Sponsored Stories Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Mesa family survives lightning strike to home Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall Surabaya, the provincial capital of East Java, is Indonesia’s second-largest city after the capital Jakarta.The ministry said Sultan Babullah airport in Ternate, North Maluku’s province capital, was closed after Gamalama sent volcanic ash as high as 1,500 meters (4,920 feet) into the sky.The shutdown came at the peak of the annual exodus of millions of people to their hometowns in the world’s most populous Muslim nation coinciding with the celebration of the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.An earlier eruption of Raung last week sparked chaos as Ngurah Rai airport in the tourist hotspot of Bali and four other airports in the region were shutdown, stranding thousands of holiday-goers.Two domestic airports in East Java towns of Banyuwangi and Jember have been closed since then.Volcanic ash is hazardous to jet engines and able to harm other parts of the aircraft.A 2010 eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokul volcano produced an ash cloud that caused a week of international aviation chaos, with more than 100,000 flights canceled.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Eruptions at two volcanoes Thursday caused closures at three Indonesian airports, including one serving the country’s second-largest city.Mount Raung on the main island of Java blasted ash and debris up to 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) into the air after rumbling for several weeks, and Gamalama mountain in eastern Indonesia erupted Thursday morning after months of quiet.Transport Ministry spokesman Julius Adravida Barata said volcanic ash spewing from Raung blew close to the cities of Surabaya and Malang, forcing Juanda International and Abdurrahman Saleh airports to close. How men can have a healthy 2019 Patients with chronic pain give advice Comments Share New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F The Kimberley region has been added to Tourism Australia’s National Landscapes Program and as a result will receive prominent coverage in the nation’s future international tourism marketing campaigns. The Kimberley now holds the honour of being Western Australia’s first region in the National Landscapes Program, which highlights iconic destinations across Australia. Local communities nominate Landscapes to join the program, in this case the Kimberley National Landscapes Steering Committee nominated the Kimberley. The Steering Committee will work with Tourism Australia and Parks Australia to bring together tourism industry and government stakeholders to identify commercial opportunities, environmental management priorities, infrastructure gaps and marketing plans. The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP and the Minister for Environment Protection, Peter Garrett AM MP announced the newest addition to the program earlier this week.The Ministers made the announcement during a visit to Broome before travelling to Kununurra for the first Kimberley Land Council Ranger Forum, celebrating the important role Indigenous Rangers play in the management and environmental protection of the region.Minister Ferguson said: “The Kimberley’s rich Indigenous history and culture, pearling and mining history, ancient gorges, spectacular waterfalls, rugged wilderness and remote beaches make it an obvious choice for the National Landscapes Program.“It is a vast wilderness area more than twice the size of my home State, Victoria.“The National Landscapes Program offers great opportunities for Indigenous training, employment and business development in both tourism and conservation.“Tourism is a major source of employment across the Kimberley with more than 1500 tourism organisations providing jobs for rangers, pilots, cruise ship crews, chefs and many other trades and professions.Minister Garrett said: “The Kimberley is a stunning part of Australia, internationally renowned for its vibrant Indigenous culture and unique environment and of course, the world famous Cable Beach.“The inclusion of the Kimberley in the National Landscapes Program recognises the extraordinary environmental importance of the Kimberley, from the beauty and incredible diversity of the marine environment to the ecological diversity of this huge north-western landscape.“The Kimberley region now joins destinations such as Australia’s Red Centre, Kakadu and the Australian Alps as part of a program which sees tourism and conservation working in partnership to promote some of the extraordinary natural landscapes that make our country both so unique and such an international tourism drawcard.” <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/210a0/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a>
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Google is making travel irrelevant, snapping up pictures of famous historical landmarks for its online street viewing site Street View.Integrated with Google Maps, Street View offers a panoramic view of images from locations worldwide, Mashable reported.Amongst its newest uploads, Google has added photos of the interior of the Imperial Forum, Coliseum in Rome, Ponte Vecchio, Santa Maria del Fiore and Château d’Fontainebleau.Earlier this year the online search engine also launched Google Art Project, a virtual tour of up to 17 museums across the globe.
TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, has acclaimed Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa as the Top Hotel and Top Luxury Hotel in Australia in the 2013 Traveler’s Choice Awards. In its 11th year, the annual TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards recognise the world’s best hotels based on millions of valuable reviews and opinions covering more than 650,000 hotels that are collected in a single year from travellers around the world.“It is gratifying to be named Australia’s best hotel by the global travelling community. It is a wonderful achievement for Emirates and we’re honoured to be recognised by our guests in these highly competitive awards,” said Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. “From the outset, we have always strived to deliver a unique, world-class Australian experience. From our commitment to conservation, thoughtful architecture and understated design to supporting local producers, it is clear our ethos has resonated with guests and we’re humbled by the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor,” concluded Mr Heymeijer. Located a scenic three-hour drive from Sydney, the luxury conservation-based resort is nestled between two national parks in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Emirates property features 40 individual secluded suites, each with its own indoor / outdoor swimming pool, private verandah, separate living and sleeping areas, luxurious en suite bathroom and double-sided fireplace. The resort itself occupies just two per cent of the 4,000-acre property, and combines the expectations of the high-end traveller with a commitment to broader social, ecological and environmental sustainability. Source = Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Air New Zealand touches down at Sunshine Coast AirportAir New Zealand touches down at Sunshine Coast AirportSunshine Coast Air New Zealand flight touched down on Friday morning at Sunshine Coast Airport, bringing the first of thousands of visitors for the season from across the Tasman.In its sixth year of operation, services will be available to and from the Sunshine Coast up to four times per week until October 29, 2017.New Zealand is the number one international visitor market for the Sunshine Coast, with a total of 66,000 New Zealanders visiting the Sunshine Coast in the year ending March 2017, a 5.5% increase on the previous year.Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said the regional tourism organisation’s investment in New Zealand was really paying off“We are the only Queensland RTO with a representative in Auckland and that presence is allowing us to focus strongly on driving visitation from our number one international market,” Mr Latchford said.“Our recent Sunshine by Lunchtime campaign with Air New Zealand and Tourism Events Queensland was timed specifically to be in market in the chilly month of May and increase sales in the lead up to the flight services commencing today.“The short direct flight is the perfect avenue for a holiday break to warm up our Kiwi friends and encourage them to enjoy the diversity of experiences, events, food and attractions available on the Sunshine Coast.”Sunshine Coast Council Tourism, Sports & Major Events Portfolio Councillor Jason O’Pray said the ongoing commitment by Air New Zealand and trans-Tasman alliance partner Virgin Australia had helped build the Sunshine Coast as a favourite destination for Kiwi visitors.“Our visitor numbers from New Zealand continue to grow each year and this is in no small part due to the direct flights available between Auckland and the Sunshine Coast,” Cr O’Pray said.“It is wonderful to see so many New Zealanders making the Sunshine Coast part of their annual winter getaway.”Welcoming the first passengers this morning, Sunshine Coast Airport General Manager Peter Pallot said the Air New Zealand flights broadened travel horizons for New Zealand residents and Sunshine Coast locals alike.“The flights provide easy access for our New Zealand passengers, allowing them to begin their Sunshine Coast escape the moment they step off the plane,” Mr Pallot saidFast Facts:Air New Zealand Sunshine Coast – Auckland direct flights began in 2012More than 13,500 passengers travelled on the winter services in 2016, a 12% increase on 2015Flights operate between 7 July – 29 October 2017Friday and Sunday flights are available throughout the seasonWednesday flights are available from 12 July to 18 October with additional Monday flights available from 10 to 24 July and 25 September to 9 October 2017Source = Sunshine Coast Airport
Vietjet celebrates the International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City 2017Vietjet celebrates the International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City 2017Vietjet is treating locals and tourists alike to a series of interesting activities and promotions in celebration of the 13th International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC) which is held from 7 – 9 September 2017 at the Saigon Exhibition and Convention Center (SECC).As a kick-start to the travel expo, Vietjet is launching a three golden day promotion from 7 – 9 September 2017 with 700,000 promotional tickets priced from RM0 up for grabs within the golden hours of 1pm – 3pm daily (Malaysian time). The promotional fares exclude taxes and fees.The promotional prices are valid for travel from 1 October – 31 December 2017 for Vietjet’s domestic routes and from 1 October to 31 August 2018* for international destinations including Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia); Seoul and Busan (South Korea); Hong Kong; Kaohsiung, Taipei, Taichung, and Tainan (Taiwan); Singapore; Bangkok (Thailand); Yangon (Myanmar) and Siem Reap (Cambodia).The promotional tickets can be booked at www.vietjetair.com (also compatible with smartphones at https://m.vietjetair.com) or at www.facebook.com/vietjetvietnam (just click the “Booking” tab).Furthermore, visitors to the expo and Vietjet’s pavilion will also enjoy interesting performances, participate in lucky draws and stand a chance to win free return air tickets to domestic and international destinations as well as take part in games to win amazing gifts.The ITE HCMC is endorsed by the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Vietnam in collaboration with other agencies. Titled “The Gateway to Asia”, ITE HCMC 2017 is organized to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN. The event is expected to attract a wide range of international and local travel companies from 25 countries, 300 booths with 60% of sellers comprising of international sellers and over350,000 visitors. Over the years, ITE HCMC has established itself as an important annual international travel event in Vietnam which has regional influence. It is a place where both international and regional buyers, suppliers, trade professionals and media partners from the tourism and travel organizations meet and exchange the latest and new developments in the industry.For those unable to experience the event first-hand, fret not as the zero-fare promotion is applicable for all customers. So be sure to jump on to the website and secure your zero-fare booking today!*Excluding national holidaysSource = Vietjet
The Value of Australia’s Cruise Industry soars past $5 billionValue of Australia’s Cruise industry soars past 5 billion dollarsA record number of ships making a record number of visits to ports around Australia has seen the value of the cruise industry surge past $5 billion for the first time, but sluggish growth for New South Wales spells crunch time for the nation’s gateway port, Sydney.A new report has revealed that the Australian cruise industry’s national economic output surged by 15.4 per cent in 2016-17 to reach $5.3 billion, up from $4.6 billion in 2015-16.Commissioned by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, the independent report revealed that cruise line expenditure exceeded $1.5 billion, up 12 per cent on the previous financial year, while direct passenger expenditure rose 19.8 per cent to almost $1.2 billion.The indirect and induced contribution of cruise tourism made up the rest of the figure with the industry’s suppliers and their employees contributing a further $2.6 billion, up 15 per cent on 2015-16.With a record 58 cruise ships sailing local waters in 2016-17, and more than half offering local itineraries, there was a 19 per cent increase in cruise ship visit days to 1401 in total. Ship visit days for homeported vessels increased by 14.5 per cent while transit ship visit days jumped 23 per cent.Highlighting the value of homeported ships, the report found that passengers spent on average $527 a day in a port before or after their cruise, compared to $153 during a transit day, adding up to a total of $976 million, or 85 per cent of total passenger expenditure.While just about every area of the report showed positive signs, the international cruise industry has warned that infrastructure constraints in Sydney threatens further growth of the industry, resulting in economic benefits not being fully realised for Australia.According to the report, New South Wales remains the dominant cruise state, accounting for 58 per cent of the industry’s economic contribution, but its 6 per cent growth last financial year means its share has dropped 10 per cent in just two years due to Sydney reaching capacity.NSW’ sluggish growth had positive flow on effects for other states with Queensland up 14 per cent to now represent a fifth (21 per cent) of the national economic contribution or more than $1.1 billion, and Victoria experiencing a 12 per cent increase to take a 7 per cent share of the national contribution.Meanwhile increased ship deployments to Western Australia and Tasmania in 2016-17, saw both these states experience substantial growth. A 104 per cent increase to Western Australia’s coffers brought the State’s share of the national contribution in line with that of Victoria at 7 per cent, while Tasmania grew 138 per cent in total output growth to up its share to almost 3 per cent as Hobart and Port Arthur saw a spike in ship visit days.Releasing the “Cruise Tourism’s Contribution to the Australian Economy 2016-17” report in Sydney, CLIA Australasia Chairman Steve Odell said the findings provided compelling evidence of the value of the cruise industry and how crucial its continued growth was to the economy.Managing Director of CLIA Australasia, Joel Katz, said “The latest Australian Cruise Industry Economic Impact Analysis reveals an industry with strong growth potential that generates significant national and regional economic activity. CLIA’s economic report not only quantifies our economic output and contribution, it also provides a vital insight into what’s driving the growth in our economic value from creating thousands of jobs to the economic benefits that flow to businesses and communities far beyond our ships and ports,”“The industry is now contributing more than $5 billion to Australia’s economy but it could be much more. With the nation’s cruise gateway at crisis point, the challenge is to ensure strong economic growth for years to come and the only way to make that happen is to find a solution to Sydney’s capacity constraints. Australia is one of the world’s most appealing cruise destinations for global cruise lines but Sydney is a big drawcard and if Sydney is full, this discourages more cruise ships from heading to our shores.”The report also found:A 15 per cent increase in full time equivalent jobs, meaning the cruise industry now employs 21,000 Australians each year, directly and indirectlyCombined passenger and crew visit days increased by 21 per cent to 3.4million daysThe industry carried around 200,000 international inbound cruise passengers – the equivalent of France and Italy’s inbound visitor numbers to Australia combined.Domestic cruise passengers spent $758 million in Australian port cities, with international passengers spending $392 millionAccommodation, transport, food and beverage, and shore excursions, accounted for 79 per cent of total passenger onshore expenditures, more than $900 millionCrew spent $39.5 million at Australian cruise ports with an average expenditure of $95 per crew visit ashore.Operating expenses accounted for 91 per cent of cruise line expenditure with port charges, food and beverages, fuel, and travel agent commissions accounting for most (63 per cent) costsThe economic contribution of cruise tourism was concentrated in four states, NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, which accounted for 94 per cent of economic outputNew South Wales contributed $3.1 billion to the national economic contribution, followed by Queensland with $1.1 billion and Victoria and Western Australia both benefited from a contribution of $387 million eachFor more information and a copy of the executive summary visit www.cruising.org.auSource = Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
Jet Airways has continued to expand in Southeast Asia, by signing a new code share partnership with Bangkok Airways. Jet and Bangkok Airways will jointly market and sell each other’s flights between Mumbai and Bangkok, under this new arrangement.Raj Sivakumar, Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways stated, “Established as the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, Thailand has seen exponential growth in trade and tourism, attracting travellers from across the world including India. These code share flights will offer wider and convenient travel options to our esteemed guests travelling between India and Bangkok for business and leisure. This new partnership reinforces our commitment towards developing a robust network across regions.”Peter Wiesner, Bangkok Airways Senior Vice President – Network Management said, “The code share services will allow customers to have better frequency to connect to Bangkok. We believe this partnership will offer a unique advantage for Jet Airways’ passengers who will enjoy our unparalleled services which include: free lounge access, in-flight meal and many more. I am confident that this will also strengthen Bangkok Airways’ extensive code share scheme of 17 code share partners including Jet Airways.”The partnership with Bangkok Airways comes just a week after Jet expanded its code share agreements with two other Southeast Asian carriers, Garuda Indonesia and Vietnam Airlines.
Air India has undertaken a passenger upgradation initiative on the basis of spot payment of cash at airports. The scheme called ‘Get Up Front’ is applicable for both domestic and international sectors.The upgrade at airport is subject to availability of seats and on First Come First Served Basis besides being subject to the physical presence of a guest at the check in counter. The scheme is being publicised through text cards at the airports.In order to drive competition with other private airlines, Air India has taken the following measures: Induction of brand new aircraft on several domestic and international routes to increase passenger appeal; Phasing out and grounding of old fleet; Monitoring of On Time Performance (OTP) at the highest level within Air India on daily basis.A video conference is anchored by Integrated Operation Control Centre (IOCC) every day in which the representatives of operating departments from four regions participate to review the previous day’s operation and evolve process improvement wherever possible.
The Maharashtra Ex-Servicemen’s Corporation (MESCO) has initiated Veer Yatra, a military tourism initiative recently in Pune. The government of Maharashtra undertaking will organise guided tours to the choicest locations of military importance with retired veterans from the services.Maharashtra Ex-servicemen Corporation (MESCO) has envisaged to give a boost to ‘military tourism’ in the country through the Veer Yatra, stated Col (Retd) Suhas Jatkar, Managing Director of MESCO.On offer is a range of specially designed holiday packages that could take tourists to military training academies, battlefields, high-altitude pickets, mountain passes such as Nathu La and Zoji La or border posts along the Line of Control.MESCO has designed nine packages, ranging from two days to eight days, with the cost varying from Rs 6,100 to Rs 42,990 per head. The destinations are as diverse as naval forts in coastal Maharashtra to Gangtok-Darjeeling in the Northeast to Amarnath in the North, where there is a helicopter ride thrown in. The nine Veer Yatra tours started from May 12, 2016.“Our idea is to cater to the entire spectrum of tourist. We have developed ‘Corporate Outbound Program @ Mahad’ wherein a corporate can easily do a MICE event,” said Col Jatkar.“The project not only aims to give people the opportunity to experience the valour and glory of the military but also would be instrumental in inculcating a sense of patriotism among the citizens, in particular, the children and youth,” he added. The initiative would also provide meaningful and gainful employment to ex-servicemen and army widows.
July 19, 2012 385 Views The third week of July brought news of more mortgage rate lows, according to “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/.[IMAGE]The GSE found the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging 3.53 percent (0.7 point), down from 3.56 percent from the past week and 4.52 percent from the year before. In all of 2012, the average 30-year home loan has only scaled to 4 percent or higher for one week.The average 15-year mortgage for the week was 2.83 percent (0.6 point), down from 2.86 percent[COLUMN_BREAK]the week before and 3.66 percent at the same time in 2011. This week marks the eighth consecutive week that the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3 percent.The 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) also fell, averaging 2.69 percent (0.6 point), a drop from 2.74 percent last week. The 1-year ARM saw no changes, hovering at 2.69 percent (0.4 point).””Frank Nothaft””:http://www.freddiemac.com/bios/exec/nothaft.html, VP and chief economist with Freddie Mac, explained how the low rates are aiding in the housing market’s recovery.””With little signs of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├ï┼ôOperation Twist’ keeping U.S. Treasury bond yields in check, fixed mortgage rates are remaining low and helping to stir the housing market,”” said Nothaft. “”Bankrate.com””:http://www.bankrate.com/ also posted new record lows, with the 30-year home loan falling to 3.78 percent from 3.79 percent from the week before. According to the finance Web site, the 15-year mortgage averaged 3.04 percent, inching down from 3.05 percent. Meanwhile, the average 5-year and 1-year ARM rate fell to 2.89 percent, down from 2.95 percent. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Housing Gains Foothold as Mortgage Rates Dip Share Adjustable-Rate Mortgage Agents & Brokers Bankrate Freddie Mac Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers Treasury Yields 2012-07-19 Tory Barringer
in Data, Government, Secondary Market One week after spiking to a two-month high, first-time claims for unemployment insurance dropped 24,000 to 334,000 for the week ending July 13–the lowest level in 10 weeks, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.ows.doleta.gov/press/2013/071813.asp reported Thursday. [IMAGE]Economists expected the number of claims to drop to 344,000 from the 360,000 originally reported for the week ending July 6. The number of filings for that week was revised down to 358,000.While initial claims fell, the number of persons continuing to collect unemployment insurance for the week ending July 6–reported on a one week lag–spiked to a five-month high, increasing 91,000 to 3,114,000. The number of continuing claims for the week ending June 29 was revised up to 3,023,000 from the originally reported 2,977,000.The report on first-time claims covered the “”reference”” week used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for its monthly Employment Situation report for July, scheduled to be released August 2. From mid-June to mid-July, the number of first-time claims dropped 21,000, and the four-week moving average of claims fell 2,500.The four-week moving average of first-time claims for the week ending July 13 was 346,000, down 5,250 from the previous week. The four-week average of continuing claims–also reported on a one-week lag–increased 148,000 to 3,019,250, the highest level since the end of April. The drop in first-time claims reflected a correction to the sharp jump reported for the week ending July 6, which resulted from the holiday-shortened week and a resumption of the auto industry practice of furloughing workers as auto plants are retooled for the new model years. When the auto industry was slumping, the early summer furloughs had been abandoned, so the practice wasn├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót included in seasonal adjustment factors that account for recurring predictable events that affect claims. Even now, the auto industry calendar is less predictable, with new models introduced at various points in the year.The week-over-week jump in continuing claims was the largest since the beginning of November, when continuing claims increased 193,000 in one week. Large weekly increases in the data series are not unusual because of reporting methodologies, but continuing claims have increased in three of the last four weeks, swelling the number of recipients by a net 148,000.The week-over-week decline in first time claims continues the steady–though sometimes bumpy–improvement in the labor markets. First-time claims have dropped a net 33,000 this year, even though claims have increased in 12 of the first 28 weeks of the year. In those 12 weeks, the average increase was 18,000, while in the 16 weeks in which first-time filings dropped, the average decline was just under 16,000.The Labor Department said the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending June 29 was 4,519,501, a decrease of 1,903 from the previous week. There were 5,753,820 persons claiming benefits in all programs in the comparable week in 2012. Extended Benefits were not available in any state during the week ending June 29. According to the BLS, 11,777,000 persons were officially considered unemployed in June, with 4,328,000 “”long-term”” unemployed–that is, out of work for at least 27 weeks. Of those individuals counted as unemployed,7.26 million were not receiving any form of government unemployment insurance for the week ending June 29, down about 10,000 from the week earlier.The Labor Department said states reported 1,636,731 persons claiming Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits for the week ending June 29, a decrease of 24,152 from the prior week. There were 2,524,363 persons claiming EUC in the comparable week in 2012. EUC benefits this year were directly threatened by the federal budget sequester. States responded to the sequester by reducing the number of weeks for which benefits were paid or cutting the amount paid.According to the Labor Department detail, also reported on a one-week lag, the largest decreases in initial claims for the week ending July 6 were in New Jersey (-4,370), California (-4,265), Texas (-3,133), North Carolina (-2,236), and Washington (-1,253), while the largest increases were in Michigan (+17,700), New York (+15,163), Pennsylvania (+4,831), Kentucky (+4,386), and Ohio (+3,771).Of the 15 states reporting increases of 1,000 or more initial claims for the week ending July 6, nine cited increases in layoffs in the manufacturing sector. _Hear Mark Lieberman Friday on P.O.T.U.S. Radio, Sirius-XM 124, at 6:20 a.m. Eastern._ July 18, 2013 439 Views Unemployment,First-Time Jobless Claims Drop to 10-Week Low Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Confidence Consumer spending Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mark Lieberman Service Providers Unemployment 2013-07-18 Mark Lieberman Share
FHA to Bring Down Loan Limits for 2014 in Origination Share The “”Federal Housing Administration””:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/federal_housing_administration (FHA) is bringing down loan limits on single-family mortgages next year, HUD announced Friday.[IMAGE]According to “”Mortgagee Letter 13-43″”:http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/administration/hudclips/letters/mortgagee, FHA’s revised ceiling for single-family loan limits will come down to $625,000 from $729,750. The change marks the first full implementation of loan-limit calculations under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008; the lower limits were originally scheduled to be put into place at the start of 2009, but Congress delayed any action “”due to continuing strains in credit markets”” at the time, HUD said.””As the housing market continues its recovery, it is important for FHA to evaluate the role we need to play,”” said FHA Commissioner Carol Galante. “”Implementing lower loan limits is an important and appropriate step as private capital returns to portions of the market and enables FHA to concentrate on those borrowers that are still underserved.””As a result of the changing law, HUD estimates about 650 counties will have lower limits.Meanwhile, the loan limit floor for low-cost housing areas will remain at $271,050. Also left untouched were loan limits for FHA-insured reverse mortgages, which will continue to have a maximum claim amount of $625,500.As per usual, counties in Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the Virgin Islands will see higher limits to account for greater construction costs. The limit for a single-family loan in those areas will be $938,250.HUD also announced it is accepting requests for local increases until January 6, 2014. Requests sent in must have sufficient sales price data for one-family properties from January through August 2013; HUD will only consider changes in counties for which it lacks sufficient transaction data. December 9, 2013 454 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Carol Galante FHA HUD Investors Lenders & Servicers Service Providers 2013-12-09 Tory Barringer
March 24, 2015 517 Views Sales of new single family homes took an unexpected turn Tuesday, when data released showed the rate rose to the highest it has been in seven years. According to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and HUD, the February sales are up nearly 25 percent compared to sales from that month last year. Sales for February 2014 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 539,000. This is 7.8 percent above the January rate of 500,000.The report brings positive news to what some might say has been a lackluster start for housing in the New Year. January marked a slow start for housing recovery, with single-family housing starts falling 6.7 percent month-over-month. Overall, January’s new construction rate was down 2 percent from the month before. And in February, privately-owned housing starts dropped to the lowest rate seen in years. Housing starts for February dropped 17 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 897,000.The median sales price of new houses sold in February 2015 was $275,500; the average sales price was $341,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of February was 210,000. This represents a supply of 4.7 months at the current sales rate.The Northeast saw the largest increase in both month-over-month and year-over-year figures with improved weather conditions. The region had an 84 percent increase in sales from February 2014 and a massive 152.9 percent increase from January 2015 to February 2015. The West also saw a large increase in year-over-year rates with a 34 percent increase, but had a 6 percent decrease in sales from January 2015 to February 2015. The South showed gains in both monthly and yearly figures, while the Midwest saw a 3.6 percent decline year-over-year and a 12.9 percent decline month-over-month. Census Bureau: New Home Sales at Highest Rate in Seven Years in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, News Share HUD New Home Sales U.S. Census Bureau 2015-03-24 Samantha Guzman
CFPB John Councilman Mortgage Brokers NAMB Obama 2015-03-30 Samantha Guzman in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) president John Councilman wrote a letter to President Obama after his speech at Lawson State Community College, urging the President to update his speech to reflect the current state of the mortgage industry. In his speech, President Obama spoke of the important role the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has played in helping the U.S. recover from the financial crisis. However, according to Councilman, in an effort to praise the CFPB, the president signaled out mortgage brokers as “unscrupulous.””It is my hope, as our President, that you will speak more positively of mortgage brokers,” Councilman said in the letter. “They are providing the most cost-effective origination channel, the widest variety of programs, and the best customer service. I believe you can honestly be assured that mortgage brokers provide a wonderful alternative to the large banks.”Councilman stressed that no one has worked more diligently to prevent another financial crisis than mortgage brokers. He says the NAMB has worked with state legislators to pass laws to regulate mortgage brokers and mortgage originators and in July 2008, Congress passed the S.A.F.E. Act with input from the NAMB. This act licensed all non-bank mortgage originators. After this, the Federal Reserve created an anti-steering rule with NAMB input. According to Councilman, all of these happened before the creation of the CFPB.“Today, mortgage brokers stand as the safest channel for consumers seeking a mortgage. Mortgage broker and other non-bank originators are the only licensed, tested, fully educated mortgage originators,” the letter said. “Bank originators have less rigorous requirements as well as less stringent criminal background standards. In its recent guidance on mini-correspondents, the CFPB concluded that mortgage brokers offer “important consumer protections” not available to consumers through other channels.”The NAMB president ended his letter by asking President Obama to encourage the CFPB to “level the playing field for all mortgage originators.”“The maintenance of a competitive mortgage market was called for under Dodd-Frank but has not been realized,” Councilman said. “There are instances where mortgage brokers are unable to help lower-income borrowers due to current regulations, making the borrower’s only choice a large bank, if they receive a loan at all.” Share NAMB Asks President Obama to Update Mortgage Industry Speech March 30, 2015 448 Views
Share in Daily Dose, Featured, Government, News Last week, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker had proposed a plan for overhauling the federal regulatory system—one that included eliminating the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) altogether. Since dubbed the “Volcker plan,” the head of the OCC, Thomas Curry, has come out against the proposal, saying it would be ineffective at solving the nation’s regulatory issues.According to the Wall Street Journal, Curry sent an email to OCC employees Wednesday stating, “While I have great respect for Mr. Volcker, I disagree with him completely on this issue. In fact, I told him so in a recent conversation.”The OCC is crucial, Curry said in his email, as it is the only regulatory agency that is focused exclusively on supervision.“Because of that,” Curry wrote, “we have developed great expertise in prudential supervision, so much so that I would argue that our agency is home to the most talented and experienced supervisory staff anywhere in the world.”Curry said the agency is constantly improving, citing recent initiatives like Heightened Standards, Supervisory Peer Review and the creation of new offices for strategic management and enterprise risk management as evidence.“The drive to question ourselves and improve is one of the reasons that the OCC remains the nation’s preeminent supervisory agency,” Curry wrote.But according to Volcker, that doesn’t matter. In his proposal, titled “Reshaping the Financial Regulatory System,” Volcker criticizes the nation’s reliance on a regulatory system that is too large, too complex, and too fragmented. He calls for cutting out the OCC, merging other regulatory agencies, and creating a single, more focused oversight agency to manage the U.S. financial system.In Curry’s email, however, he stated that Volcker’s plan is unlikely to be successful.“There have been a number of attempts over the last three decades to merge the bank regulatory agencies,” Curry wrote in his email. “Yet none have succeeded … It is highly unlikely that this proposal will fare any better than those that preceded it.”To conclude his email, Curry said it’s not Volcker’s plan that matters, but ensuring a stable banking system for the American people.“At the end of the day, however, what really matters is that we continue to provide the kind of strong supervisory oversight that ensures a safe and sound federal banking system capable of supporting a strong national economy and the financial interests of the American people,” he wrote. “That’s the reasons the OCC has excited for 152 years and it is the reason we will proudly continue to serve the American people in the future.”View the full email by clicking here. April 24, 2015 482 Views OCC Head Shoots Down Volcker’s Plan Financial Regulation OCC Paul Volcker 2015-04-24 Seth Welborn
Share At-risk borrowers: These are the borrowers identified by Looney and Yannelis in their analysis of the Department of Education data. Many of these borrowers are from less affluent groups. They may be economically worse off than before they started school—they have no improvement in their job prospects but they have significant student debts to repay. Delinquency and default on their student loans has hurt their credit scores “The low homeownership rate among millennials is still something of a puzzle — it cannot be explained solely by the increase in student loan debt,” said Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac. “However student debt plays a role — higher balances are associated with a lower probability of homeownership at every level of college and graduate education. And recent data has confirmed that not all student debt is created equal.”Click here to view the complete report. in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Market Studies, News While student loan debt does play a role in the low homeownership rates among millennials, it does not fully explain why this generation is slow to purchase a home, according to Freddie Mac’s monthly Insight & Outlook for September released Wednesday.Some housing experts expected the homeownership rate, which has been decreasing since 2004 to get a much-needed boost as millennials entered the housing market. However, there have been no results on this end and the homeownership rate has continued to fall.One explanation that most seem to point to is student loan debt, the report says. Freddie Mac questions if student loan debt and the decline in the millennial homeownership rate are directly related.”While we can’t answer that question definitively, there are some tantalizing clues in the data,” the report said. “Note that student loan debt alone can’t explain the low homeownership rate among millennials. After all, the homeownership rate in this cohort has dropped 5 to 6 percentage points for student loan borrowers and non-borrowers alike.””The low homeownership rate among Millennials is still something of a puzzle — it cannot be explained solely by the increase in student loan debt.”Freddie Mac’s data showed student debt tripled over the past 10 years, reaching $1.2 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Although student debt increased for all age groups, the balances are focused among those under 30 years old and those between 30 and 39 years old.Pre-crisis homeownership rates of 27-to-30-year-olds with student loans, with at least some college education, were 2 to 3 percent higher than homeownership rates of those with no student loans. This gap started to close during the recession and changed direction in 2011. The homeownership rate of borrowers was about one percentage point lower than the rate of non-borrowers by 2014.Freddie Mac separated student loan borrowers into three groups for how they approach homeownership and mortgage lending:Successful investors: Borrowers who completed their degrees and found that their post-college earnings are matching their expectations. Unless they are challenged to accumulate a down payment, student loan debt is not a significant deterrent to purchasing their first home. However, they may be delaying for other reasons; Disappointed earners: Graduates of four-year institutions whose return on their education investment is less-than-expected. They may not be able to find a job in their field and their wage income is lower than originally anticipated. Some of these borrowers took highly-specialized instruction in fields that deteriorated during their period of studies (for example, petroleum engineers graduating now). Their relatively low earnings and student debt burden may hinder homeownership for this group. Is Student Loan Debt Affecting Millennial Homeownership Rates? September 30, 2015 617 Views Freddie Mac Homeownership Rate Millennials 2015-09-30 Staff Writer
Share Economic Growth Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Inflation Monetary Policy 2016-02-24 Staff Writer Richmond Fed President: Central Bankers Can Spur Economic Growth President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Jeffrey M. LackerIn a speech today at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Jeffrey M. Lacker discussed monetary policy, inflation, and how the central bank can help spur economic growth.The biggest takeaways? That inflation may soon rise, and central bankers have a responsibility to keep it stable.To begin, Lacker started by addressing a common concern: That an economic recession is impending, and central banks—along with their low interest rates—are likely to blame. These concerns, he said, “presume that monetary policy has a significant direct effect on economic growth—a presumption, I will argue, that is based on a misunderstanding of what monetary policy can and can’t do.”He continued: “Monetary policy’s ability to affect real economic activity—when monetary policy is being reasonably well-executed—can be quite limited and is almost always short-lived,” Lacker said.“The role of the Fed is not to prevent every recession or to soothe every instance of financial instability, nor is it within its power to do so. Central banks garner too much praise when times are good and too much blame when times are bad.” -President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Jeffrey M. LackerBut poor monetary policy, Lacker said, can create real problems.“Poor monetary policy that leads to high and widely varying inflation can impede economic growth in a number of ways,” Lacker said. “Monetary policy can have a sustained positive effect on economic growth by avoiding the negative consequences of poor monetary policy. This requires low and stable inflation.”Achieving this stable inflation is harder than it once was, Lacker said, especially since the housing bust.“Reconciling the behavior of monetary measures with the behavior of inflation has been more difficult since the crisis,” Lacker said. “The dramatic increase in the Fed’s monetary liabilities after 2008—from just under $1 trillion to over $4 trillion now—caused concern that surging inflation was imminent. That hasn’t happened. Inflation has not only failed to rise, but has been persistently low relative to the FOMC’s stated goal of 2 percent. The last reading of 2 percent or greater for the 12-month change in the personal consumption price index was in April 2012, and since 2013, the core index has fluctuated between 1.3 and 1.7 percent.”The index may creep closer to the 2 percent goal in the next few years however. According the New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations, consumers expect it to average 2.5 percent over the next five years, while the University of Michigan’s survey predicts 2.4 percent for the next five years.“Both these measures of expectations have declined slightly recently,” Lacker said, “but overall remain consistent with the Fed’s inflation target.”To wrap up, Lacker summed up his thoughts on the Fed, along with its role in maintaining a stable financial environment.“The role of the Fed is not to prevent every recession or to soothe every instance of financial instability, nor is it within its power to do so,” Lacker said. “Central banks garner too much praise when times are good and too much blame when times are bad. It is within the Fed’s power to control the long-run path of the price level, and this remains true even in a world with interest on reserves and large bank reserve account balances.”Still, Lacker acknowledged the Fed does have a role to play when it comes to long-term economic growth.“Economies thrive best in an environment of basic monetary stability,” he said. “In my view, the most important contribution central bankers can make to economic growth is low and stable inflation.” February 24, 2016 647 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News
AmeriFirst Welcomes New President to Southwest Division AmeriFirst AmeriTrust Company News 2018-04-02 Staff Writer Share AmeriFirst Home Mortgage (AmeriFirst), a division of AmeriFirst Financial Corp., has announced the appointment of Ronald Bergum as President of its newly formed Southwest Division. As a recognized mortgage industry leader, Bergum has held numerous executive level positions in the mortgage industry, with his most recent position of CEO at Prospect Mortgage, LLC, as well as serving as Co-CEO of Indymac Bank’s Retail Lending Group, and EVP of Production and Sales for the Western Retail Division of American Home Mortgage.“Ron has the unique ability to take his vision, passion and in-depth understanding of the mortgage industry’s competitive landscape and motivate his talented team to achieve exceptional results,” said David Gahm, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of AmeriFirst. “He has a track record of establishing a solid business foundation and building it into an industry leader and doing so in an industry that is often volatile and challenging. We are confident in his ability to successfully take us through this new phase of growth in Southern California.”AmeriFirst, headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, opened its first Southern California branch in Rancho Cucamonga in mid-March of this year. Bergum will oversee the advancement of the company’s entrance in this market by with an initial team of 12 personnel who will offer a full range of purchase, refinance, renovation and construction loan options.The new full-service home loan center is operating under the name “AmeriTrust Home Mortgage,” to avoid confusion with Amerifirst Financial, Inc., which also operates in the southwest region.Bergum joins an organization comprised of over 600 professionals aimed at expanding homeownership opportunities, improving local communities, and making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. “I am excited and proud to be part of such an amazing company,” said Bergum. “We are fortunate to have recruited an incredibly talented team here in Southern California who is dedicated to delivering the same excellent customer experience for which the organization is known.” April 2, 2018 550 Views in Headlines, journal, News, Origination
Share Mortgage Risks Rise The latest American Enterprises Institute Housing Market Indicators released its data on October 2018 with a focus on the National Mortgage Risk Index. The report released on January 28, includes data on mortgage risk, house price appreciation, and home sales. The report found that mortgage risk jumped in October with all indices setting new series’ highs for the month. The composite Purchase National Mortgage Risk Index (NMRI) recorded an increase of 0.4 percentage points from Oct. 2017. Federal Housing Administration (FHA) index set a new series’ high at 28.2 percent. Refi NMRI also set a new series’ high primarily due to a higher Cash-Out Refi NMRI, it indicated. According to AEI data, the higher NMRI indicates that agencies continue to increase leverage to maintain levels of mortgage activity and in furtherance of their “affordable housing” mission. The report noted that FHA continues to loosen and Fannie’s purchase risk index in Oct. 2018 at 1.4 percentage points outpaced that of Freddie’s. The report also pointed out that over the last 3 years, a shift towards higher DTIs has primarily driven the NMRI higher. “Reports of the end of current housing boom are exaggerated,” said Tobias Peter, Senior Research Analyst at AEI’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance. “Inventories remain mostly tight, especially for entry-level homes, access to credit continues to be expanding, especially for first-time buyers, and mortgage rates have recently fallen below 4.5 percent again. All this points to a continuation of the boom at lower price points,” he added. Shedding light on FHA lending, the report found that FHA’s credit box is wide and therefore credit for entry-level buyers is not tight. FHA continues to add high-risk borrowers with their risk index climbing through risk layering. Compared to 2017, the agency purchase volume declined this October. A decline of 3.9 percent was recorded in purchase volume by count compared to 2017—a rise in volume from 37 percent in October 2013. The report attributes the decline to the increase in mortgage rate to over 4.5 percent earlier in the year.Per AEI Housing Market Indicators, maintaining purchase volume continues to be reliant on further agency credit easing— seen as needed to offset headwinds from gradually rising interest rates as a result of a slightly less accommodative monetary policy, and rapid home price increases. “FHA’s and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s pro-cyclical policies are continuing to drive home prices higher for entry-level buyers and are exposing buyers to an unsustainable home price boom,” noted Edward Pinto, Codirector of the AEI’s Center on Housing Markets and Finance. “As these policies since late-2012 have needlessly driven up low price tier homes by an additional $23,000, it is time both took counter-cyclical steps to protect homebuyers,” he added.Read the full report here. in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, News, Origination, Servicing January 28, 2019 1,302 Views American Enterprise Institute American Enterprises Institute Housing Market Indicators Edward Pinto Mortgage Rates Tobias Peter 2019-01-28 Donna Joseph