Shoal Bay resort pool holiday park Facebook Aerial of PS Holiday Park online Source = Port Stephens Tourism Port Stephens has won seven awards at the 2012 Countrylink NSW North Coast Tourism Awards with one property – Shoal Bay Resort and Spa – scoring four of them. The Port Stephens winners were:Deluxe Accommodation – Gold winner – Shoal Bay Resort and Spa Tourism Marketing – Bronze winner – Port Stephens Beachside Holiday ParksRestaurants and Catering – Bronze winner – Shoal Bay Resort and Spa Meetings and Business – Silver winner – Shoal Bay Resort and SpaMajor Tour and Transport – Moonshadow CruisesPubs – Shoal Bay Resort and SpaCaravan and Tourists Parks – Silver winner – Halifax Holiday Park “The NSW North Coast is a huge region stretching from Port Stephens all the way to the QLD border with many major tourism players in the market so our seven awards are a significant coup for Port Stephens,” said Port Stephens Tourism Marketing Manager, Tars Bylhouwer.“There was heavy competition at these awards so the recognition Port Stephens received is a great tribute to the fantastic product that we have here and the fantastic effort and passion that these operators invest in their businesses and the region as a whole,” he said.
Personal travel managers from across Australia will learn to work together to build business and make a difference at this year’s TravelManagers National Conference.Running from 9 November to 11 November in Fiji, up to 120 personal travel managers will undergo a number of team building exercises designed to emphasise this year’s theme of working together as well as illustrate the correlation between a successful business and cooperation.“The objective for this conference is bringing together all the elements of the TravelManagers team by illustrating that in working together to make a difference to our individual and collective businesses can result in a more effective outcome for all involved,” the home-based agency group’s chairman Barry Mayo told e-Travel Blackboard.Team building tasks this year will include giving local school, Votualevu Primary School, a much-needed makeover through interior and exterior painting and maintenance work.Delegates will also be given the opportunity to donate exercise books, stationery and sporting equipment to the school, as well as , join forces at the inaugural TravelManagers golf day, held at the Natadola Bay.e-Travel Blackboard will be alongside personal travel managers later this week in Fiji to bring you all the latest from the 2012 TravelManagers Conference.Click here to check out e-Travel Blackboard’s coverage from the TravelManagers 2011 National Conference held in Melbourne. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J PTMs will undergo team building exercises at the TravelManagers 2012 National Conference designed to illustrate the correlation between a successful business and cooperation.
Chimu Adventures director Greg Carter, McGrath Foundation ambassador and director Tracy Bevan and Artist Ken Done Chimu Adventures and the McGrath Foundation, along with Australian artist Ken Done, showcased the up and coming feature voyage to Antarctica named ‘PinKtarctica’.The ‘PinKtarctica’ voyage will take place over 12 days, allowing travellers to explore the Antarctic Peninsula, whilst supporting the McGrath Foundation’s mission to raise money to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities across Australia and increasing breast awareness in young Australians.Travellers aboard the expedition will be joined by McGrath Foundation ambassador and director Tracy Bevan and Ken Done.McGrath Foundation ambassador and director, Ms Bevan, said the fundraiser will go a long way in helping the Foundation ensure every family in Australia experiencing breast cancer has access to a breast care nurse no matter where they live or their financial circumstance.“We are proud to have funded 100 McGrath Breast Care Nurses working nationally, who together have supported over 25,000 families experiencing breast cancer in Australia and remarkable events like PinKtarctica will truly help us to continue to make a difference,” Ms Bevan said.Source = ETB Travel News: Megan Tran
GfK and AFTA cooperation to support travel industry growthGfK and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) officially announced a partnership to introduce a new reporting currency to the travel industry. Participating AFTA members will contribute to a weekly, consolidated, forward-bookings measurement: the first of its kind in Australia.The GfK Travelscan, which is based on consolidated and aggregated industry booking data, is used by the travel industry to better predict market developments and to help businesses run more efficiently. Travelscan is one of a suite of specialised solutions for the travel and hospitality industry developed by GfK, one of the world’s leading market insights companies.“We’re delighted to be working with AFTA to introduce a new travel industry market currency to Australia”, said Gwenno Hopkin, General Manager of GfK Australia. “The GfK Travelscan product is already established in Europe and is being rolled-out throughout APAC. It has become a ‘must-have’ business tool for travel retailers in those countries, and we are certain the Australian travel community will benefit from an aggregated read of outbound and domestic trends.”“As the travel agency community becomes more self-sufficient and less reliant on government in this industry regulated environment, important travel data will be key to help maintain and build good travel agents across Australia” said Jayson Westbury, CEO AFTA.“AFTA believes it is imperative that we support travel agents in understanding their business better and this travel industry market currency has proven very powerful in other markets around the world. To be at the cutting edge and to really understand what the trends look like, travel agencies need data. Travelscan will deliver this perfectly,” said Westbury.“I encourage all travel agency owners to get involved in this industry wide initiative and to be a part of sharing data with GfK, one of the most trusted sources of market and consumer information platforms in the world,” said Westbury. AFTASource = GfK & Australian Federation of Travel Agents
Fly Royal Jordanianfrom Australia with Oneworld Partners Qantas, Malaysia Airlines or Cathay Pacific to20 European destinationsEconomy Class Starts from: $ 1521 *Business Class Starts from: $ 4761 ** Return airfares from Sydney to Rome via Kuala Lumpur & including taxes/surcharges & correct as of 18August15. Valid for sales until 31August15 & departures valid from from 10Sep15 – 30Nov15 / 01Jan16 – 31Mar16, subject to availability. Taxes to other European destinations may differ.Other conditions apply For Further Information:Contact your preferred Travel Agent or contact RJ on 1300 855 057 Visit Royal Jordanian … World Aviation ServicesRoyal JordanianRoyal Jordanian Europe Special August 2015Source = Royal Jordanian – World Aviation Systems
Upper Class – It’s all about enjoying the moment, from pick up to drop off.Whether you’re with us for business or pleasure, Upper Class makes your journey something to really look forward to.First off we take the stress out of travelling to and from the airport with our chauffeur driven car service at both ends of your journey.If you’re flying from London Heathrow T3, you can enjoy a streamlined serene start to your journey from our unique Upper Class Wing. After the personalised, dedicated check in, you’ll beat the queues and whizz through our Private Security Channel. Which means there’s more time to make the most of our award winning Clubhouse.Whichever of our worldwide Clubhouses you’re enjoying, when it’s time to fly we’ll let you know. Then you can just take your place onboard. With a generous leather seat that flips niftily into one of the longest flat beds in any business class, plus the space to relax, talk and enjoy delicious food and drink, we’ve got your next few hours covered. Virgin Atlantic www.virginatlantic.comVirgin Atlantic Winter Wonderland Fares to LondonVery special “Upper Class” fares to London return departing from Sydney from only $5,870* return.Offer ends 10 December, don’t delay, book now!Check your GDS for all conditions or call Virgin Atlantic on 1300 661 353Click here to download the fare sheet: Winter Wonderland Trade Advice AU Virgin Atlanticbook and fly here Source = Virgin Atlantic – World Aviation Systems
WA Travel Counsellors check out Air New Zealand’s new DreamlinerWA Travel Counsellors check out Air New Zealand’s new DreamlinerIn order to keep up-to-date with the latest aviation trends and aircraft improvements, four Travel Counsellors recently completed an aircraft inspection at Perth Airport. Joined by Jacqueline Tan from Air New Zealand, Nadine New, Clare Hardie, Chrissie Shah and Cheryl Richmond all inspected Air New Zealand’s new Dreamliner. With New Zealand being a highly popular destination for Australian travellers, the Travel Counsellors team were keen to inspect what Air New Zealand’s fleet had to offer.“I am very impressed with this Air New Zealand’s new Dreamliner. While Air New Zealand is a trusted carrier, when it comes to booking flights, it’s a highly competitive market out there, so airlines really have to offer something different to be able to compete. I’m glad I had a chance to experience Air New Zealand’s fleet up close – while you can read up on aviation developments and ask other agents for their opinion, nothing compares to seeing and experiencing things for yourself,” comments Nadine New of Palmyra. become a Travel Counsellor todayclick hereAbout Travel CounsellorsTravel Counsellors Australia was established in 2007 and currently has 150 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 1,500 travel consultants who work from home with the support of over 350 staff at the company’s UK headquarters and overseas offices. The company operates in Australia, UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, South Africa, UAE and Belgium. Source = Travel Counsellors – Australia
MSC Cruises 2020 World Cruise unbelievable value!MSC Cruises 2020 World Cruise unbelievable value!Sail aboard MSC Magnifica on MSC Cruises 116-night 2020 World Cruise calling at a host of far-flung destinations including Peru, Sri Lanka, Oman, Brazil and India.Multiple embarkation ports allow you to embark from Genoa, Marseille or Barcelona on 5th, 6th and 7th January, 2020 respectively and will cross five continents on a four month voyage to some of the world’s most talked-about destinations. Eight destinations include an overnight stay. This gives you up to two days to experience local attractions, cuisine and unique atmosphere.Offering great value the world cruise is priced from $18,749 per person, twin share and included in the cruise fare is;15 shore excursionsMealtime Restaurant Drinks Package30 percent discount on all laundry servicesMore than 90 shows performed in the ship’s Royal Theatre, including 30 Broadway-style shows and a wide range of live music incorporating acts inspired by the itineraryA comprehensive activity schedule with theme evenings, language classes, cultural guest speakers and much moreWith more than 40 destinations and 23 countries, travel the world without ever needing to leave the comfort of your cabin, while you cruise on board MSC Magnifica in the style and comfort that comes only from MSC Cruises. Highlights of the many destinations include:Ushuaia, Argentina – the most southern city in the world, this Argentinian fishing village offers stunning water scenery with often snow-topped mountainsRapa Nui – Easter Island – famed globally for its unique collection of carved-stone figurines dating back to the 13th centuryValparaiso, Chile – Spectacular views out into the pacific and famous small coloured houses on its coastal hills. Explore the city and look for its photo-worthy walls of artMumbai, India – bustling city of Mumbai (previously called Bombay) offers smells, tastes and sights around every cornerSalalah, Oman – multiple waterfalls, exotic lush flora and unusual animals make this stop hard to forgetAqaba, Petra, explore the ancient city of Petra in the middle of the Jordanian desert and traverse the narrow cut-through ravine revealing the famous rose-red rock carved templePort Kelang, Kuala Lumpur, reach the peak of one of the world’s most famous (and tallest) skyscrapers as you reach the top of the Kuala Lumpur Tower. From the top, take in the breath-taking city views from above and capture perfect holiday photos.Guests will travel in real style and comfort aboard MSC Magnifica, featuring an award-winning Balinese spa, one of the highest ratios of balcony cabins at sea and fresh and authentic dining options.More information hereWith the 2019 MSC World Cruise selling out, don’t miss your chance to be part of this once in a lifetime opportunity.Don’t delay call 1300 028 502, msccruises.com.au or contact your local travel agent today.Source = MSC Cruises
Photo: Simon McGrath, COO AccorHotels Pacific and Michael Issenberg, Chairman and CEO AccorHotels Asia Pacific celebrate the acquisition at Peppers Soul, Gold CoastAccorHotels completes acquisition of Mantra GroupAccorHotels today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Mantra Group for $1.2 billion. The deal includes the Mantra, Peppers, BreakFree and Art Series brands, representing 138 hotels in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Bali.Michael Issenberg, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels Asia Pacific said, “The Mantra Group is the latest chapter in the strong growth story of AccorHotels in the region. Since our launch with the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour in 1991, AccorHotels has become the largest hotel group in the Pacific, and Australia has always played a key role in that story.“AccorHotels is a significant contributor to the Australian tourism industry, and this deal is a signal of our confidence in Australia both as an attractive destination for global travellers but also as a feeder market for our Asia Pacific and wider network.”At the close of the deal, AccorHotels will operate over 330 hotels and resorts across Australia and over 900 throughout Asia Pacific. AccorHotels will also be the largest employer on the Gold Coast, outside of government.Simon McGrath, COO of AccorHotels Pacific said, “The Mantra Group brands will enhance AccorHotels’ portfolio and create new opportunities for our people, partners and guests. We believe that tourism is critical to the economic growth of the region and future job creation and this deal will allow us to further develop the industry.”Mr McGrath added that innovative growth was a hallmark of both AccorHotels and the Mantra Group. “Our innovation in economic business models, brands and customer initiatives has fueled our growth over the last 27 years and the Mantra Group has built an innovative business focused on the best partnership experience for its 10,000 strata title owners,” he said. “Under Bob East’s leadership this bespoke approach and responsiveness has seen it maintain and grow rooms under management. We see enormous value in leveraging Mantra Group’s entrepreneurial spirit and expertise to create new opportunities.“Mantra’s brands and properties perfectly complement the AccorHotels network and will enable us to provide new destinations and new experiences for our guests. We look forward to combining the talent and expertise of both groups to create an even more innovative, agile and dynamic team.”Bob East, CEO of Mantra Group said, “I am immensely proud of the great company we’ve built and what we’ve achieved as an Australian-based business. It’s been an enjoyable journey for me leading the team since 2007 through to our float on the ASX in 2014 and now closing this deal with AccorHotels. I have enormous belief in the business and the team here is looking forward to working with Simon and AccorHotels to continue this success.”The Mantra Group leadership team will continue to be based in the Gold Coast office, reporting to Mr McGrath, in line with all other AccorHotels Pacific business units.“I’m looking forward to getting my feet under the desk at the Gold Coast, working with the team and getting to know the detail of this business. We welcome our Mantra colleagues to AccorHotels and together, we will benefit from our shared values, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit,” Mr McGrath said.Source = AccorHotels
Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts is poised to host the first-ever ‘Future of Tourism & Responsible Tourism for Driving Revenue’ Summit, featuring an eminent panel of global industry speakers, on September 28, 2015 at the Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo, to mark the occasion of ‘World Tourism Day’. Powered by the national carrier, SriLankan Airlines, the summit is expected to attract 250 participants from the Sri Lankan and regional tourism industry. This noteworthy initiative by Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts reflects the brand’s thought leadership in driving Sri Lanka’s tourism industry in a strategic direction.Global experts on tourism and responsible travel and heads of sustainability in key travel organisations will be the key attraction at the summit. An eminent panel of speakers will share their vision for the industry and how it should be developed in a sustainable manner at the conference.Prof Mohan Munasinghe will be delivering the keynote speech and will cover some of the latest trends and topics related to the travel and tourism industry. Other speakers include the likes of Prof Roland Conrady; Scientific Director of ITB Berlin – world’s leading travel fair, Prof Sarath Kotagama who will be speaking on “Responsible product innovation for tomorrow’s traveller”, Dr Ian Yeoman; a professional futurologist in the field of travel, speaking on “Tomorrow’s Tourist”, Dr Robert Govers speaking on “Destination Branding” and April Rinne, advisor to the World Economic Forum; speaking on “Product Innovations: Opportunities through Shared Economy”. Leading Business Intelligence Research organisation – Euromonitor and Future Technology Specialists – TrendOne will also be represented at the Cinnamon Future of Tourism Summit.President of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts, Ajit Gunewardene said, “Tourism has proven to be a resilient industry, creating jobs, generating revenues and opening up exciting opportunities for industry players. Now more than ever, billions of tourists are traversing the globe freely, seeking out newer destinations. Keeping in line with the ‘World Tourism Day’ theme of one billion tourists, one billion opportunities, our challenge is to strategise on how we should exploit these opportunities in a responsible manner and deliver a tourism product that will be sustainable in the long term. We felt that conceptualising the Cinnamon Future of Tourism Summit was very timely for Sri Lanka, which is experiencing a boom in tourism that is forecast to grow further in the coming years.”He further added, “As the market leader in Hospitality, we feel it is our responsibility to spearhead initiatives such as this summit so as to provide a clear direction forward for the Sri Lankan industry. We hope our peers in the industry will avail of this opportunity to witness some of the leading global industry experts share their knowledge on the future of tourism and responsible travel practices for driving revenue.”Commenting on this joint initiative to promote sustainable Tourism, Chairman, SriLankan Airlines, Ajith Dias said, “We are privileged to partner this futuristic and forward-thinking conference as envisioned by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts. Sri Lanka tourism is poised at a momentous juncture in its history as it gears up to meet its target of 2.5 million tourists by 2016 year-end. The eminent panel of global speakers at this conference will feature some of the most prominent professionals in this industry who will impart what we believe will be useful wisdom about global tourism and trends, which Sri Lanka can use to build its national tourism strategy. Responsible travel and tourism is becoming the cornerstone of tourism in the future and SriLankan Airlines too aims to be the airline of choice for the responsible global traveller as Sri Lanka positions itself as the regional services hub in Asia.” The Future of Tourism Summit is powered by SriLankan Airlines, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and supported by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Landor Associates, 230 Interactive Digital Media.
Existing-Home Sales Up in January as Prices Fall: NAR in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Existing-Home Sales Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers 2012-02-22 Mark Lieberman Existing-home sales rose in January for the third time in the last four months, according to the “”National Association of Realtors””:http://www.realtor.org/ (NAR).[IMAGE]January sales ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô completed transactions ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô were up 4.3 percent from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million. December’s total was revised downward to 4.38 million from 4.61 million. The January 2012 sales pace was up 0.7 percent from January 2011.The median price of an existing-home was $154,700 in January, down 2.0 percent from January 2011, falling to its lowest level since November 2001. Prices dipped again after appearing to stabilize at low levels in the first half of 2011.According to the NAR, distressed homes ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô foreclosures and short sales which sell at deep discounts ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô accounted for 35 percent of January sales (22 percent were foreclosures and 13 percent were short sales), up from 32 percent in December; they were 37 percent in January 2011. Price recovery depends on a reduction in the number of distressed properties on the market. All cash transactions accounted for 31 percent of sales.[COLUMN_BREAK]Total housing inventory at the end of January fell 0.4 percent to 2.31 million existing homes available for sale, a 6.1-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 6.4-month supply in December. The month-over-month increase ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô 190,000 ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô was the largest in both numbers and percentage since last August when sales increased 360,000, a jump of 8.9 percent. Despite the month-over-month increase in sales, the January pace was well below the pre-recession sales of 5.06 million existing homes sold and the cyclical peak of 6.49 million in November 2009 when the homebuyer tax credit boosted sales.Total unsold listed inventory has trended down from a record 4.04 million in July 2007, and is 20.6 percent below a year ago.””The uptrend in home sales is in line with all of the underlying fundamentals ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô pent-up household formation, record-low mortgage interest rates, bargain home prices, sustained job creation and rising rents,”” “”Lawrence Yun””:http://www.realtor.org/research/chief_economist_bio, chief economist with NAR, said in a statement.Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast rose 3.4 percent to an annual pace of 600,000 in January and are 7.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $225,700, 4.2 percent below January 2011.Existing-home sales in the Midwest increased 1.0 percent in December to 980,000, 3.2 percent higher than January 2011. The median price in the Midwest was $122,000, down 3.9 percent from a year ago.In the South, existing-home sales rose 3.5 percent to 1.76 million in January, unchanged from a year ago. The median price in the South was $134,800, 0.3 percent below January 2011.Existing-home sales in the West jumped 8.8 percent to an annual pace of 1.23 million in January but are 3.1 percent below a spike in January 2011. The median price in the West was $187,100, down 1.8 percent from a year ago. February 22, 2012 426 Views Share
February 14, 2013 412 Views in Data, Origination Fixed mortgage rates continued to hold steady this week, according to data from “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ and “”Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/.[IMAGE]Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending February 14 showed no weekly changes in fixed rates: The 30-year fixed averaged 3.53 percent (0.8 point), while the 15-year average held at 2.77 percent (0.8 point).While fixed rates were unchanged, adjustable rates saw slight upward momentum. The 5-year adjustable-rate [COLUMN_BREAK]mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.64 percent (0.6 point) this week, up from 2.63 percent previously. The 1-year ARM averaged 2.61 percent (0.3 point), up from 2.53 percent.””Mortgage rates remain near record lows and continue to support housing demand, translating into a pick-up in home prices in most markets,”” said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac. “”The median sales price of existing homes “”rose 10 percent””:https://themreport.com/articles/nar-end-of-2012-sees-gains-in-prices-sales-affordability-2013-02-11 between fourth quarter 2011 and 2012, the largest year-over-year gain in seven years. Among large metropolitan areas, 88 percent saw positive annual increases in the fourth quarter, compared to 81 percent in the third quarter and 75 percent in the second.””Meanwhile, Bankrate reported slight increases in fixed rates, though any movement was minor.According to Bankrate’s weekly survey, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) had a rate of 3.79 percent (up from 3.76 percent previously), while the 15-year FRM rate averaged 3.02 percent, up from an even 3.00 percent.Adjustable rates fell slightly, with the 5/1 rate averaging 2.75 percent–down a single basis point from last week. Share Mortgage Rates Find Solid Ground Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bankrate Freddie Mac Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates National Association of Realtors Service Providers 2013-02-14 Tory Barringer
GSE Extend Mortgage Relief to Borrowers Impacted by Tornadoes in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing May 21, 2013 442 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Fannie Mae Freddie Mac Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-05-21 Esther Cho Share “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html and “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/ reminded servicers of mortgage relief options available to homeowners whose residences were affected by the tornado that ravaged areas in Oklahoma. [IMAGE][COLUMN_BREAK]Relief options for borrowers in disaster areas include delayed foreclosure and eviction proceedings, waived penalties and late fees, forbearance on mortgage payments, among other forms of assistance. “”Our servicers are required to offer assistance to homeowners who have been affected by a natural disaster,”” said Leslie Peeler, SVP at Fannie Mae. “”We know that many people have had their lives impacted as a result of this tornado and our thoughts and prayers are with them. We will work with our servicers to make sure they are providing the appropriate options to borrowers.””””Freddie Mac is urgently reminding the nation’s mortgage servicers about the full range of mortgage relief options they can provide to affected borrowers with mortgages we own or guarantee, including forbearance on mortgage payments for up to one year. We strongly encourage borrowers to contact their servicers, who are fully authorized to work with them on a case-by-case basis,”” said Tracy Mooney, SVP for Freddie Mac.The GSEs advised affected borrowers to contact their mortgage servicer to receive assistance.
New home sales came in weak once again in November, further underlining the market’s shakiness heading into 2015.Sales of newly built single-family properties fell 1.6 percent month-over-month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 438,000 in November, according to a report from the Commerce Department.Economists in a survey by Econoday had expected sales would pick up slightly to a rate of 460,000, while application data collected by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) pointed to an annual sales pace of 401,000.October’s sales rate was revised down to 445,000, meaning the month actually saw a decrease as opposed to the slight increase that was originally recorded.New home sales have been weak throughout all of 2014, despite upward trends in consumer confidence and declining mortgage interest rates in the last few months.One of the top reasons cited by experts for housing’s decline this year is the ongoing tight credit environment, which commentators say has locked out all but the highest-profile mortgage applicants.Another headwind is the lack of available inventory. According to the Commerce Department, the seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of November was 213,000, representing a months’ supply of 5.8 at the current sales rate.Those challenges aren’t just hitting the new home market. On Monday, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that home resales were also down in November, falling 6.1 percent from October.Month-to-month, new home sales were down in all regions except the West, which posted a 14.8 percent gain to a rate of 124,000. Sales were down 12.0 percent in the Northeast, 6.3 percent in the Midwest, and 6.4 percent in the South. New Home Sales Sink 1.6% in November in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Commerce Department Existing-Home Sales Housing Supply Mortgage Bankers Association New Home Sales 2014-12-23 Tory Barringer December 23, 2014 586 Views Share
in Headlines, News, Technology ACES Risk Management (ARMCO), a provider of Web-based quality control software for the mortgage industry, announced this week the addition of new enhancements to its Web Audit Technology via integration with analytics software leader Tableau Software.Thanks to Tableau’s data analytics, ARMCO customers are able to create highly visual analysis using real-time data available to them through ACES. Through the integrated reporting dashboard, users have the option to employ a set of pre-defined reports or create their own with Tableau’s drag-and-drop functionality.Another new benefit to users comes in the form of Tableau’s dynamic reporting capabilities, which allow recipients to interact with data being reported and filter the information in their own quality control and compliance software.”Big data is an idea whose time has come for the mortgage industry,” said Avi Naider, chairman and CEO of Florida-based ARMCO. “The level of detailed reporting Tableau provides allows our customers to get their arms around the data they possess to uncover actionable insights regarding the quality of their loan production and portfolio.”Scott Jones, SVP of Americas sales for Tableau, called the integration with ARMCO “an exciting step forward for mortgage quality control reporting.””ARMCO’s industry expertise in web-based quality control software and audit technology will help bring Tableau to mortgage banking professionals striving to make data-driven decisions to improve loan quality and manufacturing processes,” Jones said. ARMCO Company News Quality Control Tableau Software 2015-02-06 Tory Barringer ARMCO Adds Advanced Reporting with Tableau Integration February 6, 2015 458 Views Share
Freddie Mac HARP Home Affordable Refinance Program Mortgage Refinances 2015-05-01 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Secondary Market May 1, 2015 434 Views Share Freddie Mac: Refinance Activity Boosts in First Quarter This week, Freddie Mac released the results of its Quarterly Refinance Analysis for the first quarter of this year, revealing that borrowers lowered their monthly mortgage payment and shortened their long-term payment by taking advantage unexpectedly low mortgage rates. Refinance activity accounted for 63 percent of all single-family originations.According to Freddie Mac, approximately 27 percent of borrowers increased their loan amount when refinancing, either by cashing out equity or consolidating loans, versus 29 percent from last quarter, 17 percent from the same time last year and well below the peak of 89 percent in 2006.”Many homeowners took advantage of low mortgage rates by refinancing in the first quarter of 2015,” said Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac Deputy Chief Economist. “Relatively younger loans refinanced as the median age of a refinanced loan declined to 5.6 years, down from 6.8 years in the prior quarter.”Thirty-four percent of borrowers who refinanced during the first quarter of 2015, shortened their loan term, down slightly from the previous quarter. Of eligible borrowers who used the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), 36 percent shortened their term. More than one-third of HARP borrowers shortened their term over the past four quarters.“Refinance borrowers are primarily looking to reduce payments and pay down principal faster,” Keifer said. “We estimate that borrowers who refinanced in the first quarter will save on net more than $1.4 billion in interest payments over the first 12 months of their new loan. Nearly a third of borrowers who refinanced shortened their loan term.”Quarterly Refinance Facts:The net dollars of home equity converted to cash as part of a refinance remained low compared to historical volumes. In the first quarter, an estimated $7.7 billion in net home equity was cashed out during a refinance of conventional prime-credit home mortgages, down from the revised $7.6 billion the previous quarter in 2014 dollars.The average interest rate reduction in the first quarter was about 1.2 percentage points—a reduction of about 24 percent.About 73 percent of those who refinanced their first-lien home mortgage maintained about the same loan amount or lowered their principal balance by paying in additional money at the closing table, about the same as last quarter.More than 95 percent of refinancing borrowers chose a fixed-rate loan. Fixed-rate loans were preferred regardless of what the original loan product had been.For all other (non-HARP) refinances during the fourth quarter, the median property value was up 5 percent between the dates of placement of the old loan and the new refinance loan. The prior loan had a median age of 5.6 years down from 6.8 years in the fourth quarter of 2014.See the full report at FreddieMac.com/Finance.
May 7, 2019 1,452 Views Senate Hearing Addresses Fintech Privacy Challenges On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing on “Privacy Rights and Data Collection in a Digital Economy.” Witnesses included Peter Chase, Senior Fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States; Jay Cline, Privacy and Consumer Protection Leader, Principal, PwC US; and Maciej Ceglowski, Founder, Pinboard.“My concerns about big data collection go back as far as the creation of the CFPB, which was collecting massive amounts of personal financial information without an individual’s knowledge or consent,” said Chair Mike Crapo in his opening statement.“Consumers deserve to know what type of information is being collected about them, what that information is being used for and how it is being shared,” Crapo added.The witnesses discussed the impact of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation in the U.S., and how it differs from the 1995 Data Protection Directive.“While it is too soon to draw definitive conclusions about the GDPR, there is a tension between its concept of user consent and the reality of a surveillance economy that is worth examining in more detail,” said Ceglowski. “A key assumption of the consent model is any user can choose to withhold consent from online services. But not all services are created equal—there are some that you really can’t say no to. Take the example of Facebook. Both landlords and employers in the United States have begun demanding to see Facebook accounts as a condition of housing or employment.”Crapo noted that the use of personal data can “provide value, such as risk mitigation, fraud prevention, and identity verification, or to meet the requirements of laws or regulations.”“However, in many other cases, that data can be used in ways that have big implications for their financial lives, including to market or make decisions on financial products or services that impact a consumer’s access to or cost of credit and insurance products, or in ways that impact their employment prospects.”Watch the complete hearing webcast here. in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Government, News, Technology FinTech Senate Banking Committee 2019-05-07 Seth Welborn Share
AfricaTollman familyTrafalgar Trafalgar has launched a dedicated Africa program that aims to connect travellers to the continent in an extra special way, given the company’s family connections to Africa. Marked as a pivotal moment in Trafalgar’s brand history, with its rich story around the family-owned and operated company with its roots firmly still in Africa, the new program pays homage to the Tollman family homeland. The Tollmans will open their hearts to share stories, secrets and hidden gems of their home, giving guests priceless travel opportunities. The program will consist of smaller group trips of up to 15 guests, with accomplished photographer and renowned African guide Mike Myers creating all the beautiful photography in the brochure.The program encompasses 9 countries, 10 handcrafted trips, three trip styles (Country Explorer, Regional Explorer, Mini Stay) with trips commencing December 2018 and January 2019. An early payment discount is available to guests who book and pay in full by 1 November, 2018, offering savings of up to 10% per trip.Guests will receive unrivalled access to the people and places behind the stories – with Trafalgar creating exclusive experiences for guests so they can live the good life in every destination they visit. Trafalgar’s unique Stays With Stories have created an exceptional, unrivalled African portfolio of opportunities for guests. The stunning 5 star The Oyster Box has hosted royalty, from the likes of Monaco’s royal couple on their honeymoon to King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and now Trafalgar guests will stay there too on the Best of South Africa trip.Trafalgar also aims to make a difference in Africa in many ways as part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability with the various JoinTrafalgar initiatives along with The Travel Corporation’s TreadRight Foundation including wildlife initiatives, sustainable tourism practices and preserving and protecting all the communities that they visit. South Africa needs vital support as a result of ongoing water issues in Cape Town – South Africa Tourism has a goal to have 5 million visitors by 2020 – Trafalgar aims to help them achieve this. Trafalgar is working to help create more employment opportunities, whilst also protecting and preserving the destination.
Pictured: Margan citrus curd, granita, vanilla and meringueIt may be Australia’s oldest wine region but the Hunter Valley has plenty of new stars and experiences blended with traditional favourites that continue to make this one of the country’s most visited tourism destinations.I recently visited during the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Festival — a month long celebration each June that sees local restaurants and vignerons create a number of foodie-friendly activities to lure tourists to enjoy local produce around open fires.Some of this year’s events include a Hunter Valley Wine & Film Festival; a Vermouth Cocktail masterclass at Margan; Music in the Woods; long lunches, cabernet and chocolate classes and of course, numerous wine tasting activities. EXP RestaurantHunter ValleyHunter Valley Wine and Food FestivalMargan RestaurantPeppertree WinesUsher Tinkler Wines At just a little more than a two-hour drive from Sydney, or a faster chopper ride for the well-heeled, each time I visit I am reminded of what a special and accessible region the Hunter is for Sydney-siders and those visiting Sydney. In such a short time, the ‘big smoke’ is but a distant haze in your rear-view mirror and nothing but fields, vineyards, cows and wide-open spaces fill your periphery.Roaming the region are all sorts of travellers — couples having a romantic break; families having a weekend change-of-scene; groups of friends, both young and old, enjoying wine-tasting or a combination of other leisure activities and international visitors taking a Sydney side-trip.There is a definite mix of experiences in the region and it pays to check out a variety of eateries and cellar doors as there is a broad style to cater to all tastes. Peppertree Wines on Halls Road has a loyal following and a healthy wine club of devotees. On beautiful grounds, it’s a cosy place to stop and have a chat with the staff and also try the wines made by head winemaker, Gwyn Olsen who is making a number of wine styles, not just in the traditional Hunter classics of semillon, chardonnay and shiraz but with a beautifully balanced, food-versatile 2017 Limited Release Vermentino which we picked up to take a piece of the Hunter home with us.For a contemporary social cellar door experience, head to Usher Tinkler Wines and their Cellar and Salumi bar on McDonald’s Road. Cheese and salumi offerings at Usher Tinkler WinesWinemaker Usher Tinkler and his wife Ebony have created a relaxed and fun cellar door experience housed in the converted St Mark’s Anglican church that was built between 1900 and 1905. Inside, groups sit relaxed together at communal tables on mismatched chairs, a church pew or on Chesterfield couches. A large stag’s head keeps watch over the vinyl record turntable. A long bar counter features old barrel racks for its frame, backed by a white subway tiled wall and original stained-glass church windows — while large, new windows overlook the Hunter’s picturesque Brokeback mountains.Usher, former winemaker at Poole’s Rock, also makes wine for his family’s Tinkler Wines. But for his Usher Tinkler Wines brand, he and Ebony wanted to concentrate on wines that were “not too complicated”. Usher makes the Hunter’s only prosecco sparkling. He was encouraged to experiment with it after Ebony returned from a trip to Italy, having grown very fond of the classic Italian aperitif, an Apperol Spritz.“So we grafted some semillon over to prosecco and started making it – and it worked. It has lots of nashi pear and fresh pear characters. I can’t believe more people here haven’t planted it,” said Usher.There is a $5 tasting fee per person, but it’s redeemable on any wine purchase. Tastings are open 10am until 5pm, and salumi and cheese plates are available from 10am until 2:30pm. Usher and Ebony TinklerThe best-selling wines include the Nose to Tail, The Cow (a light, smooth shiraz pinot blend); the prosecco; and Usher’s ‘Mr T’s Rare Batch Fortified’ made from old barrels of liqueur verdelho barrel aged for 15 years with layers of creamy caramel and spice with each of the 3,000 bottles made a year labelled, bottled and wax-sealed by hand.“We don’t put our wines in shows. We’re trying to be really edgy and modern and not rely on that old-fashioned way of doing things. That’s what we’re trying to do here, just make interesting wines,” said Usher.The wines may be Usher’s department but it was Eboy’s brains behind the cellar door. Her contribution to the Hunter region was recognised in December when she won Marketer of the Year at the 2017 Australian Women in Wine awards.Foodies who want to get their hands dirty should head to a gnocchi-making class at local restaurant Il Cacciatore, which has been serving northern Italian inspired cuisine for 25 years. These classes are held during the Hunter Valley Wine & Food Festival (a class takes place on 23 June).Our class was run by Noreen and also Nicole, who has worked at the restaurant for more than 20 years. There is always gnocchi on the menu at the restaurant so the staff were incredibly knowledgeable when sharing their tips for how to nail your own potato gnocchi at home. Nicole leading a gnocchi-making class at Il Cacciatore.After we gave gnocchi-making our all, rolling our pillows of potato down the gnocchi paddle, we then watched while Nicole transformed our gnocchi into some of the classic dishes they serve at the restaurant including a tomato-based version with chorizo, zucchini and basil pesto; and a lemon butter based version with prawns and capers.Taking our aprons off, guests can relax, sip on local wines (we tried a David Hook Pinot Grigio and a Sangiovese made for the restaurant by First Creek Wines) while overlooking the vineyards and nearby accommodation at Hermitage Lodge, a 4.5 star accommodation option where you can arrange stay and dine packages with Il Cacciatore.Views from the balcony at Il CacciatoreDuring a meal shared with our fellow chefs for the afternoon, we all have the chance to enjoy our gnocchi efforts, which is of course given an expert’s touch in the kitchen and served alongside the signature Il Cacciatore salad with salad greens, balsamic figs, roasted walnuts and Hunter Valley fetta from Binnorie Dairy. With a swag of tourism awards, Margan Wines and Restaurant should be a must-stop for both food and wine lovers. It’s a bit further off the beaten track of the main action in Pokolbin, located in nearby Broke, but that only adds to its appeal. Margan is family-owned and operated by winemaker Andrew Margan and his wife Lisa. The pair were the true pioneers of the paddock-to-plate concept in the Hunter Valley, founding an impressive kitchen garden which today provides 90 per cent of the food for the restaurant’s menu.Head chef Thomas BoydThe winery has been operating for more than 20 years and the restaurant is in its 12th year. Margan makes wines from grapes off their own vineyards in Broke and try to work within their terroir. They produce the Hunter’s only albarino, a white Spanish grape varietal; and they also produce their own vermouth.We took a tour of the one-acre kitchen garden with their passionate head chef Thomas Boyd. He genuinely enjoys showing visitors through the garden and discussing the Margan agri-dining concept using produce from their own vegetable garden, orchard, free range chickens, olive groves, bees and estate reared lambs.Margan is certified with Green Table Australia as well as the WFA Entwine program for their environmental sustainability initiatives. Each year Margan host the 100-Metre-Meal where the food served has come from within 100 metres of your restaurant seat. New sommelier Lisa Sanders attends to our wines during the meal. Lisa has worked at some of Sydney’s best restaurants including Quay, Tetsuya and Catalina. When we dine, she provides an informed but relaxing intro to each of the wines served to us, including the Margan Non Vintage Sparkling Chardonnay; a Margan 2018 Albarino; a Margan 2016 Barbera and a Margan 2014 Botrytis Semillon.Margan Suffolk lamb, celeriac, kohlrabi, kale and potato.Throughout 2018, Margan has a number of cooking classes where attendees take a garden tour, cook and then dine. Sessions include Linguini with Truffle Butter Emulsion on 5 August; Cheese making on 9 September; whole suckling pig and butchery demo on 18 November; and tricks for the perfect Christmas feast on 9 December.For one of the best meals in the valley where you can literally sit back and watch the chef do all the work, a visit to EXP. at Oakvale Wines on Broke Road is highly recommended. Locals I spoke with had only high praise for chef Frank Fawkner and his EXP restaurant, and having visited for the first time, I was able to see what the fuss is all about.A Hunter-born local, Frank opened up the restaurant in March 2015 after working at fine-dining restaurant Muse, also in the Hunter Valley (which achieved two chef’s hats from The Sydney Morning Herald during his time as head chef). He also worked in London for Tom Aitken, becoming sous chef at Tom’s Kitchen.At EXP, Frank likes to use as much local produce as possible and serve seasonal food. The restaurant is small and cosy, with an open kitchen where guests can dine at the counter and watch Frank and his seamless team at work. Thick cedar slab tables, wall art, steel wine rack, crockery and serving dishes are all sourced from local artisans.EXP. chef and owner Frank Fawkner.The restaurant uses a lot of native ingredients and the food is delivered to tables with a full and thorough EXPlanation from Frank himself — a welcome interaction for the guests.Sourdough is served with cultured butter infused with hay; a Little Joe Wagyu brisket is slow roasted for two hours and served with celeriac, muntries and cavalo nero.Warm Shadows of Blue dessert, brioche and honey.Whatever you do, save room for the signature desserts. The ‘Warm Shadows of Blue’ sees a buttery soft brioche bun filled with a blue cheese sauce and topped with marigold ooze forth onto its base of local honey when pierced with a spoon — the flavours all harmonise perfectly. Meanwhile the Myrtle, made with myrtle gum, wattleseed, chocolate and caramel is Frank’s take on a Magnum ice cream, only somewhat more exotic with chocolate from the Daintree Rainforest and made with eucalyptus ice cream. And while we are still drooling over the sophisticated ‘magnum’, petit fours of salted caramel and a coconut rough arrive.For those who have never been before and those who are seasoned regulars, travellers can expect to uncover something new in a visit to the Hunter. Travel Monitor stayed as guests at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort on Thompson’s Road. Upcoming 2018 Hunter Valley Events30 June until 22 JulySnow Time in the Gardens at Hunter Valley Gardens14 JulyHunter Valley Chocolate and Cheese Festival22 JulyWinery Running Festival28 September until 1 OctoberBalloon Aloft Hunter Valley Fiesta6 OctoberOpera in the Vineyards24 NovemberJazz in the Vineyards8 DecemberShania Twain performing at Hope Estate
Top Stories Arians was not willing to give any kind of numbers with regards to how many carries each of the three primary runners will receive, saying it will be a game-time feel and game planning.“Making sure we have the best guys in doing the things they do best,” he said.David Johnson is clearly atop the depth chart, though it excites Arians that he has a couple of backups who he said look like they’re going to “break it to the house” every time they touch the ball.“That’s a beautiful thing when David doesn’t have to play tired whatsoever,” he said.As for David Johnson, Arians said the second-year pro has not shown him anything this offseason that he didn’t realize was there, but pointed out how the Northern Iowa product has shown more consistency and is relaxed.“Asks more questions on why he’s doing certain things and how he does them, to become a better player,” he said.As for how the former third-round pick never seems to be satisfied, Arians said, “I hope he never is.” Comments Share Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Now, some notes.Things are mostly positive on the injury frontHead coach Bruce Arians said both receiver John Brown and defensive back Tyrann Mathieu have been cleared to play in games.“Whether I play them, we’ll wait and see,” he said. “Both of those guys practiced well today.”As for Justin Bethel, who saw his first preseason action Sunday but afterward complained of soreness in his surgically-repaired foot, Arians said the cornerback will be a game-time decision.Wait, what’s that about Bethel?Yes, Bethel is still dealing with pain in his foot. It’s a bit of a concern, of course, since the team was relying on him to play cornerback and now with Mike Jenkins gone for the year will really need him to at least be available.Bethel already missed the majority of camp after being out for all of mini-camp and OTAs, and showed visible rust in his performance against the Texans.Monday, Bethel said after talking to doctors he is confident that the bone in his foot has healed fine, and now it’s just about pain tolerance.That’s how Arians sees it, too.“Justin’s foot is going to be that way, just like it was last year,” he said. “He’s got to play in pain.” The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling TEMPE, Ariz. — On Tuesday, the Cardinals held their final practice with media availability before the conclusion of the preseason slate, and with its completion the team is one day closer to the Sept. 11 season opener against the New England Patriots.Afterwards there was a sensible buzz in the locker room, perhaps because most of the starters could relax some knowing that they’ll hardly play — if at all — Thursday, and the games that count are just around the corner. Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians, left, challenges a call during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/JR) Jefferson then turned his attention to Bucannon’s position on the field, which is known as $LB.“The Cardinals, they drafted me and they allowed me to be able to come in here and play,” he said. “They created this position for me and just truly blessed to be part of this organization.”Finally, Jefferson thanked Bucannon, a safety in college, for moving into the box.“Because you moving up to a backer gave me an opportunity to play the safety position,” he said. “So happy birthday.”Asked afterward who asks tougher questions, the media or Jefferson, Bucannon said Tony.Ouch, man.A bevvy of options in the backfieldThe Cardinals have historically never really been a team whose strength is the running game, but a look at their depth chart as well as preseason statistics indicates that it could very well be what carries the team through this season.Whether it’s David Johnson, Chris Johnson or Andre Ellington, the team has no shortage of options. Asked if when assembling a running back room Arians tries to find a good mix of talents, sizes and speeds, he said what actually happens is the offense is catered to what he has.“So you would like them all to be three-down backs,” he said. “We’re very fortunate in that we have three guys that could play all three downs and two of them are real strong runners for short yardage and goal line; and Andre has never shied away down on the goal line.” Four games is fine for preseasonAs is the case every year, there has been talk about the NFL’s preseason and whether or not four games is too many.Given that most teams do not let their starters anywhere near the field in the fourth exhibition contest, the question may have some validity.However, Arians — who has made it a point to barely play his key guys much at all over the first three preseason games — sees value in the fourth contest.“You have to build your roster, and the only way to build it is to see these kids play,” he said. “The fourth preseason game is not for the starters. It’s for those guys that you build your roster on, you build your practice squad on.“The guys that need that week of work and that game, you’re going to need them in November and December.’Deone Bucannon is a year olderTuesday was Deone Bucannon’s 24th birthday, and he got to celebrate it in part by having teammate Tony Jefferson interview him for the cameras in front of assembled reporters.Asked what he was going to do on his big day, Bucannon said chilling with his teammates, practicing and just trying to get better.Bucannon, who was laughing for most of the time when Jefferson was asking him questions, was asked to talk about his violent hit on San Diego’s Dontrelle Inman, and he answered by saying it’s his style of play and he was blessed with the talent to do it, so he wants to show what he can do. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact