Chase unveils its newest branch in New Haven
Chase isn’t just relying on teller windows it’s putting tech in the hands of their customers and bankers, who wander the floor in their newest branches like sales associates working retail.
Some have even said Chase has co-opted the Apple Store model for its latest, tech-infused, branches, the first of which opened in Connecticut in New Haven on 149 Amity Road. Those of us in the Mines who are a little older immediately hoped that the new kiosks use HAL like voices when you use them and ask, “What are you doing?”*
“We’ve spent the last few months meeting folks in the community and preparing for the Amity Road location, so we’re thrilled to be officially opening our doors,” said Matthew Cummings, Chase Woodbridge Branch Manager. “Our new build branch format is all about choice – offering customers face-to-face assistance from bankers, or electronic and paperless options to conduct transactions.”
Besides bankers with tablets, the new branch features self-service kiosks providing ATM-like services with check cashing, custom denomination withdrawals, credit card bill pay, prepaid cards and money orders. The kiosks are reminiscent of airline kiosks you see at airports. If Chase’s kiosks don’t require every customer to flag down a banker for assistance, the bank will be doing better than the airlines.
The new branch is the 52nd Chase branch in the state. Eight employees were hired for it and they will staff the branch from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday with additional hours on Saturday.
*Reference is to 2001 A Space Odyssey.
An earlier version of this post mistakenly said Chase was going teller-less. That’s not the case the bank still has tellers and teller windows. The Mines regrets the error.
Buyers drove the Mortgage Bankers Associations‘ weekly index of purchase activity to its highest level in nearly three years.
The MBA’s national report said total activity was up 4.8 percent last week, the highest level since January. There was a 5 percent increase in purchasing activity, raising the total amount of loan applications for new purchases to its highest level since May of 2010.
Refinancing activity was also up, and still dominates the market holding a 75 percent share.
Rates inched down for both conforming 30-year-fixed and jumbo loans. The rate for a 30-year mortgage was 3.67 percent, down from 3.68 percent. The rate on a jumbo loan was 3.77 percent, down from 3.79 percent and is now just 0.1 percent higher than loans for more modest homes.
Adjustable rate mortgages continued to represent 5 percent of the total market.
New home construction permits in the Northeast in March were up 24 percent compared to the previous month as builders pulled more multi-family permits.
The Northeast went in an opposite direction of the nation’s permit activity, which was off nearly 4 percent in March, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In the region, which includes all of New England single-family permit activity was down 2 percent compared to February. But this doesn’t mean the region is running for rentals.
Overall, single-family home permit activity through the first three months of this year was up 10 percent compared to last year.
Nationally, single-family home permitting activity was only off 0.5 percent while multi-family construction with five or more units was off 8 percent, compared to February.
The region and nation headed in opposite directions for new starts in March, as well. Total new start construction nationally jumped 7 percent in March,compared to February, bolstered by new apartment construction, which was up more than 26 percent. In New England, total new construction starts were down 5.8 percent, with single-family projections dropping 32.8 percent
One builder told The Rounds, that, at least in Connecticut, they have to pull more permits than they can possibly get to because many projects fall through due to zoning or other issues that creep up on them.
Radio personality Don Imus and his wife Deirdre’s Westport estate has been sold for $14.4 million.
The feat was accomplished by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sales associates Darlene Letersky and Emily Gordon.
Lettersky represented the Imuses, while Gordon brought the buyers.
This is among the highest-priced residential property transactions recorded in Westport, according to the Greater Fairfield County CMLS, Coldwell said.
Built in 2000, the white clapboard Georgian Revival residence offers more than 10,000 square feet of living space, six bedrooms, and 6.5 baths. Highlights of the four-acre property, which is located at 106 Beachside Ave., include 215 feet of private beach along Long Island Sound, a carriage house with a garage that can accommodate up to six cars, and a two-bedroom guest house.
RealtyTrac, the California-based foreclosure marketplace, is tracking a 52 percent jump in foreclosure activity in Fairfield County and a 48 percent jump in New Haven County compared to last month.
The company reported Thursday total foreclosure activity in the nation fell 23 percent in March compared to a the same month in 2012 and down 1 percent from February of this year. Fairfield County was up 40 percent compared to a year ago.
Sherman, in the Northwest is actually leading the region in foreclosure rates, according to the company. The increase in activity might threaten gains in housing prices made in the last few months. Foreclosure sales prices were up 4 percent in February, according to RealtyTrac.
New Haven County likewise saw a surge in activity, climbing 48 percent in March compared to the previous month and was up 20 percent from a year ago. Oxford saw the highest rate of activity in the month, according to RealtyTrac.
We’ve had some trouble with this graphic, but we’re trying again.
The problem of identity theft has sparked the SEC to require brokers, dealers, advisers and other investment pros to put in place prevention programs.
Investment pros will have to create programs that will flag suspicious activity.
The problem of ID theft has led to delays in processing tax returns for some individuals during the last two years and is a growing concern.
The SEC finalized its rule Wednesday but it doesn’t go into effect until it is published. But you can take a peek at it here.
Connecticut’s taxman must be a fan of B.F. Skinner .
The State Department of Revenue said 79 percent of tax refunds paid out this year were directly deposited into taxpayers’ accounts. That’s up 24 percent from two years ago, the last time the state issued paper refund checks.
Kevin Sullivan, DRS commissioner, issued a release this week detailing the success of the program, now in its second year. The program drew criticism as it came as a surprise to many taxpayers who were expecting checks. Instead of checks, the DRS contracted with Chase to provide debit cards which must be activated. While fees can be avoided, they can still be assessed on the use of the cards, though most banks can transfer all the money off of the cards into your account after activation.
“Last tax season, Connecticut taxpayers due income tax refunds of less than $5,000 and not choosing direct deposit received debit cards rather than paper checks for the first time. Said Department of Revenue Services (DRS) Commissioner Kevin Sullivan, ‘It was a bumpy ride last time and we had a lot of explaining to do. This tax season, with the opportunity to provide a real public information campaign in advance to taxpayers, it is going very smoothly with very, very few complaints.’”
Sullivan noted only 19 percent of refunds have been issued onto cards this year. People who are owed more than $5,000 can still get checks. He touted the cost savings element of the program, which is estimated at about $300,000 annually.
There are critics of the program, as Sullivan addressed in his release.
Added Commissioner Sullivan, “Yes, a few politicians in the State Legislature still don’t seem to get it. Change is never easy. But government has an obligation to be more businesslike in reducing costs and modernizing services. That’s what this is all about, in addition to providing greater security. With refund debit cards, taxpayers have easy, no-fee choices after simply activating the card. They can simply cash out at any Chase or other VISA-affiliated bank. Alternatively, they can use it just like any other debit card to make purchases from VISA-affiliated merchants.”
One reason some lawmakers are skeptical is because, there is evidence that many people never activated the cards last year, something a problem DRS is trying to remedy. After all, that money trapped in plastic isn’t doing the economy any good, though Chase can start whacking the cards for fees after a year.
Commissioner Sullivan also noted DRS will once again do a follow-up mailing to remind taxpayers who may forget to activate and access their income tax refund debit cards. Said Sullivan, “It’s their money and we want to be sure they get it.”
Note: The mines originally called this a Pavlovian tax experiment. After arguing with our colleague J. Burgeson, the man who made Whitehead fly, we’ve decided to amend the lead. Burgie argued the Pavlovian reference is more apt to be taken as a reference for salivation. We argued that Pavlov was paving the way for behavioral modification using positive reinforcement. But we conceded, perhaps Skinner would be a better reference, given his use of both negative and positive stimuli to get a result.
Mortgage bankers across the country reported a 4 percent increase in applications for buying homes and a 6 percent increase in refinancing last week.
The increase in activity, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, came as interest rates fell. The average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to 3.68 percent from 3.76 percent.
Those shopping for jumbo loans were also rewarded last week with a lower rate of 3.79 down from 3.85 percent.
Property rounds coming Thursday on new home construction.