Are you in the market for your first home? As you start saving your down payment and thinking more seriously about what you want, the choices can start to seem overwhelming. When you finally spot a few houses that you like, you might be tempted to act quickly and put in an offer. However, moving too fast could lead you to make decisions that you won't be happy with down the road. Here are two real estate mistakes that could cost you later, and what you can do to avoid them.

1: Compromising Lot Size

Gorgeous granite, two-toned paint, and intricately carved crown molding can be distracting when you start looking at homes. Instead of thinking carefully about the actual size of the house and the lot that comes with it, you might just imagine yourself sinking deep into that jetted tub. Unfortunately, compromising lot size for interior upgrades might be something that you regret later.

Although the average lot size for homes built in 2013 was 15,456 square feet, or just over 1/3rd of an acre, these days you might find a lot of places for sale with lot sizes that pale in comparison. In fact, it isn't uncommon for builders to buy a single lot and plop three or four homes on it. You might think that since you don't have kids or pets that lot size doesn't matter, but your tiny yard could lead to other problems.

The smaller the lot, the closer you might be to your neighbors. If you don't want to worry about the volume of your stereo or your arguments being overheard, you might want to think about investing in a larger lot. Smaller lot sizes can also make it more difficult for you to sell your home in a few years. Since yards give children a safe place to play and improve the curb appeal of your place, the lack of outdoors space might lead future buyers to look elsewhere.

As you shop for a new home, remember to check the actual size of the land. Try to find a place that comes along with a decent sized yard, because lot size isn't something that you can change later.   

2: Not Visiting the Home at Different Times of Day

After tracking down a perfect place and walking through it with your real estate agent, you might be tempted to start packing. However, homes and neighborhoods can change a lot from day to night, which is why it is important to visit your prospective place during different times of the day. Here are a few things to look for during your subsequent visits:

  • Neighbors: Check out your neighborhood in the early morning and late evening to see how the area comes alive. Look at the people that are walking the streets, and how they interact with one another. You might be able to find a neighborhood with a local running club, or avoid an area where dangerous individuals lurk at night.
  • Traffic Patterns: As you visit your potential neighborhood, watch the traffic patterns in the area. Keep an eye on how fast the cars travel up and down the street, whether the traffic is mostly residential or industrial, and the total vehicle volume. You might be able to avoid buying a home near large businesses that attract semi-trailers, or decide whether or not you need a fence to protect your pets.
  • Noise: You might not notice those barking dogs, noisy neighbors, or annoying traffic if you only visited your home once during the day. However, checking out your potential investment and neighborhood multiple times might make it easier for you to spot noise that might be annoying later.

If you notice a noisy neighborhood during your visits, talk about the problem with your real estate agent. They might be able to use that information to negotiate a lower house price, or get those windows replaced with insulated panes that transmit less sound.  

Choosing your first home carefully might help you to make an investment that you can be happy with for many years to come.

For more tips, contact a local real estate agent, or visit