The Major Tax Changes: An Overview

The new tax law has dominated political discussion for months and will likely continue to do so well into 2018. Consequences, both intended and otherwise, are still unclear. But for now, these are the big changes for both individuals and companies. In general, the changes to individual provisions expire at the end of 2025, but the corporate changes are permanent.

Taxes for Individuals

The big news here is bracket changes. They’ve changed and are generally lower:

  • 10% (income up to $9,525 for individuals; up to $19,050 for married couples filing jointly)
  • 12% (over $9,525 to $38,700; over $19,050 to $77,400 for couples)
  • 22% (over $38,700 to $82,500; over $77,400 to $165,000 for couples)
  • 24% (over $82,500 to $157,500; over $165,000 to $315,000 for couples)
  • 32% (over $157,500 to $200,000; over $315,000 to $400,000 for couples)
  • 35% (over $200,000 to $500,000; over $400,000 to $600,000 for couples)
  • 37% (over $500,000; over $600,000 for couples)

The standard deduction nearly doubles, to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for couples. This means fewer people will find it advantageous to itemize.

Those who continue to itemize, however, will see significant changes — especially if they’re homeowners:

  • All state and local tax deductions are limited to $10,000.
  • The mortgage interest deduction is limited to payments on $750,000 of debt.

The alternative minimum tax is still in existence, but the exemption is increased, meaning fewer will be paying it.

The child tax credit is doubled to $2,000, with a refundable portion up to $1,400.

The estate tax is still with us, but the exemptions have been doubled. The number of families that will be subject to the federal estate tax is now vanishingly small.

Taxes for Businesses

The big story here is the lowering of the tax rate from 35% to 21%. However, there are other important provisions:

  • The corporate AMT is eliminated.
  • The limit on Section 179 expensing is increased to $1 million.
  • The new law limits the deduction for net operating losses to 80% of taxable income.
  • Instead of being an immediate deduction, research and development expenditures will need to be written off gradually.
  • “Passthrough” companies get a 20% reduction, but there is an income phaseout.

Businesses and individuals will need to carefully consider what their situation is in 2018 and plan accordingly.

If you want more details, visit the links below:

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

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Are You At Risk Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” CO is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. If you’ve got heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances or cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products or other fuels emitting CO as a by-product of combustion, you’re at risk.

Attached garages with doors, ductwork or ventilation shafts connected to a living space also are sources of CO.

Current National Fire Protection Association guidelines recommend CO alarms be installed on each level of the home, including the basement, and outside every sleeping area.

CO poisoning is notoriously difficult to diagnose – often until it’s too late. The symptoms mimic those of many other illnesses including nausea, headaches, dizziness, weakness, chest pain and vomiting.

In more severe poisoning cases, people may experience disorientation or unconsciousness, or suffer long-term neurological disabilities, cardiorespiratory failure or death.

Follow these tips from First Alert to keep your household safe this winter:

Run kitchen vents or exhaust fans anytime the stove is in use.

Always run exhaust fans when cooking, especially during the holidays when stoves are left on for longer periods of time. Open a nearby window periodically when cooking to allow fresh air to circulate.

Never use generators indoors

Use them outside only, never inside the home, in a garage or in any confined area that can allow CO to collect. Don’t use charcoal grills, camp stoves and other similar devices indoors.

Have your fuel-burning appliances inspected regularly.

Get a professional inspection of your furnaces, stoves, fireplaces, clothes dryers, water heaters and space heaters annually to detect any CO leaks. Let me know if you need a referral to a good serviceperson.

Install/test CO alarms.

CO alarms are the only way to detect this poisonous gas, yet nearly one-half of us don’t have a CO alarm.

For under $20 you can get a battery powered CO alarm to help protect your household. Install alarms on every level of the home and near each sleeping area for maximum protection. Test alarm function monthly and change batteries every six months.

Be mindful of the garage.

Never leave a car running in an attached garage. Even if the garage door is open, CO emissions can leak into your home.

Know who to call.

If a CO alarm sounds, leave your home immediately and call 911.

Have questions or comments? Contact me today.

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

How Selling a Condo Is Different Than Selling a Home

There is not a lot of time from the moment you list your condo to when your first prospective buyer contacts you. No matter what the housing market looks like, condos are usually the more affordable option and you will almost always find a buyer.

That’s in stark contrast to home sales that can take months just to prepare. Here are six other ways selling a condo is different than selling a home.

1. You Market the Building/Community as Well as Your Unit

When you sell a home, it’s not your job necessarily to sell the neighborhood or the community. But when it comes to selling a condo unit, the condo building and community features are all part of marketing your individual unit.

Think of the things that attracted you not just to your unit but to your condo building or community and use that to market your building to prospective buyers. Is your HOA great? Are there a lot of community events? Do your monthly condo fees pay for extras like cable?

2. Your HOA Can Hurt or Help Your Condo Sale

Speaking of your HOA, the fact is, some homeowners associations do more harm than good when it comes to selling your condo. Your unit may be great. Your asking price may be spot on. But if your condo association is disorganized, unresponsive, unprofessional or too strict, it could be a harder sell.

3. Timing When to Sell Is Different for Condos

You sell a home when the market is right. You sell a condo when the season is right. Many condo buyers are looking for a second home, vacation home or a winter home. Promoting your seaside condo at the start of beach season is one of the ways the timing is different for selling condos.

4. It’s Easier to Get the Asking Price Right

Homes differ widely based on style, age, quality, size and more – a lot of times within the same neighborhood. Finding components to strike the right asking price is something you really need an agent for when selling a home. When selling a condo, units barely differ at all and the price for one will likely be the same for another.

5. The Types of Buyers Are Different for Condo Sales

Condo buyers are different from typical homebuyers. Your prospects may all be investors looking to use your condo as a rental property. They may offer an all cash deal. They may want to speed up the close. Dealing with investors is different than dealing with homebuyers and closing the deal will take the help of a good agent.

6. It Takes a Little Extra Effort to Market Your Unit

Do you have an end unit? Is your unit on the other side of the community, away from a noisy highway? To market your individual unit to prospective buyers, it may take a little extra effort to convince buyers to choose your unit over another one when they are practically the same. Staging can help a lot in that regard.

Have a condo that you’re looking to sell? I can help. Contact me today to learn more.

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

6 Financial Steps To Living The Sweet Life

If working a corporate job for the rest of your life sounds like your worst nightmare, you may want to consider arranging your finances in a way that can give you some freedom at a younger age. Many people love the idea of working until they’re over the age of 60, but if that thought fills you with anxiety, it might be time to make a plan so you can retire young. Here are four tips that can help you retire faster.

  1. Don’t spend all you make. It is easy to get caught up in our consumer culture and buy all the latest gadgets and a new car every couple of years. If you want to retire early, it is important that you step out of this mindset. Do what you can to avoid living paycheck to paycheck, and if that means driving a used car or not upgrading your phone, then do those things.
  2. Don’t use your home like a piggybank. Yes, refinances and second mortgages can help with major expenses like college tuition. But don’t get into the habit of using home equity lines of credit to pay your way through life for a variety of luxuries. You’ll be swamped with interest for years.
  3. Can you pay your home off earlier? Paying off more principal year-by-year can save thousands of dollars in interest.
  4. Max out your 401(k). From the time you start your first professional job, max out your 401(k) contributions. This is especially important if your company offers a match. But even if it doesn’t, keep up this habit. You won’t miss that money each week because you never had it to begin with. That 401(k) will be your lifeline in the future.
  5. Keep debt and expenses low. Student loans are one of the biggest problems for young people and their financial future. Do what you can to keep your debt low and pay it off as soon as possible. You want to maintain good credit, and keeping your expenses low will help you save more money for the future. Avoid financing anything other than a mortgage.
  6. Find fulfilling, part-time work. While it sounds great to golf every day or sit on your porch and read, early retirement isn’t just about the lack of activity in your life. You may want to do something riskier, like turn your hobby into a job. If you have the security of a good retirement plan, your second career could be a real life-changing experience.

Do you want to downsize, simplify or do a cost-saving refinance? Contact me today!

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

Restaurant Week Is Back! Jan 14 – 26, 2018.

Center City’s Restaurant Week started Sunday January 14th and runs through Friday January 26th.  Enjoy three course lunches for $20 and three course dinners for $35.  For a list of participating restaurants click here.

Now is the time to try those restaurants that have been on your list!

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

The Spring Market Is Coming: 12 Ways to Invest Less Than $1,000 in Your Home and Sell It for More

When it’s time to sell, every homeowner wants to get the highest sales price possible. One of the best strategies to keep the price high is to eliminate reasons for buyers to reduce their offers. At first glance, it may seem counterproductive to spend money when you’re trying to sell your home for the best price, but it does make sense. A thoughtful and limited cash infusion to your home will make it show better, perhaps function better, and attract more homebuyers.

Before you start any work, consider your home’s competition. For example, if your older home is up against new construction you will need to make sure your home shines in comparison to the model homes buyers are touring. It’s imperative to make sure your home looks squeaky clean, open and airy, bright and shiny.

Look around your home before you put it on the market. You’re sure to find a few places where some elbow grease or a little cash could make a big difference. Our dozen ideas of how to use $1,000 in your home is by no means exhaustive and you may want to focus on certain areas that need attention or that your local buyers put more emphasis on. Don’t be limited by our list, but use it to create a move-in ready home all buyers desire.

Keep reading for 12 ways to spend just a little to help bring in top-dollar offers. And, if you have any questions, please contact us. We’re here to help you get your home sold fast and for the best price.

1. Wash the Windows
Here’s what dirty windows say about you: “I don’t take care of the parts of this home you can see, so imagine how neglected the parts you can’t see are.” The would-be buyer sees grimy windows and thinks: “This home isn’t worth what they’re asking.” Price this service out and you’ll find that windows can be professionally washed for not nearly as much as you might think.

2. Magic Carpets
Hire an experienced professional to clean all the carpets in your home. Make the carpets look as good as new and you’ve just possibly saved a few thousand dollars on the offer. If the carpet in a particular room is in rough shape, go ahead and replace it. Often one room can be re-carpeted for less than $1,000, while punching up the overall appeal of your home.

3. Work the Yard
Unless your lawn is in really bad shape, $1,000 can go a long way toward weeding, seeding, mulching, adding plants and generally greening it up. Because curb appeal is so important, you might consider adding landscaping color and design to the spots that count.

4. Kill the Clutter
Are you surrounded by clutter? If you can’t chuck it all, then consider renting a storage unit while your home is on the market. Even a couple of months will run you less than $1,000. Extraneous books, excess furniture, mounds of kids’ toys, unused yard tools, etc., can make a home look too lived-in and drop the value of the home in the eyes of a buyer.

5. Color Changes
There’s nothing that can make a home look better, cleaner, newer and ready-to-move-into than a new paint job in neutral colors. If you do the work yourself, $1,000 can cover a lot of walls—and trim.

6. Invite an Inspector
Don’t wait until a buyer bids on your home to have it inspected; hire an inspector yourself. Sure, you might find some defects that cost more than $1,000 to fix, but for a few hundred dollars in inspector’s fees, you’ll get peace of mind. Having a current home inspection could even give you an edge over the competition.

7. Look Down
Are your hardwoods as good-looking as the day you walked in? A good cleaning could make them look new and cover up small scratches. Refinishing may cost more than $1,000 depending on the square footage. Replacing worn linoleum or cracked tile in smaller spaces can also be doable with the budget at hand.

8. Go Tech & Go Green
Change your thermostat to an internet-based programmable one. Change out all your incandescent light bulbs to LED. Install a low-flow toilet or water-saving shower heads. Or, do it all and you’ll likely still be under $1,000.

9. Appliance Upgrade
If the microwave, dishwasher, dryer, washing machine or other small- to medium-size appliance indicates that its best days are behind it, replace the item and make your new buyer happy.

10. Spruce Up the Front
A new steel front door on average costs just over a grand, but the impact it gives to would-be buyers is priceless. Don’t forget a new welcome mat and welcoming wreath or potted plant!

11. Hardware Shines
Consider updating doorknobs, drawer pulls, hinges and the like with a uniting new finish to bring your home up-to-date with the small things. If you do the work yourself, you could have this task done in a quick weekend.

12. Deep Clean
Consider replacing all tub and tile grout and caulk to start with a fresh, clean look for your kitchen and bath areas. Remember, clean and bright sells.

If you’re thinking about selling your home this spring contact me today for a complimentary consultation.

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

Use These 4 Organization Tips To Make Your Moving Day A Breeze

What is the best way to prepare yourself for a big move? The easy answer: hire someone to take care of every detail for you. Realistic answer: start early and make use of these tips so that you can schedule a spa day after it’s over.

1. Take Notes the Old Fashioned Way
Create a file for notes, business cards, receipts, warranties, contracts and more. Digital is perfect for backing up important documentation, but you won’t always have a scanner and internet connection handy on moving day.

You can go the old fashioned, notebook way before you move. You should start making notes after the buyers tour the house for the first time. The file is also there for your agent’s reference and your CPA will thank you come tax time.

2. Organization is Key
Purging is a good way to get rid of unwanted items so you don’t unnecessarily haul them to your next home. The mere thought of going through the boxes in the garage, attic or storage room sends most people into a state of sheer panic. If you’re packing for a move, the best way to reduce the organizing effort is to eliminate unnecessary stuff.

A yard sale is one way to check off two significant to-dos from your pre-move checklist. You will start by organizing items in your home, and then get a bulk of those unwanted odds and ends off your hands when you sell them.

The bonus is that you acquire some extra money to finance your move.

3. Labeling is your Best Friend
Label every box and bag with the type of items that they contain before taking it with you to the new address. You’re not going to remember what is in that black duffel bag during the height of activity on moving day. Print out labels for every box in bold lettering so everyone can easily read the contents or intended room.

Take labeling one step further by labeling the rooms of your new place. Print out, or write clearly on plain paper, which room is which. Then tape the sign to the door or entryway. Dining rooms, offices and bedrooms all look the same to the movers.

4. Last in First Out
Adopt the accounting term LIFO (Last in First Out) for your move. This applies to raw materials or inventory. Your most essential items should be the last ones in and first ones out of the moving van. Sheets, towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies or toys are frequently the particulars that get lost, yet are in highest demand post-move.

Looking for more information on how to make you move as painless as possible? Contact me for more helpful tips!

 

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton: Buy Now Pay Later

For a limited time, The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton is offering buyers the opportunity to purchase a unit now and close at a later date.  For buyers currently in a lease or who have a home to sell first, this may be the perfect solution.  Those relocating to Philadelphia within the next year will also benefit from the program.

With only 32 residences remaining, the developer inventory at the Ritz will soon be sold out.  Now is the perfect time to secure your new home along with one of the parking licenses also available, but selling out quickly.

The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton offers one, two and three bedroom units ranging from the mid-high $700s to $14M for their breathtaking 9,500 sq ft penthouse.

For more information contact me to schedule a tour.

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

5 Tips For Exploring A New Community

Whether local or long-distance, moving can come with all sorts of anxiety. The packing, the truck, the displacement of your possessions, the interruption in your routine, all of it can make getting used to a new environment exhausting.

While packing and logistics can be simplified by hiring professionals, acclimating to a new surrounding requires a hands-on approach. Here are a few tips to help see you through:

  • Tip #1: Do your research.  Thanks to the internet you can get a pretty good idea of what an area is like from the palm of your hand. Try seeking out local resources such as a community Facebook page to find out what events are happening in your new neighborhood. Use this opportunity to mix with the locals.

    Second, look up a pizza place on Yelp, read the reviews, then go.  Don’t order to-go, stay for the entire time it takes you to eat the pizza. You’ll get a feel for the regulars and maybe pick up on local gossip.

    Tip #2: Start talking. While you’re having pizza, ask the server or bartender about their favorite places. No one knows more about local hotspots then a server or bartender. Plus, they can tell you which places to avoid.

    Tip #3: Think hashtags. Query the community’s hashtag on Twitter or Instagram. This method will produce results related to events, or people who could be your new friends or neighbors. If you see a park or an event that interests you, check it out.  You’ll likely encounter people with the same interests as you.

    Tip #4: Reach out to people. Use your current network to build a network in your new neighborhood. Friends of friends are an excellent resource for the local perspective — hair stylists, doctors, veterinarians, schools, neighborhood vibes, and so on. Not everything you want to know about a community is going to be on the internet.

    Tip #5: Get your pet’s insights! Saving my favorite for last: walk a dog.  Dogs are the most social of animals and tend to like long walks in their immediate vicinity. If you’re a dog owner, great, you have a built-in community explorer at the end of a leash. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one. Contact a community outreach person who fosters dogs and volunteer to walk a dog in need. You’ll gain a unique perspective on the territory while giving back at the same time.

Whichever way you decide, follow up with action. Getting out and about physically is the fastest and most efficient way to understand and appreciate your new neighborhood.

If you are making a move to or from Philadelphia, contact me for local information and helpful resources.

agent_photo_120_1476534012Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com

Things To Do In Philly This Holiday

The Macy’s light show, the Mummer’s Parade, Deck the Hall at City Hall  — there are so many ways to enjoy this holiday.  Plan your activities here with Visit Philly’s Complete Guide to The Holiday’s In Philadelphia.

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Macys Christmas Light Show

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Deck The Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park

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Christmas Village in LOVE Park

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Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

This are just a few events — View the full guide here

Heidi Logan is a real estate agent in Center City Philadelphia.
Copyright© 2017 / All Rights Reserved
www.HeidiLogan.com