How Does the New Tax Law Impact Homeownership?

New tax laws will affect income taxes filed in 2019, so it is important to be aware of what changes could potentially affect you.

The Mortgage Interest Deduction:

  • For mortgages taken out after December 15, 2017, only interest on up to $750,000 in acquisition debt is deductible ($375,000 if married filing separately)- includes primary and second homes

  • Interest on up to $1,000,000 in acquisition debt incurred on or before December 15, 2017 is still deductible ($500,000 if married filing separately)

  • The $1,000,000 limit ($500,000 if married filing separately) will still apply to anyone who refinances existing qualified residence debt that was incurred before December 15, 2017 to the extent the new loan does not exceed the old loan

  • Acquisition debt is ANY debt incurred in acquiring, constructing or substantially improving a qualified residence and is secured by the residence

The interest deduction on home equity debt is eliminated

  • This is any debt that is secured by a qualified residence other than acquisition debt

  • Interest on HELOCs used to purchase a qualified residence is deductible to the extent that the loan is used to purchase the property (making it acquisition debt)

No changes will be made to the current law that excludes capital gains on the sale of a home.

The standard tax deduction will nearly double for single files from $6,350 to $12,000, for joint filers from $12,700 to $24,000, and for heads of household from $9,350 to $18,000.

The new law eliminates the deduction for personal exemptions and the personal exemption phase-out.

State and local income tax, property tax, and sales tax (in the aggregate) will now be limited to a maximum deduction of $10,000.

The current mortgage revenue bonds and mortgage credit certificates (MCCs) are preserved under the new tax law.


Source: IRS http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/resources-for-tax-law-changes

Weekend Guide to Scottsdale, AZ

The desert towns can seem dreadful to some. Sure, you can fry an egg or two on the asphalt in the summer (which you really should not eat if you ever try), and yes, you need sunscreen often through the year, but most people get quite shocked once they give desert towns a shot. Even the look of the buildings has a different, vintage and nostalgic look that you can’t find anywhere else. Everything down to the plant life can show people that different worlds are out there. Scottsdale, Arizona is one of those amazing towns that embodies and exceeds the example of a fantastic desert city. Located on the eastside of Arizona, there are so many fun things to do in Scottsdale that will capture your attention and have you coming back for more! Here is just a tiny list of the commodities Scottsdale can offer.

McCormick and Stillman Railroad Park

The nostalgia of the town will hit you right away when you visit the McCormick and Stillman Railroad park. Prepare to have your interest in trains re-invoked from when you were a kid. Operated by the city of Scottsdale Parks & Recreation department, this 30-acre park will offer more train joy than one can handle. Try out their centerpiece of the park: the Paradise & Pacific Railroad. It is built and operated as an exact 5:12 reproduction of a Colorado narrow gauge railroad! You can also take it slow with the Scottsdale Charros Carousel.  If you are looking for a real awesome experience, on Saturdays and Sundays from October to May, they will allow guests to ride the Arboretum Train. This will run right through their desert arboretum to make for an incredible experience.

Camelback Mountain

Camelback Mountain might just be the perfect getaway if you are looking for an outdoors seclusion from the world. Be warned, the trails can get steep. I’m sure you are wondering why they call it Camelback Mountain. It’s as simple as you can guess. The mountain resembles a kneeling camel with its hump and head protruding up. It really is quite the sight when you look at it, but nothing is more beautiful than the view it offers. If you decide to take its 1.2-mile summit trail, you will find yourself reaching an elevation of 2,707 feet. This is known as one of the most scenic hiking spots in the city! As rewarding as it is, make sure to be prepared. The hike can be quite steep.

Big Surf

Say you hit the hike in the morning, you might be a little worn out from the heat. You might want to cool off. What better way than with a gorgeous water park? Located about 6 miles from Scottsdale is Big Surf Waterpark. Big Surf is known for being the first water park in the United States to have a wave pool. All you need to do is gather up the family and hop in your weekend rental car or family-owned vehicle and drive about 15 min south. Obviously, they have done something right because know it is widely adapted everywhere! Find yourself zipping through their abundant choices of water slides or relaxing on the grassy areas getting some sun. No matter, you will find it refreshing to soak in the sun and take a dip in the water.

OdySea Aquarium

Okay, maybe jumping into the water gets old after a while, but one thing that never gets old is observing sea life. In Scottsdale, there is the OdySea Aquarium. It just happens to be the largest aquarium on the Southwest of the United States, holding in more than 2 million US gallons of water! You can see all types of marine life and explore their Aqua lobby. It is incredible to see nine massive 1,000 pound globe-shaped aquariums hanging overhead. It really is something that will drop your jaw to the floor. IF you are over the age of 21, you can even check out their Nightlife after hours adventure under the sea event. Bring your friends, or a special date, and enjoy live music, a five-course dinner, cocktails, behind the scenes tours and much more during this amazing nighttime event.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Come explore your interpretation of art by yourself or with friends at the Scottsdale Museum of contemporary art. With more than 40 years of experience, the museum is completely dedicated to exhibiting modern art, design, and architecture. Sounds like a perfect place to wind down after an eventful weekend. If you really want to dive in, the museum offers a great selection of educational classes that can teach anyone from young and old about art and creativity. It really is a good way to get out there and make some friends that share the same interest in you. You might take it more seriously when you find out there are more than 50,000 children and adults that the museum engages with.

Scottsdale, Arizona is a magnificent desert city filled with very creative and explorative things to do. Whether you live there or are just visiting for the weekend, you will find yourself falling in love with the desert more and more as you traverse the weekend and it’s desert glory. Have fun!

 

By: Jeremy Alderman, ZOG Digital

 

5 Budget-Friendly Ways to Remodel a Bathroom

Is your bathroom looking a little outdated? Although we all love to drool over images of gorgeous designer bathrooms, we may not have the budget to go all-out when the time comes to spruce up our own washrooms. Fortunately, giving your bathroom a new look doesn’t require a complete overhaul. Take a look at some ideas for remodeling that will help revive your bathroom without breaking the bank.

1. Paint

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a bathroom in need of an upgrade.  By choosing a completely different color palette, you can even make your old space feel like new. Whether you decide to play it safe or go bold, be sure that you use mold-proof paint. Because of the humidity, mold is the most common issue in every bathroom. You can also use new paint to refresh your dated bathroom cabinets. In addition to painting the bathroom, re-caulk the lines around the tub and sink and clean the grout between your tiles. This will make look your bathroom extra “fresh”!

2. Tile

Remodeling a bathroom often means replacing old tile with expensive new tile that looks gorgeous. But if you want to cut your budget, cutting the expensive tile is your first step.  Consider limiting the amount of tile in your bathroom by focusing on high-impact areas such as the floor and use a larger tile size and simple patterns first. Another alternative is to save by designing a “rug” with just a few square feet of something fancy and eye catching, and using large-format field tiles in a coordinating stone around it.

3. Countertops

If you have a limited amount of counter space, you won’t break the bank by installing granite or other solid-surface counters.  To save even more, consider looking at various color choices and slabs with imperfections. Consider alternative colors that will still look nice, but that you hadn’t previously considered.

4. Fixture Updates 

If you don’t have the funds to spend on a custom vanity, don’t fret. A simple model can look one-of-a-kind with some pretty hardware. While these changes may seem small or insignificant, they can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your bathroom. Try a vintage or specialty store to find hardware that is unique.

5. Bathtub 

Once a bathtub is installed in a bathroom, getting it out is usually expensive. Although a new tub doesn’t have to be pricey the process of removing the old one, hiring a plumber to reattach the pipes and installing the new bathtub can add up to $3,000. If your bathtub is in good shape but its beauty has faded, consider refinishing. You can reglaze a bathtub to a like-new finish for $200 to $300 or hire a professional for $500-700 to get it looking as good as new.

5 Great Entertaining Features in a Home

Having a home that supports your activities makes all the difference in hosting an event which you can enjoy along with your family, friends, and guests. No matter the size of your home, introducing just a few easy elements can transform it into an entertaining haven.

Here are five key features that make a home ideal for entertaining:

  1. An Inviting Entryway

The entryway is the first impression your guests have of your home, so make it inviting and functional. No need to be over-the-top, but make sure it’s sizable enough to allow guests to enter comfortably and to remove their coats and shoes. If you have room add a lovely bench and have a coat rack readily available for guest.

  1. An Open Floor Plan

Over the past decade, an increasingly popular home trend has been an “open floor plan.” Essentially, this means an open space in the heart of your home, which creates a sense of togetherness throughout homes and make it easier to communicate. This open space gives plenty of room for guests to mingle, while not feeling closed off from any part of the party. If your house doesn’t have an open floorplan, don’t worry. Just clear out larger pieces of furniture, such as side tables, to make room for your guests.

  1. Multiple Seating areas

Entertaining is all about creating a comfortable space for guests to mingle and converse. The best entertainment environments maximize seating, creating large group and intimate seating arrangements for all types of conversations.Some guests may prefer to be in the center of all the action, while others may prefer a quieter area to catch up with friends. Having more than one space to entertain creates an atmosphere of easy interaction with a variety of choices. A living room with a grouping of couches and comfortable chairs is a perfect fit. A versatile dining area with neutral furnishings work well with all types of decorations, while extendable tables accomodate parties of all sizes.

  1. A Powder Room

While you may not notice this feature on a daily basis, a bathroom becomes noticeably important when entertaining! You can transform any half bath into a powder room by adding a small basket that holds lotion, hairspray or anything else someone may find themselves needing during a visit to your home. Powder rooms not only provide guests their own comfortable space, they’re wonderful opportunities to play around with decor by adding candles and special occasion hand towels or by using a bold wall color or artwork.

  1. Mood Lighting

Good lighting is everything when it comes to making a home feel inviting and cozy. Proper mood lighting is about making your guests feel comfortable while still being able to see each other. Play around with different types of lighting for adaptable levels of light and don’t forget to add candles for that extra coziness factor.

 

 

7 Ways to Make Your Home Brighter

The winter may bring darker and cloudier days ahead, but with the seven tips below you can make your home look brighter, more cheerful and inviting:

1 Take the Screens Off Your Windows

You’ll get 30% more sunlight shining indoors without screens on your windows.

Here’s the best part: Sunlight warms your room and saves you money on your heating bill. It’s solar power — for you!

Be sure to store your screens in your garage or basement where they won’t get damaged. In the spring you’ll want to put them back on so you can keep that 30% of the sun out and run your cooling system less.

2 Hang Outdoor String Lights Indoors

They don’t give off a lot of light, but they’re cheerful as heck.

Drape them around a window or a mantel, or hang a string of LED glimmer lights in a tall potted plant. They’ll add a layer of soft light to your room and remind you of fireflies, flip-flops, and patio parties.

3 Change Your Bulbs

Replace those incandescent bulbs and their yellowy light with LEDs, which produce a brighter, whiter light.

But get your bright right:

  • The higher the K rating on the bulb, the cooler and whiter its light.

  • For cool, white light, opt for a bulb rated 3,500K to 4,100K.

  • For blue-white light that’s closest to natural daylight, use a bulb between 5,000K and 6,500K.

4 Hang Mirrors

Make the most of that weak winter light by bouncing it around the room with mirrors.

If you don’t want the distraction of seeing your reflection all the time, use a large, convex one — also known as a fish-eye mirror. It will amplify light better than a flat one. Another option: Hang a gallery wall of small mirrors.

5 Replace Heavy Curtains With Blinds or Roman Shades

Fabric curtains, while quite insulating, block light and make a room feel smaller and more cramped, especially if they’re a dark color or have a large print.

Try Roman shades or a simple valance paired with blinds to let in the maximum amount of natural light.

6 Swap Your Solid Front Door for One With Glass Inserts

A solid front door can make your house look and feel as dark as a dungeon.

Get rid of it and install a half-light or full-light door that lets the natural light stream in. For even more natural light, add glass sidelights and a glass transom.

The median cost of a new door is $2,000 for steel and $2,500 for fiberglass, before any extras, but a new door will add curb appeal.

Curb appeal equals higher resale value. And coming home in the evening to the warm glow of light radiating out the glass panels in your front door is an instant mood lifter.

7 Add Plants

Putting pots of plants around your room will remind you that spring and green will return.

Match plants to the amount of light you have, because dead and dying plants are depressing. Tropicals that thrive in indirect light are usually the best choice. If you have a sunny window you’ve got more plant options.

Bonus points for adding a plant that blooms in the winter, like a kaffir lily or anthurium.

 

Source: “HouseLogic.com, https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/remodeling-tips-advice/natural-light-indoors/