The Current State of the Mortgage Industry
Written By: Nadia Ibanez
It’s the age old questions in the real estate market: “When will the real estate market turn itself around so I can actually gain value from my current home” and “When will the absolute best time be to buy a home during the recession?”
While it’s nearly impossible to predict when America will bust out of the recession and return to a “normal” real estate market, we speak with real estate industry professionals about current trends for home owners and buyers.
REAL ESTATE AND TECHNOLOGY
Trulia.com has made quite the name for itself in the online real estate industry and serves as a powerful tool assisting those looking for the right home. Trulia, founded in 2005 in San Francisco, gets more than eight million unique visitors each month from across the nation looking for homes or advice from the site’s more than 500,000 registered real estate brokers and agents offering their assistance.
“Along with being a real estate search engine, we have an active Q&A community on the web with consumers asking realtors and other consumers about real estate trends,” Tara-Nicholle Nelson says, Consumer Educator for Trulia.com. “Our users get hard to obtain answers about their real estate questions without having to call anyone, meet a broker, or pay anything.”
Nelson says that when it comes to trends for potential homebuyers, the market is completely hyper local. “When it comes to consumer behavior trends, we’ve seen an increase of 90 percent of online traffic over to Trulia in the last year,” she says. “Consumers in the post recession era are much more aggressive in their DIY research for pre-home buying. In the local economy, we’re noticing that many users are frequently coming back to the site to check on the status of the home they’re interested in. They use Trulia because they don’t want to rely as heavily and exclusively on advice from a real estate professional, but want other resources for information.”
Additionally, the use of technology has also been a powerful tool in the house hunt, especially because of the Do-it-Yourself trend. “Users rely on our site to see price reductions with properties in one area,” Nelson says. “Current homeowners who are in the market to sell use our site to see market conditions and what other properties in their neighborhood are listed at and see if things are picking up. They’re cutting prices and being aggressive now in order to sell their home.”
For homeowners who haven’t received any decent offers over several months, Nelson believes that you should audit your online listing, since 92 percent of buyers are starting their search online. “Your home’s online representation is really going to ‘make it or break it,’” she says. “You’d be amazed at the number of listings we still see without any pictures.”
Addressing the overpricing is another issue that keeps homes from selling, Nelson continues. “Much of the competition from the individual sellers comes from distressed properties like short sales and foreclosures,” she says. “You cannot always beat them on price, but you can beat them on condition. If you’re home is in pristine condition and still not moving, you’ve got to be real with yourself on how it’s priced.”
LOOKING TO 2011
Dean Jones, the Principal and Owner of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in Seattle advises that current homeowners whose properties are in the market and haven’t received an offer should look at new listing activity to see if market conditions are improving. “If you’re home isn’t moving, it may be because there are fewer new listings coming into the market or absorption has increased, meaning that more sales are occurring. It’s still a market that if you don’t have to sell now, most people feel the future will be more sympathetic than in the past. The worst is probably behind us,” Jones says.
“Because prices have corrected, some buyers believe their offers must reflect further correction like low offers on listings, which sometimes requires a great deal of negotiation,” he continues. “It’s sometimes a blinking contest between what sellers believe the value of their home is and what buyers are willing to pay because they feel they have the advantage – and they’re letting you know that by the types of offers they’re giving.”
Homeowners looking to sell also see that prices are stabilizing and are willing to hold on to their property for a year or two to see further improved value because of overall recovery of the economy. “In Seattle alone, major employers like Boeing and Amazon are offering thousands of job opportunities and tourism is up, all of which show positive economic trends,” Jones says. “There is a significant overhang of commercial real estate that grew in the last couple of years so it’s a great time for companies to expand further.”
“In Seattle, 2011 is going to be the year that stability comes back into market for most of the segments,” he says. “It’s been a couple of years since most of the damage was done and the bulk of inventory and distressed properties has been resolved.”
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.