August 18, 2019

Prince Harry ends decade in UK army now to target poachers

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Migrant boat sinks near Greek islands more than 15 missing

first_img Top Stories Survivors had earlier told authorities they believed between 33 and 37 people had been on board.It was not immediately clear why the boat sank, or what the migrants’ nationalities were.Tens of thousands of migrants have made their way from the Turkish coast to Greek islands so far this year, hoping to make their way to more prosperous European Union countries. The numbers have overwhelmed Greek authorities, who have struggled to process and care for the large wave of migrants, most of whom are refugees from Syria and Afghanistan.Earlier, the coast guard had said it had picked up 518 migrants from Monday morning to Tuesday morning in 14 incidents near the islands of Samothraki, Lesbos, Chios, Samos and Kos. Scores more arrive themselves on the shores of Greek islands in inflatable dinghies.The Turkish Coast Guard said Monday they had caught or rescued a total of 649 migrants in the Aegean in the past week.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Greek and Turkish coast guards rescued 21 people and recovered at least one body after a migrant boat sank Tuesday near two small Greek islands close to the Turkish coast. At least 15 people were believed to be missing.The Greek coast guard said 13 of those rescued near the islands of Agathonisi and Farmakoniki were picked up by Turkish authorities, and the other eight by the Greeks. The survivors told authorities a total of between 37 and 40 people had been on board, and the coast guard said it was still searching for about 15-18 people. Sponsored Stories The vital role family plays in society Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Here’s how to repair and patch damaged drywallcenter_img New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies 0 Comments   Share   Quick workouts for men Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home Mesa family survives lightning strike to homelast_img read more

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August 17, 2019

Flight Centre strengthens email marketing offering

first_img<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”;cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&amp;n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Flight Centre is looking to place more focus in online marketing, announcing a partnership with an American email marketing solutions company.Under the new partnership StrongMail Systems will implement its marketing and transactional email solutions into future Flight Centre email marketing in a bid to “optimize” campaigns..“Succeeding in the ultra-competitive travel industry comes down to how you serve your customers, and StrongMail has enabled us to improve the customer experience with timely emails that deliver highly relevant and targeted messages,” said Sally Chapman, Flight Centre Limited Direct Marketing Manager.”With StrongMail, we have overcome the limitations of our previous outsourced solution across all the key metrics: cost, campaign performance and reliability.” It’s understood that the partnership is valid throughout the entire Australasia region’s operations. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: W.Xlast_img read more

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Vibe Hotels chills out with new CD

first_imgTogether with Sony Music, Vibe Hotels has launched The Vibe CD: The Chillout Suite to get guests to start their stay on the right note.e-Travel Blackboard slipped between the sheets (music sheets, that is) with Sydney singer/songwriter Jack Carty and Vibe Hotels yesterday at the launch of the compilation.“As an Australian-owned hotel, we’re excited to be supporting local artists such as Jack,” Toga Hospitality director of band communications Lisa Phillips told e-Travel Blackboard between Jack’s sets.The CD features 40 tracks from local talent Angus & Julia Stone, Washington and Sparkadia as well as international headliners Jamie Foxx, Florence and the Machine, Jeff Buckley and Lenny Kravitz.“At Vibe, we strive to offer more than just hotel rooms,” Vibes Hotel CEO Rachel Argaman said. “What our guests really love is the mood and the lifestyle available to them at Vibe Hotels.“The chillout tracks we have selected for the latest CD reflect the vibe of the hotels and their city locations, but most of all we wanted to create the perfect soundtrack for everyone’s downtime,” said Ms Argaman.Guests can experience the true vibe of a Vibe hotel with the Vibe CD package which offers overnight accommodation, a complimentary copy of The Chillout suite, buffet breakfast for two and late check out.Vibe Hotels has seven unique properties located across Sydney, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Darwin.To see Jack perform Hope from The Vibe CD: The Chillout Suite, check out the video below. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A Vibe Hotels in tune with local music scenelast_img read more

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A London home for QE2

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: N.A QE2 launches in Clydebank, Scotland – 1967. Image: Daily Mail UK Speculation is running rampant regarding the future of the QE2, with recent reports stating that the iconic ship may be heading back down the Thames one more time. A twenty strong Chinese crew boarded the vessel, currently positioned in Port Rashid, before Christmas, prompting speculation that the current owners, Dubai-based Istithmar had sold the QE2 as scrap to a Chinese company for £20 million. Originally purchased by Istithmar from Cunard in 2008, the ship was slated for refurbishment into a 1,000 room luxury hotel located at the tip of Palm Jumeirah before the GFC hit the Emirate harder than anticipated. QE2 London’s Roger Murray has told Cruise Critic that the reported deal with the Chinese has not yet been confirmed and that his organisation has the finances and the backing of the Mayor of London and Chancellor George Osborne to bring the liner back to London. Delays caused by the Port of London Authority (P.L.A.) have put this plan into question with P.L.A.’s Martin Garside stating, “We would (also) need to assess any specific detailed proposal concerning a vessel that has not been in service a long period very carefully.“It is very unlikely a ship of this size could be safely brought into London without fully operational engines, thrusters and rudders.”Cunard have responded to concerned fans via Facebook in regards to the reported sale to the Chinese for scrap.“We remain in close contact with Dubai and can reassure you that to the very best of our knowledge this story is pure speculation – one of a number of stories and rumours as we have seen over recent months.”A clause in the contract with Istithmar states that the liner cannot be altered until 2018 but the Daily Mail reports that a source close to the company believes a contract modification could be agreed upon. Planning permission to bring the liner back to London is expected to take approximately a year, a period of time that may make the Chinese bid more attractive to the cash-strapped Istithmar. last_img read more

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New ibis Styles hotel in Singapore provides 100 local jobs

first_imgThe opening of the new ibis Styles Macpherson hotel later this year has created an opportunity for close to 100 jobs in hospitality in Singapore, with the owners keen to support the local community.“We are privileged to build a hotel in Singapore,” said Patrick Kho, Group Managing Director of Lian Huat Group, who have business interests in Singapore, Australia and China including a shophouse hotel in Temple St and serviced apartments in the city of Tianjin, China. “It has always been our vision and passion to expand in Singapore with an international hotel brand and we are very proud to have this opportunity in our home country.”Lian Huat Group partnered with Nobel Design Holdings and 2E Capital to create this latest hotel, which will be the first ibis Styles hotel in Singapore and the only internationally-branded hotel in the MacPherson area. Ibis Styles is a new fun and funky brand under the global AccorHotels group, and will provide employees with access to a worldwide hotel group and world-class training.“The newest development in MacPherson will provide many job opportunities for local people and Singaporeans who want to grow their career in hospitality with an international hotel brand,” said Patrick Kho. “We have hired a General Manager who has great passion for staff training, and together with the many Accor programs for career advancement, anyone joining the team will have a world of opportunities.”General Manager, Shamila Rolfe, with previous experience in opening hotels in Singapore, has come a long way since her beginnings in house keeping to the role of Hotel General Manager, so she is very focused on developing her people and understands how important training is to help people develop in their careers.“I take great pride in seeing my team grow from strength to strength,” said Shamila. “We will provide flexible employment opportunities for all Singaporeans, whether full-time or part-time and all age groups are welcome to apply.”The 298-room hotel, set to open in the last quarter of this year, will be built around a resort-style pool adjacent to the MacPherson Shopping Mall. The hotel’s opening will add a lifestyle experience to the residents and businesses located in the MacPherson area, providing affordable accommodation for visiting colleagues and friends and the perfect place to chill-out or enjoy a meal or drink. ibis Styles HotelsSource = Accor Asia Pacificlast_img read more

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American Airlines surprises passengers for first SYD – LAX fligh

first_img American Airlinesbook your flights here The first American Airlines flight is greeted with a water salute www.aa.comAmerican Airlines surprises passengers for first SYD – LAX flightAmerican Airlines today celebrated the arrival of flight AA73, the first of the carrier’s daily, non-stop service between Los Angeles and Sydney. The arrival of the state-of-the-art Boeing 777-300ER into Sydney on Saturday morning was marked by an iconic water cannon salute.To celebrate the new service, passengers departing Sydney for Los Angeles on inaugural flight AA72 were treated to a series of all-American surprises from the moment they checked in through to their departure at the boarding gate. On board, First Class passengers were treated to a collectable Australian red wine from the acclaimed 2010 Penfolds Grange Shiraz, valued at $850 a bottle.American Airlines Senior Vice President, Art Torno, who was present at Sydney International Airport, said the new service to Sydney demonstrates American’s commitment to Australia.“We’re pleased to thank our very first passengers on this service with the quintessential hospitality, warmth and gratitude that American Airlines is known for. We hope this occasion has been as memorable for our passengers as it has been for us, and look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationship with Australia throughout 2016 and beyond.”LA Tourism treats passengers to LA-themed check in surprise for American Airlines first flightThe American Airlines check in area was transformed by women in roller-skates, men in baseball and football gear to reflect iconic Los Angeles’ personalities. At the departure gate, passengers were spoiled with an all-American winter wonderland, complete with elves, a choir of Christmas Carolers, and an 8 ft. Christmas tree with a gift for every passenger.Ahead of boarding their flight, passengers, crew and senior executives mingled over Champagne, culinary and wintery-themed props to get passengers in the mood for the colder temperatures that lay ahead.“We’re thrilled to officially welcome the world’s largest airline, American Airlines, to Sydney Airport and Australia,” Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather said.“The US is Sydneysiders’ favourite international destination, and this new airline will provide travellers with more choice, convenience and connections to destinations in the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.“The US is also Sydney’s third largest inbound visitor market. American Airlines’ new service is set to further grow tourism to Sydney, NSW and Australia, bringing an additional 41,000 US visitors to Sydney and boosting annual visitor expenditure by an estimated $65 million.”American Airlines’ flagship Boeing 777-300ER features crisp seat-back screens, top-notch meal service, on-board Wi-Fi and power outlets and USB jack for charging personal electronic devices in every seat, and is part of the US$2 billion investment for modernizing the fleet and improving customer experience.The new service has been made possible by an expanded joint business partnership between American, the world’s biggest airline, and Qantas, Australia’s national carrier, to form part of a broader trans-Pacific network spanning Australia, New Zealand and North America. Source = American Airlineslast_img read more

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Cardrona Alpine Resort prepares for changing international market

first_imgCardrona Alpine Resort General Manager Bridget LegnavskyCardrona Alpine Resort has been focusing on understanding a changing international market as it gears up for the 2016 winter season.Recent trips to China and North America have enabled Cardrona management to prepare for an expected rise in Chinese skiers and snowboarders, plus learning about the needs of the Millennial generation.Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky has just returned to Wanaka after attending the 2016 Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) in Keystone, Colorado, earlier this month.Bridget Legnavsky on the Great Wall of China in January this yearMTS is the largest annual ski and snowboard industry networking and trade exchange event in the world and Cardrona was the only ski area from New Zealand to attend.At the symposium, mountain travel thought leaders spoke about the importance of adapting to the expectations of Millennials (people aged 18-35) across the globe – particularly around their desire for the ‘experience’.“The Millennial market is our biggest market, and we understand that traditional advertising is not as effective in reaching them anymore,” Legnavsky says.“They’re curious, they crave what’s next, they defy tradition and adapt fast. We’re already very focused on offering a world-class experience at Cardrona but it’s really important for us to understand how essential the ‘experience’ is for this age group.”Also discussed was the fact that North America’s biggest international market is Australia. Australia is also Cardrona’s biggest international market. “We need to be aware of that because we still want Australians to be taking their Southern Hemisphere ski holiday in New Zealand,” Legnavsky adds.Cardrona is anticipating a surge in numbers from China thanks to a relationship-building trip in January this year.“We’re expecting a significant increase each year from Chinese skiers and snowboarders, which is great for the industry,” Legnavsky says.“We were amazed to find out how quickly the country is developing world-class ski resorts. There are already 12.5 million skier days per season in China and 35% of these are planning overseas skiing holidays in the next two-to-three years.“China is predicting 60 million skier days by 2022. They are focused on how to transform beginners into committed skiers. Ski and snowboard instructors have become key for this to happen. Plus there is huge emphasis on the guest experience there too.”Cardrona has recruited a number of Mandarin-speaking ski and snowboard instructors, hosts and other department staff for this winter.“Last winter, we noticed an increase in Chinese visitors and found the best way to ensure they had a great experience was to have Mandarin speakers on the mountain. This year we have been getting China-ready,” Legnavsky says. Cardrona Alpine ResortSource = Cardrona Alpine Resortlast_img read more

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Tahiti on sale

first_imgTahiti on saleESCAPE TO PARADISE for seven nights from only $2,499 per person. Tahiti Travel Connection has just unveiled some extra special holiday packages to French Polynesia. The best thing about it? You could be saving up to $3,500 per couple and relaxing in a sublime setting in no time!SPECIAL OFFERS include airfares, transfers, accommodation, tax and pre/post-accommodation in Tahiti.❖ Five Star Luxury at St Regis – Bora Bora Package – 7 Nights from $5,999pp. Your chance to experience blissful paradise and world-acclaimed service. Package includes a complimentary lunch for 2, a cocktail for 2 and resort credit.❖ Private Island Escape – Bora Bora Package – 7 Nights from $3,899pp. As its name suggests, Sofitel Bora Bora Private Island is located on its very own island with breathtaking views of the lagoon. Enjoy a number of added-values, including a honeymoon gift if this is the occasion.❖ Le Meridien Bora Bora – Overwater Experience – 7 Nights from $4,899pp. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the overwater bungalow by staying in your own at the luxurious Le Meridien Bora Bora resort. Includes a free lagoon tour in a traditional pirogue boat.❖ Ultimate Beauty – Taha’a Package – 7 Nights from $4,299pp. Also known as Vanilla Island, Le Taha’a produces almost 80% of French Polynesia’s vanilla. Stay at one of Relais & Châteaux member hotels, Le Taha’a Island Resort & Spa at a special discounted rate and receive some fabulous bonuses.❖ InterContinental Thalasso Spa Escape – Bora Bora Package – 7 Nights from $5,699pp. This InterContinental resort is located in an idyllic setting facing Mount Otemanu at the centre of Bora Bora island. We love the eco-friendly deep seawater spa and air conditioning.❖ InterContinental Island Getaway – Moorea Package – 7 Nights from $2,999pp. The ideal package to experience Moorea island, dubbed French Polynesia’s Activities Island. Enjoy a number of exciting added-values like an island tour, a snorkelling experience and more.❖ Sofitel Moorea Ia Ora Beach Resort – Moorea Package – 7 Nights from $2,699pp. A great alternative to the option above. Sofitel Moorea Ira Ora Beach Resort blends modern facilities with traditional Polynesian architecture. Includes a free island tour and much more!❖ Manava Beach Resort & Spa – Moorea Package – 7 Nights from $2,499pp. A superb deal staying at Manava Beach Resort & Spa, an intimate traditional Polynesian resort in Moorea. Take advantage of this special room rate and a free island tour.❖ Unforgettable Pearl Beach Honeymoon – Bora Bora Package – 7 Nights from $3,799pp. Experience Bora Bora staying at this great 4* resort facing the iconic Mount Otemanu.❖ The Authentic Island – Maitai Lapita Village Huahine Package – 7 Nights from $2,899pp. A short 40-minute flight from Tahiti, Huahine is often referred to as the Garden of Eden due to her lush vegetation and untouched, secluded beaches. Enjoy the authentic side of French Polynesia with this unique package.For full details and bookings contact Tahiti Travel Connection on 1300 858 305, email or visit to Editors: Tahiti Travel Connection is Australia’s leading travel specialist to the Islands of Tahiti and preferred partner of Tahiti Tourisme. We have a dedicated team of experienced consultants who regularly travel to Tahiti and give you a personalised service. Our packages are all-inclusive of international airfares, transfers, accommodation, and tour options. For more information, please visit = Tahiti Travel Connectionlast_img read more

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Puerto Rico to host 2020 WTTC Global Summit

first_imgPuerto Rico to host 2020 WTTC Global SummitDiscover Puerto Rico, the Island’s first-ever and new Destination Marketing Organization, today announced that the Island will serve as the host for the World Travel & Tourism Council 2020 Global Summit, following the formal announcement made by WTTC at today’s closing ceremony of the 2019 Summit in Seville, Spain. Representing the global private sector of travel & tourism, the Global Summit is regarded as the most important worldwide event in the sector, and gathers significant global business leaders, yearly.“We’re honored to have been chosen as host destination for the upcoming World Travel and Tourism Council 2020 Global Summit. Puerto Rico is a place where rich culture and natural wonders lay the foundation for an immense bounty of one-of-a-kind experiences. We’re thriving as a destination of global importance and hosting this Summit will elevate even further our tourism offering, positively impacting the local economy. We look forward to welcoming the global tourism industry next year to discover all that Puerto Rico offers,” said Brad Dean, Chief Executive Officer of Discover Puerto Rico.In Puerto Rico, the travel industry employs roughly 77,000 people, contributes 6.5% to the Island’s GDP and impacts a noteworthy 17 additional sectors of the economy. This, on the rise given the Island’s increasing popularity as a must-visit destination on a global scale, and validated given the selection by the WTTC, as the first U.S. Island territory to host the respected event.“We are delighted to bring next year’s Global Summit to the beautiful tropical Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, a welcoming and diverse destination that is attracting travelers from all over the world,” said Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO of WTTC. “We’re particularly excited because the destination provides ease in traveling and doing business since Puerto Rico is a US territory yet has the allure of the Caribbean.”The WTTC Global Summit will be held from April 21-23, 2020 at the District San Juan, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district opening later this year. The complex is currently being designed and poised to be the most vibrant and popular setting for events, conventions and performances in the Caribbean.Puerto Rico’s unique history and offerings set it apart as a global destination, including a fusion of Taino Indian, Spanish and African cultures, seen vividly in the food, music and architecture. Found on the Island is El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. forest system; three of the world’s five bioluminescence bays; and El Monstruo, the longest zip line in the Americas. Visit for more information on the destination and its variety of offerings and lodging options.About Discover Puerto RicoDiscover Puerto Rico is a newly established private, not for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) whose mission is to make Puerto Rico visible to the world as a premier travel destination. The DMO will bring prosperity to the people of Puerto Rico by collaboratively positioning the Island’s diversity and uniqueness for leisure, business and events. It is responsible for all global marketing, sales and promotion of the destination and works collaboratively with key local governmental and non-governmental players throughout Puerto Rico’s visitor economy and community at large, to empower economic growth. To discover all the beauty the Island has to offer, visit = Discover Puerto Ricolast_img read more

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August 16, 2019

Tourism Ireland promotes Home of Thrones

first_imgNorthern Ireland is the Home of Thrones. The popular TV series Game of Thrones was filmed in Belfast and across Northern Ireland. The final season of Game of Thrones has ratcheted up the intensity of HBO’s epic fantasy tale, leaving fans eager for more.After a decade of getting to know the characters and kingdoms, enjoying the plot twists and marvelling at the dramatic scenery that formed the backdrop to the series, many Thrones devotees can fill the void, once the series concludes, by heading to Northern Ireland, the physical and spiritual home of the series, where they can immerse themselves in the world of Westeros and an abundance of ways to enjoy it.For set-jetters, an excellent destination is the spectacular Causeway Coast, north of Belfast, where the beautiful Downhill Beach stood in for Dragonstone, the brooding Dark Hedges became the King’s road and the mysterious Cushendun Caves turned into the location where the Red Priestess Melisandre gave birth to her shadow baby.Numerous guided tours will take fans around these sites, as well as other key filming locations south of Belfast, which include Old Castle Ward in County Down. Doubling as the Stark home of Winterfell, this National Trust property has 19 Thrones’ shoot locations on site and is rich in experiences related to the show.Many of the tours in the ‘Home of Thrones’ are led by locals who have worked as actors, extras and crew on the show and who can share great behind-the-scenes stories. But the Game of Thrones experiences extends far beyond set-jetting.In Belfast, for example, you can challenge yourself to the Game of Thrones-themed escape room, grab a selfie at the giant stained-glass windows representing the Houses of the Seven Kingdoms and see a 70-metre-long Bayeux-style tapestry at the Ulster Museum depicting key scenes from each season.In addition, until September 1, Game of Thrones: The Touring Exhibition will be at the city’s Titanic Exhibition Centre close to the Titanic Studios, the show’s central production facility.Featuring costumes, authentic props and majestic settings from all seven seasons screened to date, the must-see exhibition reveals the artistry and craftsmanship behind the Emmy award-winning series and offers an interactive and immersive ‘Thrones’ experience like no other.And beyond Series 8, fans can look forward to an exciting new Game of Thrones experience opening in spring 2020. The Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, County Down will drop Thrones followers into the very heart of the Seven Kingdoms.Featuring a compelling mix of behind-the-scenes insights, interactive elements, and expansive, fully dressed sets, the Game of Thrones Studio Tour will keep the worlds of Westeros and Essos alive long after the TV sensation ends.last_img read more

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August 15, 2019

Dispelling Fears US Adds 103000 Jobs in September

first_img October 7, 2011 436 Views Dispelling Fears, U.S. Adds 103,000 Jobs in September Agents & Brokers Bank of America Bankrate Capital Economics First-Time Homebuyers Fixed-Rate Mortgage Housing Affordability Investors Jobs Labor Department Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers Unemployment 2011-10-07 Ryan Schuette The U.S. economy bucked low expectations Friday with news that it added over 100,000 jobs over September, masking other figures that continued to confirm the rising appeal of rental properties alongside a decline in homeownership.[IMAGE]The “”Labor Department””: released seasonally adjusted and unadjusted numbers for “”nonfarm payroll employment””:, which it reviews by tallying up private-sector and public-sector job reports.Nonfarm payroll employment tacked on 137,000 new faces in the private sector, alongside 103,000 for the nonfarm jobs payroll overall ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a solid forward step in lieu of pale figures from August, which saw the number of lost jobs eclipsing new ones.For the housing industry, whose employment numbers largely froze with payrolls last month, the new numbers reflected an ongoing dearth of interest among first-time homebuyers and consumer demand for multifamily rental properties.While jobs in the real estate industry totaled 1,395,000 jobs in September ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a 5.5-percent downward shift from new employment figures over August ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô new faces in rental and leasing services came out to 6.6 percent, with the industry creating about 521,000 jobs over the same period.The financial services sector reported only 7,603,000 jobs overall ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô an 8-percent decline from August to September, reflecting job-slashing and restructuring moves by mortgage giants like “”Bank of America””:, which more recently announced that it would lay off 30,000 workers and pull out from the mortgage correspondent business.Homebuilders averaged some 1,236,000 employees in hires, signaling a 15-percent upward shift from August to September.Speaking with _MReport_, “”Paul Dales””:, a senior U.S. economist with consultancy “”Capital Economics””:, calls the “”big picture”” for construction employment “”still pretty weak.[COLUMN_BREAK]””We know that homebuilders aren’t producing that many new homes at the moment and that means there will be only modest growth”” going forward, he says.””Businesses haven’t been quite as cautious as maybe we thought,”” he says of the employment figures, calling these “”a relief really, but in the grand scheme of things, over 100,000 a month is consistent with a very weak economy.””Polyana da Costa, a mortgage reporter for finance Web site “”””:, attributes the jobs facelift to a recently ended Verizon strike. She also says that mortgage rates will likely move up from “”record lows reported Thursday””: in the short-term but fall flat once more when investors see less improvement.Other figures in the jobs report showed far more dramatic losses for government jobs, which “”Gary Shilling””:, president of “”A. Gary Shilling & Co.””:, called “”usually a source of stable, high-paid jobs”” in a past interview with _MReport_.Payroll figures for the local government reported 14,076,000 jobs by September, not enough to stave off a 35-percent plunge in employment numbers from August. Local governments laid off teachers and other education personnel to the tune of 24 percent from last month, adding 7,833 jobs as the economy headed into September.Despite sharp cuts to the government payroll, “”Labor Secretary Hilda Solis””: cast the jobs picture in a better light in a “”statement””: by expressing encouragement “”by much of the recent data we’re seeing, but we know more must be done to speed our recovery.””She went on to praise the American Jobs Act, which she said independent analysis suggests could “”create as many as 1.9 million jobs and increase economic growth by as much as two percentage points, if enacted.””When will market watchers see the jobs front on a rebound?Da Costa ties still-tight lending standards and low consumer confidence back to a cyclical “”chicken-and-egg”” problem that prevents a housing recovery from delivering an economic recovery and vice versa.””You need the housing market to improve in order for the economy to improve, but until the economy improves, how will the housing market improve?”” she says. “”We’re locked in this situation where buyers don’t want to move until the economy improves.””Job security is a big thing right now,”” she adds, highlighting the still-high unemployment rate, which hovers at 9.1 percent Friday despite the job numbers. “”People don├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót feel safe in their jobs and many don├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ót qualify for a mortgage,”” and the economic situation will likely continue dampening a housing rebound until job security improves.center_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Sharelast_img read more

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Construction Spending Climbed 12 in November

first_img in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing Share Construction Spending Climbed 1.2% in November Agents & Brokers Appraisals Census Bureau Department of Commerce Home Sales Housing Affordability Jobs Lenders & Servicers National Association of Realtors Processing Service Providers Underwriting Standards Unemployment 2012-01-03 Ryan Schuettecenter_img January 3, 2012 401 Views Homebuilders spent more on construction in November last year than in any month before August, with figures for new residences climbing by 1.2 percent above October estimates.[IMAGE]Fielding the numbers Tuesday, the “”Commerce Department””: reported that construction spending overall hovered at around $807.1 billion ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô figures that the “”_Washington Post_””: said economists argue fall below more than a trillion dollars in output needed to stimulate the economy.Private residential construction topped off at $243.7 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in November, 2 percent above revisions from October which ball-parked figures around $238.9 billion.Single-family home construction moved forward at a steady clip by rising 1.5 percent, with nonresidential construction [COLUMN_BREAK]staying nearly the same as in October with about $278 billion or so in reported expenditures.Multifamily construction fell below single-family homes by rising only 1.3 percent ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô a number with uncertain meaning as interest in rental properties remains historically high for the nation.Experts suggested in past interviews with _MReport_ that high unemployment numbers and still-anemic job growth help keep consumer confidence in the doldrums, leading more otherwise eligible first-time and repeat homebuyers to scrimp on a mortgage in favor of a leasing contract.Past reports from the “”National Association of Realtors””: also lean toward scuttled appraisals and contract bids, which often help interrupt pending-home sales and homeowners in the process of closing on properties.The _Post_ said that new homes offer to create a tremendous impact in a still-weak economy, with each new home capable of generating three jobs on average each year and $90,000 in tax revenue for state and federal coffers.The latest construction figures from November follow a tide of eleventh-hour good news from the industry as a whole.Just before the holidays, the Commerce Department reported that new single-family home sales inched forward by 1.6 percent in November, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 315,000 units.last_img read more

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Nearly 30 Believe Home Prices Will Rise in 2012 Fannie Mae

first_img Agents & Brokers Confidence Fannie Mae Home Prices Home Sales Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Rates Processing Service Providers 2012-02-07 Ryan Schuette February 7, 2012 435 Views More Americans expect that home prices will recover over the course of 2012, just as they believe that mortgage rates will remain at all-time lows and more think the economy will enter an upswing.[IMAGE]Mortgage giant “”Fannie Mae””: said in a January National Housing Survey that 28 percent of Americans believe that home prices will rise over the next year by 1 percent, up from 2 percent last month.Of the survey respondents, 8 percent said that interest rates for mortgage loans will decline in 2012, down 2 percent from December.Unchanged from last month, 71 percent said that it is a good time to buy a home, compared with 10 percent who said that it is a good time to sell.[COLUMN_BREAK]Americans largely stayed the course in their desires to own homes. While 30 percent wanted to rent their next homes, 64 percent said they still wanted to make home purchases.””Consumer sentiment has continued to rebound to the level witnessed around a year ago since hitting a setback last summer. The strengthening employment picture last Friday provides encouragement that the improving trend in consumer confidence will continue and will at some point be reflected in a firming up of consumer spending,”” “”Doug Duncan””:, VP and chief economist with Fannie Mae, said in a statement.He added that the “”rebound may be slow in coming as consumers still seem to be deleveraging and aren’t yet fully confident of their household finances.””Duncan said that the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates low until 2014 played a role in fewer expectations for higher rates in the next 12 months.””If the employment market continues to strengthen, it is unlikely that the Fed will be able to keep its low interest pledge for long, and a more meaningful housing recovery may not be far behind if consumers are faced with the prospect of rising mortgage rates and home prices amid increased job security,”” he said.Thirty percent of Americans believe that the economy is on the right track ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô an 8-percent increase from last month. The number for those who believe it is on the wrong track fell to 63 percent by comparison. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicingcenter_img Nearly 30% Believe Home Prices Will Rise in 2012: Fannie Mae Sharelast_img read more

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Consumer Sentiment Improves to NineMonth High

first_img A late-month measure of consumer confidence shows sentiment rebounded to a near post-recession high in April, though questions remain as to whether or not that optimism will hold out.The latest Index of Consumer Sentiment, released jointly by Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan, came to a final reading of 84.1 for April, resting one index point below its post-recession peak recorded last July. The improvement reflects a moderate jump from a preliminary reading of 82.6 reported earlier in the month.According to UMich’s Surveys of Consumers group, the pickup was due to a more positive assessment of consumers’ current financial situation as well as “renewed optimism about the outlook for the national economy during the year ahead.”However, Surveys of Consumers’ chief economist, Richard Curtin, expressed some doubt about future index movements: “The most important issue is whether consumers will show greater resistance to the backslides that have repeatedly occurred in the past few years.“Resilience among consumers is dependent on positive long term economic expectations. While near term expectations have improved substantially, longer term expectations for personal finances as well as the overall economy have remained unchanged from a year ago,” he continued.The two component indexes contributing to the headline number both improved significantly in April: The index gauging current conditions for consumers moved up to 98.7, a monthly increase of 3.1 percent, while the index of consumer expectations climbed 6.7 percent to 74.7.Overall, Surveys of Consumers found Americans were slightly more optimistic about future labor market conditions, though only minor improvements are expected as far as unemployment goes.Meanwhile, the group says, “[t]he main attraction of home buying conditions has shifted in the past few months toward a greater reliance on low mortgage rates and less emphasis on low prices. This has made the continued expansion of home purchases more responsive to changes in the availability of mortgage credit to potential home buyers.”Surveys of Consumers’ sentiment index precedes the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, scheduled for release Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect that measure to improve to a reading of 83. Conference Board Consumer Confidence Jobs Surveys of Consumers 2014-04-28 Tory Barringer April 28, 2014 459 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, Newscenter_img Share Consumer Sentiment Improves to Nine-Month Highlast_img read more

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The Growing Divide Between Affordability and Availability

first_img in Data, Headlines, News Share February 17, 2017 557 Views The National Association of Realtors expects home sales numbers to grow this year, but at the expense of affordability. A new report by NAR and stated that existing-home sales could expand 1.7 percent in 2017, even though homebuyers at many income levels could see fewer listings on the market within their price range in the months ahead.NAR’s Affordability Distribution Curve (ADC) method looked at the number of listings considered affordable to those in a particular income bracket and applied an affordability score between zero and two. A score of one or higher generally suggests a market where homes for sale are more affordable to households in proportion to their income distribution.Reflecting a growing shortage of accessible inventory for most income groups, the entire ADC in January was below the equality line and the gap was generally wider at lower incomes, NAR reported. A household in the 35th percentile could afford 28 percent of all listings, a median income household (50th percentile) could afford 46 percent of listings, and a household in the 75th percentile was able to afford 74 percent of active listings.January’s overall affordability score was 0.97, down from 0.92 a year ago. NAR blamed swift price growth and higher mortgage rates. Nineteen states had a score above 1, and three‒‒North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming‒‒saw year-over-year gains in their score.Indiana (1.23) and Ohio (1.22) had the highest affordability scores in January. Iowa (1.18) and Kansas (1.17) were close behind, with Michigan and Missouri both reporting scores of 1.14.Hawaii had the lowest affordability score in the nation, coming in at 0.52. California, the District of Columbia, Montana, and Oregon all reported scores between 0.6 and 0.67.“Home prices have ascended far past wage growth in much of the country in recent years because not enough homeowners are selling and homebuilders have not boosted production enough to meet rising demand,” said Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR. “Amidst higher home prices and now mortgage rates, households with lower incomes have been able to afford less of all homes on the market last year and so far in 2017.”Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at, said that consistently strong job gains and a growing share of millennials entering their prime buying years is laying the foundation for “robust buyer demand in 2017.” Smoke added, however, that buyers with a lower affordable price are seeing heavy competition for the fewer listings they can afford.“At a time of higher borrowing costs, this situation could affect affordability even more as buyers battle for a smaller pool of homes and bid prices upward,” he said.Smoke said that as we head into the spring buying season, available supply is more reachable for aspiring buyers in the upper end of the market and in nearly all Midwestern states. Meanwhile, he said, many states in the West and South have seen deteriorating supply levels over the past year.“Buyers in these areas should know that it may take longer to find the right home at a price they can afford,” he said.Yun said that the shortfall of inventory at a time of healthy job gains in most states is one of the biggest reasons for the depressed share of first-time buyers and the inability for the homeownership rate to rise above its near-record low.“The only prescription to reversing this adverse situation is to build more entry-level and mid-market housing that aligns with current household incomes,” he said.center_img Data National Association of Realtors 2017-02-17 Scott_Morgan The Growing Divide Between Affordability and Availabilitylast_img read more

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Purchase Loans Outpace Refis

first_img Purchase loans are continuing to outpace refinances by a significant margin, according to the Origination Insight Report released by Ellie Mae on Wednesday. Mortgage loans for home purchases accounted for 65 percent of Ellie Mae’s total loan volume in April, while refis only comprised 35 percent. Six months ago, refinances accounted for nearly half of all loans.Time to close also continued to improve for the month, with the average time for all loans hitting just 42 days for April, compared to the 43 days of March and 51 days of January. For refinance loans, time to close was just 41 days, also down from 43 in March.According to Jonathan Corr, President and CEO of Ellie Mae, the across-the-board improvements are a result of the ever-evolving Ellie Mae customer.“The purchase market continued its rise in April, representing 65 percent of total closed loans,” Corr said. “We also saw the time to close loans shrink for the third consecutive month to 42 days, a substantial decrease from the 2017 high of 51 days in January. Ellie Mae customers are realizing efficiencies as they embrace technology to improve the homebuying experience.April also saw the average 30-year mortgage rate rise to 4.41 percent—a jump from 4.39 percent in March and 4.1 percent one year ago. Adjustable rate mortgages rose as well, clocking in at 5.9 percent. April marked the highest point for ARMs since 2014 and a 1.4 percent jump since just 12 months prior.Broken down by loan type, Ellie Mae’s originations largely consisted of conventional loans, which accounted for 63 percent of April’s loan volume. FHA came in second, with 23 percent, while VA loans comprised just 10 percent of all loans. Though conventional loans have dipped slightly over the year, the numbers remain fairly steady.Across all loan types, Ellie Mae’s April borrowers had an average FICO score of 722 and a debt-to-income ratio of 25 to 39.The Origination Insight Report is based on data from 80 percent of all mortgage applications initiated within its Encompass technology solution. View the full data set at May 17, 2017 717 Views in Daily Dose, Headlines, Market Studies, News Purchase Loans Outpace Refiscenter_img Ellie Mae HOUSING mortgage Purchase Loans Refinance Loans 2017-05-17 Aly J. Yale Sharelast_img read more

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Major Markets Pricing Out MiddleClass Buyers

first_img June 1, 2017 546 Views Major Markets Pricing Out Middle-Class Buyers Affordability African American Hispanic minority buyers; housing affordability Redfin 2017-06-01 ScottMorgan1 Since 2012, homebuyers earning median salaries in the 30 largest metros in the United States have been finding themselves increasingly priced out of their markets. But the affordability gap for middle-class households has been especially rough on Hispanic and African-American buyers, according to a new study by Redfin.Redfin’s report states that in 2016, Hispanic families could afford 18 percent of homes for sale in the 30 largest U.S. metros, while African-American families could afford 14 percent. Both rates were down 11 percentage points from 2012.Meanwhile, while middle-class white families saw a 12 percent affordability drop over the same time period, white households earning median incomes could afford 30 percent of the houses in those same markets last year, Redfin reported.Independent of ethnicity, housing affordability for middle-class families overall dropped 12 percent between 2012 and 2016. According to Redfin, the gulf has been growing as an offshoot of the fact that while national incomes have risen 2 percent since 2012, national housing prices have risen 26 percent. Nearly half the houses for sale in the 30 largest metros were affordable to median earners in 2012; less than a third were affordable to them last year.Affordability issues for Hispanic and African-American buyers has been particularly pronounced in the West, Redfin reported. In fact, these buyers have been all but effectively priced out of the market in Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego and Phoenix, where fewer than 5 percent of homes for sale were affordable to Hispanic and African-American buyers last year.While Denver had the smallest number of homes available to minority buyers last year (2 percent), the city also was  home to the smallest racial gap in housing affordability‒‒middle-class whites could afford 8.3 percent of homes.On the other side of that coin was Minneapolis, where 66 percent of median-earning whites could afford homes while Hispanic families could afford about 25 percent and African-American families could afford just over 5 percent.Las Vegas had the largest declines in affordability for families making the median African American (-26.5 points) or Hispanic (-24.6 points) household incomes from 2012 to 2016. Meanwhile, metros known for their relative affordability, like Atlanta, Tampa and Kansas City, saw double-digit declines in the share of listings that were affordable on African American and Hispanic median incomes, Redfin reported.St. Louis was the only metro that saw increases in affordability for both Hispanic ( up 5.4 points) and African-American families (up 4.3 points). St. Louis was also the only metro where overall middle-class affordability, including for median-income white households, did not change significantly over this time period.“American cities are at risk of losing both the economic and racial diversity that has been their hallmark,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “Middle-class homebuyers are being priced out of America’s largest cities at an alarming rate, as the home affordability gap gets wider. Given the significantly lower rates of homeownership among African-American and Hispanic families, the reduction in affordable listings has even more dire consequences for income inequality when broken out by race.”But, Richardson added, there are solutions.“For one, federal and state governments can do much more to be influential in local housing policy,” she said. “That’s where the crisis starts–at the neighborhood level–when people vote against inclusionary zoning policies, making it difficult or impossible to build higher-density, affordable housing in a community. Federal and state governments can reward communities that change to inclusionary zoning practices by offering them infrastructure investments to improve the neighborhoods. That way, inclusionary zoning is more appealing to longtime residents.”center_img Share in Daily Dose, Newslast_img read more

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IPsoft Introduces AI Platform Amelia

first_img in Headlines, Media, News, Technology 1Bank Amelia Christopher Voce Daniel Hong Forrester Research IPsoft J.P. Gownder Jennifer Wise Lily Varon 2018-11-21 Donna Joseph IPsoft announced the general availability of 1Bank™, its first conversational banking solution, powered by an advanced AI in the market, Amelia. With Amelia, customers can engage with their financial institutions through a next-generational Natural Language Interface (NLI) either by voice or chat. Through 1Bank, Amelia helps resolve complex customer questions using comprehensive dialogue. For example: “How much can I afford to pay for a new home?” Instead of providing a simple answer, Amelia will follow up with important questions, such as: “What is your annual salary?” or “How much of a down-payment would you like to make?”“Customers no longer have to navigate a site, wait in long queues or scroll through endless account statements. With 1Bank, customers can get what they want in a natural way, a conversation. We are enabling any financial institution to provide their customers with their own personal banker around the clock, every day and minute,” said Chetan Dube, CEO at IPsoft.“Customer support and self-service, when done right, can drive higher customer satisfaction. IPsoft’s Amelia supports a variety of customer-facing scenarios with its natural language interface and artificial intelligence engine. Amelia can take the entirety of a conversation into account. At a recent event, IPsoft showed the solution it has deployed to a major European bank, which is using Amelia as a mortgage-qualifying engine,” Forrester, a global research and advisory firm, commented. J.P. Gownder, Christopher Voce, Lily Varon, Jennifer Wise, Daniel Hong, Automation Technologies for Customer Engagement, Forrester Research, Inc., July 2017. Amelia also is adept at offering customers the ability to switch contexts mid-conversation. For example, if a customer is applying for a new credit card, but realizes mid-way through the conversation that they want to use a different email address, they can go back and change addresses without beginning the whole process over. Rule-based chatbot and static Web interfaces are built around simple keyword recognition, but Amelia is able to discern human intentions from a wide spectrum of conversational inputs — everything from “How much money is in my checking account?” to “How much is in checking?” to “So, how much money do I have?” Furthermore, Amelia’s advanced Machine Learning (ML) ability enables her to improve over time. Conversations may be escalated to human agents in cases where when Amelia is not able to assist customers and silently observe the interaction in the background in order to add to her abilities.1Bank’s secure backend integrations with banks’ existing software and systems empower users to execute financial tasks with limited-to-no human intervention. The AI solution delivers out-of-the-box conversational banking skills, including wealth management, credit card processing, account management, payment processing, account origination, and balance checks. 1Bank can be easily added to popular banking channels, including mobile apps, kiosk apps, websites, consumer chat applications such as Facebook Messenger and, voice applications such as Amazon Echo as well as standard phone calls. Share November 21, 2018 904 Views IPsoft Introduces AI Platform Amelialast_img read more

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Lender Price Partners With Mountain West Financial

first_imgLender Price Partners With Mountain West Financial in Headlines, News, Technology Lender Price, the California-based provider of digital lending technology and Mountain West Financial, a southern California-based mortgage lender have announced the successful rollout of Digital Lending Platform (DLP), Lender Price’s online borrower portal for Mountain West Financial.Lender Price said that DLP is a robust borrower engagement platform that automates and streamlines the mortgage loan application process. The platform integrates with loan origination systems (LOS) to create a seamless environment between the borrower, loan officer, and the lender’s operation staff, resulting in a smoother, more transparent, and faster mortgage closing process.”Our borrowers want a convenient and easy to use way to engage with us online,” said Mike Douglas, CEO of Mountain West Financial. “The reason we chose Lender Price is because their platform gave us the flexibility to create a process that doesn’t have a lot of ‘fluff’. We built an efficient workflow that encourages borrowers to complete the application while also ensuring that information was captured in our LOS in real-time.”DLP features digital verification services for assets, employment and credit reports, which intelligently fill out loan application data and drive more complete and accurate borrower submissions. DLP provides intuitive tools that allow mortgage lending institutions to create their own borrower experience without any technical know-how.”Our clients include several large banks and mortgage lenders that insist on controlling the borrower experience,” said Dawar Alimi, CEO of Lender Price. “We built tools that are specifically designed for non-technical people to create complex workflows within DLP. By giving our clients both the flexibility and control they want, we’re providing a sustainable platform because it can change and adapt to their needs over time.”The deep integration between DLP and Mountain West’s loan origination system provides borrowers visibility throughout the entire origination process. Loan status updates, document uploads, and even pricing engine access were built into the LOS integration. “Our borrowers are happier and it’s a tremendous time saver for our loan officers,” said Douglas. “We’ve rolled out to more than 150 loan officers across 30 branches and it’s been extremely successful for us. We know this is going to transform the way we do business.” April 11, 2019 797 Views center_img Borrowers lender price Lenders loans LOS Mountain West Financial platform 2019-04-11 Radhika Ojha Sharelast_img read more

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