TIP OF THE WEEK

Whether you are buying a home for the first time or you are just looking for an upgrade, it is never a bad idea to arm yourself with tips that can make your search go from overwhelming to enjoyable. Rather than learning the hard way about hidden expenses and difficult neighbors, there are things you can do to feel more confident as you begin your search.

Consider all the costs. When starting the home-buying journey, the first thing to consider is the cost and expenses. When pre-approved for a mortgage of a certain amount, keep in mind that number is not a target — it is a maximum. While a seller’s market often means little wiggle room on price, your best bet is to find a property below that number so you have a financial cushion when negotiations happen. It is important to remember the mortgage is not the total cost of your home. It usually only covers principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance premiums. Homeownership involves many other expenses like closing costs, home repairs and potential yearly increases in property taxes.

Be flexible but firm. Finding the right home requires a delicate balance of flexibility and finesse. At the same time, you want to stand firm when it comes to your non-negotiables in your new home (price, school district, a second bathroom). This is where having a real estate agent can be of enormous benefit. Agents have the expertise and time to devote to your search that allows you to flex when opportunity arises and get a home that doesn’t break your budget.

Meet the neighbors. While location is important, many factors feed into a great neighborhood. From disputes over pets and parking to personality clashes, neighbors can have a big impact on your happiness as a homeowner. Before committing to a neighborhood, take time to walk the street and gauge compatibility with the neighbors you meet.

More house is more work. Television shows have glamorized home renovation. Before deciding on a “fixer upper,” make sure you have a full understanding of what it will take - and how much it will cost - to make the house match your vision. Construction projects often take longer than anticipated and can reveal other problems that end up costing more money.

Use your head, not your heart. One final piece of advice - do not let your emotions take over the process. Choosing a home can be stressful and overwhelming. It is important to keep a level head. No decision this big should be made on an impulse, so take your time and think through every aspect of the process.

— Brandpoint

THE LIST

According to Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid soccer players in the world are:

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona/Argentina ($111 million)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid/Portugal ($108 million)

3. Neymar Jr., Paris Saint Germain/Brazil ($90 million)

4. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid/Wales ($34.6 million)

5. Paul Pogba, Manchester United/France ($29.5 million)

6. Oscar, Shanghai SIPG/Brazil ($27.4 million)

7. Wayne Rooney, Everton/England ($27

8. Luis Suarez, Barcelona/Uruguay ($26.9 million)

9. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City/Argentina ($23.5 million)

10. Angel Di Maria, Paris Saint Germain/Argentina ($22.6 million)

NUMBER TO KNOW

$410 billion: According to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy, Americans gave a record $410 billion to a variety of charitable organizations in 2017.

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TECH TALK

Seattle to rescind corporate head tax

In response to backlash from Amazon, Starbucks and other large business firms in Seattle, the City Council is poised to overturn a corporate head tax that it had passed in May. The original measure required companies with revenues of more than $20 million a year to pay an annual $275 tax per employee. The City Council held a special meeting on June 12 to repeal the measure. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city heard the backlash from the community. “This week, the City Council is moving forward with the consideration of legislation to repeal the current tax on large businesses to address the homelessness crisis,” Durkan said on June 11.

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