first_imgAustralia’s newest hotel brand set to debut in Sydney August 2017Skye Hotel Suites in Parramatta is set to open its doors in August 2017.  Developed by Sydney-based Crown Group Australia, Skye Hotel Suites will offer unrivaled urban luxury for discerning guests.The hotel brings together the best elements of hospitality: the warmth and personalized service of a boutique hotel; the grandeur and amenities of a luxury hotel; the spaciousness and familiarity of a local apartment; and the relaxing escape of a resort.The hotel is located within V by Crown Group, a distinctive new Sydney landmark designed by Allen Jack + Cottier and Koichi Takada Architects.Skye Hotel Suites features just 72 luxury studio, one- and two-bedroom suites overlooking Sydney. Guests will enjoy access to V by Crown Group’s resort-style pool and sauna, state-of-the-art fitness centre, business centre and conference room facilities, along with an alfresco dining and retail piazza.The stylish bar on level 26 is Parramatta’s highest bar, offering a spacious open-air terrace and spectacular 270-degree views of Sydney’s skyline, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains.  In addition, famed chef Neil Perry has opened one of his popular Burger Project restaurants in the tower. Skye Hotel SuitesSource = Skye Hotel Suiteslast_img read more


first_imgQatar Airways tops AirHelp’s 2019 Airline RankingsNew research from AirHelp has named Qatar Airways as the best airline in the world, based on service quality, on-time performance and claims processing during delays or cancellations. The data was sourced from multiple commercial vendors, AirHelp’s own database, along with 40,000 passenger surveys collected in 40 countries during 2018.Qatar’s Hamad International Airport in Doha has also been ranked as “Best Airport for Passenger Experience”, for the second consecutive year. Airport ratings were based on three factors: on-time performance, service quality and food and shopping options. The study aims to provide air passengers with guidance on the different experiences that can be expected from various airlines and airports. Scores were developed with a combination of expert knowledge and industry expertise.This is the latest in a series of recent accolades for Qatar Airways. The airline was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.Qatar Airways’ Senior Manager for Australasia, Mr. Adam Radwanski, said: “We’re thrilled to be recognised for the high-quality service we provide to our passengers daily. This news reflects our ongoing commitment to providing the best experience and greatest choice for passengers. These accolades are truly a testament to our entire team and the staff globally who make this airline the best in the world.”The airline also announced last month that it will introduce its award-winning, patented QSuite Business Class service on its daily Auckland flights from 1 June 2019. As the airline’s longest commercial flight – with a distance of 14,535 kilometres – the Auckland route is operated by the airline’s flagship Boeing 777 aircraft, featuring a two-class configuration, with 42 seats in QSuite Business Class and a further 230 seats in Economy Class.Source = Qatar Airwayslast_img read more


first_imgSKAL 18th Sustainable Tourism Awards Ceremony18th Sustainable Tourism Awards Ceremony18th Sustainable Tourism Awards Ceremony will take place during the Opening Ceremony of the 80th Skål World Congress, to be held onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas.In its 18th edition, a total of 56 entries from 25 countries are this year competing to win the Sustainable Tourism Awards that Skål International, the leading worldwide organization of travel and Tourism professionals, will present on 15 September, during the Opening Ceremony of the 80th Skål International World Congress to be held onboard the Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas.These awards were introduced after the declaration by the United Nations of 2002 as the Year of Ecotourism and the Mountains and have grown in significance year on year.Three prominent and distinguished judges will evaluate the responsible projects submitted according to several criteria such as nature preservation, carbon offsetting, climate change mitigation, Human Rights protection, local employment, etc.View the participants HEREWith the exponential growth in Tourism over the past few decades, tremendous strain has been put on the Tourism industry as a whole so it is imperative that all sectors of the industry adhere to all aspects of Sustainable Tourism.This year Skål International has partnered with Biosphere Tourism and the Responsible Tourism Institute, to give the ‘Special Skål Biosphere Award’ that will be presented to one of the submissions received.AboutBiosphere Tourism develops certifications to guarantee an adequate long-term balance between the economic, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions of a Destination, reporting significant benefits for a Tourism entity, society and the environment. This certification is granted by the Responsible Tourism Institute (RTI), an international non-profit NGO, in the form of an association, which has promoted, for more than 20 years, responsible Tourism at an international level, helping all the actors involved in the Tourism sector develop a new way of traveling and of knowing our Planet.Skål International is a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global networking and friendship since 1934. It is the only international association uniting all branches of the travel and Tourism industry.Skål International is an Affiliated Member of the UNWTO and supports The Code, PATA, IIPT, STI, among others.Source = Skållast_img read more


first_imgAs part of a new tourism drive, the Thai government is planning to attract more movie-makers to the country. Thailand’s Department of Tourism recently launched the fifth Thailand International Film Destination Festival 2017 (TIFDF 2017), aimed at promoting the country as an international film destination.The theme of this year’s event is ‘Fascinating Destination,’ which focuses on promoting the eight tourism ‘clusters’ in Thailand among international filmmakers. This will be achieved through a series of activities, including a short film competition for international students and cinema screenings of famous films shot in Thailand.“We (Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism & Sports) have tourism strategies which aim to generate income for the country, bring income to communities, improve the quality of life for Thai people and add value to Thailand’s tourism,” said Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, Government of Thailand.“We have many beautiful destinations in Thailand and the international film industry is directly linked to Thailand’s tourism. This not only brings in a large amount of money to our country but also helps promote Thailand’s beautiful destinations internationally. TIFDF 2017 aims to attract those in the film industry to shoot films in Thailand,” the Minister added.In 2016, more than 700 foreign films were shot in Thailand that generated $67.5 million in revenues for the country. This total has increased 14% in the first five months of 2017 in terms of movies filmed and 65% in terms of revenue generated.Thailand has a long history of hosting international film-makers, with some of the famous movies shot there include the ‘The Deer Hunter,’ ‘Air America,’ ‘The Beach’ and the James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun,’ which led to a limestone islet in Phang-Nga Bay being nicknamed ‘James Bond Island.’last_img read more


first_imgSri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) consolidated its ‘So Sri Lanka’ brand idea at the 52nd ITB in Berlin by rolling out the next phase of its strategic brand identity.SLTPB presented a captivating documentary film to the global media at the ITB press conference as the digital film launched across the UK, Germany, France, India and China supported by an innovative, well executed, digitally led PR strategy.Speaking at the press conference Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga said, “Sri Lanka is an evolving tourist market. In the last 10 years, Sri Lanka has seen a steady growth in arrivals and investments. Based on qualitative research findings on inbound tourists for the last three years, the most endearing feature of Sri Lanka as a destination brand is its authenticity. This authenticity is an attribute that is alive in our heritage, in our cuisine, in our landscapes, in our architecture, in our culture and mostly in our people, we are inviting the world to experience ‘So warm and welcoming’ Sri Lanka!”SLTPB Chairman, Kishu Gomes, added: “Sri Lanka is like nowhere else in the world. We wanted to visualise what travellers can do, see and feel when they visit Sri Lanka in a way that is as unique as our country – which is why we wanted to tell our story from the viewpoint of our amazing wildlife. Sri Lanka is one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa, and we also have many other pleasures for visitors to discover; our beaches that have sunshine all year round, our warm and welcoming people, and our food is abundantly flavourful. Sri Lanka must be felt to be believed, and we welcome all travellers to our country for an experience like no other.”Gomes further stated that ‘Sri Lanka tourism has the vision to become the preferred destination brand of choice among global travellers. We are developing a strategically powerful amplifier brand that will support a very aggressive and ambitious marketing agenda. We are unlocking the untold power of brand Sri Lanka and empowering the global traveller to create the narrative with us – the amplifier effect of #sosrilanka is already evident and this is exactly what we need to navigate the challenges of a digital-first world.”“The brand ‘So Sri Lanka’ is focused on elevating Sri Lanka’s destination brand to include all its diverse offerings and unique attributes. ‘So Sri Lanka’ goes beyond being a place descriptor and embodies the vibrant qualities that inspire us about Sri Lanka. It is an expression that is easy to use by locals and travellers of diverse origins, be it a first time traveller from China or the 4th time return guest from the UK, a couple from India looking for a destination wedding, a family from Germany or a French millennial,” explained CEO, J Walter Thompson, Alyna Haji Omar.last_img read more


first_img in Data, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Expect Home Prices to Fall Further in 2012: Zillow Share Agents & Brokers Home Prices Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers Zillow 2012-03-21 Ryan Schuettecenter_img March 21, 2012 408 Views Economists redrew their expectations for home prices for 2012, slashing forecasts from 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.[IMAGE]Real estate Web site “”Zillow””:http://www.zillow.com/ partnered with “”Pulsenomics LLC””:https://pulsenomics.com/ to project prices in a Home Price Expectations Survey it released earlier Wednesday.More than 100 economists and real estate experts came to the consensus [COLUMN_BREAK]in their survey responses, with the more optimistic saying that prices could lift 1.4 percent next year, down from 1.8 percent.Drawing on a “”Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Index””:http://www.standardandpoors.com/indices/sp-case-shiller-home-price-indices/en/us/?indexId=spusa-cashpidff–p-us, Zillow projected that home prices would climb from 1.39 percent next year by 2.55 percent in 2014, 3.18 percent in 2015, and 3.32 percent in 2016.””The fourth quarter drop in the national Case-Shiller Index was sharper than some expected and is the likely reason so many of the economists in the survey revised their forecasts downward,”” Zillow Chief Economist “”Stan Humphries””:http://www.zillow.com/profile/Stan-Humphries/ said in a statement.””Looking at the longer history of these forecasts by top economists, the bottom in home prices always seems just around the corner but never quite here,”” he added. “”Conditions across the country vary considerably.””Of the many economists reached by the survey, Zillow said, Susan Sterne, with Economic Analysis Associates Inc., said home prices will ascend by 5 percent during 2012.The statement added that Gary Shilling, with A. Gary Shilling & Company, differed by projecting a decline in prices by 8 percent.last_img read more


first_img March 29, 2012 449 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies GDP Investors Labor Department Service Providers Unemployment 2012-03-29 Mark Lieberman Real GDP – the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States – increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter, the “”Labor Department””:http://www.dol.gov/ reported Wednesday, unchanged from the estimate issued a month ago, consistent with market expectations.[IMAGE]In its initial report on fourth quarter GDP, the BEA had said the nation’s economy grew at a 2.8 percent pace. The economic growth rate is the fastest in the past 18 months but only slightly above the fourth quarter of 2007 when the Great Recession began.These data are ancient economic history since the first quarter ends Friday. The advance first quarter GDP report will be released by the end of April.[COLUMN_BREAK]The data released so far for January, February and early March suggest that first quarter 2012 economic activity grew less rapidly than in the fourth quarter of 2011 with many early estimates suggesting a growth rate of about 2.0 percent.This latest report showed economic activity 1.6 percent above its year ago level. Capital spending, homebuilding, and government purchases contributed positively to this revision while inventory investment and export subtracted. Consumer spending was unaffected. As a result of all of these adjustments, real final sales were left unchanged by this revision at 1.1 percent while real domestic demand was revised up by 0.2 percentage points to 1.3 percent.The faster fourth-quarter growth (from 1.8 percent in the third quarter), BEA said, primarily reflected an upturn in private inventory investment, stronger personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and an increase in residential fixed investment.BEA issues three GDP reports for each quarter – an “”advance”” report one month after the quarter ends and revisions in each of the following months as more data are received.Housing ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô technically reported as “”residential fixed investment”” ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô grew at an 11.6 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, its fastest growth rate since the second quarter of 2010 when it grew at a 22.8 percent rate.Residential fixed investment grew by $9.1 billion in the fourth quarter compared with $1 billion in the third quarter. in Data, Governmentcenter_img Fourth-Quarter GDP Growth Hovers Close to 3.0% Sharelast_img read more


first_img Share Settlement Monitor Selects Primary Firm to Oversee Compliance Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank of America Citigroup Investors JPMorgan Chase Lenders & Servicers Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight Processing Refinance Service Providers Wells Fargo 2012-06-04 Ryan Schuette in Government, Origination, Servicingcenter_img June 4, 2012 417 Views The monitor responsible for reviewing $25 billion in settlement funds announced Monday that his office has selected “”BDO USA, LLP””:http://www.bdo.com/, to serve as the primary professional firm needed to oversee the nation’s servicers. [IMAGE]The firm will play a critical role in the oversight process as “”Joseph A. Smith, Jr.,””:https://www.mortgageoversight.com/about-the-office-of-mortgage-settlement-oversight/ the former North Carolina banking commissioner selected by 49 state attorneys general to head up the settlement, begins the footwork necessary to fulfill terms and conditions under the landmark deal.””As I entered the process of engaging the primary professional firm, I knew it would be critical to find the right balance of independence and capacity,”” he said in a statement. [COLUMN_BREAK]Smith said that he selected the firm after a “”thorough review”” of more than 20 others, even while he continues to seek additional services from other, secondary professional firms.””This blend of experts will provide me the benefit of various perspectives and proficiencies while ensuring we have the boots on the ground necessary to do our work,”” he said.””We at BDO are honored and gratified to have been selected by the Monitor for this important work,”” said Carl W. Pergola, partner-in-charge of consulting services for BDO. “”BDO will work closely with the Monitor and the secondary professional firms to facilitate compliance with the agreement.”” In February, federal officials and attorneys general from 49 states sealed a landmark $25 billion settlement with Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.Once a court cleared the settlement, officials appointed Smith to monitor it, providing for the establishment of an Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight.Consent judgments obligate the monitor to select a primary professional firm that will work alongside office staff members, consultants, forensic accountants, attorneys, and secondary firms to review and approve terms and conditions under the settlement.In a “”past interview””:http://www.dsnews.com/articles/behind-25b-settlement-joe-smith-2012-04-24 with _DS News_, our sister publication, Smith likened the primary professional firm to his “”eyes and ears and arms and legs”” as the settlement moved forward.last_img read more


first_img Share October 29, 2013 454 Views August Case-Shiller Indices Rise at Fastest Rate Since February 2006 The “”S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices””:https://www.spice-indices.com/idpfiles/spice-assets/resources/public/documents/60544_cshomeprice-release-1029.pdf?force_download=true rose once again in August at their fastest annual rate in more than six and a half years, but the monthly pace continues to slow.[IMAGE]The Case-Shiller 10- and 20-city composites each posted yearly growth of 12.8 percent over August 2012, breaking July records and setting the fastest pace for growth since February 2006. Compared to July’s indices, annual growth accelerated in 14 of the tracked cities. All 20 cities experienced price growth compared to last year, and 13 reported double-digit gains, with Las Vegas leading at 29.2 percent–its fastest rate of growth since March 2005.Monthly numbers were slower, with both composites seeing a 1.3 percent increase–indicating prices may be approaching a plateau. [COLUMN_BREAK]””The monthly percentage changes for the 20-City composite show the peak rate of gain in home prices was last April. Since then home prices continued to rise, but at a slower pace each month. This month 16 cities reported smaller gains in August compared to July,”” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “”Recent increases in mortgage rates and fewer mortgage applications are two factors in these shifts.””All cities posted monthly improvements over July; again, Las Vegas set the pace at 2.9 percent, with Seattle sitting at the bottom at 0.5 percent.As of August, average home prices across the nation are back to their mid-2004 levels. The current peak-to-decline for both composites (measured from mid-2006) is an estimated 20-21 percent. Compared to February-March 2012–when prices bottomed out nationally–the 10- and 20-city composites have recovered 22.1 percent and 22.7 percent, respectively.Denver and Dallas, two markets that have come out of the crash and subsequent recovery ahead of most others, again set new highs for their indices at values of 146.95 and 132.30, respectively. Though Dallas was not one of the 13 cities reporting double-digit returns, it did see its highest annual gain since its index was first published in January 2000.All other cities remain below their peaks, though Boston and Charlotte are closing in with less than 10 percent left to make up, Blitzer said. Despite its encouraging numbers in August, Las Vegas remains down 47.1 percent from its peak.center_img in Data, Origination Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Prices Investors Lenders & Servicers S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices Service Providers 2013-10-29 Tory Barringerlast_img read more


first_img The Data & Analytics division of Black Knight Financial Services, Inc. recently released its latest Home Price Index (HPI) report, based on July 2016 residential real estate transactions.The Black Knight HPI utilizes repeat sales data from the nation’s largest public records data set, as well as its market-leading, loan-level mortgage performance data, to produce one of the most complete and accurate measures of home prices available for both disclosure and non-disclosure states.Non-disclosure states do not include property sales price information as part of their publicly available county recorder data. Black Knight is able to obtain the sales price information for these states by combining and matching records across its unique data assets.The report states that U.S. home prices are up 0.4 percent for the month as well as up 5.3 percent year-over-year. At $266,000, the U.S. HPI has risen over 33 percent from the market’s bottom and is now within just 0.8 percent of a new national peak.Specifically New York and Minnesota led home price gains among the states, seeing 1.1 and 1 percent growth for the month, respectively, while Missouri was the only state to see home prices decline. This rate fell 0.1 percent.The report also states that Albany, Oregon, led metro-area growth at 1.3 percent appreciation. In contrast, New York state metro areas reportedly accounted for six of the top 10 biggest monthly movers.Black Knight reports that San Jose, California continued to back away from its May 2016 peak, with prices falling another 0.5 percent in July.Home prices in Portland, Oregon saw the fastest rate of appreciation among the 40 largest metros, and Seattle increased over 10 percent since the start of the year. Additionally, home prices in nine of the nation’s 20 largest states and 14 of the 40 largest metros hit new peaks in July.The report states that each month the Black Knight HPI reports five price levels (quintiles), along with REO discount rates, for 18,000+ U.S. ZIP codes. Findings are available with or without seasonal adjustments, although all numbers that follow have not been seasonally adjusted. in Daily Dose, Featured, News Share Black Knight HPI 2016-09-25 Staff Writercenter_img September 25, 2016 600 Views Home Prices Rise Up in Julylast_img read more


first_img (Editor’s note: This select print feature originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of MReport magazine)In a constantly changing regulatory environment, common goals ring true: It is critical to prepare business processes to comply with industry changes and to set expectations for staff, as well as consumers. The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires many financial institutions to collect and report mortgage data each year. Between now and 2018, additional modifications to HMDA will be implemented, changing the way mortgage and lending data is disclosed and analyzed.The primary goal of HMDA is to create a mechanism to identify and analyze the degree to which lenders are serving the housing needs of their communities, to provide insight into lending patterns that might be discriminatory, and to generate information about the mortgage and lending space that can ultimately assist public officials in shaping future policies. While most financial institutions have historically collected data through lending transactions, many of these companies have not invested the time and resources to analyze their own data or compare them to their peers’ data. New updates to HMDA will require not only greater data disclosure but also will give regulators and consumer advocates a deeper understanding and ability to ensure financial institutions are lending in accordance with existing fair lending standards, thus, establishing a new degree of transparency and, possibly, a more equitable lending environment for borrowers.The updates to HMDA have been a long time coming. Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank legislation mandated that financial institutions report additional data elements in their HMDA reports. So, many lenders might be thinking: Will this be the next TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Rule? It is a daunting thought with all of the time and effort spent on preparation, execution, and the long-term effects of TRID to date. However, such fears are unwarranted. Although the HMDA updates will require significant preparation, they should not have the impact on operations that TRID continues to have.The good news is that HMDA is aligned with existing regulations. For instance, if a data element such as loan costs must be reported, it can be cross-referenced to the Closing Disclosure required by TRID in order to make the reporting requirements easier for financial institutions to understand and implement. Many of the definitions in HMDA, such as open-end lines of credit, tie back to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Thus, in creating these new regulations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took care to promote consistency, which makes it easier for everyone to understand and implement these rules.Unveiling the Changes and the MotivesWith any regulatory changes, it is difficult to foresee how businesses will be affected. However, it is the responsibility of businesses not just to understand new legal processes but also to prepare customers and clients to cope with the changes in a sustainable way. One of the best ways to proceed can be to first gain a complete understanding of the changes. In the case of HMDA, updates will include:Data disclosure: While HMDA has always centered on reporting data, new requirements prompt the disclosure of data items that have never been reported. This could be the most obvious and influential change for businesses and customers alike. For example, personal information, such as credit scores and property addresses, is now required to be submitted directly to the CFPB for review and analysis. But updates to HMDA involve more than a series of new data points that must now be reported—existing data requirements have been modified as well.New institutional thresholds: These new terms more clearly define and determine which institutions must report HMDA data. For example, institutions of a certain size may not be required to report data beginning in 2020. This element will reduce the data gathering and reporting burden felt by smaller organizations that may not have the resources to do so in a frequent and effective way.Transactional coverage requirements: New transactional coverage requirements will come into play as a result of updates to HMDA. For instance, reporting of home equity lines of credit used to be optional but is now required. Additionally, all dwelling-secured loans are reportable, including those for apartments and other commercial buildings not previously reported.Discovering the Benefits and ChallengesAs with any regulatory update, there are benefits and challenges as well as an inevitable learning curve. Before HMDA goes into effect, make a plan to prepare and set expectations accordingly. An easy place to begin can be with the clear benefit, the information that is reported and collected. It is used in important and impactful ways, allowing government funding to be utilized in a way that ultimately benefits consumer communities.Enforcement of antidiscrimination laws is one of the main goals of HMDA. Regulators, researchers, and consumer advocates can use the data provided to identify any pattern of discrimination. Believe it or not, current statistics can be shocking. With the availability of new data, regulators can examine whether banks and lenders are objectively serving their communities without discriminating according to race, ethnicity, or other prohibited bases.Additionally, governments and public agencies use the data collected to allocate housing and community development investments. For instance, Flint, Michigan has used data disclosed in compliance with HMDA to identify neighborhoods to target for a blight eradication program.In a constantly evolving industry such as the mortgage space, professionals at all levels can acknowledge that before benefits can be realized, there are often obstacles to overcome. For example, with HMDA—and this has been the case even before these new updates—lenders are liable for the accuracy of their data. This underscores why it is so important to put appropriate procedures and validations in place to ensure that the data is categorized and reported correctly. While this can be costly and time-consuming, it may be a critical component of a lender’s compliance management system.An equally large challenge must also be navigated: consumer privacy, one of the main concerns surrounding the new data elements in HMDA. At this time, it appears that the CFPB will provide a website platform for lenders to upload HMDA data files; however, there could be privacy risks regarding where files will be downloaded and stored. As more data is being shared on a larger scale, cybersecurity will certainly be needed to help facilitate the safe sharing of information that can ultimately improve the way the housing industry operates.Casting Your Eyes to the HorizonThere is still much to learn about the HMDA updates as well as the timeframe various updates will be implemented. Once organizations take steps to understand the new rule, the next logical action is to determine how to move forward in order to remain compliant and successful.Consumer privacy can be a great place to start, given the importance of protecting consumer data. Updates to HMDA will put organizations under the microscope regarding data analysis. As demonstrated by major data breaches that have occurred in a number of large, well-known corporations over the past few years, there are risks associated with increased data access.One of the best ways to ease the process of data reporting is to do the analysis on the front end. Many of the new data elements required are already collected and used by financial institutions, such as credit score, loan-to-value ratio, and automated underwriting system findings. However, many companies have not taken the time to analyze the data or monitor their own fair lending patterns. Some have failed to do so because it can be expensive and time-consuming; and frankly, many lenders have been able to skate by with dated processes. What is interesting about this is when fair lending has been questioned in the past, HMDA data could be reviewed, yet this data did not paint a full picture. For example, perhaps the individuals involved also had a low credit score or a high debt to income ratio, data not readily available for analysis. The availability of more data can avoid this issue as regulators may now be able to analyze the “whole picture” of a transaction.If lenders aren’t analyzing peer data in order to determine how their information stacks up to others in the market, they should be. In doing so, it is critical to determine the practices in place to ensure that data is accurate so erroneous data is not reported at the federal level. How should this be done? Scrub the data. While this can be a heavy lift for companies that don’t already have such data management processes in place, a good way to start is with just a few key elements such as determining which data can indicate information about particular products and then build from there as the company’s loan origination software releases new data fields. Lenders should try to understand what the data says about their company before a regulator tells them.In addition to putting more time and effort into internal data analysis, lenders and bankers must read the new rule. While lengthy, that may be the best way to gain a thorough understanding of HMDA and increase your chances of successfully implementing changes to address the updates, mitigate audit risk, and properly advise clients and customers in the future. Part of this process includes analyzing fair lending patterns. Finally, file any concerns with the CFPB and be sure to communicate with the company counsel to determine what precautions must be taken with files downloaded from the company systems to avoid problems such as private customer data existing on local hard drives.While there is no doubt that HMDA will create challenges, it is important to view these new regulations as an opportunity, an opportunity for lenders and financial institutions to better understand the data they are collecting, an opportunity for customers to be better educated and served, and an opportunity for vendors to improve the functionality of their solutions to best address this updated rule.Melissa Kozicki is the Director of Compliance for the Mortgage Builder division of Altisource. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Mortgage Builder or Altisource. October 28, 2016 665 Views HMDA Updates: Examining the Long-Awaited Changes Sharecenter_img HMDA Home Mortgage Disclosure Act 2016-10-28 Melissa Kozicki in Daily Dose, Newslast_img read more


first_img Donald Trump Housing Policy Regulation 2016-11-09 Seth Welborn A New Chapter: The Trump Effect on Regulation in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News November 9, 2016 971 Views center_img (Editor’s note: This story is part one in a three-part series for MReport on the potential effect of Donald Trump’s presidency on the housing industry. Thursday’s story will cover predictions for the Trump cabinet and Friday’s installment will cover the housing market under the Trump Administration.)Since President-elect Donald Trump has scarcely spoken on housing policy during his campaign, the news of his winning the presidency early Wednesday morning has had analysts widely speculating on what the next four years will hold for housing industry regulation.U.S. stocks plummeted immediately after Trump delivered a speech at 2 a.m. EST on Wednesday shortly before the election results were announced, with the Dow Jones falling by 600 points in late-night futures trading. This decline calculated to only a 3.3 percent drop in the index, however, since the index is relatively close to an all-time high. Later on Wednesday, the index was up 170 points, or 0.9 percent. The stock prices of the largest banks were little changed on Wednesday compared with Tuesday. Bank of America’s stock opened Wednesday at 17.66 after closing at 17.00 on Tuesday; by Wednesday at 3:30 pm EST, it was up to 18.03. Citigroup closed at 49.91 on Tuesday and was up to 51.67 by Wednesday afternoon. JPMorgan Chase closed Tuesday at 70.03 and was up to 73.61 by Wednesday afternoon. Wells Fargo closed Tuesday at 46.33 and was up to 48.17 by Wednesday afternoon.One thing is certain, Trump has openly stated his belief that the financial industry, and housing in particular, is over-regulated and that he plans to overhaul the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which the Obama Administration considers to be one of its greatest victories. Trump, a real estate entrepreneur by trade, has made it clear that he will review all regulations that the Obama Administration put in place.Former Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), one of the architects of the Dodd-Frank Act, told MReport that it is too soon to make any determination as to Trump’s effect on regulation, but did say, “Trump will want to cut back. I also think he will appoint people who won’t want to use the power very much.”Frank continued, “His views are not as developed as the Republican members of Congress. That’s something he’s going to have to work out with them.”“Many of our clients, major banks and so called ‘non-banks’, tell us they wake up nightly in fear of their government,” says the Collingwood Group Chairman Tim Rood. “At a minimum, the Trump administration has the chance to decriminalize administrative over-regulation and foot-faults, which could allow lenders to remove credit overlays and leverage government lending programs to their fullest and intended public policy purpose to benefit qualified home buyers.”Since Republicans will have control of both the House and the Senate, Trump will likely have a freer hand to shape policy than Obama has had for the last few years while Republicans have controlled both. A Trump presidency will almost certainly mean a change in direction for housing policy, as opposed to a Clinton presidency, which likely would have continued on the same path as Obama’s regulations, according to Rood.“Trump hasn’t much discussed housing policy during his campaign, but he has hinted to ‘Make America Great Again’ by boosting the homeownership rate through demand-side policies, such as financial deregulation, rather than through supply-side policies such as reducing local impediments to new supply,” Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin said. “Like other markets, prices are likely to rise further if policies lopsidedly target demand without also addressing supply. In few other industries than housing is addressing supply equally as important as demand for mitigating affordability pressures, and we advise President-elect Trump to take a more balanced approach to the housing market as President Obama.”Since Trump is a businessman, some view his election as a major victory for banks; Dick Bove, VP of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, told CNBC that the election of Trump is a “grand slam home run for the industry,” saying that banks will benefit from legislative, regulatory, and economic standpoints, since Trump has said he plans to roll back key financial regulation passed by the Obama Administration.“I think there are two things that people are expecting from him,” said Kevin Brungardt, CEO of RoundPoint Mortgage. “One is, at his core he’s a business guy, so I think he believes firmly that less regulation is better to drive down the cost on business and release small- to mid-size firms so they can do more business. Two, I think from a tax perspective, he certainly wants to keep taxes where they are or reduce taxes again to promote growth. I think he’s very friendly to business and I think people are counting on him releasing or removing some of the regulatory impacts on business right now so that they can more freely operate. I think the market is somewhat celebrating that. It’s also early on, so let’s digest that. My initial reaction is, he is very pro-business and they are looking forward to a very pro-business commander-in-chief.”Trump has also briefly mentioned the possibility of eliminating HUD, a move that would send a shock wave through the housing industry.“While local and state policies are likely to be unaffected, major programs—such as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Section 8 housing vouchers—could be on the table for reform,” McLaughlin said. “Regardless if, or how, Trump reforms these programs, we hope he doesn’t lose sight of the millions of Americans who struggle to afford housing on a daily basis.”Disbanding HUD, the CFPB, or the GSEs, an idea that has also been mentioned, is unlikely to happen in the near term, according to Cornerstone Advisors Principal Steve Williams.“To me, the ‘repeal’ of Dodd-Frank’ is a bit of a sound byte on the Republican side of things,” Williams said. “That’s a pretty big, complex thing. Repealing something with so many facets is not something that happens overnight or in totality. Dodd-Frank has several different components. But I think the one that will probably be addressed or become controversial is looking at what is perceived by some as the overrreach of the CFPB. I think you will see a dampening or a focus supported by Trump and Congress to try and restrain the reach of the CFPB going forward. It’s interesting to me because with the Wells Fargo incident of a month or two ago, I think the CFPB felt their purpose was confirmed. I think there were many folks expecting to be more powerful under a Clinton Administration that saw taking that to the next level of consumer protection. I think that clearly is going to change under the trifecta of a Republican president, House, and Senate.”If Trump tries to actually eliminate any of the government agencies such as HUD, the GSEs, or the CFPB, Williams said, “I don’t predict a revolution. I think the complexity makes it difficult for anyone to turn that quickly. I do not think we’ll see the social expansion of government risk-taking through housing. I think it will head the other way, but I don’t think we’ll see a disbanding of the GSEs or even HUD overnight.”“I believe that in the long run, a Trump presidency will be good for the housing and mortgage markets,” Ten-X Chief Marketing Officer Rick Sharga said. “He seems committed to bringing regulatory relief—and regulatory certainty—to the financial services industry, which should make more credit more available to average homebuyers who have been locked out of the market by today’s extraordinarily tight credit standards. This should also bring back some of the smaller lenders, such as community banks, which have opted out of the mortgage market due to the costs of compliance and regulatory risks.”On the possibility of eliminating or overhauling the CFPB, Sharga said, “It’s possible that the CFPB will be restructured, moving from a single director to a committee, and with more direct Congressional oversight. There may be more focus on programs and less focus on enforcement activity. The GSE conservatorship will almost undoubtedly come to an end as well, but whether the outcome is privatization, dissolution, combination into a single quasi-government entity or something entirely different is yet to be determined. But the implicit government guarantee will probably go away. Whatever changes are made need to be made carefully and thoughtfully, since government entities are underwriting about 96 percent of all mortgages, and unplugging these entities suddenly could be disastrous.” Sharelast_img read more


first_img Share Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA), established in 2010 with the hope of restoring faith in credit ratings by offering transparent, accurate ratings, announced in January that it was appointing Stevyn Schutzman to the position of Managing Director of the firm’s Corporates group. Schutzman has accumulated nearly 30 years of experience working in the corporate environment for Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Salomon Brothers, and Exxon Research and Engineering, where he began his career by taking a position as a Research Consultant. He was most recently employed by RBC Capital Markets, LLC. He has held a number of prestigious positions at RBC, including: Managing Director, Portfolio Manager, Chief Global Macro Strategist, and Global Head of Fixed Income and Currencies Strategy and Research. Schutzman graduated with a bachelors degree from Stony Brook University and received his masters degree at NYU.Van Hesser, Senior Managing Director of Corporates at KBRA, expressed his approval of Schutzman’s hiring. “Steve brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to KBRA and we are excited to have him join on our team as we continue to expand into the Corporates market,” he said. January 24, 2017 509 Views in Headlines, News KBRA Appoints New Managing Director Company News KBRA 2017-01-24 Staff Writer .last_img read more


first_img Census Bureau HUD 2017-09-26 Joey Pizzolato in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News, Origination September 26, 2017 596 Views Residential Home Sales On the Risecenter_img On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau jointly released their report on new residential sales for August 2017.While the report is only an estimate, the number of seasonally-adjusted sales for new single-family homes stood at 560,000, while the number of new homes for sale was at 284,000. According to the report, this is 3.4 percent below the revised rate of 580,000 in July, and 1.2 percent below the estimate of 567,000 for August of 2016.Combined, the median sales price was 300,200 for all properties. Average sales price amounted to $368,100. Insofar as inventory goes, the report suggests that the estimated new homes on the market at the end of August was 284,000, which at the current sales rate constitutes housing supply of 6.1 months.The next joint report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau will be released on Wednesday, October 25, 2017.Read the full report on residential sales activity from the Census Bureau here. Sharelast_img read more


first_img The Idaho Potato Commission partners with Mexican … United Fresh: Proposed U.S.-Mexico border shutdown … You might also be interested in Mexico lifts tariffs on U.S. apples … U.S.: Salmonella outbreak linked to Mexican papaya … U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have arrested a 30-year-old man from Mexico after discovering US$953,000 worth of methamphetamine and cocaine within the commercial truck he was driving.CBP officers working at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility on Nov. 19 encountered the truck driver with a shipment of fresh produce arriving from Mexico, they said.No further details were provided on the fresh produce that was being transported.The shipment was selected for further inspection, which led to the discovery of 10 packages of alleged methamphetamine and five packages of alleged cocaine.CBP officers seized the narcotics, the tractor and arrested the driver who was then turned over to Homeland Security agents for further investigation.In September U.S. authorities discovered a massive haul of cocaine hidden in Dole-brand boxes of bananas that were due to be given to a Texas prison.The Texas Department of Criminal Justice found the drugs when officers went to pick of the two-pallets of fruit being donated to the prison and noticed someone was off about the weight of them. November 23 , 2018 last_img read more


first_imgThe world’s first crop of soil-less grown bananas is set to be harvested this week as part of an association between the Wageningen University in the Netherlands and Chiquita Brands International.The initiative is part of an effort by scientists and researchers who are trying to stop the devastating Panama disease tropical race IV (TR4) from further spreading.The soil-dwelling fungus is wreaking havoc on plantations around the world and posing a huge threat to the Cavendish variety which accounts for 95% of all bananas sold in the US$36 billion industry, according to The Financial Times.The Cavendish is vulnerable to epidemics as its monoculture is based on a single genetic clone. Before the Cavendish became the dominant variety, the Gros Michel banana was the most widely eaten banana, but it was wiped out in the 1950s by the first strain of the disease.The TR4 strain, which was identified in Taiwan in the 1960s has spread throughout south-east Asia and Australia. The industry’s main concern is that it will reach Latin America and wipe out the farms which provide three-quarters of the world’s banana exports.”The core of our strategy is to diversify banana production,” Gert Kema, a leading banana expert and the head of tropical phytopathology at Wageningen University, was quoted as saying.The fungus, which spreads through soil movements that happen due to workers or machinery, among other things, affects the roots of the banana trees, withering the fruit.Growing bananas in a greenhouse on nutrients and rockwool, made from Basalt rock and chalk, will insulate the plants from disease, the article said.Several efforts are also being carried out by private companies or research organizations to either eliminate the disease or cure it. Many of these efforts are focused on developing a disease-resistant variety.Currently, there are no available solutions besides trying to prevent the transfer of infested soil, infected plants and contaminated materials to clean areas.Photo: Shutterstock.com Mexico to complete berry campaign with high export … The Biocontrol Brief: How to control two-spotted s … You might also be interested in December 10 , 2018 The Greenery reports disappointing year for net pr … New organic fruit company launched by former Purit … last_img read more


first_imgJune 25 , 2019 Mangoes In Charts: Mid-year update – how does this … You might also be interested in In the ‘In Charts’ series, Agronometrics illustrates how the U.S. market is evolving. Each week the article will look at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.Last year we published a story about the largest strawberry crop ever seen and how it had greatly pushed down market prices, concerning many producers (Strawberries in Charts: The king of berries sees its biggest month ever). This story expanded on a report from Rabobank that estimated a 36% shortfall in production for this summer. This decrease could have created a very dramatic change in market conditions (Strawberries in Charts: Expected California shortage, why aren’t last two months of high prices a model?). So after so much speculation, it’s exciting to come full circle and see what actually came to fruition.To bring the situation up to date, we offer the following chart, showing the strawberry volumes that have been produced by/shipped to the U.S. Immediately noticeable is the dramatic difference in volume that was recorded in May this year, an 18% drop in volume compared to the same period last year.Strawberry volumes in the U.S. market(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]Thanks to the laws of supply and demand, this big correction in volumes accounts for an increase in prices. The graph below is in weekly resolution to show the effect the smaller volumes in May had when they actually arrived on store shelves two weeks later. Clementines in Charts: It’s almost ClemenTime for … center_img Historic strawberry price, non organic(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]Considering the data, we can appreciate the quick jump in pricing that began during week 20 – on average the highest prices we have seen in three of the last four weeks over their equivilants for the last four years.Historic strawberry price, non organic(Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics)[Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here]As a sign that could be seen as encouraging for the industry, the volumes we saw this year are the second highest for May that we have seen in the last four years. So maybe the massive volume that the industry sent last year served as a good marketing tool, getting more fruit into the hands of more people and raising the appetite for strawberries throughout the country. This could have potentially allowed producers to fetch the high prices that we are seeing today. In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at www.agronometrics.com where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 23 fruits we currently track. Avocados in Charts: Will lower volumes from Peru f … Blueberries in Charts: Higher prices are coming … last_img read more


first_imgContours Travel has rebranded with a new logo, and a new website and booking system – and has just released its biggest-ever Latin America brochure with a $500 per couple offer on bookings by 30 June 2017.Independent travellers will receive a special $250 discount each on any Latin America itinerary they book, valued at over $2000 per person (excluding airfares), by 30 June, 2017. Contours Travel has been making Latin America more accessible for Australians, serving both consumers and travel agents, since 1975, and the new look aims to ‘reinvigorate interest in Latin America’, says founder and md Ted Dziadkiewicz.“It’s about updating our look and communicating who we are – experienced experts with first-hand experience of Latin America, ready to help Australians plan their journey to this amazing destination.” BrochuresContours TravelearlybirdsLatin America The new website has been streamlined, with an array of experiences on offer in an easy-to-navigate format, and is coupled with a new, hassle-free booking system. With over 90 sample itineraries within its pages, the new ‘Latin America and Antarctica’ brochure for 2017/2018 is Contours’ biggest to date and covers Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Cuba and more.All the ready-to-go itineraries in the brochure showcase the best experiences in Central and South America and the experts at Contours Travel are available to tailor-make the tours to suit clients’ personal interests and travel needs so they can upgrade, change or add cities and visit locations off-the-beaten-track.One of the most popular itineraries included is the 24-day ‘South American Dream’ itinerary. Perfect for first-time To receive the discount, quote the code ‘NewContours17’. *Conditions apply. The brochure is available online at the newly refreshed Contours website. last_img read more


first_imgFrom 1 March 2018 the newly expanded and transformed San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will join the CityPASS program, in tandem with the official launch that day of the 2018 San Francisco CityPASS program. Each 2018 San Francisco CityPASS ticket booklet costs $89 for adults, $69 for children, ages 5-11. Ticket booklets, which can be purchased online at CityPASS.com/san-francisco or at any of the CityPASS partner attractions listed above, are valid for nine consecutive days, including the first day of use.CityPASS enables visitors to save 45 percent off combined admission to San Francisco’s top attractions, and includeing a Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport, good for three consecutive days of unlimited rides on all Muni buses, vintage streetcars, and, of course, the city’s iconic cable cars. While other visitors are paying $7 for each one-way cable car ride, CityPASS holders can hop on and off as many times as they like.Also included in each San Francisco CityPASS ticket booklet is prepaid admission to the California Academy of Sciences, a Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay on San Francisco’s lively PIER 39, and an option ticket, allowing visitors to choose between SFMOMA and the Exploratorium, an interactive laboratory/museum that encourages families to investigate the world through science, experimentation and art.About SFMOMA The first museum on the West Coast dedicated to modern and contemporary art, SFMOMA added nearly three times more gallery space with its $305 million expansion. Much more than a spacious home for renowned modern and contemporary artworks, the transformed SFMOMA gives patrons room to absorb, ponder and reflect. Two favourite contemplation spaces for visitors are the Living Wall, a vertical garden stretching 150 feet along the Pat and Bill Wilson Sculpture Terrace and composed of nearly 20,000 plants; and the glass-walled Roberts Family Gallery, whose Roman steps offer an inviting gathering spot that currently overlooks Richard Serra’s monumental sculpture Sequence.Free public tours are offered daily on-site, giving both new and repeat visitors a deep dive into an impressive collection spread over seven floors. Visitors can also book multilingual private tours led by trained art historians, or download SFMOMA’s immersive iOS app, including hundreds of 60–90 second audio reflections by composers, comedians, artists and playwrights, among others. Worthy of a full-day visit, SFMOMA has several dining options to keep visitors energized, including Café 5, serving California fusion fare and located adjacent to a sculpture garden; Sightglass, a local artisanal coffee bar; and In Situ, a fine-dining restaurant that recently received a Michelin star. attractionsCityPASSSan FranciscoUSAlast_img read more