Source = Travel Counsellors Travel Counsellors hires Global Sales Director to drive future growthTravel Counsellors hires Global Sales Director to drive future growthJim Eastwood has been appointed global sales director at Travel Counsellors, the provider of bespoke corporate and leisure travel.Jim has a wealth of sales and management experience for an array of well-known brands across the globe. He joins from Groupon, where he held a number of senior leadership roles, and was most recently the firm’s vice-president of sales for the UK and Ireland. In his five years at Groupon, he was instrumental in driving growth for the business, implementing and executing all aspects of sales strategies for leading countries in EMEA. He has a breadth of experience in global markets, having previously held positions across Europe as well as here in Australia and the US.Jim also finished as runner-up on the seventh series of BBC reality show The Apprentice in 2011, with Lord Alan Sugar referring to him as ‘the world’s greatest salesman’.In his new role, Jim will be responsible for driving Travel Counsellors’ leisure and corporate sales internationally, working across all areas of the company including marketing, business development and recruitment to identify opportunities for growth and improvement. He will also be working closely with the company’s Travel Counsellor franchisees to continue to improve the support it offers globally.Steve Byrne, chief executive at Travel Counsellors, said: “Jim not only has a wealth of experience and talent, but he also shares the ethos and values of the company, putting people and customers at the heart of everything. Jim also has considerable experience of working on a global scale, which will be crucial when it comes to supporting our 1,600 Travel Counsellors across the world.“Jim will play a key part in boosting our corporate customers and continuing to develop our offering to existing customers, helping us to also maintain our strong re-book rate. I look forward to working with Jim in the coming months, and am confident that he is the ideal person to take such a key role within the company.”Jim Eastwood, global sales director at Travel Counsellors, said: “What attracted me to Travel Counsellors is its overwhelming commitment to customer service, and the personal relationships that Travel Counsellors develop with their client base. The business promotes a culture of caring not only externally, but for its people, giving them the tools to provide the best service possible.“The business has demonstrated outstanding levels of growth in recent years, and I’m hoping to be a key component in continuing to drive this in the coming months.”About Travel CounsellorsTravel Counsellors Australia was established in 2007 and currently has nearly 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 1,631 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 = Etihad Etihad statement on airberlinEtihad statement on airberlinWe have been informed that airberlin has filed for administration.“This development is extremely disappointing for all parties, especially as Etihad has provided extensive support to airberlin for its previous liquidity challenges and restructuring efforts over the past six years.“In April this year, Etihad provided EUR 250 million of additional funding to airberlin as well as supporting the airline to explore strategic options for the business. However, airberlin’s business has deteriorated at an unprecedented pace, preventing it from overcoming its significant challenges and from implementing alternative strategic solutions.“Under these circumstances, as a minority shareholder, Etihad cannot offer funding that would further increase our financial exposure. We remain open to helping find a commercially viable solution for all parties.“We expect airberlin operations to continue during administration. We have a commercial relationship with airberlin across a range of areas, including codeshare operations, and we will support airberlin’s management during these difficult times.“Germany is an important market for Etihad and Abu Dhabi, and we remain committed to providing comprehensive air links as a key enabler of trade and tourism.”
THAI launches Airbus A350 XWB from BangkokTHAI launches Airbus A350 XWB from BangkokThai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) recently began operating the Airbus A350 XWB on daily flights from Bangkok to Melbourne, for increased passenger comfort. Dr. Simon Wallace (fifth from left), Honorary Thai Consul General of Victoria, Australia, presided over the opening ceremony of flight TG466 on the route Melbourne to Bangkok, the first flight to depart utilizing Airbus A350 XWB aircraft at Melbourne Airport. Mr. Arnuphap Kittikul (fourth from left), THAI General Manager, Victoria and Tasmania, Commonwealth of Australia, and Mrs. Petcharin Sittitoon (sixth from left), THAI Station Manager in Melbourne, also participated in launch celebrations.THAI currently operates two flights per day to and from Melbourne, which are TG465 from Bangkok to Melbourne and TG466 from Melbourne to Bangkok. Amongst the newest aircraft types in THAI’s fleet, the Airbus A350 XWB strengthens the Company’s fleet, enhances the quality of in-flight services, and increases customer satisfaction and convenience.Source = Thai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI)
Personal travel managers travelled for up to four hours to attend a regional meeting with NPO team members: (L-R) Nakita Byrne, Robbie Barrett, Wolfgang Kitler, Pru Gallagher, Suzanne Laister, Maria Miller, Louise Gillogly, Trina Rynehart and Anita MedcalfNo location too remote for TravelManagersOne of the most appealing aspects of choosing to work as a home-based travel agent is the freedom and flexibility to work wherever and whenever you choose. With a network of more than 530 personal travel managers (PTMs) in locations throughout Australia from Mackay to Mount Gambier; Busselton to Bendigo, adequate support in marketing, systems, product knowledge and business development is vital.For TravelManagers, this responsibility belongs to the state-based Business Partnership Managers (BPMs): a team of seven who are described by Executive General Manager Michael Gazal as the company’s resident “angels”.TravelManagers’ Finance & Commercial Manager, Tanyu Cilek (left), at a regional meeting attended by personal travel managers Brendon Mahoney (centre) and Ian Greenwood (right) in Albury“Nowhere in Australia is too remote for a PTM to run their business, comfortable in the knowledge that they will receive personal support from their BPM,” Gazal says. “Our BPMs regularly undertake trips throughout regional Australia, meeting with their PTMs to review business activity, local sales trends, supplier support levels and operational matters.”Gazal says many of these visits are run as cluster meetings, bringing together PTMs from far-flung locations to ensure that whenever possible they enjoy from the same practical and social benefits as their metropolitan counterparts.“Our PTMs value the opportunity to swap knowledge and experiences, tell stories and pick each other’s brains for tips on improving different aspects of their businesses,” he explains, offering a recent gathering held in Millthorpe, NSW, as an example of the high regard in which these meetings are held.“Millthorpe is a little town of 1,109 people, located between Orange and Blayney in New South Wales. We had PTMs attend from as far away as Wagga Wagga, close to 300 kilometres or a four-hour drive in each direction: that’s a pretty strong endorsement.”Three representatives from the National Partnership Office (NPO) in Sydney also made the three-hour drive from Sydney, including Suzanne Laister, National Partnership Manager, who had also attended a similar meeting in Albury, NSW, the week before, along with PTMs from up to a hundred kilometres away. In both cases, the meetings were held to personally brief PTMs who had been unable to attend the most recent state meeting, combining an operational update with an informal lunch.Trina Rynehart, who is representative for Wagga Wagga NSW, attended the Millthorpe meeting and says she and her colleagues are happy to make the journey on a regular basis, not just to benefit from the training sessions but for the camaraderie, sense of belonging and culture of mutual help and respect that she says permeates the entire TravelManagers culture.“We have a lot of fun when we get together,” Rynehart says. “The meetings ensure that we stay well-connected with our colleagues, that we maintain open communication with each other and with the NPO, and it’s reassuring to know that we can expect the same support as if we were just around the corner in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane.”Gazal says the BPMs operate to a programme that sees them regularly undertake similar meetings around the country, in locations from as diverse as Toowoomba in Queensland and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia.“These meetings really demonstrate the lengths to which our BPMs go to create a sense of belonging and a culture of respect for the value that each PTM delivers to our organisation, regardless of the remoteness of their location,” Gazal explains.For more information or to speak to someone confidentially about TravelManagers please contact Suzanne Laister on 1800 019 599Source = TravelManagers
Wechat Pay at CentaraCentara makes life easier for Chinese Travelers by accepting WeChat PayCentara Hotels & Resorts, Thailand’s leading hotel operator, has announced that it is now accepting WeChat Pay transactions on its websites for online room reservations. This is in addition to the 15 hotels that already deploy nearly 100 EDC devices for QR code scanning on WeChat Pay, making it the largest hotel group in Thailand offering Chinese tourists omni-channel payment solutions. Bills for accommodation, restaurants and spa treatments can be paid directly from smartphones. The company expects to have WeChat Pay at all Centara Hotels & Resorts globally by the end of 2018, thus providing convenience to customers, especially Chinese guests.Thirayuth Chirathivat, Centara Chief Executive Officer, said: “A seamless payment experience for consumers using any channel is an element of our platform for expansion, which should see us double both revenue and the number of our properties over the next five years. As consumer behavior evolves, Centara has adopted an omni-channel strategy to stay relevant and to provide a great customer experience. We embrace these types of disruptive opportunities to better serve our guests and stay on top of the industry.”Chinese tourists account for almost one third of all foreign travellers to this country. Thailand is welcoming an ever-increasing number of Chinese visitors, for whom the kingdom remains the top travel destination. This year, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports expects more than 10 million Chinese tourists to travel to Thailand.WeChat Pay is the payment solution of WeChat, one of the largest social networks in China. WeChat Pay has become the main cashless payment method for daily small transactions in China and has more than 800 million active users in its database.“The number of Chinese tourists booking with Centara keeps growing. They are a significant customer base for all businesses in Thailand. Centara’s Chinese website www.centarahotelsandresorts.cn and centarahotelsresorts.com receive hundreds of thousands of visits from Chinese users. Almost half the visits come from a mobile device. Earlier this year we signed an agreement with TreePayCo.,Ltd., a payment platform facilitator to develop a system that allows Chinese customers to use their mobile phones to make e-payments outside of China for accommodation and services at Centara properties. WeChat Pay users and Chinese travellers can stay and enjoy the whole trip with Centara with only a few quick taps on their smartphone. Today’s consumers are connecting their omni-channel experiences with the likeability of the brands. In order to maintain our brand leadership, we are committed to providing seamless guest satisfaction across touchpoints.”Thirayuth added.Other than the 2 main websites, Centara’s 15 hotels also welcome WeChat QR code payment. These are: Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Center at Central World, Centara Grand at Central Plaza Ladprao, Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya, Centara Grand Beach Resort Samui, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin, Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Krabi, Centara Grand Beach Resort Phuket, Centara Villas Samui, Centara Villas Phuket, Centara Kata Resort Phuket, Centara Karon Resort Phuket, Centara Mae Sot Hill Resort, Centara Hotel Hat Yai, Centra by Centara Government Complex Hotel & Convention Centre Chaeng Watthana and COSI Samui Chaweng.Centara WeChatPay account ID: CentaraHotelSource = Centara Hotels & Resorts
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has finalised its marketing plan for 2016 that will focus on promoting the kingdom as a ‘Quality Leisure Destination through Thainess’.The plan marks the start of a new era for Thai tourism. The wording of the new strategy indicates an end to decades of focussing on ‘quantity’, as measured by visitor arrivals, and a total shift to ‘quality’ as measured by visitor expenditure, average length of stay, and the overall quality of the visitor experience.In addition, within the broader context of the upcoming ASEAN integration as well as the national reform process, Minister of Tourism and Sports, H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul has called on the entire industry, including both the private and public sectors, to work on the principles of the 3Rs: ‘Restructure, Rebalance and Reposition’.The theme of this year’s meeting was ‘Synergy for the Best’ because the entire tourism industry will be joining hands to work together to be able to achieve the country’s goals. The Minister said, “The government is promoting close collaboration among all stakeholders with transparency, synergy and quick action.”In 2016, we are confident that Thailand will remain in the top 3 ranking in terms of international tourism receipts in the Asian region. The targets for 2016, as measured entirely in revenue earnings, are up by eight percent over the projected earnings for 2015, or around 2.3 trillion Baht. Also, international and domestic tourism will be both up by eight percent over the same period, which is above the growth projections for the overall Thai national economy for 2016.The theme, along with the targets and marketing strategies were finalised at the TAT’s annual marketing plan meeting held in the beach resort of Bang Saen, a rapidly emerging destination about 65 kilometres east of Bangkok. The meeting was attended by more than 400 TAT executives and officers from head office and worldwide.Juthaporn Rerngronasa, Acting Governor of TAT said, “This plan marks the opening of a new chapter for Thai tourism. It is based on the fact that there is more than adequate accessibility to Thailand via excellent air, road and sea connections, as well as smooth facilitation that allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival access for citizens from 68 countries and territories.“As Thailand has the natural geographical advantage of being located right in the heart of the Asia-Pacific and ASEAN regions, we can be sure of strong arrival figures for years to come, assuming that the external and internal operating environment remains stable. So, we can confidently say that the era of promoting ‘quantity’ is over. The era of promoting ‘quality’ has begun.”In her speech to the delegates, Tourism Minister H.E. Kobkarn highlighted the importance of the Thai tourism industry for economic development, job creation, and income distribution.But, she added, tourism is more than just that. “It can also play a major role in enhancing social integration and preserving the environment. Tourism can be a great tool to build love and understanding, and grow the sense of pride in being Thai. This will lead to a balanced development covering the economic, social and environmental aspects of nation building.”She said that the new policy to develop a sustainable and well-integrated tourism industry would require close cooperation with the public and private sectors and focus on the 3 R’s:> Repositioning: Gearing towards tourism quality (Quality Leisure Destination).> Restructure: Identifying new target markets both in terms of geography and customer segments.> Rebalance: Attaining a balance between economic, social and environmental development by better spreading the benefits of tourism across Thai society, and reducing the social, cultural and environmental impact.“Such policies must take immediate effect,” the Minister said, urging all the stakeholders to work towards achieving the goals in a unified manner.The 2016 marketing strategy will retain the Amazing Thailand branding logo as well as the ‘Thainess’ identity; concentrate on niche markets such as, golfers, weddings and honeymoons, health and wellness visitors and ‘halal tourism’ for Muslim visitors, focus on female travellers, and put balanced emphasis on growing the domestic market to prevent over exposure to the international markets.The onset of the ASEAN integrated community will play an important role. While regional integration mechanisms will help the 10 member countries better position the region as a single destination in line with the plan to build ASEAN connectivity in order to promote both ASEAN for ASEAN, and ASEAN for ALL.Juthaporn said, “The insertion of the word ‘quality’ into the theme is designed to help the entire Thai tourism industry follow suit by developing quality products and services to cater to this market. There has already been a remarkable improvement in our portfolio of quality tourism products over the years, and we expect this trend to continue in the years ahead.
Yatra.com conducted their annual summer survey which brings into the spotlight the changes in the way Indian travellers are planning to holiday this summer. The latest survey shows that Indian travellers decide on the go and are well in tune with the latest technology. This conclusion has been validated by numbers showing a huge 10% year-on-year jump in mobile bookings to the current 32%. While desktops and laptops continue to be the preferred medium of booking, there is a steep decline in demand for travel agents with the number being a mere 8% in 2016 versus 11.2% in 2015.The survey also found out that a swooping 67.4% are planning a summer trip in 2016 as against only 35% in 2015. This defines the undeterred spirit of Indian travellers who are increasingly considering travelling on vacation a necessity rather than a luxury. Despite the rupee slipping to 66/67 levels, nearly 31% travellers are looking at international trips for summer 2016. The survey also found that North Eastern states are showing prominence as a top choice in domestic destinations which is in line with the government’s focus to promoting the region. Amongst international destinations Bali and Mauritius have come forward as the new popular choices this summer.Indians seem to be caught in the daily grind of corporate life and hence do not miss any opportunity for a getaway. This has clearly resulted in an increased frequency of vacationing. Travellers, spending on summer trip per person sees an increase in the mid segment range, with over 25% people looking to spend Rs 25,000 – 50,000 in 2016 as against 17% in 2015. There continue to be a large number of travellers that continue to choose budget accommodation to manage expenditure while travelling in 2016. The survey also finds that 44% Indians believe that relaxation during holidays is the key reason to travel in 2016, underlining the urban Indian’s need to escape the grind of everyday life.Commenting on the findings from the survey, Sharat Dhall, President, Yatra.com said, “We continue to see a strong year-on-year growth in Indians travelling to various foreign and domestic destinations. We have also seen an increased demand for newer destinations this summer with North East India destinations making it to our top five domestic destinations. Indians are increasingly getting comfortable making their travel bookings on the mobile and expect to see a further increase in bookings via our app in the coming year.”This summer there has been a stark increase in families planning for holidays together with almost 45% opting for a family vacation in 2016 as compared to only 17% in 2015. With women starting to become an important demographic while planning holidays, they are increasingly looking for holidays with partners, parents and children, and also alone. Hotels continue to be the top choice of accommodation whereas staying with family and friends continues to decline. Also, travellers are better informed and they decide destinations backed by online research from travel blogs. Although a large percentage would love to travel with Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone, deciding destinations basis Bollywood movies has seen a dip.
TrawellTag Cover-More conducted its signature Travel Agents Engagement Programme (TAEP) in the cities of Jalandhar & Chandigarh recently, exclusively for the members of the Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI) & the Punjab Travel Agents Association (PTAA). Held at Radisson in Jalandhar & the Hyatt Regency in Chandigarh, both the TAEP sessions aimed at enhancing the product knowledge, upsell skills and updating the travel agents about the recent market trends.Speaking on the occasion, Dev Karvat, Managing Director, TrawellTag Cover-More, said, “We are glad to see enthusiastic participation of the travel agents, who are self-motivated and constantly aspiring to better their business models. Not only are travel agencies finding the need for such programmes, but associations like TAAI & PTAA have also shown keen interest in empowering their members though trusted partners like us. Through this developmental programme, TrawellTag Cover-More creates a platform to educate the travel agents on beneficial skills for business growth and such initiatives should be promoted to achieve better and higher quality of travel ancillary sales. As a result of this programme, we have seen the awareness levels change in the cities where this has been conducted and so we are optimistic that there is a positive scope for such initiatives across India. We are confident that these training sessions in Punjab have been another step forward in our TAEP journey, to boost the travel industry as a whole.”Baljit Shergill, President– TAAI Chandigarh Chapter, commented, “Initiatives like these provide scope for industry transformation and taking a productive step to achieve business enhancement. “This successful programme has already been held at several major cities in India like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Indore, Vizag, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and now in Jalandhar & Chandigarh. Kuljeet Singh, President, PTAA-Jalandhar Region, said, “Growth cannot be achieved in isolation. TAEP is a platform for the Travel Agents Association to foster learning and business acumen for growth of the travel agent’s business.”
Agents & Brokers Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Bankers Association Processing Service Providers 2011-07-06 Ryan Schuette in Data, Origination, Servicing July 6, 2011 468 Views MBA: Commercial, Multifamily Originations Sluggish Share According to a recent quarterly “”report””:http://www.mortgagebankers.org/files/Research/DataBooks/1Q11QuarterlyDatabook.pdf released by the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA), commercial and multifamily originations slowed to a rate 25 percent lower in the quarter this year than the fourth quarter in 2010, with every major investor group reporting considerable new activity.[IMAGE]Titled the Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Quarterly Data Book, the report documented new signs of life in the economy, denoting $7.8 billion in profits for mortgage commitments, the highest in the first quarter in three years, reflective of a 60-percent increase from the first quarter last year.[COLUMN_BREAK]Issuers of mortgage-backed securities made $11.6 billion in new bonds, with origination volume roughly the same relative to increases and decreases in overall loan volume, not even denting the aggregate amount of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding. First-quarter data showed $2.377 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding trending at $3 billion, or 0.1 percent, less than the same data at the end of the fourth quarter, according to the report.””Transaction volumes are picking up, and pricing and loan performance are showing initial signs – inconsistent though they are – of improvement,”” the “”MBA””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm says in its report. “”Any pickup in economic growth will speed the healing; any slowdown will draw out the cycle.””The “”MBA””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm added that restraint in the supply helped stabilize the market, whose recovery relies in no small part on the rate of economic growth and reactions by developers to new and sudden trends. The Data Book supplies consumers and investors with an analysis of first-quarter property sales, originations, delinquencies, and mortgage debt outstanding, according to “”Mortgage Orb””:http://www.mortgageorb.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.9089.The “”MBA””:http://www.mbaa.org/default.htm represents mortgage bankers nationwide.
Over eight in 10 U.S. real estate investors are making moves to shore up their portfolios even as talk of a double-dip recession persists, according to a recent survey. More shocking: most of the survey respondents parted ways with Americans at large by agreeing that the economy is headed in a northerly direction.[IMAGE]Conducting the survey in early August, “”Colliers International””:http://www.colliers.com/SplashPage.aspx deployed the “”2011 Colliers International Global Investor Sentiment Survey””:http://www.colliers.com/globalinvestment as a way to measure investor appetite for risk and optimism. It measured investor sentiment on a clock, with 6 o’clock signifying feelings toward a rock-bottom market, 12 o’clock a market at peak, and 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock a market on the upswing and downswing, respectively.Where time is it for the markets? According to the survey, most real estate investors believe it is headed toward 9 o’clock, up from 6 o’clock, and expect it to stay between 8 o’clock and 10 o’clock over 2012.””Far more investors are looking at expanding their portfolios compared to last year,”” James Horne, executive sponsor of Colliers’ Global Investor Sentiment Survey, said in a “”statement””:http://news.yahoo.com/global-investor-sentiment-survey-reveals-commercial-property-investors-165406103.html. “”However, talk of a double-dip recession continues to occur. Toward the end of 2010, most economic commentary was becoming more confident; however, this is not the case now.””[COLUMN_BREAK]Sixty percent of real estate investors say they want to assume more risk for their portfolios despite lingering concerns over the state of market conditions, according to the survey.The survey found investors agreeing with the idea that more plan to “”move off the sidelines and back into the buying pool.”” Over 70 percent of investors deem their market moves “”more likely,”” with over 15 percent of investors seeing an expansion in their portfolios as “”somewhat likely”” into the near future. This is a rise from the 2010 survey, which found 60 percent of investors making plans to invest in more property over 2011.Even so, 62 percent cite growth concerns over properties for sale in their inventory, while 20 percent and 11 percent of the same investors say that their ability to raise new equity and access debt arose as their second and third concerns, respectively.Expectations among investors for returns on their investments split hairs, with one-third of the respondents pursuing returns in five to 10 percent of their portfolio, another third on the prowl for returns over 15 percent, and 32 percent, or fewer than one-third, anticipating returns on 10 percent to 15 percent of their assets.Commenting on the results, Warren Dahlstrom, president of Colliers International’s U.S. Investment Services Group, said in a statement that “”[m]ost U.S. investors say they are moving further out on the risk curve relative to six months ago.””This most likely reflects the dearth of low-risk, fully leased prime real estate currently on the market, and investors being forced into secondary markets and accepting a degree of vacancy,”” he added.With over 480 offices worldwide, Colliers International is a real estate services company headquartered in Seattle, Washington. Survey: Most Real Estate Investors Expanding Portfolios Agents & Brokers Housing Affordability Investment Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-10-03 Ryan Schuette October 3, 2011 410 Views Share in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing
October 5, 2011 452 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Citigroup Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Fraud Processing Refinance Service Providers Top Corporate Headlines 2011 Wells Fargo 2011-10-05 Ryan Schuette Share in Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing In yet another blow to major mortgage lenders, two brokers “”unveiled suits””:http://www.washingtonpost.com/r/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/10/04/National-Politics/Graphics/Second-Amended-Complaint.pdf Monday against a string of companies alleging the defendants bilked veterans out of millions by hiding illegal fees under other charges for their refinance loans. Quickly emerging as a hot-button topic inside the Beltway, with some pointing fingers at federal agencies, the suit joins a pack of other litigation on the way for the nation’s biggest banks.[IMAGE]The suit levels charges against lenders like “”Bank of America””:https://www.bankofamerica.com/, “”JPMorgan Chase””:http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm, “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/, and numerous others with “”engage[ing] in a brazen scheme to defraud both our nation’s veterans and the United States treasury [sic] of millions of dollars.””Brought by brokers Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly in an Atlanta-based federal court, the litigation specifically alleges that the lenders ripped off veterans and taxpayers by masking illegal fees as legitimate ones in order to secure loans backed by the “”Department of Veterans Affairs””:http://www.va.gov/.The matter involves the Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans (IRRRL) program, which provides active-duty and retired veterans with the ability to lower the rates for their mortgages, according to a “”_Washington Post_””:http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/suit-alleges-banks-and-mortgage-companies-cheated-veterans-and-us-taxpayers/2011/10/04/gIQATp4RLL_story.html story.The suit said that “”[t]ens of thousands of those IRRRL loans have gone into default or resulted in foreclosure, which has resulted in massive damages,”” laying claim to $11,000 in penalties for each conviction under the False Claims Act.Revealing the sensitivity of the allegations inside the Beltway, several sources in touch with _MReport_ refused to comment publicly for the story.[COLUMN_BREAK]Spokespeople for Bibby, Wells Fargo, and the Department of Veterans Affairs could not be immediately reached for comment.Rick Simon, a spokesperson with Bank of America, declined to comment for the story.Despite the high-level nature of the case, the federal government signaled that it intended to stay by the sidelines for the time being.””The government has not yet made a decision about whether to intervene in this case,”” “”Sally Qullian Yates””:http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/usattorney/index.html, U.S. Attorney for the “”Northern District of Georgia””:http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/index.html, said in a statement provided to _MReport_. “”As the case develops, we will continue to evaluate the merits of the case, and we will consider intervening in the case at a later date if it becomes appropriate to do so.””Critics of the nation’s largest banks painted the issue as one in which financial institutions knowingly overstepped legal boundaries by taking advantage of veterans on the taxpayer’s dime.””Good luck to them when they get before a jury,”” Patrick Burns, a spokesperson for “”Taxpayers Against Fraud””:http://www.taf.org/about.html, a D.C.-based nonprofit, tells _MReport_. “”They’re pick-pocketing disabled veterans on the frontend and stealing wholesale from taxpayers on the backend.””He calls the alleged criminal conduct by big banks a “”black-and-white… and breathtakingly simple”” act of fraud that he hopes will see a day in open court.””I hope it doesn’t settle,”” he says. “”I hope this goes to trial. When cases go to trial, you don’t get these settlements.””Burns also paints the Department of Veterans Affairs as potentially culpable, calling their role in the matter a case of “”omission or commission.””He alleges that either top personnel at the agency failed to see cost-shifting on the parts of banks or “”they saw it was happening because their real constituency”” is the banking industry, with which he says officials maintain close ties. As for the banks?””The jury’s real question will be, ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôHow much does the bank have?”” Burns says. “”It’s hard to find a more sympathetic group to send a message with than disabled vets.”” Big Banks Sued for Allegedly Bilking Veterans, Taxpayers
“”Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC””:http://www.carringtonms.com/, is bolstering its wholesale lending operations, recently hiring nine new employees for the company’s sales team. Adding three sales leaders, as well as six account executives, Carrington hopes to continue the expansion of the company’s mortgage lending division.[IMAGE]””We are pleased to be able to attract such a high quality group of employees-demonstrating Carrington’s commitment to hiring and retaining an experienced wholesale lending team,”” said Ray Brousseau, executive vice president of Carrington.[COLUMN_BREAK]Joining Carrington as its director of inside sales, Christopher D’Auria boasts 20 years of wholesale, retail, and correspondent mortgage origination experience. Additionally, D’Auria has 10 years in senior sales management, and he was part of “”Live Well Financial””:http://www.livewellfinancial.com/ prior to teaming up with Carrington.Eric Gertz will take on the role of regional sales manager for Carrington’s Los Angeles, California, area. Most recently, Gertz was with “”Performance Wholesale””:http://www.phlwholesale.com/careers.html, and he has been active in both the wholesale and retail lending industries for more than two decades.As an area sales manager, Christine Lacy will be be a part of Carrington’s operations in Orange, San Diego, and Imperial Counties. Previously with “”Capital Solutions Financial Group””:http://www.capitalsolutionsfundgroup.com/, Lacy offers expertise across diverse mortgage lending verticals.Carrington’s wholesale lending team is also gaining six new account executives including Bob Accorto, Mike Berlinski, James Finch, Kimberley Gale, Rich Marfino, and Anthony Sarvestani. Brousseau concluded his statements on Carrington’s recent hires, noting, “”These individuals bring a wealth of knowledge and skills that will help us grow our market share within the wholesale lending space.”” Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Movers & Shakers Processing Service Providers 2012-07-13 Abby Gregory July 13, 2012 470 Views Carrington Adds Nine to Wholesale Lending Sales Division in Data, Government, Origination, Servicing, Technology Share
in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing After declining in April for the first time in eight months, the “”National Association of Home Builders'””:http://www.nahb.org/default.aspx (NAHB) Improving Markets Index (IMI) continued the trend with a more substantial dive in May, the group reported.[IMAGE]According to NAHB, the number of housing markets showing “”sustained improvement”” fell to 258 from April’s 273.The index, put together by NAHB and “”First American Title””:http://www.firstam.com/, tracks housing permits, employment, and home prices in markets across the country. Areas showing improvement in all three metrics for at least six straight months are counted for the list.[COLUMN_BREAK]Four new markets were added to the list in May: Dothan, Alabama; Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Salisbury, Maryland; and Salem, Oregon. Nineteen markets were dropped, many of which are located in the South and Southwest: Macon, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Albuquerque, New Mexico, among others.””While seasonal trends in home prices resulted in an overall decline in the IMI this month, the index remains at a very strong level and continues to represent markets in every state,”” remarked NAHB chief economist David Crowe. “”Some metropolitan areas that had previously charted marginal home-price gains dropped off the list this time as a result of typically softer prices seen in the winter months, which is similar to what the index showed in this same period last year.””””The fact that over 70 percent of all U.S. metros are holding onto their spots on the improving list is definitely good news, and representative of the generally brightening outlook for housing markets nationwide,”” said NAHB chairman Rick Judson, a homebuilder from Charlotte, North Carolina. “”That said, our industry’s progress on the road to recovery is being slowed by rising challenges related to the availability of credit, building materials, labor and lots for development.”” NAHB Improving Markets Index Tips Down Further in May Share May 6, 2013 459 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Homebuilders Housing Permits Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers 2013-05-06 Tory Barringer
August home values saw their largest year-over-year gain since 2006, according to the latest Home Value Index (HVI) release from “”Zillow””:http://www.zillow.com/.[IMAGE]Zillow’s HVI climbed to $162,100 in August, up 0.4 percent month-over-month and 6.6 percent annually–the largest yearly gain since July 2006, when values rose 7.9 percent.””August marked the end of one of the hottest summer home shopping seasons in years, as home value appreciation rates continued their rocket ride upward–perhaps dangerously so in some metro areas,”” said Zillow [COLUMN_BREAK]chief economist Stan Humphries, explaining that rapid growth can’t continue as the market normalizes.””We are already beginning to see moderation in the monthly pace of home value appreciation, which will be good for the market overall and in the long term,”” he added.The vast majority–85 percent–of the 382 metros covered in the August release experienced annual home value appreciation, Zillow reported. Among the 30 largest metro markets, 20 posted annual appreciation of at least 10 percent. Many of the most notable improvements occurred in California, with Sacramento (34.1 percent), Riverside (29.7 percent), San Francisco (28.1 percent), and San Jose (24 percent) taking four of the top five spots. (The one remaining slot went to Las Vegas, which saw an annual gain of 30.6 percent.)For the 12 months ending August 2014, national home values are forecast to rise another 5.2 percent to approximately $170,500, according to Zillow’s Home Value Forecast. Once again, California is expected to lead the way, with Riverside (21.9 percent), Sacramento (19.2 percent), and Los Angeles (13.2 percent) experiencing the highest appreciation rates. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Equity Home Values Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Zillow 2013-09-24 Tory Barringer Home Values Up 6.6% in August, Monthly Gains Decelerate September 24, 2013 407 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Share
High Hopes for New Homes in 2015 Fitch Ratings Forecast Housing Starts New Home Sales 2014-12-12 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News After trudging along a sluggish track in 2014, the market for new homes is projected to make a comeback next year, Fitch Ratings says in a new forecast.Looking at the year ahead, the ratings firm predicts a bounce in both supply and demand for homes as the economy continues to steadily expand and both employment measures and consumer confidence see improvement. With housing starts and new home sales expected to advance, Fitch sees a possibility of higher revenues for homebuilders and positive rating actions for some companies in the sector.”The likelihood of higher home deliveries could position housing revenue to jump by 20–25 percent next year,” said Bob Curran, managing director at Fitch.The agency’s forecast echoes predictions in a recent survey of economists conducted by the Wall Street Journal. The panel of experts called for housing starts to jump to 1.22 million in 2015, a leap from the expected 1.05 million new units started this year.Other recent predictions are also hopeful. It its own forecast for 2015, Freddie Mac projected total housing starts would pick up 20 percent in the next year, with single-family homes driving that increase.Meanwhile, homebuilder sentiment continues to trend on the positive side, fueled by higher hopes for future new home sales.While analysts seem optimistic, whether or not that confidence bears out in the next year is the real question. Last year at this time, economists polled by the Wall Street Journal forecast an increase in housing starts to 1.11 million. Looking back at the last 12 months, they’re now saying the housing sector proved to be the most disappointing performer in 2014.In other predictions, Fitch also predicts home prices will rise 2.7 percent in the next year, an increase spurred by supply conditions.”New home pricing will benefit from still-restrained levels of new home inventory, though home price increases should level off to the low single digits,” Curran said.Also improving in Fitch’s outlook is the level of foreclosures in the next year, which are expected to drop further as more borrowers break free of “underwater” status. December 12, 2014 509 Views Share
JPMorgan Chase RMBS Deal First to Qualify Under Safe Harbor JPMorgan Chase Bank has become the first institution to file a residential mortgage-backed securitizations deal that qualifies under the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s six-year-old Safe Harbor rule, and it’s filed a doozy.On April 1, Chase Mortgage Trust sold a group of RMBSs worth $1.88 billion, Chase 2016-1, one of the largest filings of its kind since the recession. It is also the first since the FDIC enacted updated Safe Harbor rules in 2010 to protect financial institutions and investors in the securitizations market. The deal also is the first transaction from JPMorgan Chase to be entirely backed by mortgages‒‒about 6,000 of them‒‒that the bank already owns.The transaction is essentially a credit risk transfer and is expected to reduce the risk borne by U.S. taxpayers while bringing more private capital back into the mortgage market. The deal should also help restore private-sector securitization that will fortify the U.S. housing system.According to Moody’s Investor Service, the securitized mortgage loans backing Chase 2016-1 are isolated from consolidation risk “in the unlikely event that the sponsor, JPMorgan Chase Bank, becomes insolvent.”Also according to Moody’s, the filing’s capital structure is “simple and contains tight triggers,” including a simple six-tranche transaction structure (Safe Harbor’s limit) meant to redirect potentially diminishing notes bound for more junior notes to more senior notes. The transaction’s pro-rata payment structure contains performance triggers that protect certificates under a range of performance scenarios and are “tighter than comparable triggers in standard shifting-interest structures.”Other aspects of the transaction that make it stand out in the post-crisis mortgages market include a lack of principal and interest servicer advancing designed to bolster liquidation recoveries on delinquent loans for senior bondholders and help cash flows driven by servicer stop-advance policies or practices more predictable; and more immediate recognition of modification losses that divert more cash to senior bonds producing higher interest.There also is the retention of a 5 percent economic interest‒‒a vertical strip‒‒on certain bond classes, which is designed to align the bank’s interest in the credit risk of the underlying loans with investors’ interests. FDIC JPMorgan Chase Bank Safe Harbor Rule 2016-04-05 Scott_Morgan Share April 5, 2016 551 Views in Daily Dose, Government, News, Secondary Market
Confluence of Factors Keeping Home Sales Healthy U.S. home sales continue to float in a healthy range as suggested by trends in the August 2016 Ten-X Nowcast released this week.Despite facing some challenges, underlying demand for housing remains strong thanks to the firm labor market, low unemployment, low mortgage rates, and improving wage growth, and these conditions remain supportive of the housing market—although this demand is hindered by tight inventory levels, which in turn is increasing price growth and eating into affordability prospects.According to Ten-X, July home sales would be range-bound and the latest Nation Association of Realtors (NAR) release confirmed this, showing a 3.2 percent decline to a seasonally adjusted 5.39 million rate. In addition, the July sales rate marked a 1.6 percent year-over-year decrease.The NAR data confirmed the median home price Ten-X reported last month, as the median existing-home price for all housing types was $244,100 in July—a 5.3 percent increase from a year ago and the 53rd consecutive month of annual gains.NAR reported that total housing inventory saw a marginal gain in July to 2.13 million existing homes for sale. This was 0.9 percent higher than last month but still 5.8 percent below last year’s level. Tight inventory levels continue to hold back sales growth but the trend of moderate increases in homes for sale continues as they had anticipated due to higher pricing attracting more sellers into the market, according to Ten-X.The share of all-cash sales measured 21 percent in July, down from 22 percent from June and 23 percent from a year ago—the lowest percentage since November 2009. Additionally, distressed sales, including foreclosures and short sales, measured 5 percent in July. This was a decrease from 6 percent the previous month as well as 7 percent from a year ago. Likewise, that was the lowest percentage since NAR began tracking the data in October 2008 and a continuation of what they call the normalization of the housing market from the aftermath of the housing bust.Ten-X notes that though this month’s headline sales figure was less encouraging, they still believe that the high overall sales level continues to signal the health of the housing market. For August, Ten-X believes existing-home sales will stabilize and place August sales in the 5.35 million-5.71 million range, with a targeted rate of 5.53 million. Additionally, this is a marginal 0.5 percent decrease from Ten-X’s July report, and would represent a 2.6 percent gain from the NAR sales rate.Click here to view the entire Ten-X Nowcast. Existing-Home Sales HOUSING National Association of Realtors Ten-X 2016-09-02 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News September 2, 2016 630 Views Share
Share Government Senate Hearing Steven Mnuchin Treasury secretary 2017-01-19 Phil Banker Senate Confirmation Hearing for Mnuchin Heats Up Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went to bat for Treasury Secretary appointee Steve Mnuchin during his confirmation hearing on Thursday, saying claims his businesses helped precipitate the 2008 financial crisis were “lacking in merit.”Mnuchin, 54, is a hedge fund manager, former Goldman Sachs partner, and former executive with IndyMac and OneWest Banks.“Mr. Mnuchin had no involvement in the mortgage market in the years leading up to the collapse,” Hatch said. “After purchasing IndyMac and all its toxic mortgage assets, Mr. Mnuchin’s company offered loan modifications to the vast majority of its delinquent borrowers and was one of the very first institutions to make offers to forgive portions of loan principal balances to reduce foreclosures,” Hatch said.“All independent valuations of the company’s actions have resulted in high marks,” said Hatch regarding the foreclosure practices at OneWest.Mnuchin, nominated for Treasury Secretary in November, said at that time that he would end the government’s controversial conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.“We will make sure that when they are restructured, they are absolutely safe and don’t get taken over again. But we’ve got to get them out of government control,” Mnuchin said back when he was first appointed, according to Bloomberg.Mnuchin has also said he would roll back key provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 to regulate Wall Street.During the hearing Mnuchin defended his time at OneWest, saying he worked to help borrowers stay in their homes during the worst years of the financial crisis.“In the press, it has been said I ran a ‘foreclosure machine,’” Mnuchin said. “On the contrary I was committed to loan modification intended to stop foreclosures. I ran a loan modification machine.“I am proud to be able to say our bank was able to do over 100,000 loan modifications that allowed people the opportunity to stay in their homes,” Mnuchin said. “Unfortunately, not all the homes were able to be saved through these programs, and despite my best efforts some were sadly subject to foreclosure.”Mnuchin said he ordered his lawyers to sue HSBC to allow him to do additional loan modifications, and blamed HUD regulations for foreclosures on accounts delinquent by very small amounts.Ed Delgado, President and CEO of the Five Star Institute and a former executive with Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac, called Mnuchin a “competent choice” for Treasury Secretary.“His plans to roll back burdensome regulations and advance GSE reform will help foster progress and growth in the industry and the economy,” Delgado said. “He should not be labeled as the architect behind the 2008 financial crisis. The reality is that Mnuchin’s leadership during his tenure at OneWest defended American homeowners by making available programs that offered loan modifications to eligible borrowers.”Although the committee began the hearing by peppering Mnuchin with questions on his history at OneWest, they soon pivoted to questions on offshore accounts. Senators asked him about his time as director of Dune Capital International Ltd., an investment fund incorporated in the Cayman Islands.“Did you use the Cayman island corporation to avoid paying taxes? Would you support closing tax loopholes that very wealthy people have consistently used in the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes?” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) asked of Mnuchin.“There was no benefit to me from the Cayman entity,” Mnuchin replied. “As I said, The Cayman entity was set up to accommodate nonprofits and pension funds that wanted to invest offshore.”Hatch noted some of the seemingly hypocritical questioning concerning Mnuchin’s corporate involvement with offshore accounts and holdings.“At least two of president Obama’s nominees who now serve in his cabinet had Cayman Island holdings,” Hatch said.Wyden said the committee has a bipartisan record of calling out nominees on both sides of the aisle.Boston Community Capital CEO Elyse Cherry, an expert on foreclosure relief and housing policy, said Mnuchin has a “very different sense of his history” than his detractors.”In his time there, OneWest took families through about 36,000 foreclosures,” Cherry said. “What I would hope is that anybody with that level of knowledge about the real estate industry and the impacts of foreclosure, if he comes into a position in Treasury, would use that knowledge to help us solve the remaining housing crisis as opposed to continuing to throw families out of their homes.”Cherry said she hopes Mnuchin, if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, would use his position to show leadership on a number policies to help homeowners stay in and maintain their homes.”We need to be able to maintain our housing stock so that people have good, solid, healthy places to live so our neighborhoods can continue to be healthy,” Cherry said. “I think Treasury has a lot they can do for that.”Chairman Tim Rood of Washington, D.C.-based business advisory firm The Collingwood Group praised Mnuchin’s handling of the hearing.“My key takeaway is that Steven Mnuchin is a world-class financier whose decades of experience with financial and monetary matters make him the ideal candidate to serve as U.S. Treasury Secretary and President-elect Trump’s principal economic advisor,” Rood said. “My secondary takeaway is that only the most committed public servant(s) would subject themselves to this gruesome confirmation process.”To watch the hearing, click here. January 19, 2017 697 Views in Government, Headlines, News
Bank of America Company News First American lien release business 2017-12-10 David Wharton in Headlines, journal, News First American Financial Corporation, a leading global provider of title insurance, settlement services, and risk solutions for real estate transactions, announced the signing of an agreement to acquire Bank of America’s lien release business, which includes an agreement to provide these services to Bank of America going forward.“We’re excited to soon welcome the Bank of America lien release team to First American,” said Dennis J. Gilmore, CEO at First American Financial Corporation. “The post-closing function is important in today’s mortgage lending environment, and this move will enhance the breadth of our post-closing products and services.”The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018. Once the sale is complete, Bank of America’s lien release business and its employees will become part of First American’s Mortgage Solutions division, a leading provider of comprehensive solutions for residential lenders and servicers covering the entire loan spectrum.First American Mortgage Solutions’ wide range of post-closing products and services includes CleanFile Solutions, a single, vertically integrated suite that combines post-closing document management, loan quality control, lien release preparation, and recording to cure, perfect, and complete collateral files. The acquisition will complement First American Mortgage Solutions’ existing best-in-class post-closing and document management capabilities, augmenting First American’s ability to serve the lender, servicer, and investor communities.”This move will further solidify First American’s industry leadership in post-closing services and collateral file perfection,” said Kevin Wall, President of First American Mortgage Solutions. “It demonstrates our ability and commitment to provide lenders, servicers, and investors post-closing services at an unmatched scale and level of efficiency, supported by fraud detection, loan quality and compliance analytics, and First American’s number-one industry position in real property data coverage.” December 10, 2017 744 Views First American Acquires Bank of America’s Lien Release Business Share
Credit Scores vs. Lending Rates Share in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination Borrowers with the best credit saw their average annual percentage rate (APR) barely drop from May to June. The upper 95th percentile saw an average of 4.34 percent APR on conforming 30-year fixed purchase loans last month, which was down from 4.36 percent in May, according to the June Mortgage Offers Report from LendingTree.“The loan note rate of 4.89 percent is the highest since March 2016 and was unchanged from May,” the report stated. “We prefer to emphasize the APR as lenders often make changes to other fees in response to changing interest rates.”Consumers with credit scores above 760 saw offered APRs of 4.86 percent in June. That compares to 5.14 percent APRs for consumers with scores between 680 and 720. The APR spread of 27 basis points between these score ranges was down two basis points from May, and represents almost $14,000 in additional costs for borrowers with lower credit scores over 30 years for the average purchase loan amount of $231,606, LendingTree reported. The report attributed the extra costs to higher interest rates and/or fees. For the average borrower, things went in the opposite direction from those in the upper tiers in June. Average borrowers saw purchase APRs for conforming 30-year fixed loans offered on LendingTree’s platform up eight basis points, to a flat 5 percent, according to the report. On the refinancing front, June’s best offers were up one basis point to 4.37 percent for borrowers with the best credit score profiles. Refi APRs for conforming 30-year fixed loans were up to a flat 5 percent for the average borrower, a climb of 11 basis points. The credit score bracket spread narrowed to 20 basis points, which translates into nearly $11,000 in extra costs over the life of the loan (assuming an average refinance loan of $236,706) for borrowers with lower credit scores, the report found.Average proposed purchase down payments was down about $1,000, to $59,205. July 16, 2018 563 Views Conforming Loans Credit Scores fixed rate LendingTree loans mortgage Refinance 2018-07-16 Radhika Ojha