TIP OF THE WEEK

If you’re thinking of buying your first home, you’ve probably wrestled with the decision to rent or own your home — and for good reason. Owning a home is a big commitment. With it comes a lot of responsibility and a long-term financial relationship.

The improving housing market. Since the depths of the recession, the housing market has made a heroic comeback. That can be attributed to a number of factors, including a drop in unemployment and a stronger economy. But as the housing market has recovered, it has experienced some growing pains. With a sharp increase in demand, housing supplies are being strained. This means, among other things, that prices are going up.

Making the decision. With rental and sales markets heading toward record highs, the decision falls back to what is best for you. Specifically, what is financially feasible. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median gross rent paid from 2012 to 2016 was $949 monthly. Compare that with the median selected monthly owner costs with a mortgage, which was $1,491 over the same time period. For renters, it is wise to carry renter’s insurance. Some landlords will also charge maintenance and other fees. Utility costs will also vary depending on the quality of the structure and materials used as well as size of the rental space. Homeowners will pay property taxes, insurance and an estimated $500 annually for routine maintenance, according to the Census Bureau.

The benefits of homeownership. At a glance, it may seem that renting is the lower cost option. But there are certain benefits to homeownership that may offset the additional regular costs. According to the Tax Policy Center, the primary benefit to owning a home is imputed rental income. Simply put, making a monthly payment on a home that you own is like paying rent to yourself.

— Brandpoint

THE LIST

According to Forbes, the top 10 least ecological friendly vehicles for 2018 are:

1. Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4

2. Mercedes-Benz AMG G65

3. Mercedes-Benz AMG G63

4. Jeep Grand Cherokee TrackHawk

5. Toyota Sequoia

6. Toyota Tundra

7. Ram 1500

8. Lexus LX 570

9. Nissan Armada

10. Mercedes-Benz AMG GLS63

NUMBER TO KNOW

$5 million: According to NBC officials, the network averaged more than $5 million for a 30-second ad during Super Bowl LII.

TECH TALK

France bans all smartphone use in vehicles

To help keep drivers focused on the road of them, France recently banned drivers from using their phones even after pulling over to the side of the road. The country’s highest court ruled that drivers need to park in designated parking spots and turn of the engines to use a phone. The court said the ban wouldn’t be enforced in the event of an emergency. The new law doesn’t apply to hands-free devices, but does restrict wireless headsets.

— More Content Now