Buying a new home? Start with the right real estate agent.

A shortage of new apartment construction has rental rates going through the roof in many Texas cities. At the same time, mortgage rates are still hitting record lows across the country.

Those two bits of information are driving many renters to enter the real estate market. But buying a house can be complicated and confusing, especially for first-time home buyers.

One way to ease the stress of finding a new house is to find the right real estate agent. has several tips to help guide consumers in this area, including some advice on how to evaluate a realtor.

BBB recommends buyers interview several candidates before choosing one to help in their search for a new home. Ask friends and family for references, then check each real estate agent’s BBB Business Review to see his or her history of complaints, BBB rating and more. Ensure each agent is properly licensed.

During the interview process, ask the agent for recommendations from previous clients. Ask how many home buyers the agent has assisted in the last year and the average price of the home purchased. If you’re looking for a bargain, ask about his or her experience with short sales and foreclosures.

In addition, buyers should have a list of needs and wants to discuss with each agent during this process. Discuss your total budget, including down payment, closing costs and other fees, as well as how much you can afford for a monthly payment. If possible, get pre-approved for a mortgage so you have hard numbers to work with.

Be wary of agents who make big promises while asking for little. It’s unlikely they will be able to deliver.

~ Amy

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