organisations, with each offering their own unique ‘Best Job in the World’ as a prize.Available to travellers between 18 and 30 years of age in Australia and overseas, the initiative is part of a major international marketing push which will focus upon promoting tourism opportunities provided by Australia’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program and will put particular focus on international markets eligible for an Australian working holiday visas, including the UK and Ireland, the US and Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.Commencing today in Cairns, the six ‘Best Jobs in the World’ come with a six month salary package worth AU$100,000 including living costs and include; Chief Funster (New South Wales), Outback Adventurer (Northern Territory), Park Ranger (Queensland), Wildlife Caretaker (South Australia), Lifestyle Photographer (Melboourne, Victoria) and Taste Master (Western Australia).Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy said the competition represents the best of Australia and will appeal to youth travellers’ “sense of fun and adventure”.The youth market contributes up to AU$12 billion annually in total tourism spending, and delivers 26 percent of Australia’s international arrivals.“These are visitors who tend to stay longer, disperse widely and often come back again, with their families, later in their lives,” Mr McEvoy added. “For many young people, Australia’s working holiday visa programs provide the economic means to fund travel plans, and this is at the heart of our new campaign.”Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J.
Called Qantas Assure, this new program will reward people with Qantas Points for being active when it launches in the first half of 2016. It will feature travel insurance under the same umbrella, which the airline already offers to more than half-a-million customers a year.Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said Qantas Assure, which forms part of the growing Qantas Loyalty suite of businesses, would bring together nib’s leading health insurance products with the market reach and consumer insights built up over almost three decades of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.“Qantas Loyalty has evolved beyond a typical airline rewards program to something that influences the purchasing decisions of millions of people through highly sought after Qantas Points.“Qantas Loyalty has shown it knows how to attract, reward and retain members for their choice of airline, credit card or retailer. By partnering with nib, we believe there is a huge opportunity to do the same thing in the $19 billion private health insurance market and drive significant growth for the Loyalty business.”Through the deal, nib will provide its health insurance, risk assessment and underwriting capability while Qantas Loyalty provides its marketing, data and customer retention expertise. The result will be a range of Qantas Assure-branded health insurance products and the ability to earn Qantas Points through the Frequent Flyer program. Value will be shared equally between the parties.Qantas Assure is targeting a 2-3 per cent share of the Australian private health insurance market on a revenue basis in its first five years.Explaining a key point of difference of Qantas Assure, Mr Joyce said wearable technology would have a key role in rewarding members for even moderate increases in levels of physical activity.“This is not about simply earning points when you pay a bill. It’s about offering members the opportunity to be rewarded for being more active, which is something that also has a direct impact on improving your wellness.”From next year, Qantas Frequent Flyer members who purchase a Qantas Assure policy can download a wellness app that syncs with popular forms of wearable technology. The app will log the number of steps taken in a day and then deposit Qantas Points into their Frequent Flyer account. These points can then be used with over 400 partners for flights, shopping or towards your health insurance premium itself.Members will be able to choose from a variety of daily or weekly targets depending on their lifestyles, with the number of points earned increasing with the size of the target.CEO of Qantas Loyalty, Lesley Grant, said: “The idea behind Qantas Assure came from our members telling us they want to be rewarded for leading a more active lifestyle. They also want to feel more engaged in the health insurance experience rather than just paying their monthly premium or making a claim.“We believe Qantas Assure will create a very different relationship between customers and their health insurance. It’s deliberately different and we think it’s very exciting.“When members combine the Qantas points they can earn from literally walking around the block with all the other ways to earn, it becomes a very powerful proposition.nib’s Managing Director, Mr Mark Fitzgibbon, said the partnership with Qantas is one of the most innovative partnerships ever offered in the Australian private health insurance market.“As a health insurer we are obviously strong believers in encouraging our customers to be fit and active.“Qantas Assure’s ability to meaningfully reward customers for leading a more active lifestyle not only strengthens the relationship Qantas has with its members, but has the potential to improve their health and wellbeing and with that lower health care costs.“The relationship with Australia’s most recognised brand, allows us to tap into their avid Qantas Loyalty membership to further grow our business, but equally this partnership allows Qantas to leverage our claims management and extensive underwriting expertise,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.Watch the video below to learn more: Fly QantasSource = Qantas
Source = Gold Coast Tourism Gold Coast breaks record again for international visitor numbersGold Coast breaks record again for international visitor numbersThe Gold Coast has set a new record for international visitors, attracting 1.027 million people to the destination in the twelve months to December, 2016.The International Visitor Survey* (IVS) figures show a 13.9% increase on the previous 12 month period and continues a positive trend, which late last year saw international visitation to the city break the one million mark for the first time.Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter said the total figure was largely influenced by an increase in holiday visitors (up 14.2% to 812,000) and a rise in the number of those visiting friends and relatives (up 4.3% to 146,000).The number of business visitors, while comparatively small, rose 29.7% to 35,000 and student numbers grew 10.4% to 23,000.“The Gold Coast continues to be the key driver for visitors to Queensland, with almost half of all international visitors to the state coming here,” said Martin.“International visitors spent $1.2 billion in this period – further evidence we are consolidating our appeal as the nation’s most favoured destination.“As we approach the GC2018 Commonwealth Games, we will drive the growth of the $5.1 billion tourism industry through the implementation of our new Marketing Strategy, concurrent with growth of our new brand position.”Chinese travellers continued to dominate the growth in international visitor numbers, with a 20.8% increase to 292,000 – the majority of which (274,000) came to the Gold Coast for a holiday.“Chinese visitors are strongly attracted to our natural assets, wildlife, pristine beaches, big blue skies, shopping and dining.“We will continue to engage with the China market and work closely with industry and our destination stakeholders to provide a great experience for our Chinese visitors and to deliver significant benefits to the city as a whole.”The IVS data also reported New Zealand accounted for 204,000 visitors to the Gold Coast, ahead of the UK (71,000), Japan (63,000) and the USA (38,000).*International visitor data is provided by International Visitor Surveys conducted by Tourism Research Australia.
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite Farmers praised Public Safety officers and firefighters who spent a large portion of yesterday and last night helping to combat fires.In addition, high winds saw the N3 being closed near Van Reenen. Winds gusting at about 140 kilometres per hour were reported. The N3 had to be closed between the Tugela Toll Plaza and the Caltex Garage in Van Reenen. RTI and N3TC appealed to drivers to delay their journey if they planned to use this route. The N3 was opened to all vehicles once the high winds had subsided. Farmers, together with firefighters, were kept busy most of yesterday afternoon, battling fires in high winds in both Bergville and Ladysmith.The Rookdale area has been devastated by raging fires driven by howling winds. Bergville firefighters and farm workers came out in numbers to fight runaway fires that ripped through the Rookdale Location near Woodstock Dam. It is unknown at this stage if anyone has been killed, but at least eight homesteads were totally gutted. About 20 firefighters were deployed all around Bergville, working until approximately 5pm extinguishing the blaze. Search and rescue operations are being carried out.Ladysmith farmers were also battling a fire near Surprise Hill.
The wife of a police officer has been arrested in connection with his murder, along with the ‘hit-man’ she allegedly hired to do the deed.The murder happened on Friday, May 23, when 50-year-old Warrant Officer Bongani Sibusiso Xaba was travelling along Collings Pass, Elandslaagte, with his 33-year-old wife in the car. The wife claimed that the vehicle started giving problems and when her husband stopped to see what was wrong, two people appeared out of the bushes and attacked them. Warrant Officer Xaba was severely beaten and two cell-phones were stolen. He was rushed to hospital, where he died on June 22. A case of murder was opened by Elandslaagte police. W/O Xaba was employed at the Ladysmith Vehicle Identification Section (VIS).During the investigation, Elandslaagte detectives found that the wife had hired a 29-year-old man to murder her husband. The ‘attack’ on the couple had not been a random, opportunistic act, but had been carefully planned.On Monday this week, the 29-year-old ‘hit-man’ was arrested in Roosboom and W/O Xaba’s wife was arrested in Steadville by Elandslaagte Detective Services, assisted by the Ladysmith K9 Unit and the Ladysmith Cluster Trio Crime Task Team. During the arrest of the wife, the ‘stolen’ cell-phones were recovered in her possession.Both suspects were set to appear in court yesterday (Wednesday), facing charges of murder. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite Heavy winds caused roofs to fly off and brought down power cables in Steadville. At this stage, the extent of the damages is not known. Strong winds have caused extensive damage to other areas as well. Wind speeds in Van Reenen have been recorded as over 100km per hour.Veld fires are sweeping through the Fort Mistake, Normandien and Elandslaagte areas. Farmers are battling several fires near Chelmsford Dam.According to ER24 Newcastle – N11 Route – Avoid route, raging veld fire between Newcastle and Durnacol. Pushed by strong winds and visibility zero
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite Egerton Primary School principal Mr Barry Callaway was discharged from La Verna Hospital this morning. He was admitted to hospital with chest pains on Tuesday morning.He is at home and feeling much better, and is under doctor’s orders for bed rest. The Ladysmith community at large, especially parents and everyone at Egerton Primary School, are happy about his recovery and wish him all the best.The Ladysmith Gazette wishes him a speedy recovery.This story will no longer be updated.Egerton principal in stable conditionEgerton principal in hospital
It has recently been revealed that drugs are possibly an even more serious problem than previously thought in KwaZulu-Natal.Winterton, Bergville and Weenen are known as major dagga growing areas. Lesotho is one of the largest import areas.Answering a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA), Provincial Community Safety MEC Willies Mchunu revealed that the department is unable to judge the true extent of the drug problem in KZN. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite The response – which provided details surrounding the location of confiscations, the amount of drugs impounded and the number of arrests made – also stated that cocaine and heroin are the most popular choice of drugs in the province.The report shows that there are several ‘hotspots’ around KZN, where drugs are being smuggled in. Despite a total of 95 arrests, only 41 resulted in imprisonment, with the majority of culprits getting away with an admission of guilt fine.The DA say they will now push for the urgent reinstatement of KZN’s specialist anti-drug units, as this is not the ‘zero tolerance’ message that needs to be sent out. They say it’s not acceptable that the culprits get away with just a slap on the wrist; this serves as no deterrent whatsoever to drug dealers.
American journalist, author and biographer Joe Carter and his editor wife Michelle Lefebvre-Carter are spending a week in South Africa learning more about the famous Will Rogers.Will Rogers was a legendary cowboy, both on and off screen, and as fate would have it, he started his career right here in little old Ladysmith. Will also had a wry sense of humour, and books have been published containing anecdotes and quotes from this colourful character.Joe and his wife plan to carefully comb the area and retrace the cattle drives, while seeking any new background information about the people and events surrounding Will Rogers during the stormy post-war period. The battle-scarred Anglo-Boer War route is where American Will Rogers conducted two historic cattle drives and Ladysmith is where his career as a headliner showman was launched in ‘Texas Jack’s Wild West Show’. Joe explains that, “Later starring in 71 movies, writing six books, penning syndicated newspaper columns and becoming a hit performer in Broadway’s Ziegfled Follies, Will Rogers got his first taste of show business under a circus tent in Ladysmith!”At the age of 23 years old, Will Rogers arrived aboard a steamboat from Argentina to deliver more than 2000 Argentine cattle, mules, horses and sheep. Research shows that he helped herd the animals to the sprawling Mooi River station. In the five-volume ‘Papers of Will Rogers’ project that Carter-Lefebvre led, scholarly research (including a few letters written in South Africa by Will Rogers) disclosed information about this historic period. This includes Will Rogers’ two trail drives northwards from Durban, the second being to Ladysmith.While doing cowboy work in Ladysmith, he saw an audition for ‘Texas Jack’s Wild West Show’. Being a cowboy himself and being very good with the rope, he auditioned.He then joined the show and travelled with it all around South Africa. He featured in circuses in Australia and New Zealand before going back to the Northern Hemisphere, where he became famous and starred in 10 ’20th Century-Fox’ movies.Before his South African trek, Will Rogers had been reared on a sprawling cattle ranch in Oklahoma and had been a work-a-day cowboy on cattle drives of the era. He competed in rodeos and steer roping contests, but never before his South African experience had he seen show business as a career.While no publisher has been selected by the Carter-Lefebvre team, they said that a new book, magazine series or possible cinema scripts are possibilities, depending on the couple’s findings during their week-long travels in the area. “Under the billing of ‘The Cherokee Kid, The World’s Champion Lassoer’, we know that Will Rogers played Port Elizabeth, Durban, Harrisburg, East London, Cape Town, Aliwal and Pretoria during 1902-1903,” says Michelle. “Hopefully we will flesh out names and additional venues, and find new records such as newspaper reviews.”Some newspaper clippings of show reviews are among papers archived at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, Oklahoma, where the Carter-Lefebvre team were directors for 20 years. Joe and Michelle have been married for 23 years and have worked together for most of this time.Joe is not only a newsman and published biographer of humorist Will Rogers, he served as a White House aide of two presidents, a governor and four members of Congress. He is the author of twin 2013 memoirs. ‘I Heard JFK’s Death Shots’ is a reporter’s personal look back at President John F Kennedy’s assassination 50 years later. Joe was a United Press International correspondent on the press bus covering President Kennedy’s November 1963 campaign swing into Dallas. Joe was directly below the Texas School Book Depository window when he heard the three assassination shots.Five years later, Joe was tapped as a speech write and political advance man for President Johnson, where he joined diplomatic missions to Central American countries and to the July 1968 Honolulu summit on Vietnam. Joe’s other memoir, ‘Unique Challenges of writing for LBJ’, recounts his White House experiences during the final months of President Lyndon B Johnson’s White House years. What a host of experiences Joe Carter has had during his lifetime!Joe and Michelle are loving South Africa and are currently searching for more information on Will Rogers. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite
Reto Francioni succeeded Bruno Gehrig as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS). Bruno Gehrig and Christoph Franz have stepped down from the Board and Doris Russi Schurter has been newly appointed to its ranks.The Board of Directors of SWISS reconstituted itself following the General Meeting. Bruno Gehrig has retired from the Board, having joined it in November 2010 and served as its Chairman for six years. Prior to this, he had been Chairman of the Swiss Air Transport Foundation for a five-year period.The new Chairman of the SWISS Board of Directors is Reto Francioni. The new incumbent served as CEO of Deutsche Börse AG Frankfurt/Germany from 2005 until May 2015.“We are delighted that in Reto Francioni we have appointed to head the SWISS Board of Directors not only a seasoned professional from the business and financial sector but also an individual who is highly regarded and respected in both Switzerland and Germany,” comments Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board & CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG.Doris Russi Schurter has been appointed to the SWISS Board of Directors as Christoph Franz’s successor. A native of Lucerne, an attorney-at-law and a former partner at auditing and accountancy company KPMG, Schurter already sits on the boards of directors of several major corporations. She is also President of the VSUD, the Association of Swiss Companies in Germany.Harry Hohmeister, Montie Brewer and Jacques Aigrain remain as the further members of the SWISS Board of Directors.
The recent report by FICCI –Yes Bank on India Inbound Tourism: Decoding Strategies for Next Stage of Growth recommended that India should encourage the promotion of niche tourism products like medical, wellness, religious and spiritual and MICE travel.The report was presented by Vasundhara Raje, Chief Minister of Rajasthan, in Jaipur. The report stretched that there is an urgent need to create unique themes to shape inbound tourism by providing niche experiences and luxury tourism so that people across the globe consider visiting India.The report urged state government bodies like Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, among others to develop a comprehensive ecosystem and get more involved into the process of making India as the most preferred tourists’ destination. The report recommends states to undertake new policies, generate inciting marketing campaigns and numerous initiatives like the sustainable use of existing resources to further enhance tourism in the country.The report recommended the development of destination infrastructure, connectivity and technology as they are primarily responsible for the rise in the tourism sector. The report outlined the need for incentivising private players to invest in various tourism projects and placing the tourism sector under the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS).Furthermore, the report suggested on identifying and permitting eco-friendly activities along the waterfronts, standardising the format for collection and publication of tourism data; supporting the emergence of Indian start-ups and recognising the state-owned tourism units which can be operated on suitable PPP models.The report categorically stated that while crossing the 10 million foreign tourist arrival is a momentous occasion for the tourism industry, it is important to acknowledge the fact that this is just the tip of the iceberg. While the initial growth surge has been fast, continuing this momentum will require a greater degree of policy dynamism as well as heightened synergy between multiple layers of the industry.
December 19, 2011 437 Views Two banks went under over the weekend, interrupting a failure-free last two weeks and raising the national tally to 92 for the year ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a number in line with earlier forecasts from the FDIC as the New Year approaches.[IMAGE]Phoenix, Arizona-based Western National Bank and Panama City, Florida-based Premier Community Bank each shuttered their doors, with regulators appointing the “”FDIC””:http://www.fdic.gov/ to serve in its traditional role of receiver.The “”Office of the Comptroller of the Currency””:http://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/index-consumer-protection.html closed Western National with approximately $162.9 million in total assets and $144.5 million in total deposits.Seattle-based “”Washington Federal””:http://www.washingtonfederal.com/home.aspx sopped up the mess by agreeing to purchase “”essentially all the deposits,”” according [COLUMN_BREAK]to a FDIC statement. Three branches under Western National also transferred to the Washington Federal brand Monday.””We wish to extend the warmest welcome to the customers of the former Western National Bank,”” Roy Whitehead, chairman and president of Washington Federal, said in a “”statement””:http://www.washingtonfederal.com/getattachment/1b75ab07-c4c5-4f6e-8a0e-277c8e69bc5f/.aspx, adding that it is “”not new to Arizona. We currently have 21 branches in the state, including 13 in the Phoenix area.””Depositors can rest assured that their funds are not at risk,”” he added.Florida state regulators meanwhile closed Crestview, Florida-based Premier Community Bank, which fell under with $126 million in total assets and $112.1 million in total deposits. Panama City-based “”Summit Bank””:http://summitbankna.com/ swooped in to collect essentially all assets, including two branches that reopened Monday under its management.Both bank failures cost the FDIC’s insurance fund a combined $68.8 million.Greg Hernandez, a spokesperson for the FDIC, told _MReport_ for a past story that the agency foresaw fewer failures taking place in 2011, compared with 157 seen in 2010.He attributed the decline to better portfolio management practices for financial institutions and a slow, albeit steady pace for the U.S. economic recovery. in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Two New Banks Fail, Raising National Tally to 92 Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank Failure FDIC Lenders & Servicers OCC Processing Service Providers 2011-12-19 Ryan Schuette Share
January 10, 2013 412 Views in Data, Origination Mortgage rates took a jump this week as markets await the fiscal drama to unfold in the next few months.[IMAGE]According to “”Freddie Mac’s””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) was 3.40 (0.7 point) percent for the week ending January 10, up somewhat significantly from 3.34 percent in 2013’s first survey. The 15-year fixed average also climbed–though not as drastically–reaching 2.66 percent (0.7 ppoint). The 15-year FRM averaged 2.64 percent previously.Adjustable rates also showed some movement. The 1-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.60 percent (0.5 point), up from 2.57 percent in the last survey. The 5-year ARM was the only one to fall, averaging 2.67 percent (0.6 point) (compared to 2.71 percent previously).””Bankrate””:http://www.bankrate.com/ reported similar results in its weekly survey, with the 30-year fixed average soaring to 3.67 percent–its highest level since September. The 15-year fixed average also adjusted upward (though in a more modest fashion), rising to 2.92 percent.Meanwhile, the 5/1 ARM just barely slid up to 2.77 percent, Bankrate noted.””All the euphoria in the immediate aftermath of the fiscal cliff deal seems bound to give way to renewed concerns as we draw closer to the debt ceiling deadline,”” Bankrate said in a release. “”With a contentious debate expected on raising the debt ceiling and much wrangling over spending cuts, the nervousness and uncertainty that is sure to develop will likely help bring bond yields and mortgage rates lower during the first quarter of this year.”” Mortgage Rates Rise, Expected to Feel Squeeze from Debt Ceiling Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Service Providers 2013-01-10 Tory Barringer Share
Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies GDP Home Prices Home Sales Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2013-01-24 Krista Franks Brock Fannie Mae: Slow Pace of Recovery ‘The New Normal’ Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing While some are asking when the economy will return to normal, others are wondering if this prolonged period of below-potential GDP growth is actually the “”new normal,”” according to a “”report””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/research-and-analysis/emma.html from “”Fannie Mae’s””:http://www.fanniemae.com (FNMA/OTC) Economic & Strategic Research Group. [IMAGE]For 2013 and 2014, Fannie Mae projects a continuation of below-potential economic growth, with a 2 percent growth rate expected for 2013, similar to the lackluster performance seen in 2012.””What we view as sub-par economic growth may actually continue to be par for the course for the near term,”” said Fannie Mae Chief economist Doug Duncan. “”We expect the fiscal policy climate to act as a drag on growth this year with possible implications on the direction of the economy in the long term.””According to Fannie Mae’s report, potentially strong headwinds such as the fiscal cliff and ongoing debt ceiling are likely to suppress consumer spending in the first half off 2013. [COLUMN_BREAK]But, as Fannie Mae points out, “”[o]nce policy makers resolve the short-term fiscal policy problems, growth should accelerate in the second half of 2013 and carry forward into 2014.”” While GDP growth was described as “”subdued”” in 2012, Fannie Mae noted a couple noteworthy events: the unemployment rate falling below 8 percent for the first time since 2009 and the improvement in home prices, which coincided with a positive annual contribution from residential investment to GDP growth. The housing sector continues to be viewed as the bright spot in the economy, and Fannie Mae says housing’s contribution to economic growth should increase this year and in coming years. The GSE also pointed to the labor market and low mortgage rates as key driving forces behind the housing recovery. With home sales, home prices, and home building activity appearing to trend upwards, Fannie Mae expects to see further increases. Housing starts are expected to grow from about 775,000 units to 950,000 units in 2013. The report did point out that the projected level is far below the peak of more than 2 million units in 2005, but it will still be more than 60 percent above the annual record low in 2010. As for home sales, Fannie Mae expects existing home sales to rise to an annual pace of around 5 million units in 2013 and 2014 and eventually reach nearly 6 million units in 2016. Mortgage rates are expected to end 2013 slightly under 4 percent at around 3.8 percent and rise to around 4.2 percent at the end of 2014. Mortgage originations should also increase and reach $642 billion in 2013 from a forecast of $518 billion in 2012, while refinance activity is expected to slow down and fall to $961 billion from a projected $1.4 trillion in 2012. January 24, 2013 387 Views
March 7, 2013 503 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Demand For-Sale Homes Home Prices Home Sales Housing Supply Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers Zillow 2013-03-07 Tory Barringer Zillow Observes Inventory Crunch as Selling Season Approaches Inventory shortage continues to darken the skies over the housing market as the spring selling season approaches, “”Zillow””:http://www.zillow.com/ reported Thursday.[IMAGE]Zillow observed a 16.6 percent year-over-year decline in its overall number of listed homes in late February, indicating an inventory crunch just as buyers start to feel more comfortable dipping their toes into the market.Nationwide, the greatest year-over-year decreases inventory declines were among more expensive homes, with the availability of top-tier properties falling 20.5 percent on an annual basis. That was followed by middle-tier homes (which saw a 17.2 percent inventory reduction) and bottom tier homes (9.1 percent). Only five metro areas posted higher inventory in February 2013 than in February 2012: El Paso, Texas (18.5 percent higher); Albuquerque, New Mexico (8.1 [COLUMN_BREAK]percent); Little Rock, Arkansas (7.7 percent); Fort Myers, Florida (1.5 percent); and Youngstown, Ohio (0.2 percent).Meanwhile, California’s larger metros reported the greatest decreases in for-sale homes over the past year. Among the 30 largest metros covered by Zillow, four of the top five in inventory contraction call California home: Sacramento (down 48 percent); Los Angeles (down 45.7 percent); San Francisco (down 40.9 percent); and San Diego (down 39.4 percent). The outlier is Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, which saw a 36.7 percent drop in inventory.””The supply of for-sale listings continues to dry up, driven in part by potential sellers trapped in negative equity and homeowners that won’t sell out of fear they won’t be able to find a suitable home to buy later,”” said Dr. Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist.While inventory declined year-over-year in February, Zillow noted the drop was less severe than in January, which saw a 17.5 percent decline from the previous year. In addition, almost two-thirds of the areas surveyed showed a smaller year-over-year decline in for-sale homes in February than in January, which might indicate an easing in today’s tight inventory.Humphries expects the inventory issue will fix itself as rising prices coax sellers back into the market. However, this spring season may be a dry one.””While this inventory is coming, it may still be a frustrating spring for buyers vying for what inventory is available,”” Humphries said. in Data, Origination Share
The fourth volume of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) monthly complaint snapshot released Tuesday focused on one of its top three most complained-about financial product: mortgages.In September 2015, the Bureau received 23,400 complaints, and 4,747 of these were mortgage-related complaints, making it the third most complained-about category this month. Last September, mortgage complaints totaled 4,291.On a positive note, the CFPB reported that overall complaints declined 9 percent month-over-month, while mortgage complaints fell 7 percent from the prior month.”Debt collection, credit reporting, and mortgage complaints continue to be the top three most-complained-about consumer financial products and services, collectively representing about 70 percent of complaints submitted in September 2015,” the report stated.The CFPB began accepting complaints from consumers about financial products shortly after opening its doors in July 2011. As of October 1, 2015, the Bureau had received 725,951 complaints in slightly more than four years, and about 197,653 of those complaints have been about mortgages, making it the overall the most complained-about category.The mortgage market is the largest consumer financial marketplace in the country with more than $10 trillion in total value. The CFPB enacted new mortgage rules in 2014 to ensure strong consumer protections and also ensure that lenders offered affordable mortgages to consumers.”Despite strong protections that have been put in place to protect homeowners, this month’s complaint report shows consumers are still having problems when dealing with their mortgages,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said. “The Bureau will continue to work to make sure that consumers are being treated fairly on their mortgage issues.”From July 2015 to September 2015, Idaho, Nebraska, and Arkansas experienced the greatest complaint volume changes at 59 percent, 44 percent, and 43 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, Delaware, Alaska, and New Mexico saw their complaint decline 10 percent, 9 percent, and 5 percent, respectively.According to the report, nearly all complaints for Ocwen and Nationstar are for mortgage-related matters among consumers, which received 433 and 364 complaints, respectively.Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase also had a significant share of mortgage complaints. Citibank and Capital One had very few mortgage complaints.In its report, the CFPB also highlighted that the Chicago metro area is experiencing a heavy volume of complaints from consumers that are facing mortgage issues.In this area, mortgages are the most-complained about product, with 27 percent of the 21,100 complaints submitted by consumers being mortgage-related.View the full report: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201510_cfpb_monthly-complaint-report-vol-4.pdf 2015-10-27 Staff Writer Mortgages Remain One of Top Three Issues in CFPB Complaint Report in Daily Dose, Data, Government, Headlines, News, Servicing October 27, 2015 440 Views Share
Federal Housing Administration FHA PMI Private Mortgage Insurance 2016-05-04 Staff Writer May 4, 2016 512 Views The Face Off—FHA vs. Private Mortgage Insurance In the time period following the housing market collapse, private mortgage insurance was not easy to obtain, which left the door open for the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to step in to accommodate low-down payment borrowers and pick up the majority of the mortgage insurance market share.But the tables have since turned.FHA loans have become more expensive as the housing recovery surges forward. A 2016 Mortgage Insurance Study by WalletHub found that private mortgage insurance has resurfaced as a once-again viable option for those that can afford a mortgage but not the 20 percent down payment.According to the report, from 2007 to 2009, FHA were the primary choice for low-down payment borrowers and volume grew by more than 355 percent during this time. Meanwhile, private issuers incurred huge losses, with some going bankrupt.WalletHub found that despite the reemergence of private mortgage insurance, FHA policies still dominate the market. FHA loans are roughly 51 percent more popular than conventional loans with private insurance policies.During the time period from 2014 to 2016, FHA insurance costs have fallen by 29 percent, while primary mortgage insurance costs have declined by 47 percent for people with credit scores above 760 and increased by 28 percent for people with a fair credit score of 660 or below, WalletHub reported.The recent reduction in private mortgage insurance fees has made getting a mortgage loan a lot easier and may begin to pull high quality borrowers from the FHA. Urban Institute researchers Bing Bai and Laurie Goodman found in a recent report that borrowers that can afford a monthly mortgage but do not have the 20 percent down payment, have two options: 1. A FHA loan or 2. A conventional mortgage guaranteed by the GSEs. While both programs allow borrowers to put as little as 3.5 percent down, one may be better than the other.”For the past 15 months, the answer has been the FHA loan,” the authors wrote. “But for those with nearly perfect credit, a change to PMI fees in April 2016 made the GSE guarantee more affordable. This new pricing could pull some of the highest-quality borrowers out of FHA and into GSE loans.”Click here to view the full report. in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News, Origination Share
Share in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News The Unanswered Questions in the GSE Net Worth Sweep Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) first suggested that the U.S. government seemed to be asserting executive privilege by withholding documents related to the sweeping of GSE profits into Treasury, the so-called “Net Worth Sweep,” in a letter to the U.S. Attorney General and the Treasury Secretary in April 2015.Now the topic of whether or not the government is invoking executive privilege in the Net Worth Sweep is being revisited again, this time in a white paper by Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash, James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.The Net Worth Sweep, which has been going on since August 2012, has prompted several lawsuits from GSE shareholders, including one by Fairholme Funds in 2013 that is still pending. In April, federal Judge Margaret Sweeney ordered the unsealing of seven documents related to the Net Worth Sweep that seem to suggest that key government officials (namely the CFO at Fannie Mae at the time, Susan McFarland) knew that the GSEs were on the brink of major profitability in the summer of 2012 right before the bailout agreement was amended to include the Net Worth Sweep.Prakash points out in his paper that Fairholme Funds, the investor-plaintiff in the case, sought discovery (a pre-trial request for documents and depositions directed to the opposing party) from the FHFA and Treasury in the lawsuit in order to establish that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were financially sound at the time the Net Worth Sweep was ordered. Prakash said the government had two responses to the request.“Under federal law, the plaintiffs have a right to documents and testimony that help prove their taking case.”Professor Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash“First, the government asked the court to impose a protective order,” Prakash wrote. “Under such an order, only the plaintiffs’ lawyers, and no one else, would be able to read the materials. The government argued that making such documents publicly available would (a) destabilize financial and housing markets and the general economy and (b) impede the passage of new congressional legislation regarding Fannie and Freddie. In 2014, Judge Margaret Sweeney, of the U.S. Court of Claims, imposed a protective order.”Prakash continued, “Whatever the government’s precise motives, the documents make clear that shareholders had a reasonable expectation of profits, a factor that favored their takings claim. Moreover, the statements of insiders also lent weight to the suspicion that FHFA was not really acting to conserve the assets and property of Fannie and Freddie. This motivation is highly relevant in other suits. Indeed, the Fairholme Funds plaintiffs had sought permission from Judge Sweeney to use the newly public documents in another suit.”Prakash concluded that Sweeney should:Insist that the government review the approximately 12,000 documents over which it has asserted executive privilege;Rule that the agency head must be the one to assert privilege;Declare that the documents related to the government’s intentions are relevant to the takings case;Declare that documents generated after the Net Worth Sweep was ordered are not privileged, since they did not figure in the decision to sweep all GSE profits into Treasury“Under federal law, the plaintiffs have a right to documents and testimony that help prove their taking case,” Prakash said. “The Court of Claims ought to vindicate that right. More broadly, the public has a right to understand why its government chose to sweep up the profits of Fannie and Freddie and whether the executive branch has been honest with the American people about its motivations.”Click here to read the complete white paper by Prakash. May 19, 2016 555 Views Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSE Profit Sweep 2016-05-19 Seth Welborn
Builders Call for Regulatory Reform to Lower Housing Costs Affordable Housing Home Builders National Association of Home Builders Regulation 2016-06-03 Staff Writer The NAHB stated that it will continue to advocate for affordable housing to make it a reality and priority to leadership figures in the U.S.“Common sense reforms to the regulatory approval process would open the doors of homeownership to more Americans across the country,” Brady said.He continued, “Homeownership remains a core American value to consumers across the country. In addition to building stronger communities, homeownership provides a solid foundation for family and personal achievement. It is critical that we keep this dream within reach, and not price out buyers with needless overregulation.” in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Heightened regulations in the housing industry are hindering affordable housing in the U.S., and home builders believe it is time for a change.In light of June’s acknowledgement of National Homeownership Month, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) demanded that all Americans have access to affordable housing. The way they suggests tackling this issue by implementing “sensible reforms to burdensome regulations that increase the cost of housing.”NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Illinois said, “The aggressive over-regulation of the housing industry is putting the American Dream of safe and affordable housing at risk.”Regulations in the housing market are not only an added responsibility for mortgage companies, but it seems that compliance costs are spilling over into American households.A recent study titled, “Government Regulation in the Price of a New Home” by Paul Emrath, Ph.D., VP of Survey and Housing Policy Research for the National Association of Home Builders(NAHB), estimates that 14 million households are “priced out” of the market due to regulation.The report showed that government regulations increase the new home price by an average of 24.3 percent, or an additional $84,561. This number is up significantly from 2011 when regulatory costs were $65,224. This phenomenon prices out households so they no longer qualify for a new home mortgage because of higher prices.Emrath noted, “builders and developers have probably not yet felt all the impacts of regulations looming on the horizon. A substantial number of regulations have been implemented recently, are in the process of being implemented, or are under active consideration by key policymakers.”He continued, “Based on this it would be reasonable to argue that the rate of increase in regulatory costs embodied in the price of a new home is accelerating.”“Regulators at all levels of government–local, state and federal–must understand that their actions have real consequences,” said NAHB CEO Jerry Howard. “The cost of regulation in the price of a new home is rising more than twice as fast as the average American’s ability to pay for it. That is simply not sustainable.” June 3, 2016 554 Views Share