“As we reflect on the past 40 years, this report demonstrates that the Opera House’s consumer value, digital footprint and brand perception provide it with a huge opportunity to build on its existing strengths and capitalise on vast new local and international audiences over the next 40 years and beyond,” Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron said. Image: ETB News The Opera House contributes AU$775 million to the national economy each year and holds a cultural and exponential value of AU$4.6 billion, according to Deloitte Access Economies. The famous theatre generated AU$141 million in direct value for the Australian economy during the 2012/13 financial year, however, as a national icon its value is much greater. The Sydney Opera House is much more than a popular Australian tourist destination, possessing a multi-billion dollar cultural and iconic value, according to a new report. The Sydney Opera House builds value upon the fact that it simply exists, with venue and performances worth 38 percent more than ticket sales, owing to the unique aspects of the venue. The Sydney Opera House has an online digital reach of 128 million people, with 4.2 million people watching video performances online via YouTube in the last financial year. In summary, the social asset of the Sydney Opera House is worth AU$4.6 billion. The intangible cultural, iconic and national identity value perceived by all Australians – representing ‘non-use’ values, not just its value to those that attend performances – is worth AU$2.1 billion over the next 40 years. Source = ETB News: P.T.
China Eastern will double its services from Melbourne to Shanghai to twice daily from December 2014 to March 2015.Melbourne Airport said that the extra services boosted the choices available to passengers during the peak summer and Chinese New Year periods.“Shanghai and Melbourne are dynamic cities and offer tourists a number of unique experiences. The seven additional services per week are at the busiest time of the year and will provide more opportunities to explore our great cities,” Mr Woodruff said.“China continues to be Melbourne’s number one long haul market, growing nearly 20 per cent in the last quarter alone, and I thank China Eastern for their continued support in growing this valuable market.”The daily A330-200 service will start on the 30th November and provide 29,100 seats to the Melbourne market.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
Baby Club Med: For children aged from 4 to 23 months. Baby Club Med focuses on senses and feelings, with engaging play areas and a staff ratio that ensures each baby receives special attention.Petite Club Med: For children aged 2 to 3 years. Petite Club Med focuses on discovery and socialising with activities such as face painting, pyjama parties, and puppet shows.Mini Club Med: For children aged 4 to 10. Mini Club Med focuses on energy and fun activities such as Club Med’s famous Circus School programme, arts and crafts and sports.Club Med Passworld and Junior’s Club Med: For older kids, aged 11 to 17. Club Med Passworld and Junior’s Club Med are dedicated teen spaces offering everything from creative activities to movie and disco nights, as well as sports and technical arts.For further information visit www.clubmed.com.auAbout Club MedClub Med provides amazing holiday experiences, made easy, in the world’s most beautiful destinations. With over 70 premium and luxury all-inclusive sun and snow resorts located in some of the most beautiful places on earth, Club Med resorts blend seamlessly with their environment, drawing inspiration from the local culture and nature to immerse guests in the destination.Since 1950, Club Med has been dedicated to providing guests with amazing new experiences that make for an unforgettable holiday – from the rejuvenating to the exhilarating, and everything in-between. Each resort offers a vast selection of opportunities to try something new, immerse in local culture, revive body and mind, and give back to the local community and environment.Club Med holidays are a truly hassle-free experience, with premium all-inclusive packages and a wide range of innovative services – giving guests more time to spend doing what they love.For more information, visit www.clubmed.com.au or follow Club Med at:Instagram @clubmedFacebook /ClubMedAustraliaTwitter @ClubMed_AuTravel agent Facebook /ClubMedforTravelAgentsSource = Club Med Club Med celebrates 50 Years of Kids ClubClub Med celebrates 50 Years of Kids ClubThis year Club Med is proud to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its iconic Kids Club, offering children of all ages holiday experiences that allow them to explore and create in a fun, safe and comfortable atmosphere.For 50 years, Club Med Kids Clubs have set the standard for what the ultimate all-inclusive family holiday should be – it’s more than just keeping the children amused so the adults can relax. Club Med offers a range of activities for tots to teens aged 4 months – 17 years old. The Kids Clubs are designed to care, educate and engage children in a fun and safe environment while allowing parents to have some quality time to reconnect whilst still enjoying a family holiday.On Club Med’s many ‘little ones services’, Madeleine Clow-Suares, General Manager, Club Med Australia and New Zealand says, “When parents write to me and explain just how upset their children were to leave, I know that we have something very special. We strive to create a happy environment for the whole family and we pay particular attention to the little ones. With over 50 years of know-how, highly-trained and loving teams, and award-winning facilities, we create moments the whole family can enjoy and cherish together…leaving time to get back to the important things in life.”A key differentiator of Club Med and why its resorts rate so highly with families, is the wide variety of activities for children, which cater to each age bracket – from 4 months to 17. Club Med resorts also offer babysitting services and evening Pyjama Club for children aged 2 to 10 years.At Club Med, every child has the opportunity to learn new skills, uncover talents and share experiences with new friends as well as family. Children as young as 3 years old are encouraged to participate in activities like golf, tennis and crafts, be bold on the flying trapeze or with circus activities, and gain confidence in performing on stage for resort guests including professional (and fun!) rehearsal, lights and costumes.Behind all the amazing services and activities at Club Med’s Kids Club are the highly trained team of passionate G.Os (Gentil Organisateurs) who staff the resorts.“Club Med takes pride in its global reputation for employing specially qualified and experienced G.Os, especially for Kids Club. All Club Med Kids Club G.Os have substantial experience in childcare, are First Aid qualified and undergo CPR training every six months. All manager are highly experience and hold a diploma or higher in Childcare, while all Baby Club Managers hold a Certificate 3 in Children Services,” says Madeleine.Kids Club G.Os are focused on ensuring each child feels unique, included and comfortable with the range of activities offered. Kids Club also provides Club Med’s youngest guests a chance to meet children from other countries and learn their language and culture with help from the G.Os, many of which speak multiple languages themselves, including English.Tamarra van der Zweep, an Australian Petit Club Manager at Club Med Phuket, says she enjoys making new connections with the children in her Kids Club as well as their families. “One of the most rewarding parts of my job is having families extend their stay because of the Kids Clubs – we have had three this season!” Tamara has anAdvanced Diploma in Child Care and Community Services, as well as over 11 years’ experience in childcare.Club Med are proud to celebrate this significant milestone and strive to continue to evolve their Kids Club offering, allowing them to cater to the entire family from youngest to oldest.The different Club Med Kids Clubs are:
Emirates welcomes two A380 aircraft to its Australia operationsEmirates welcomes two A380 aircraft to its Australia operationsEmirates has commenced significant enhancements to its Australian services from 25 March 2018, with the launch of its fourth daily Sydney service and the upgauging of its third daily Melbourne service to an A380. This makes both routes all A380 operations, increasing capacity by a total of 8,736 seats a week.The changes, which follow the addition of a third daily Brisbane service in December last year, demonstrate the airline’s commitment to the market while also satisfying demand from those travelling to and from Australia.“We’re thrilled to be expanding the iconic A380’s footprint in the Australian market, highlighting the growing demand for connectivity to Dubai and beyond on our world-class aircraft,” said Barry Brown, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President for Australasia.“Australia continues to be one of the most progressive markets for Emirates in both the tourism and trade landscapes, so we are continuously looking at ways to strengthen the connection between Australia and our growing global network, while also ensuring the journey is unsurpassable in standard,” said Mr Brown.Highlighting Emirates’ long-standing commitment to Australia, the changes will see travellers enjoy a seamless travel experience and greater connections to Emirates’ vast global network via its hub in Dubai.Complementing Emirates’ existing three daily A380 services from Sydney, the addition of a fourth flight between Sydney and Dubai will increase passenger capacity on the route by 6,846 seats a week. Operated by an A380, passengers can enjoy an afternoon departure from Sydney and a convenient arrival in a range of European cities the following morning. It also allows passengers to depart a range of European cities in the morning with an afternoon arrival in Sydney the next day, and a short connection in Dubai.The upgauge of Melbourne’s third daily flight, EK408 and EK409, from a Boeing 777-300ER to an A380 operation, will see the route become serviced solely by the iconic A380, increasing weekly capacity by 10 per cent and allowing for an additional 1,890 passengers to travel between the two hubs.Melbourne has been a core destination in Emirates global route network since it became Emirates’ first Australian destination in 1996. Today, Emirates operates 21 weekly flights between Melbourne and Dubai, connecting travellers to an expansive array of global destinations including Zagreb, Rome and Paris.From 25 March, Emirates will stop operating its daily services from Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland. Customers will instead be able to book codeshare flights to Auckland as Qantas increases its capacity on its existing trans-Tasman routes, highlighting the strength of the Emirates-Qantas partnership.Emirates will continue to operate its daily Dubai to Auckland service and will introduce a new Dubai to Auckland service, via Bali, from 14 June 2018 which will be operated by a B777-300ER. This brings its daily New Zealand services to three, complimented by its current daily A380 service between Dubai and Christchurch via Sydney.Emirates, the world’s largest A380 operator, placed an order for 36 A380 aircraft worth US$16 billion. The aircraft are set to be delivered to Emirates from 2020 onwards, affirming Emirates’ commitment and belief in the A380 programme.Emirates offers travellers a world class service and hospitality both inflight and on ground. In addition to receiving up to 20MB of complimentary Wi-Fi, passengers across all classes can enjoy up to 3,500 channels on Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment system ice, gourmet food and generous baggage allowances.Praised for its unsurpassed comfort and features, the double-decked A380 boasts 489 seats in a three-class cabin configuration with 14 private suites in First Class, 76 flat-bed seats in Business Class and 399 spacious seats in Economy.In addition to the recent introduction of Brisbane’s third daily service, Sydney’s fourth flight will see Emirates operate a total of 91 weekly flights from Australia, with flights between Dubai and Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.Source = Emirates
Italy: Food and wine is just the begining Italy: Food and wine is just the begining roomsXML.comconnect today roomsXML.comdiscover more here Source = roomsxml.com The-co creator of western civilisation, Italy has more going for it than most. With the highest number or UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world, significant monuments, statues, and buildings line every street.Bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, the Italian language has many distinct dialects with both French and German language. The landscape is varied, but mountainous would a great description, with humans having inhabited parts of the country for over 200,000 years.Tourism has been a significant part of the countries economy for hundreds of years, and continuous to be a major factor.Some of the best things to recommend your clients visit are as follows:– Etruscan Italy: if you are bound to the major cities, you can experience the Etruscan influence by visiting Etruscan Museum at Villa Giulia in Rome.– Roman Ruins: From Siciliy to Taormina. Check out Mt Etna (don’t get too close), Pompeii, the mosaics at Piazza Armenia. Rome itself is covered in reminders and treasures of previous empires. Don’t miss the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and moving north, the Roman Amphitheatre.– The Vatican: the centre of the Catholic universe. Things not to miss include the Vatical Museum, and just walk around to soak in the atmosphere. Check opening times to museums, especially on the weekends.– Western Alps: walk amongst the serine surrounds including Val Pellice, Val Chisone, and Val Po. Don’t forget the eastern Alps if your clients have the time. Interestingly, parts are predominantly German speaking.– In Florence, there are more museums that can be visited in a lifetime. Obviously, the Uffizi Gallery. Start there (Nb, the statue of David outside, isn’t the real one!)roomsXML has 341 Properties in florence– In Turn, visit the 2nd best collection of Egyptian artefacts in the world, at the creatively titled “Egyptian Museum”– The Amalfi coast (Campania) is perfect for a getaway that’s not too stressful. Many hotels sit right on top of the cliffs, and is a recognised UNESCO site. Stunning beauty, beautiful weather, and happy hour make it a top destination.roomsXML has 421 Properties on the Amalfi Coast– Milan: Italy’s financial powerhouse, and fashion capital make it one of the more buzzing and exciting places in Italy. Milan represents the ‘new’ Italy, and is the more metropolitan. Don’t miss The last Supper; artwork at its best. Located in Site Santa Maria delle Grazie Basilica, demand is super high, so make sure you advise your clients to book far ahead.roomsXML has 436 Properties in MilanroomsXML has over 96,000 properties worldwide. If you are unsure about which property to book, always check for the ‘Preferred’ logo next to the hotel; that means its been recommended by other Travel Agents. Thanks for Wikitravel for the tips.
AccorHotels has opened its second ibis in Chennai. Located on Mount Road in the centre of the city, ibis Chennai City Centre offers 155 rooms, a restaurant, a lounge and bar area, two meeting rooms and free WiFi.“The brand combines the ultimate comfort of modern and well-equipped rooms with the highest level of service for business and leisure travellers. The opening of ibis Chennai City strengthens our brand presence in Chennai and adds to the growing ibis network of 12 hotels in the region,” said Jean-Michel Cassé, Senior Vice President of operations for AccorHotels India.The new hotel becomes AccorHotels’ third property in Chennai, following the ibis Chennai SIPCOT and Novotel Chennai SIPCOT in 2014, which launched as dual-branded property in 2014.
Think about it, you are on a trek through a jungle with your friends but get separated from them. Could you cope on your own overnight, in a cold environment full of wild animals?Source: BBC
Filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker has said the single window scheme to get permissions for shooting in Maharashtra will help the film industry immensely.Jayakumar Rawal, Tourism Minister of Maharashtra handed over to Gowariker a copy of the government resolution regarding the single window scheme, which makes it easier to get all required permissions for shooting for cinema, TV serials and advertisement.The meeting between the two saw the discussion on how Bollywood can help improve tourism and also aid in the promotion of the state. Gowariker praised that the decision to have a single window for all necessary permissions is great.“Maharashtra has a lot of potentials and has been drawing filmmakers to shoot here. But often, due to lack of getting permission, they have to change locations. Bollywood will benefit greatly from this single window scheme,” Gowariker said.
in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing January 21, 2013 449 Views Minnesota Bank Collapses, Brings 2013 Tally to 2 1st Regents Bank, of Andover, Minnesota, became the country’s second FDIC-insured institution to collapse in 2013, the “”FDIC””:http://www.fdic.gov/ announced Friday.All of 1st Regents’ estimated $49.1 million in deposits and virtually all of its $50.2 million in assets will be assumed by “”First Minnesota Bank in Minnetonka””:https://www.firstmnbank.com/, the agency said in a release. First Minnesota will pay the FDIC a premium of 2 percent to assume the deposits.The FDIC estimates the cost to its Deposit Insurance Fund to be about $10.5 million.In addition to being the second bank failure in 2013, 1st Regents’ collapse is the first in Minnesota this year. Three FDIC-insured banks had collapsed as of this time in 2012, and seven had collapsed as of this time in 2011. Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bank Failure Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2013-01-21 Tory Barringer Share
Share in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing May 31, 2013 411 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Bureau of Economic Analysis Company News Home Prices Home Values Investors Lenders & Servicers Profits Service Providers 2013-05-31 Mark Lieberman Commentary: Shrinking Bottom Line Lost in the kerfluffle over the “”unexpected downward revision””:https://themreport.com/articles/1q-gdp-growth-dips-corporate-profits-fall-2013-05-30 of first quarter GDP growth–2.4 percent annualized compared with the originally reported 2.5 percent–was the companion release of first quarter corporate profits, a disappointing drop from the fourth quarter.[IMAGE]First quarter pre-tax profits, as reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), came in at $1.969 trillion, down 2.2 percent from the fourth quarter (but up 3.6 percent from the first quarter a year ago). After-tax first quarter profits were off 2.0 percent. Along with the drop in profits, dividends fell, although the decline from the fourth quarter was exaggerated because of special dividends paid before year-end, when businesses were uncertain whether end├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ôof-year fiscal cliff negotiations would result in higher taxes on dividends.While BEA’s method of calculating and reporting corporate profits differs from reports found, say, in corporate annual reports or on tax returns, that the methodology is consistent from year to year speaks to trends if not to actual results. And the trend was clearly not a good one.According to BEA, profits fell for both financial and non-financial corporations in the first quarter. For financial corporations, it was the fourth quarterly decline in profits in the last five quarters; for non-financial firms, it was the second decline in the last five quarters.The slip in financial corporation profits comes at a particularly critical time for the financial sector, as housing-so heavily dependent on lending institutions–is in the midst of a nascent recovery, and that recovery is causing concerns that we may be on the cusp of yet a new housing bubble.Recent data shows home prices rising at the fastest pace since the housing bubble burst. At the national level, though, the relatively rapid increase in prices doesn’t automatically suggest a new “”bubble”” since prices (adjusted for inflation) are down from their peak. There are, according to Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research, “”serious grounds for concern in many local markets.”” Baker, who gained credibility as one of the first economists to spot the bubble said prices in some markets are “”rising at an extraordinary pace.”” Indeed, the “”Case-Shiller Home Price Index””:https://themreport.com/articles/case-shiller-indices-post-strongest-gain-since-2006-2013-05-28 report for March showed a sustained year-over-year price gain of 20 percent or more in Phoenix–for the last seven months–while five other cities have had double-digit annual percent increases for at least the last five months in a row. The Case-Shiller data for March showed, in addition to Phoenix, two cities with a year-over-year price gain of more than 20 percent: Las Vegas (20.6 percent) and San Francisco (22.2 percent).To be sure, there is nothing magic about a 20 percent annual price increase that automatically suggests a bubble. Prices in Phoenix peaked in June 2006 following 18 straight months of yearly price gains of 20 percent or more and nine straight months in which the Case-Shiller data showed three-year price gains of over 80 percent. Prices peaked in Las Vegas in August 2006 after 24 straight months of three-year price gains of more than 80 percent. In San Francisco, prices peaked after 15 straight months in which prices grew 50 percent or more over three years.According to Baker, “”the most rapid price increases are occurring at the lower end of the market. In Las Vegas the price of homes in the bottom third of the market have risen by more than 40 percent over the last year. In the last three months they have increased at almost a 70 percent annual rate.”” And, he said, the pattern is similar in Phoenix, “”where prices for homes in the bottom third of the market rose by just under 40 percent over the last year and have risen at just under a 50 percent annual rate over the last three months.””Adding to the concern is that economic fundamentals are not tracking the higher prices. In all three cities–Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Francisco–household employment is falling, not rising.Many low- and moderate-income people saw their dreams destroyed when the last bubble collapsed. It would be too cruel to see the same mistake repeated just a few years later.While the increase in house prices might not track economic fundamentals, there is one economic truth that will continue: Businesses base hiring–and firing–decisions on a simple calculation of revenue or profit per employee. As profits become losses, employment will decline; put another way, the decline in employment in Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Francisco suggests business challenges in those cities with the prospect housing could follow._Hear Mark Lieberman on P.O.T.U.S. Radio (Sirius-XM 124) next Friday at 8:45 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Eastern._*_Want to write an opinion piece for publication on our site? Send your submission to_* “”MReportEditor@TheMReport.com.””:mailto:MReportEditor@TheMReport.com
March 13, 2015 507 Views in Daily Dose, Servicing CFPB Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act of 2015 House Financial Services Committee NAFCU NCUA 2015-03-13 Samantha Guzman NAFCU Voices Support for Proposed Legislation The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) released a letter to the House Financial Services Committee voicing their support for the “Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory Relief Act of 2015,” Friday. The bill, which would provide the National Credit Union Association with more time to access the impact of the revised risk-based capital proposal on mortgage servicing assets, was introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Missouri) earlier this month.“We thank Representative Luetkemeyer and his staff for their leadership and commitment to provide credit unions parity in many key aspects of regulatory relief for community financial institutions found in this bill,” the NAFCU said in the letter.The bill includes a report provision, which will delay the implementation of the NCUA’s proposed risk-based capital regulation as it relates to mortgage servicing assets until an impact study is conducted. The NAFCU says this will promote transparency, require a thorough analysis of the proposal’s impact on mortgage servicing assets, and encourage the NCUA to take more time to consider the full impact of its proposed capital rule. The NAFCU also says they are pleased to see this legislation would waive escrow mandates for loans held in portfolio and increase the “small servicer” exemption threshold to 20,000 mortgages annually.“This important exemption recognizes the strong history of small institutions providing high-quality mortgage servicing. Given their track record, small servicers should be incentivized to continue to service mortgage loans,” they said. “The existing escrow rules drive small creditors from the mortgage market because it is difficult to provide cost effective escrow services.”The bill would also exempt higher-risk mortgages of $250,000 or less from appraisal requirement provisions under the Truth in Lending Act if the lender holds the loan in portfolio for at least 3 years. This bill would also provide important legal safeguards for lenders acting in good faith throughout the appraisal process. The NAFCU recommends raising the $250,000 threshold to a higher level, once the committee reviews the bill for improvement.According to the letter, the NAFCU believes credit unions and other financial institutions should be given a safe harbor if they assume the risks associated with making a mortgage loan available to consumers, when necessary and appropriate. They say they are happy the legislation would ensure residential mortgage loans held in portfolio by originators, such as credit unions, automatically attain the qualified mortgage (QM) safe harbor under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) rules.“An important part of the providing regulatory relief to community financial institutions is to ensure credit unions have parity and balance with relief offered to other types of institutions,” they said. “As the committee continues its work on regulatory relief, we would urge you to support and act on this legislation as it would provide meaningful relief to our nation’s credit unions.” Share
in Daily Dose, Featured, News, Origination Federal Housing Finance Agency FHFA Home Price Index House Prices 2016-06-22 Seth Welborn June 22, 2016 708 Views Home Prices Soar Past Pre-Recession Peak U.S. house prices rose in again April, continuing their steady four-year climb and still soaring past where they were at their pre-recession peak, according to the latest House Price Index (HPI) report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).April’s national HPI, which looks at home sales price information from mortgages sold to or guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, closed at 233.8. While this is a .02 percent increase from March, it also is a much more noteworthy 5.9 percent increase from a year ago.Andrew Leventis, supervisory economist at the FHFA, said that although the price increase in April was relatively modest, “the 12-month increase of almost 6 percent is consistent with the extraordinarily high appreciation we’ve been observing for several years now. Barring dramatic increases in wage growth and vast improvements in other market factors, most economists expect price growth to decelerate to more normal rates of appreciation in the future.”The extraordinarily high appreciation over the past several years refers to the unwavering climb in house prices since the spring of 2012. A year earlier, the index hit its nadir and then spent the following 12 months stutter-starting. But since early 2012, the index has been all uphill. Last November, the HPI surpassed its March 2007 perch.In regional markets, the Mountain region‒‒Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico‒‒had the highest HPI over the last 18 months, at 299.2, and the Pacific region grew the most over the past year, at 8.6 percent. From April to May, the New England region climbed 1.4 percent.The only drop was in the Middle Atlantic‒‒New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania‒‒but that was only month-over-month. The Middle Atlantic finished April 1.7 percent higher than it did last April.Click here to view the complete FHFA House Price Index for April 2016. Share
in Daily Dose, News, Origination, Print Features, Servicing, Technology May 24, 2019 1,416 Views Share The Building Blocks of Title Print Features Title 2019-05-24 Radhika Ojha Editor’s note: This feature originally appeared in the May edition of MReport.2018 was a good year for the title industry. In fact, the operating margins for the four largest underwriters in the industry increased to 11.5% according to a report by Fitch Ratings, which said that title underwriters benefited from the positive macroeconomic factors such as employment growth and rising property values. These, along with “disciplined underwriting and expense management,” led to the strong showing of most title companies during the year.According to Forbes, this growth of the $15 billion industry is projected to continue through 2020 but how can title professionals ensure that success? While opportunities abound, the experts who spoke to MReport said that title agents will first need to overcome the dual headwinds of consumer engagement and online security.“The industry is in a time of considerable change,” said Mary O’Donnell, CEO, Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. “The diminishing property inventory along with increasing prices is a challenge for the entire real estate market. Uncertainty in interest rates and the ability of salary growth to keep pace will continue to put pressure on this sector.”Despite these macro challenges, O’Donnell said, title agents provide a valuable resource in assuring the consumer that their property rights would be well protected. Yet, much of their work goes unnoticed. The lack of visibility to the consumer of the value of the effort is a challenge.”A Customer-First MindsetWhile industry associations such as the American Land Title Association (ALTA) have promoted customer engagement through initiatives such as the Homeowner Outreach Program, to highlight the services provided by title companies to the end-consumer, it found that consumers still remain confused about regulations and processes related to the title industry.For example, the association is focused on fixing the inaccurate disclosure of title insurance premiums on the TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) to help consumers understand the true cost of their real estate transactions.“ALTA’s research shows that 40% of consumers feel confused by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s requirement on title insurance pricing. We need to fix the regulation to improve transparency to make sure consumers receive disclosures that accurately show the cost of the one-time fee that protects their property rights,” said Cynthia Durham Blair, ALTA President.Stressing the importance of these regulations for the peace of mind for consumers and professionals alike, Blair gave an example from the late 2000s when she managed a title team that handled hundreds of bank-owned properties per month.“While most of these properties were covered by title insurance, it was clear that the title had not been adequately examined by experienced title professionals prior to the issuance of the policies. In order to clear the title to resell to a new owner, we had to file claims against the title policies or just resolve the issues ourselves,” Blair said, explaining that those issues ranged from no access to the property, outstanding ownership interests in the property, unsatisfied liens, complete failures of title, and everything in between.“This experience taught me that title search is not a process that can be skipped over. The time spent reviewing the records and the legal descriptions is imperative for ensuring the consumer has good, defensible title to their property,” Blair continued. “In addition to ensuring the lender has first-lien priority, the protection afforded by the insurance product is the peace of mind that the consumer needs so they don’t have to worry if something unexpected arises in the title to the property.”O’Donnell said, “The value of the title insurance product is really brought home when a claim arises.” Giving an example, she stated that the title agent’s “real value is providing that comfort in a time that is extremely stressful to the consumer.” As a prior claims handler, she highlighted that fact by telling a story about a consumer who was served with a foreclosure for an unpaid contractor’s lien, which arose after the closing but related back to work before the purchase.“Being able to assure them that the matter would be resolved and they would not lose their house taught me that, despite our business being highly technical and often misunderstood, the knowledge of the local agent or the local area helped resolve their situation and bring them peace of mind. The agent can help improve the experience for the lender and consumer,” she said.According to Matthew Slonaker, SVP, Head of Enterprise Solutions Sales, WFG National Title, it is important to bring process efficiency and transparency to the customer. This is where technology has made the process more streamlined for consumers and lenders.“On the retail/consumer side and agent side, digital applications like MyHome are creating a more transparent process that keeps them advised of where they are and what’s next in the process,” Slonaker said. “On the institutional or lender side, technology is providing the same digital experience but even greater transparency with where exceptions are and managing through service level agreements and data.”But the best outcomes for customer experience begin “when all the parties involved in supporting a real estate transaction—the lender, title and settlement provider and the real estate agent—are committed to delivering superior customer experience,” said Chris Leavell, COO, First American Title Insurance Company. “Our emphasis on providing this experience shapes our investments in technology and innovation, and fuels how we approach the shift towards a more digital real estate closing process.”Tech for TitleThe title industry is modernizing quickly, driven by rising consumer expectations,” said Nate Baker, CEO and Co Founder, of Qualia. “The biggest opportunity and challenge in title is to take a lesson from Amazon and make consumer obsession the north star of every title company.”While it has made considerable strides in technology, the title industry today also faces challenges stemming from the increased pace of technological innovation, and the introduction of new real estate transaction business models.“iBuyers such as Opendoor and Zillow Instant Offers are attracting billions of dollars of investment, and a heightened expectation from all clients for their buying experience driven by the click-button nature and immediate gratification of the Amazon-type purchase experience,” Baker said.From a lender’s perspective, the wide disparity in processes and technologies used throughout the industry is one of the biggest challenges facing title companies today.“There are so many different processes used across title companies and their agents that it can create inefficiencies on the closing side for real estate agents and mortgage lenders,” said Matt Clarke, CFO and COO of Churchill Mortgage. “Likewise, if you combine the process disparity with the rapid pace of technological change, and the industry’s move towards e-closings, there’s much work to be done to facilitate a streamlined, digital process for title companies, realtors, and lenders alike.”As the industry looks to overcome this challenge of process and innovation, and move towards a digital experience to improve the front- and back-end customer experience, “digital transformation will continue to remain in focus in the title space,” Slonaker said. “We will increasingly see more integrations with marketing/CRM and LOS/POS systems with a seamless digital experience as integrated options and services through a seamless digital solution are put in place. Through these solutions, the lender/client will be able to achieve greater savings, a better customer journey and a winning equation in a tough market.”According to Jack Goisse, President, American Home Title LLC, the title industry is already feeling the impact of new technologies such as blockchain, remote online notary, eClosings, and other such technology designed to reduce costs, increase quality, and create a better consumer experience.“These technologies will likely play a large role in the industry’s approach to data and cybersecurity, which are prominent areas of risk,” Goisse said. “The costs and time invested in implementing the right solutions, employee awareness, training, and the proper insurance or risk management safeguards will continue to escalate.”Sharing a personal experience he had with a closing recently, Ben Hall, VP, Premium Title, said that it was a good reality check on how far the industry had come in terms of technology. “With three active children and a working spouse, I didn’t have overly specific expectations. I wanted it done fast, accurately and with the least amount of disruption to my personal and professional life,” he recounted. “The majority of the documents were signed electronically and correspondence was largely managed through a mobile app. It was relatively painless and fun.”But…it took way too long.“It just goes to show that, though the industry has made significant technological advancements in the last decade, there’s great work to be done before the consumer is truly in the driver’s seat,” Hall said.As consumers look for speed and ease, the future adoption of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and digitized records would certainly improve efficiencies and security in the title process. But to really make these technologies effective, “title companies will need to look outside their lane and identify strong partnerships and synergies across the loan lifecycle,” Hall said.Building PartnershipsTwo key elements when working with title companies are relationships and resources,” Clarke said. “Relationships lie at the core of the mortgage business and it’s important for lenders and title companies to work together with honesty and integrity.”Additionally, Clarke said that these relationships are the difference between great customer experience and one that’s unsatisfying for borrowers. “If you’re working with the right title company, information should move quickly and efficiently between two companies. This will ensure borrowers close on time and create a highly referable lender process,” he said.Baker agreed. “The closing experience provided by these companies is considered an extension of the lenders’ and brokerages’ brand they partner with,” he said. “That brand association has grown even more as technology advancements create more of a divide between forward-thinking, technology-enabled companies and those that continue with outdated business practices.According to Goisse, aligning yourself with the right business partners, at the right time, “is a necessity in effectively scaling your business and meeting client needs.” He said that a “true” partnership entailed selecting the right partner and integrating your company with them to drive collaboration.“Partners should be an extension of your organization and business objectives. Of course, these relationships should be founded in transparency and oversight as the two hold each other accountable for fulfilling their agreed upon objective,” Goisse said.“In any business relationship, trust is a huge factor for success, especially when you’re dealing with large sums of money as well as very private, personal data on a regular basis,” Blair said. “As more and more business is conducted online, the world becomes increasingly impersonal, making company ethics invaluable.”According to Blair, the alarming increase in wire fraud has been a key challenge that the association, as well as title companies, are looking to mitigate this year.Fraud WatchA recent FBI report noted that more than 9,600 victims lost over $56 million from wire fraud in 2017 in the real estate/rental sector alone. Overall, nearly a billion dollars were diverted or attempted to be diverted from real estate purchase transactions. In 2016, the Internet Crime Complaint Center experienced a 480% increase in wire fraud scams reported to title companies.These numbers in themselves reflect one of the biggest challenges faced by the title industry today— data security.“Wire fraud in real estate transactions continues to be a significant challenge. Fraudsters typically attempt to trick borrowers into wiring down payment funds to an account owned by or linked to the hackers,” Leavell said.Additionally, Blair pointed out that title companies are being encouraged to report fraud incidents regardless of the dollar loss to the FBI to give a better picture of the threat. On their part, last year ALTA developed the ALTA Rapid Response Plan for wire fraud incidents, which outlines 10 steps that companies should follow if they’ve been hit by wire fraud.“Wire fraud continues to evolve, meaning title and settlement companies must remain vigilant to protect funds involved in transactions,” Blair said. “Companies must remain committed to employee training and following policies and procedures to fight evolving cyber threats.”Title companies are taking the threat seriously too.“In addition to providing extensive tools and training on cyber fraud and security, we are also investing in a modern closing experience for buyers and sellers,” Leavell said. “The company’s Secure Portal allows buyers and sellers to complete and e-sign opening paperwork, and send and receive messages, through authentication-based security. Reducing email communications in favor of a more secure portal helps to reduce wire fraud risk.”Looking UpAs the positive macroeconomic factors enumerated earlier continue to fuel the growth of title companies opportunities abound for this segment in 2019.“The momentum continues to build across the industry to offer eClosing options to consumers, and we may see significant progress toward delivering a real estate transaction closing experience that more closely aligns with the digital home search and loan application experience consumers have embraced,” said Kevin Wall, President, First American Mortgage Solutions.According to O’Donnell, providing best-in-class services from reputable companies can enhance the mortgage experience and lead to potential long-term borrower relationships.“Working with companies that can embrace technology to provide the consumer with new tools, like remote online notarization, can help enhance and grow business opportunities,” she said. “The ability of all participants to share data and communicate more effectively is an opportunity to deliver a better product for the benefit of the consumer.”Consolidation is another trend that will define the industry in 2019.“Smaller title agents will be purchased by bigger underwriters, even as agency operations will continue to focus on plugging a diverse set of solutions to bring efficiency for the smaller independent agents to create a win-win situation,” Slonaker said.From a regulatory point of view, Blair said that remote online notarization legislation was passed in 11 states and bills have been introduced in another 25 states as of March 2019, which will ease the closing process.Another area of opportunity, according to Clarke, is the fact that title companies were adopting a new mindset where, instead of being an external player, they were a completely integrated partner within the mortgage process.“The future of the mortgage industry will be defined by how each player in the mortgage process interacts with another and their ability to support consumer demand,” he said.Looking at what consumers want, Hall said that bringing all service providers into a homogenous and consumer interactive mobile application has been the recent focus of most top-tier lenders, an area where larger service firms can simplify this execution to encourage greater adoption across the broader market.As fair weather continues to shine upon the title industry, it has the opportunity to reinvent itself to become one that powers new, innovative business models.“Title and escrow have been isolated to almost an afterthought for many,” Baker said. “Now they can be looked at as the champions that will partner with the lenders, brokerages, and other entrepreneurs that seek to meet the growing demands of today’s consumers.”
Las Vegas Police expect the death toll to rise after a 64-year-old man opened fire on a crowd of 30,000 concert-goers in Las Vegas, from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Sunday night [10.10 pm local time].More than 50 people have been confirmed dead, and over 200 injured, after the lone shooter’s rapid-fire barrage into the crowd at the sold-out 3-day Route 91 Harvest Festival, during country artist Jason Aldean’s set.Despite reports on social media of shots fired elsewhere, Las Vegas Police say they are confident that the attacker was a ‘lone wolf’. The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino was put into lock down, and floors 29 to 32 were evacuated by SWAT teams, who found the gunman, who had apparently taken his own life. No motive for the shooting has yet been confirmed.Australia’s Consulate General in LA is making urgent inquiries with local authorities to determine if any Australians have been injured or killed. DFAT advises those concerned about loved ones to attempt direct contact in the first instance.People unable to make contact with loved ones should phone the DFAT emergency hotline on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305.IMAGE: Las Vegas – Steve Marcus/Reuters
Mantra Group has just completed a $3 million renovation of the BreakFree on George Hotel in Sydney, with all 160 studios and one and two bedroom apartments treated to beautiful new furnishings and modern chic furniture, with the hallways and foyer re-dressed in dark charcoal timbers, as well as contemporary wallpaper and alternating colour schemes.Each of the hotel’s air-conditioned, self-contained apartments feature full kitchen and laundry facilities, Foxtel, free-to-air television, and internet access, while those on the upper floors also offer spectacular views of the surrounding cityscape.The hotel’s location at 653 George Street, Sydney, is just a block from bustling Chinatown, The Capitol Theatre and in close proximity to Sydney’s major office buildings, making it a smart choice for both business and leisure travellers alike.Mantra is offering 20%* off all room types, on sale until 7 June 2018. To take advantage of this offer, use promo code: ‘FRESHLOOK18’. Valid for stays from 11 May – 21 September 2018. To book, visit mantrahotels.com/breakfree-on-george or call 1300 987 603.*Conditions apply, subject to availability. Valid for sale and travel until 21 September, 2018. Block out dates and other restrictions may apply. IMAGE: BreakFree on George – Studio BreakFree on GeorgeMantraspecialsSydney
Stalwarts of the Australian travel industry will be saddened to hear of the passing of Malcolm Andrews, affectionately described by his mate David Ellis as ‘… fellow travel writer, wonderful travelling companion and, let’s face it, good all-round bloke who loved a chat.’David has been kind enough to keep Malcolm’s many travel industry mates and colleagues apprised of Malcolm’s recent illness and hospitalisation just a few weeks ago and now, sadly, to inform us of his death on Monday 10 October 2018 at Port Macquarie Hospital in NSW. It is a sad, sad day as we who knew Malcolm feel the pain of his loss, and Australia sees the passing of one of the most amazing writers this country has ever produced: who else could lay claim to having written twenty-six books, spent five years working with the US State Department’s Radio Free Europe in Munich in the 1970s beaming broadcasts across the Iron Curtain, and had a daily column with the Sydney Daily Telegraph for over five years in the 1980s?Malcolm was also Australian correspondent for Britain’s Rugby Leaguer and League Express – during which time he was credited with writing more words annually about Rugby League than any other journalist in the world!For almost 30 years he wrote a regular column in Australia’s Turf Monthly, picking up several awards at the time for his contribution to Australian horse racing and, in more recent times, wrote a weekly, chatty-style column for some Australian regional newspapers, all while he criss-crossed the world.DAVID ELLISIMAGE: Malcolm – left – at his favourite spot at the Top of the Yacht Bar aboard mega motor-cruiser SeaDream II, with David Ellis, on a sailing in the Mediterran … SeaDream became his great love after a couple of media Famils with David, and he undertook five or six sailings at his own cost over recent years. Malcolm Edwardsobituarytravelvalewriter
Australian luxury travel advisory group, the Goldman Group, has shared its top tips for flying, with travel hacks to avoid busting the budget, and take the chore out of planning travel.“Travelling has never been easier than in 2019 thanks to accessibility, the internet and social media, but more often than not, the fine print is ignored,” says David Goldman, joint managing director of the Goldman Group. “As a rule of thumb, we tell clients that if the deal sounds too good to be true – then it most likely is. The amount of online bookings we have amended, resulting from a customer not acknowledging the fine print and booking incorrectly online, is outstanding … from hotel bookings for hotels that don’t even exist, to additional hidden fees – we have seen it all.”Goldman’s best advice is to have a budget in mind before approaching a travel advisor and avoid cutting corners when shopping for fares. Travel advisors have access to special fares, hotel deals, and agent-only sales that consumers won’t find online, and can easily source upgrades, complimentary inflight Wi-Fi and more. Goldman Group’s top 4 air travel hacks1. Surpass the surchargeIf you’re not in a rush to get to your destination, choose to fly into a satellite city. For example, flying into Manchester is almost always significantly cheaper than flying into London. For domestic travel, booking flights midweek will avoid weekend surcharges that many airlines have – or plan to introduce.2. Seek advisoryA good deal is often not the best deal, which is why it’s essential to seek advice from an expert. There is a common misconception that using a travel advisor is costly in comparison to booking online, but if done incorrectly, booking online can wind up costing a pretty penny.3. The best seat in the houseSelecting the best possible seat on a flight is an important part of travel preparation for many. Those who spend a lot of time in the air tend to have a strong preference for where to sit, and that’s typically near the front of the cabin next to the aisle or window – never in a middle seat.When flying Qantas, you can choose your seat as part of the booking process. However, what you may not be aware of, is the ability to review your seat choice 80 hours before departure. Pending availability, you can significantly improve your position in the cabin.This seat hack arises as Qantas restricts access to certain parts of each cabin to elite frequent flyers. The most sought-after seats at the front are reserved for platinum-level customers and above, while the next few rows are accessible to gold status holders and above. Silver and bronze members are only able to select seats further back. These restrictions are lifted 80 hours before a flight, which means all passengers can access the seats that remain unallocated. So, if you want to get the best possible spot in the plane, check your seat allocation 80 hours prior to departure.4. Hotel (friends) with benefitsWhile obtaining hotel status is no easy feat, signing up to the rewards program is. Many hotel reward programs offer complimentary Wi-Fi – even if guests aren’t frequent visitors. Many credit card programs also offer rewards with hotel chains, which can result in an effortless fast-track to a room upgrade or complimentary services. Air travelairline hacksThe Goldman Grouptipstravel hacks
The Arizona Cardinals added receivers Dan Buckner and Brittan Golden to their practice squad.In a corresponding move, the team released receiver Sam McGuffie. Buckner, a former Arizona Wildcat, was with the team throughout training camp and preseason. He was released by the team on Aug. 30. Golden was last with the Chicago Bears. The 25-year-old is a West Texas A&M product, where he finished second in school history with 3,007 receiving yards to go along with 165 receptions and 33 touchdowns. Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo 0 Comments Share Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling
Patrick Peterson intercepted three passes and tallied 42 tackles in 2013, and his efforts made him a first-team All-Pro selection by the Associated Press.Peterson is joined by Seattle’s Richard Sherman at cornerback.Another Cardinal, linebacker Karlos Dansby, was also honored, as he was named a second-team All-Pro by the AP.The veteran had a renaissance season in his return to the Cardinals, posting 122 tackles — 114 of which were solo — along with 6.6 sacks and 4 interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling 0 Comments Share The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact
Maybe it wasn’t ever going to be much of a contest. Elliot Harrison of NFL.com set out to name the best player in every NFC team’s history, and the Arizona Cardinals’ selection really doesn’t come as much of a surprise.ARIZONA CARDINALS: Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiverWhen you think of Fitzgerald’s career, you probably begin to ponder hard-luck athletes across sports. Of course, that’s really the story with every great player in Cardinals history — there just haven’t been enough winning seasons to go around. That said, the first thought that comes to my mind is Fitzgerald’s performance in the 2008 postseason: 30 catches for 546 yards and seven touchdowns! Another Larry, Hall of Fame safety Larry Wilson, was the toughest competition here. Harrison notes Fitzgerald’s historic postseason run, which was truly something to behold. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Comments Share Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Top Stories But besides that, the former No. 3 overall selection in 2004 has amassed 846 receptions, 11,367 yards and 87 touchdowns in 10 seasons, all of which have come with the Cardinals. An eight-time Pro Bowler and one-time First-Team All-Pro, Fitzgerald is also the first (and only) Cardinal to appear on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden NFL Football video game, which he did so for the “Madden 10” in 2009.