NATO retools for longhaul standoff with Russia

first_img Top Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober On Wednesday, Siemoniak, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and counterparts from throughout NATO opened a two-day meeting in Brussels expected to continue reshaping an organization originally founded in 1949 to deter the Stalin-era Soviet Union from overrunning Western Europe with its tanks and troops.Following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region, the perceived threats to NATO come once again from Moscow — but also from surging radical Muslim extremists like the Islamic State group and on battlefields unheard of by the alliance’s founders, like cyberspace.“Today, we will take decisions to strengthen our collective defense and we will do that because NATO has to deal with a new and more challenging security environment,” Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance secretary-general, told reporters as he headed into Wednesday’s meeting.Russia too has been reviving its airfields and last week it said its military will add over 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles this year alone. In early December, it flexed its muscle by airlifting state-of-the art Iskander missiles, which can be fitted with nuclear or conventional warheads, to its westernmost Baltic exclave — Kaliningrad. Last September, the U.S. announced a plan to spend up to $1 billion on various actions to reassure European NATO members. The funds are paying for increased U.S. troop rotations, more exercises, more prepositioning of military equipment and upgrading of infrastructure, including repainting the airfield and adding bulk fuel storage capacity at Amari Air Base in Estonia.Since possessing an ultra-fast reaction force is pointless if NATO’s 28 member countries can’t quickly agree in an emergency on how to use it, defense ministers are also expected to decide on a new mechanism to “speed up political and military-decision making,” Stoltenberg said.To further promote faster decisions, “we will also improve our advance planning,” the NATO chief said.Ministers are expected to grant U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, the alliance’s supreme commander in Europe, greater authority to mobilize troops and get them ready to go. But Stoltenberg stressed that in the event of deployment, member countries’ “full political control” over alliance actions, one of NATO’s guiding principles, would be maintained.Lute said Breedlove will be given more latitude than at present to alert and assemble the reaction force. The power to decide on its use will remain with representatives of the governments of NATO’s member countries, but the current step-by-step political decision-making sequence used to approve military operations will be simplified and compressed, the U.S. ambassador said. Sponsored Stories The difference between men and women when it comes to pain Comments   Share   German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen speaks with German soldiers after the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, Thursday, June 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)center_img Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility 4 sleep positions for men and what they mean Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywall They were later pulled back, but the deployment clearly served as a demonstration of the Russian military’s readiness to quickly raise the ante in a crisis.To continue NATO’s adaptation, defense ministers are expected to order a further increase in the strength and capabilities of the alliance’s Response Force, from 30,000 to as many as 40,000 troops, Stoltenberg said.In February, at their last meeting in Brussels, defense ministers agreed to create a rapidly deployable multinational task force of 5,000 ground troops that could come to the aid within 48 hours of any NATO member menaced by Russia or other external threats.On Wednesday, ministers are expected to decide on the air, sea and special forces units needed to complement this so-called “spearhead force.” Douglas Lute, U.S. ambassador to NATO, predicted a sizeable U.S. contribution, including strategic airlift capability.On Tuesday, Carter announced during a visit to Estonia that the U.S. will also spread about 250 tanks, armored vehicles and other military equipment across a half-dozen of NATO’s easternmost members that feel most at risk from Russia.Earlier, the U.S. defense secretary told reporters traveling with him that the Obama administration still hopes to work with the Russians on important issues like the Iran nuclear talks, the fight against Islamic State group and efforts to bring about peaceful regime change in Syria. But Carter said NATO must adapt its deterrence and response capabilities “in anticipation that Russia might not change under Vladimir Putin, or even thereafter.” “So it’s two parts: delegate some (powers) to Phil, and streamline those that remain at the political level,” Lute said.The latest changes at NATO follow broad policy decisions taken by U.S. President Barack Obama and other alliance leaders at the summit held in Wales last September, and come at about the midway point between that meeting and the next NATO summit scheduled for July 2016 in Warsaw, Poland.“Things over the last several years have gone at a dizzying pace, you might say,” U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said during a visit this month to Brussels. “There has been more change than I can remember ever in a single two-year period, at least in the 34 years that I have been an observer on the defense scene.”___Lolita Baldor in Tallinn, Estonia and Monika Scislowska at the Zagan-Swietoszow test range, Poland contributed.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. BRUSSELS (AP) — From top-level decisions like how NATO orders its troops into action to the very granular, like repainting an airfield near the Baltic Sea coast, the U.S.-led alliance is retooling for what it fears could be years of confrontation with a resurgent and unpredictable Russia.“After decades of peace, that peaceful period after the Cold War is now over,” Poland’s defense minister and deputy premier Tomasz Siemoniak said recently. “Because there are more and more crises erupting around Europe, and we have to make sure that the public understands it.” Clean energy: Why it matters for Arizonalast_img read more

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International students seen as an untapped resource

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: S.F <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/1da25/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&amp;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> The tourism behaviour of international students studying in Australia is not well understood, and the tourism industry is yet to maximize this market’s full potential, a new study claims. The study, International Education Visitation Tourism Opportunities, which was funded by The Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre, involved interviews with industry representatives and focus groups within Australia. It also included a large scale online survey of 5,991 international students currently studying in Australia.The study found that international education is one of the few service industries resilient enough to withstand recent international economic uncertainty. But despite the number of international students studying in Australia increasing by 13.3 percent in 2009 to half a million, the authors of the study have identified several areas where the tourism industry is yet to fully capitalise on this industry. e-Travel Blackboard spoke with one of the study’s authors, Professor Brian King of Victoria University, last week to discuss the findings.According to King, all international student markets were interested in travelling within Australia. The most common trend indentified among these travellers was an opportunistic approach to their trips. While almost 85 percent of international students travel during their studies, over half of respondents had to take advantage of breaks in study, travelling more when holidays can afford them the time.Due to the often opportunistic element to the students’ travelling habits, most trips were relatively short King said. Daytrips were popular, with 24 percent of respondents saying they had recently taken one, while the majority of students, 38.2 percent, travelled for one to three days in total.While all nationalities were interested in travelling, their approach differed. According to King, Asian students were more likely to stay in hotels or serviced apartments when travelling, while European and North American student’s tended to stay more in backpacker style accommodation. All nationalities were more likely to travel in groups, however, which were generally made up of other international students, often of the same nationality.The main constant the study identified was the likelihood of students to travel with visiting friends and relatives (VFRs). Five out of every six international students surveyed said they bought out family for their graduation. Chinese, Korean and Indian students were the most likely market to do this, with 80 percent having VFRs come to Australia for graduation.And this is where the travel industry needs to focus their attention said King. The industry could do more to target the VFR market, which was on average more likely to spend money on travel in Australia.“Students are more time poor and have constrained budgets,” he said. “Visiting friends and relatives have fewer constraints, and therefore have a better economic impact.”A closer working relationship between the travel industry and education providers was seen as an important step by King. Despite many universities having travel agents on campus, word-of-mouth was still the most common way international students received information about prospective travel destinations within Australia.King said that the discussions with industry representatives that have followed the study’s release have identified other ways in which the industry could further capitalise on the international student market. The possibility of international students gaining work experience within the travel industry was seen as a way to open new markets, with students gaining practical experience while also offering insights into their own prospective markets.last_img read more

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DJ business on sale long haul drops

first_imgOn the back of Qantas’ free flights and aiming to pick-up its MICE appeal, Virgin Australia has kicked off a Business Class sale on most of its Australian domestic routes.For travel on 18 January next year, the sale is across the airline’s fleet of Airbus A330; Boeing 737-700 and 800s; and Embraer aircraft.“With Business Class now on sale across our domestic network, for the first time in almost a decade, travellers will have a choice in Business Class within the Australian domestic market,” Group Executive commercial Liz Savage said.Meanwhile, Virgin Australia picked up fewer long distance travellers in September, with its international load falling 17 percent from 253,152 in September last year to 210,077.The dip comes despite a rise in its international revenue pax kilometres picking up 8.6 percent from 978,000 to one million.While long-haul fell, the carrier saw its domestic business pick up 3.2 percent more passengers in September 2011 compared to the corresponding month last year to 1.39 million from 1.35 million.All up for the month, the carrier’s entire passenger load remained at 1.6 million while its revenue load factor picked up 0.9 points from 81.3 percent to 82.2 percent.The carrier’s on-time performance saw improvements of 6.6 percent compared to the same month last year, arriving on-time 92.5 percent of the time from 86.7 percent last year.Late last month Virgin Australia launched direct return flights between Port Macquarie and Brisbane as a means to increase its domestic load.Click here for more information on Virgin’s services into Brisbane. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

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US to be top tourist destination in the world Obama

first_imgIn an effort to boost US tourism and employment, President Barack Obama has ordered the streamlining on visa processing for visitors but could this affect Australia’s inbound tourism?Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) Managing Director Felicia Mariani said the move “is a serious threat to the competitiveness of Australia’s inbound tourism” with the presidential directive clearly recognizing the importance of the tourism industry to the US economy.“Since the major announcement of the formation of the US Travel Corporation last year, America is in overdrive in regaining lost ground and consolidating their efforts to recover market share.” Ms Mariani said.President Barack Obama said the new policy will assist in cutting through red tape to make it easier for overseas visitors to come to the US especially those from China and Brazil, Reuters reported.“I want America to be the top tourist destination in the world,” President Obama said.“The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work. It is that simple.” He added.Some of the steps announced include, an order for the government to increase non-immigrant visa processing capacity in China and Brazil by 40 percent in 2012.A pilot program to simplify and speed up the visa process for applicants from China and Brazil with the ability to waive interviews for low-risk applicants Plus the creation of an interagency task force to develop recommendations for expanding international tourism.Ms Mariani warned that it is vital for Australia to start taking action in the areas that will remove the barriers to the country’s performance and success.   “Now is the time for us to take an honest look at our performance and competitiveness and plan for how we will stay in front of the pack.”“We can’t afford to wait until we have to play catch up, as the US is doing now with this announcement,” Ms Mariani added.Recent figures show that in the last 10 years, the U.S. has seen a decrease in market share of spending by international travelers from 17 percent to 11 percent which is as a result of international competition and increased security.“We need to be focused, brutally honest and committed to driving change both at an industry and government level.” President Barack Obama orders streamlining of foreign tourist visasImage source: USA Today Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.Plast_img read more

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Airport operations more mobile says Unisys

first_imgMobility is set to positively affect the aviation industry over the next decade, according to information technology company, Unisys. Unisys Asia Pacific head of aviation Sury Chavali said mobility will make for more efficient and flexible operations within the industry and will impact the customer’s overall experience. “The rapid take-up of mobile devices has not only changed the way people want to interact and access information related to their travel,” the head of aviation said. “It also enables airports and airlines to make greater use of mobile devices to better manage their businesses by untethering employees from their desks, sharing key information more quickly, and replacing paper-based processes to drive efficiencies and increase revenues.” Engagement, management and effective monitoring of real-time data involved in running the airport will adapt more mobile solutions according to Unisys. “The magic of mobility… offers the possibility for airlines and airports to completely rethink their business processes and the way they offer services so they can change the customer’s experience and run the airport more efficiently,” Mr Chavali said. In addition to his statements, Mr Chavali outlined five predicted benefits to be yielded from the integration of mobile technologies into airport operations.Smartphones will be used to efficiently manage and monitor changing data.Irregular events will managed through the use of smartphones.Airport security staff will become more mobile.Roaming check-in via tablet enabled applications.Speedier baggage alerts through the use of mobile devices. Unisys will be showcasing solutions at the Airports Council International Asia Pacific Regional Assembly between 22-25 May, 2012 in Singapore. Image Source: Tnooz Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.Tlast_img read more

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Ethical adventures the world over

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Costa Rica Top ten ethical destinations 2013 revealed in survey.center_img Travellers wishing to visit countries that support environmental protection, human rights and social welfare need look no further than Ethical Traveler’s top ten ethical destinations 2013.Coinciding with International Human Rights Day, Ethical Traveler released its annual survey of the world’s most ethical tourism hotspots that combine best practices with superb scenic and cultural attractions.The select nations were evaluated across a range of criteria covering ecosystem support, political rights, women’s equality, commitment to LGBT rights, press freedom, natural and cultural attractions and for the first time, terrestrial and marine area protection.   The top ten ethical destinations 2013 were; Barbados, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ghana, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, Samoa and Uruguay. “They’re doing a great job showing the world that you can have a successful tourism industry along with sustainability and social justice,” Ethical Traveler executive director Jeff Greenwald said.“Every dollar we spend is a statement about which countries and governments we choose to support.” Ethical Traveler report co-author Christy Hoover outlined the reasoning behind some of the selections.“Ghana maintains a high degree of freedom of the press, has a stable democracy which just re-elected a pro-environment President; about 15 percent of its territory is environmentally protected in some form,” Ms Hoover said.“Latvia is well-rated for human rights and press freedom; it was also the most-improved country on the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Environmental Performance Index (EPI).“In Uruguay, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and women’s rights are among the best in the region.”last_img read more

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Online travel bookings picking up speed

first_imgInternet bookings have risen to dominate travel, according to new research conducted by ITB Berlin.A special evaluation of IPK International’s World Travel Monitor 2008-2012, commissioned by ITB Berlin, revealed that internet bookings have captured the market share of global travel.In China, internet bookings have more than doubled over the past five years from 19 to 39 percent, while in Russia the internet’s market share has nearly quadrupled, from nine to 42 percent.In Great Britain, the internet was the booking instrument of choice for 78 percent of all trips, representing a 47 percent increase over the last five years. Countries such as Italy, Canada, Japan, France and the Netherlands also represent travel markets with above-average internet bookings.In 2012, for the first time, more trips were booked on the internet than through travel agencies.However, in Germany only 53 percent of total booking were made on the internet, below average.Despite the recent rise in internet bookings in China and Russia, traditional travel agencies still retain a high market share as a medium for booking trips.“For many years, a trend towards the internet becoming the most important medium for booking trips has displayed in nearly all markets,” Messe Berlin director of travel & logistics Dr. Martin Buck said.“In countries where obtaining a visa is difficult and for long-distance trips, travel agencies continue to play an important role.”ITB Berlin will be held between 5-9 March 2014.Source = ETB News: P.T. In 2012, more trips were booked onthe internet than through agencies.last_img read more

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AirAsia and Expedia strengthen ties

first_imgAirAsia today announced the execution of a Share Purchase Agreement with Expedia, to divest a 25 per cent stake in AAE Travel, the joint venture between Expedia and AirAsia.The agreement is for a consideration of USD$86.3 million and this will increase Expedia’s total ownership of equity in the joint venture to 75per cent.In connection with this transaction, AirAsia has also amended and concurrently executed certain additional agreements with Expedia.AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, said that AirAsia began the joint venture with Expedia back in 2011 and together have built a fantastic business.“The vision of marrying Expedia, a globally recognized and highly regarded travel agency, with the AirAsia group network has yielded a significant return in just over three years. We remain committed as partners as Expedia continues to develop in this region, and this agreement will simultaneously allow for the AirAsia group to further develop and diversify its distribution network,” Mr Fernandes said.“This is in line with our strategy of early equity investment in adjacent businesses that have strong synergies with AirAsia across the travel value chain. Over the years, AirAsia has also invested in partnerships with Tune Insurance, Asian Aviation Centre of Excellence with CAE, Think Big Digital with Aimia and Tune Money, and we continue to look for additional partnership opportunities,” Mr Fernandes said.Source = ETB Travel News: Lewis Wisemanlast_img read more

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Visit ASEAN50 campaign announced

first_imgVisit ASEAN@50 campaign announcedVisit ASEAN@50 campaign announcedWell being, different forms of travel, nature discovery and more with Visit ASEAN@50.The VISIT ASEAN@50 Golden Celebration 2017 campaign has revealed 50 cross-border travel experiences in Southeast Asia that will showcase the region’s rich diversity and promote multi-destination travel within ASEAN.This will contribute to raising international tourism arrivals to the region from 109 million in 2015 to 121 million by 2017.The campaign, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), is being supported by private sector giants such as Mastercard and AirAsia.Fifty special travel experiences, ranging from two to 26 nights, have been created by leading tour operators and cruise lines in Southeast Asia to entice travellers to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, as well as encourage repeat visitors.Sample trips include a 8D/7N tour to Bagan, Inle, Pattaya and Bangkok; a 13D/12N cruise from Singapore to Yangon; a 6D/5N tour from Bali to Kuala Lumpur and the Genting Highlands; a 4D/3N tour from Brunei to Miri in Sarawak; a 12D/11N Coastal Paths tour from Myanmar to Thailand; and a 12D/11N Wellness and Nature trip to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Ipoh, Penang and Langkawi, to name a few.AirAsia has pledged to support the year-long campaign. The airline will implement an extensive multimedia awareness campaign across all its operating markets and include the VISIT ASEAN@50 logo in multiple marketing campaigns. AirAsia will also promote its ASEAN Pass, which allows guests to enjoy flights at fixed rates, to encourage travellers to explore its network of more than 100 routes across the region. AirAsia will also run monthly tactical campaigns with special low lead-in prices.Mastercard will embark on its largest travel campaign to date for the ASEAN region and will work with tourism partners and the global Priceless Cities programme to promote travel to consumers across different countries, languages and cultures. Mastercard will work with issuers and merchant partners to amplify the campaign globally and will use its Priceless.com platform to drive travel to and within the ASEAN region.Speaking at a press conference at the World Travel Market in London 8 November to announce the tour packages, the Chairperson of the VISIT ASEAN@50 campaign, Mr Wardi bin Haji Mohammad Ali, told the media that no collection of 50 trips could definitively represent Southeast Asia, but the 50 chosen by ASEAN’s national tourism organisations were a “very good start”.“We worked closely with the national tourism organisations of ASEAN member states,” he said. “Together, they selected 50 experiences that were cross-border, accessible to mainstream tourists, were culturally respectful and represented core themes that the NTOs were pleased to be associated with. All 10 ASEAN member states have been included,” said Mr Wardi.The 10 ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.The 50 tours include cruise, a hassle-free and value-for-money holiday option to visit multiple ASEAN countries on a single trip. Special cruise packages were created by cruise lines for VISIT ASEAN@50. These packages include exclusive promotions on sailings to discover a wide variety of destinations such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur  (Port Klang), Penang, Langkawi, Phuket, Bangkok, Yangon and many more.The cruises lines participating include Royal Caribbean International, Star Cruises and Coral Expeditions.A 114-page online brochure outlining the 50 VISIT ASEAN@50 packages can be downloaded HEREThe 50 packages are also on www.visitASEAN50.com VISIT ASEAN@50 will be officially launched at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Singapore on 18 January and will run until 31 December 2017. ASEAN Tourismdiscover more here Visit ASEAN@50discover more here Source = Visit ASEANlast_img read more

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MoT constitutes Task Force for promoting Cruise Tourism

first_imgMinistry of Tourism has constituted a Task Force with the objective of promoting Cruise Tourism in India. The Task Force includes members from the Central Ministries, State Governments, various Port Trusts and Private sector.The Ministry of Shipping in Mumbai recently organised the maiden Maritime India Summit, 2016 (MIS-2016) to create awareness about the untapped potential of the Indian maritime sector and showcase the investment opportunities in the same.As per the decisions taken by the Task Force on Cruise Tourism, Port Level Facilitation Committees have been set up by Port authorities under the Chairmanship of respective Port Trust Chairman for coordinating logistic issues with all concerned agencies prior to the landing of cruise vessels.last_img

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WJ Bradley Expands Midwestern Presence with New Partnership

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-12-05 Tory Barringer “”W.J. Bradley Mortgage Capital, LLC””:http://www.wjbradley.com/, a privately held independent mortgage firm headquartered in Colorado, announced its expansion into the greater Midwestern region through a new partnership with the Chicago-based “”PinPoint Mortgage””:http://pinpointmortgage.com/.[IMAGE]””PinPoint Mortgage has established itself as a first-class residential mortgage lender in the Chicago market and throughout Illinois, and given the legacy of success and strength of reputation, we recognized the potential that establishing this relationship presented,”” said William J. Bradley, founder and CEO of W.J. Bradley. “”We found synergies between our culture and in our operating philosophies, and with these being two primary elements that consistently drive our growth at W.J. Bradley, this was a natural fit,”” he continued.PinPoint was founded in 2000 by Jack Brascia and has spent the last 12 years forming lasting relationships with homeowners and industry partners. The PinPoint team attributes those relationships to their dedication to service and family-based values that have come to define the company.The PinPoint team brings more than 17 years of combined mortgage origination experience to W.J. Bradley, having originated more than $1 billion in residential mortgage loans in the Chicago market since the company’s inception.””We instantly recognized how, combined with our long-standing position in the market, leveraging the support the W.J. Bradley platform could serve as the necessary foundation for us to the reach the next stage of growth and maturity,”” Brascia said. “”W.J. Bradley shares our values and our focus on honesty and integrity, which is at the heart of how we conduct business, and we look forward to leading the expansion of the Company’s footprint deeper into the Midwest.”” W.J. Bradley Expands Midwestern Presence with New Partnershipcenter_img December 5, 2012 461 Views Sharelast_img read more

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How Dire Are Current Capacity Constraints

first_img March 15, 2013 493 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Capital Economics Demand Federal Reserve Investors Jobs Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Processing Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-03-15 Krista Franks Brock Share in Data, Originationcenter_img How Dire Are Current Capacity Constraints? Following Federal Reserve Governor “”Elizabeth Duke’s””:http://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/bios/board/duke.htm “”comments””:https://themreport.com/articles/fed-governor-addresses-capacity-concerns-2013-03-11 earlier this week on the impact capacity constraints are having on the housing market, “”Capital Economics””:https://www.capitaleconomics.com/ released a brief market update Thursday with a similar focus. [IMAGE]Like Duke, Paul Diggle of Capital Economics identifies capacity constraints as “”one of the factors contributing to the marginal role being played by mortgage-dependent buyers.”” [COLUMN_BREAK]According to Diggle, “”[E]asing in capacity constraints is a necessary precondition to mortgage buyers playing a role in the housing recovery.”” Currently, the number of mortgage applications processed by an individual employee is near record-high levels, according to Capital Economics. The average application processing timeline is also “”historically high,”” according to the firm. Between 2005 and 2009, real estate credit employment plummeted 45 percent. At the same time, mortgage applications fell 75 percent. However, while applications have made somewhat of a comeback–nearly doubling since their crisis low–employment has risen a mere 7 percent. Diggle suggests a few reasons for the slow return in employment, including increased training costs resulting from new industry standards, put-back risk, and a belief among many that the refinance boom is temporary. However, with mortgage lending “”proving to be a very profitable area”” and funding costs remaining low, Diggle sees “”reasons to be optimistic.””last_img read more

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NAHB Home Affordability Little Changed in Q1

first_img Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Home Values Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers National Association of Home Builders Processing Service Providers Wells Fargo 2013-05-16 Esther Cho in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing May 16, 2013 422 Views As interest rates stay low, housing affordability across the country remained strong in the first quarter but showed signs of weakening, according to data from the “”National Association of Home Builders””:http://www.nahb.org/ (NAHB)/ “”Wells Fargo””:https://www.wellsfargo.com/ Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). [IMAGE]According to the index, 73.7 percent of new and existing-homes sold in the first quarter of this year were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. In the fourth quarter of last year, 74.9 percent of homes were considered to be affordable to median-income earners. A year ago, affordability was even stronger, at 77.5 percent. Despite the decrease, NAHB Chairman Rick Judson noted the HOI has still stayed high over the past four years. “”The HOI has not slipped below 70 since the end of 2008,”” he explained. “”That said, from a builder’s perspective, it [COLUMN_BREAK] should be noted that rising costs for building materials, lots and labor are making it somewhat more expensive to construct new homes in today’s market.””Among the largest metros, or areas with a population of 500,000 or more, Ogden-Clearfield in Utah ranked as the most affordable metro for the third straight quarter. In Ogden-Clearfield, 93.7 percent of homes are affordable to median-income earners, according to the index. Other large metros in the top five were Indianapolis (92.7 percent); Lakeland, Florida (92.1 percent); Youngtown, Ohio (91.9 percent); and Syracuse, New York (91.6 percent). San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City kept its place as the least affordable large metro, where only 28.9 percent of median-income earners could afford a home. New York-White Plains-Wayne, New York-New Jersey followed closely behind at 29.7 percent. Filling out the next three spots were three California metros: Santa Ana (35.8 percent), Los Angeles (39.9 percent), and San Jose (43.3 percent). Among smaller metros, Mansfield, Ohio ranked as the most affordable metro, while another California metro, Santa Cruz-Watsonville, was the least affordable. “”The bottom line is that, for consumers who can qualify for a mortgage at today’s attractive rates, the majority of homes being sold remain within their grasp in markets nationwide,”” added David Crowe, NAHB’s chief economist.center_img Share NAHB: Home Affordability Little Changed in Q1last_img read more

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Total Mortgage Receives Arizona License Opens Phoenix Branch

first_img “”Total Mortgage Services””:http://www.totalmortgage.com/, LLC now has its Arizona Mortgage Banker License and is licensed to originate residential loans in the state, the company announced.[IMAGE]The firm is now licensed in 30 states as well as the District of Columbia.[COLUMN_BREAK]In conjunction with receiving its license, Total Mortgage also opened up its first Arizona branch office, which is located in Phoenix. “”Total Mortgage is excited about opening its first branch in Arizona and offering a needed mortgage solution to borrowers looking to purchase or refinance a home,”” said president John Walsh. “”All of our experienced, fully-licensed loan officers are focused on offering borrowers the best possible interest rate and personalized service to help them navigate the biggest financial decision of their life.””Leading the Phoenix location as branch manager is Larry Gates. Gates joins the company with 17 years of experience in mortgages. In the past, he has acted as Arizona area manager for a nationwide mortgage lender and was president/CEO of a leading mortgage broker firm.””We urge all current Arizona homeowners to contact Total Mortgage to schedule a free mortgage checkup to see if they could be saving money on their monthly payments. Prospective home buyers should also contact us to make sure that they are getting the lowest possible mortgage rate on their home purchase.”” Walsh said. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing August 15, 2013 451 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-08-15 Tory Barringercenter_img Total Mortgage Receives Arizona License, Opens Phoenix Branch Sharelast_img read more

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Fannie Freddie Profit Sweep Raises More Questions

first_img May 30, 2016 554 Views in Daily Dose, Government, Headlines, News Depositions unsealed last month showed that key officials at the GSEs may have known they were about to be profitable in 2012. Now the judge wants to see more.A federal judge ordered the unsealing of seven previously sealed depositions related to the sweeping of GSE profits into Treasury (the Net Worth Sweep) with results that sparked an industry-wide discussion over whether the government knew that the GSEs were about to become profitable in 2012 at the time the Net Worth Sweep was enacted.Now Judge Margaret Sweeney in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, who is presiding over Fairholme Funds’ lawsuit against the government over the Net Worth Sweep, has stated that she wants to review all the documents that the government has kept private to this point regarding any litigation over the government’s conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, according to a blog post from Investors Unite is a coalition of private investors committed to the preservation of shareholder rights for all invested in the GSEs.Fairholme Funds, a Florida-based mutual fund that is one of the biggest GSE investors, sued the government in 2013 over the profit sweep, and the suit is still pending. Fairholme’s suit is one of approximately two dozen lawsuits filed against the government by shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the Net Worth Sweep.“Judge Sweeney made clear in unsealing seven documents last month that sparing public servants from embarrassment is not a reason to hide the operations of government from the public,” the blog post on Investors United reads. “Indeed, these recent revelations go to more serious issues at the heart of litigation over the Sweep—the rule of law and transparency in government.”The question of whether or not the government was invoking executive privilege by keeping documents related to the Net Worth Sweep sealed was first brought up by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in April 2015. The topic was recently revisited in a white paper by law professorSaikrishna Bangalore Prakash.“Indeed, these recent revelations go to more serious issues at the heart of litigation over the Sweep—the rule of law and transparency in government.”Investors UniteAccording to Investors Unite, the documents released in the last two weeks contain even more hints that government officials knew about the pending profitability of the GSEs when the bailout agreement was amended in August 2012. The blog post cites Jim Parrott, who in 2012 was a senior adviser in the White House on housing policy, sending an email to senior officials at Treasury the day the Net Worth Sweep was announced stating that diverting Fannie’s and Freddie’s profits would eliminate “the possibility that they ever go (pretend) private again.”Lawyers for the government have claimed that the GSEs were in the midst of a “death spiral” in the years immediately following their combined $187.5 bailout in 2008, and that the Net Worth Sweep was enacted in order to protect taxpayers. Investors Unite notes, however, that the newly unsealed documents point out that in 2012 just before the Net Worth Sweep began, Fannie Mae executives characterized the next eight years as the “the golden years of GSE profitability.”Indeed, 2012 was the first year of profitability for the GSEs after the bailout and they have remained profitable since (though Freddie Mac has taken a loss in two of the last three quarters). Under the pre-August 2012 terms of the bailout agreement, the GSEs were required to pay only a 10 percent dividend on their draw from Treasury.The documents that Sweeney has ordered unsealed in the last two weeks can be viewed by clicking here. Fannie, Freddie Profit Sweep Raises More Questionscenter_img Share Fannie Mae Freddie Mac GSE Profit Sweep 2016-05-30 Seth Welbornlast_img read more

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Fannie Mae Adds Vendors to DU Verification List

first_img in Headlines, News, Origination Fannie Mae Origination 2017-02-10 Mirasha Brown February 10, 2017 632 Views Fannie Mae has recently expanded the list of third-party vendors who are approved to utilize the borrow income, employment, and assets data from the GSE’s Desktop Underwriter (DU) validation service, which was implemented through the Day 1 Certainty Initiative.According to Fannie Mae, DU is designed to provide customers with enhanced loan origination controls, improved processes, and certainty around the income, asset, and employment information input into DU. When a lender opts-in to use DU and borrower data for a conventional mortgage is submitted, DU will use third-party vendor data to validate the information entered into the service.The DU validation service will only pull three types of reports: employment and income verification from The Work Number, 4506-T tax transcripts from Equifax, and asset reports from FormFree. Vendors must provide these reports in order to qualify for the validation service.The list of lenders that has been approved to access these reports are ACRAnet, Advantage Credit, Advantage Credit Bureau, Advantage Plus Credit Reporting, American Reporting Co., Avantus, Birchwood Credit Services, Certified Credit Reporting, UPF Services/Chronos Solutions, CIC Mortgage Credit, CISCO Credit, Clear Choice Credit Corp., Consolidated Information Services, CoreLogic, Credit Information Services, Credit Interlink, Credit Plus, Credit Technologies, Equifax (Tax Transcripts), Equifax (The Work Number), Floify, FormFree, Merchants Credit Bureau, Meridian Link, Midwest Mortgage Credit Services, Partners Credit, Settlement One, Sharper Lending, Universal Credit Services, and Veri-Tax.center_img Fannie Mae Adds Vendors to DU Verification List Sharelast_img read more

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Top 5 States with the Highest Home Appreciation Rate

first_img Certain markets in the West will continue to appreciate at double digit rates over the next year, according to Veros Real Estate Solutions’ Q2 VeroFORECAST report, which measures predicted home appreciation on a yearly scale. The metro that they predict will see the highest home price appreciation is—no surprise—Seattle, Washington, with an estimated 11.1 percent increase. The Denver metro is a close second, with 10.3 percent increase home appreciation. VeroFORECAST lists population growth and low unemployment—Seattle boasts an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent, compared to the national average of 4.3 percent, and Denver’s rate is as low as 2.1 percent—as major contributing factors to the rapid rate home appreciation. However, home appreciation does have its downside for would-be homeowners in that inventory is way down. It is estimated that Seattle has about a 1.0 month supply of homes available at the current closing rate, and Denver doesn’t look much better, at a 1.1 month supply. “As job growth continues to drive migration to the top markets, we will continue to see tight home supplies, causing a heightened housing demand which as we know will cause home affordability to suffer in these areas,” said Eric Fox, VP of Statistical and Economic Modeling at Veros. Of the top 25 markets showing signs of increased home appreciation, 18 metros are located in western states, including Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho. Only five reside in Florida. Previously hot markets, such as Austin, Texas, are expected to cool. Austin once showed double digit appreciation, but now is only expected to appreciate at a rate of around 6 percent. Conversely, the Northeast shows the largest cluster of depreciating home values—New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia among the worst of the lot. The bottom 15 worst markets all show negative appreciation, while 15 to 25 show less than a 1 percent appreciation rate. VeroFORECAST contributes low and negative appreciation values to consistent population decline. June 28, 2017 664 Views Top 5 States with the Highest Home Appreciation Rate Denver Seattle Veros 2017-06-28 Joey Pizzolatocenter_img Share in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img read more

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Borrower Benefits Men Vs Women

first_img If you’re a man, it seems your home loan application has a greater chance of getting a green light than a woman’s in your same age range, so reports Ellie Mae’s latest Millennial Tracker, an interactive online tool that provides access to up-to-date demographic data points about homebuyers born between the years 1980 and 1999.Millennial men who were listed as the primary borrower for a loan gained approval for an average amount of $197,820 in October, the study notes. On the other hand, Millennial women got a go-ahead for an average loan amount of $186,567, or $11,253 less than Millennial men.All that data aside, while women got the nod for lower loan amounts, they closed their loans quicker. On the average, it took women 42 days to close, regardless of whether the loan was for a purchase or a refinance. Alternatively, men spent an average of 43 days to seal the deal on a purchase loan and 45 days for a refi. Additionally, women also were approved with lower FICO scores than men. For purchase loans, women had an average score of 721 versus 726 for men. Women who refinanced had an average FICO score of 730, while their male counterparts posted an average FICO score of 735.And all you single ladies, take note: Although males make up the larger percentage of overall Millennial borrowers, most of them are married, Ellie Mae reveals.“An interesting trend we’ve been tracking all year is that single women are buying homes much more than single men,” said Joe Tyrrell, EVP of Corporate Strategy at Ellie Mae. “Sixty percent of women who were listed as the primary borrower in October were single, compared to 42 percent of men.”As for where Millennial male and female primary borrowers were more likely to invest in a nest: Both cohorts have their hearts set on the Midwest, where housing costs continue to be attractive. Marshall, Minnesota; Victoria, Texas; and Lawton, Oklahoma, charted as the top three Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) for Millennial homebuyers in October.  Share December 7, 2017 636 Views Borrower Benefits: Men Vs. Womencenter_img Ellie Mae HOUSING joe tyrrell Millennial Tracker mortgage 2017-12-07 Alison Rich in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Newslast_img read more

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SwissBelhotel Brisbane has partnered with the Roa

first_imgSwiss-Belhotel Brisbane has partnered with the Roam Group to lure more of the corporate, government and organisational MICE market to Brisbane, using the hotel’s ideal South Bank location to promote its in-house and extra curricular appeal!South Bank is renowned as Brisbane’s cultural, educational and recreational hub and the hotel is situated within walking distance of the Southbank Parklands, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, the QLD Performing Arts Complex, Gallery of Modern Art and The Gabba Cricket Ground.Roam has assigned a team of dedicated corporate sales professionals to work with the hotel, and will also help generate wholesale business, brand awareness and drive social media engagement.Greg Parkes, director of Roam said “I am delighted to be teaming up with a new and progressive hospitality brand in the Australian market and we look forward to securing a significant MICE market share for Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane.” BrisbaneMICERoam GroupSouth BankSwiss-Belhotellast_img read more

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CLIAcruiseCruise360TravelManagers

first_imgCLIAcruiseCruise360TravelManagers Eighteen of TravelManagers’ personal travel managers (PTMs) and four members from the national partnership office were among the 600 plus industry delegates who attended the CLIA Cruise360 conference in Sydney last week. Demonstrating the commitment of individual TravelManagers’ PTMs to grow their cruise businesses, Karen Raeburn, representative for Aitkenvale in Queensland, made the trip interstate for the opportunity to meet with cruise line reps under one roof.“I simply love that Cruise360 is all about cruise – everybody attending from suppliers to cruise agents are passionate about the cruise industry. Hearing from industry experts about future trends and developments and being able to meet cruise suppliers face to face to further build relationships is simply invaluable for my business. It was a fantastic day.”New for 2017, Cruise360 delegates were invited to experience a ship inspection of the Pacific Explorer the day following the conference, and the chance to participate in a famil experience onboard. Seven PTMs enjoyed the ship inspection, including Kathy Millett who travelled from Claremont in Western Australia. “I really enjoyed the interactive panel sessions, breakout sessions and presentations from leading cruise experts. Experiencing a cruise just like my clients would was truly the icing on the cake. It’s having access to this type of up-to-date knowledge and insights that gives me a competitive edge and there is nothing like having first hand and personal experience to show my expertise and knowledge to my clients,” said Millett. IMAGE:L-R back row: Louise McCarthy, Lisa Metzl, Julie Anderson (NPO), Carolyn Pitt, Lyn Tyson, Suzanne Laister (NPO), Kathy Millet, Neil SaundersL-R second row: Lois Marshall, Julia Mclean (NPO), Debra Dean, Sue Kuti, Maria Furnari, Michelle Michael-Pecora, Karen Raeburn, Annalize Troost, Jane FowlerL-R front row: Pamela Baas, Chantel Addison-Matthews, Julianne Gazal-Rizk, Karryn Bartlett, Aaron Loss (NPO)last_img read more

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