Is It Time to “Repeal and Replace” the Mortgage Interest Deduction?

Pixabay.com

Pixabay.com

If Congress is proactive, the possibility of productive tax reform in 2017 could very well become a reality. It’s necessary, too – particularly in the housing market, where the lack of resources to make housing affordable for lower- and middle-income families is growing. But where should reform begin?

A great starting place is the mortgage interest deduction (MID). Once untouchable in the political world, the MID is ripe for revision, and many people across the political and socioeconomic spectrums agree.

“For years, the MID was considered an untouchable third rail program – that’s no longer the case,” says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). “In discussions of comprehensive tax reform, key Republican policy makers are actively considering a number of direct and indirect changes to MID.” Read more »

Trinity Tuesday: A Rare Gem in Rittenhouse for $330K

403 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19146 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

403 S. 17th St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19146 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

If you have champagne taste on a beer-bottle budget, say hello to this completely modernized trinity in the ever-so-desirable neighborhood of Rittenhouse Square.

In traditional trinity fashion, this property rings in at a mere 700 square feet. However, what you get for that square footage is well worth it (if you can bear living modestly, that is).

The first level sports white marble floors, built-in shelving, and recessed lighting. Just off the main room is a tiny kitchen with white appliances, a stainless steel backsplash, and countertops. The second level can act as one of two things: an additional living space (office, den, entertainment area, etc.), or a second bedroom. This level is also home to the trinity’s only full bathroom. With stone-embellished walls and flooring, it’s definitely one of a kind. Read more »

Main Line Monday: Worldly Comfort in Wayne for $925K

516 W. Beechtree Ln., Wayne, Pa. 19087 | Images via Houwzer Real Estate

516 W. Beechtree Ln., Wayne, Pa. 19087 | Images via Houwzer Real Estate

From the outside, you’d hardly be able to distinguish this colonial from the many others speckled throughout the Main Line. However, step inside and that will absolutely change – this sunlit open-concept home is a masterpiece.

Built in 1928 and completely renovated since then, this four-bedroom property adequately maintains some of its historical charm while containing all the amenities of a modern home. Read more »

What $500K Will Buy You in Rydal

1017 Lindsay Lane, Rydal, Pa. 19046 | TREND image via Kurfiss Sotheby's International Realty

1017 Lindsay Lane, Rydal, Pa. 19046 | TREND image via Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty

Back before Willow Grove Park Mall, Jenkintown was the shopping center of the northern suburbs. The department stores have all departed now, but the town retains its walkable charm, and it’s the hub of the north-side SEPTA Regional Rail system: its train station is the busiest outside of Center City.

Just up the road and two stops up the SEPTA West Trenton Line is Rydal, which shares its zip code but is a little more suburban — maybe it’s all those car dealers lining the Fairway along its northern edge that make the difference. Away from the autos, though, you’ll find a leafy community developed largely after World War II, filled with homes that reflect the styles of their era, some with a little updating in places. Take a look at these three homes to see what we mean: Read more »

Is The Center City Housing Boom Sustainable?

Center City's housing market is on a tear, with new units being built at a record pace. A new Center City District report looks at its building blocks. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

Center City’s housing market is on a tear, with new units being built at a record pace. A new Center City District report looks at its building blocks. | Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

Center City may have just regained momentum as a job generator, thanks largely to adjacent University City, but its housing market has taken off like a rocket, and the Center City District’s new report on housing, “Building on Optimism,” explains what’s produced this meteoric rise in great detail.

As for whether the core-city housing market can continue to build on that optimism…well, the devil’s in the details, and that rosy report points out where the thorns are.

But first, let’s smell the roses. Greater Center City — the area from Girard Avenue on the north to Tasker Street on the south between the rivers — has become one enormous construction site, with a record 2,506 housing units produced in 2016, the most since the district started keeping track of residential construction in 2000. Even more units are in the pipeline: 5,379 units are slated to be completed in the next two years, with the bulk coming on line this year. Read more »

How to Transform the Look of Your Home in One Weekend

A master bedroom in Doylestown | Photo courtesy East Coast Creative

A master bedroom in Doylestown | Photo courtesy East Coast Creative

Designer and DIY maven Monica Mangin might live in Bucks County — “I live in the woods, and I love it,” she says — but she knows all about the unique design challenges facing those of us who live in classic Philly rowhomes. The DIYer-turned-blogger-turned-TV host-turned entrepreneur and owner of East Coast Creative has bestowed her talents and aesthetic on many-a-Philly rowhome, so she knows her stuff.

In fact, last year she launched a home design-focused web series called The Weekender, which featured many homes from right here in Philadelphia. The show feels like something straight out of HGTV — styleless homeowners turn to our expert and host, Monica, for design help, and she completes five projects in a single weekend that totally transform their space — but it comes at a more web-friendly pace: Entire episodes last around 10 commercial-free minutes, and you can find them right on YouTube.

Season 2, which premiers today, branches out to homes beyond our region, but I chatted with Monica yesterday to get the skinny on what she learned about working in Philly homes during the show’s debut season, and to glean tips for totally transforming a space in a matter of days. Her insights below.  Read more »

Jawdropper of the Week: Opulence in Rittenhouse Square for $7.3M

1706 Rittenhouse Sq., Unit 2201, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

1706 Rittenhouse Sq., Unit 2201, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103 | TREND images via BHHS Fox & Roach

We’ve talked about properties in the luxurious 1706 Rittenhouse building several times over the past few years (like here, or here, or… here), and the time has come to add another one to that list – because let’s face it, these units do not disappoint.

Head up to the 22nd floor (via your private elevator, of course), and enter right into the residence’s grand marble foyer with an aquarium wall. Just beyond the wall is a chic living room with spectacular views of the city. Oh, and the living room isn’t alone either – basically every other room in the unit has an outstanding floor-to-ceiling window view too, and if those views aren’t enough for you, just step out onto one of the two private balconies. Read more »

Philly Home Buyers Break Even Faster Now, Report Says

It soesn't take all that long for buying to be cheaper than renting - just two years, six months, according to Zillow's latest "Breakeven Horizon" report.

It doesn’t take all that long for buying to be cheaper than renting – just two years, six months, according to Zillow’s latest “Breakeven Horizon” report.

Generally speaking, buying beats renting in the long run for most people seeking a place to live. And the recent runup in local house values means that home buyers here reach the break-even point for buying a little sooner than they did last year, according to figures recently released by Zillow.

According to Zillow’s latest “Breakeven Horizon” report, the average buyer of a home in the Philadelphia market in the fourth quarter of 2016 began to break even on their investment five months sooner than they did in the same quarter of 2015 — two years, five months, down from two years, 10 months. Read more »

From Trash to Treasure: The Story of the Ugliest House in America

HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerley turned this ugly duckling in Springfield into a swan. | Photos courtesy Tom Beerley via HomeVestors

HomeVestors franchisee Tom Beerley turned this ugly duckling in Springfield into a swan. | Before photos: Tom Beerley via HomeVestors; after photos: Pravada Photography via HomeVestors

You’ve seen those big yellow billboards that proclaim “We Buy Ugly Houses,” right?

Those are the work of HomeVestors, a company that franchises its services to investors who would like to help owners of properties in distress.

Each year, the company sponsors a competition among its franchisees to identify the “Ugliest House in America” as a way of showcasing the work HomeVestors buyers do.

And “showcase” is precisely what the 2016 Ugliest House in America, a two-story home built in 1945 in Springfield, Delaware County, became thanks to the efforts of franchisee Tom Beerley.

The home could hardly have been more distressed. Nor could its owner. Read more »

First-Time Find: Pleasance in Point Breeze for $230K

1742 S. 24th St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19145 | TREND images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

1742 S. 24th St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19145 | TREND images via Coldwell Banker Preferred

It’s been over thirty years since the last time this Point Breeze rowhome was on the market – but thanks to a complete remodel by the owner, the property looks anything but dated.

Located on a tree-lined block close to South Philadelphia, even the exterior of this home is unique. Different from its neighbors, it features Permastone siding that contrasts nicely with its other black detailing. Read more »

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