Fast forward a year from now. Where do you want to be? Are you on your front porch, cold drink in hand? Or sitting in your favorite chair by the fireplace you’ve always wanted?

Most people start noodling the idea a year or two before they are ready to take action. Here are a few ideas on planning so it is more excitement, and less overwhelm.

One year out; you have a reason why you are moving, and a few ‘must haves’ in your new home.

One step at a time:

  1. Get a market analysis, and a projected net proceeds so you’ll have an idea about how much you want to use as a down payment on the new home.
  2. Check with a lender to research the best loan to fit your needs, and if you have any credit Issues to work on. Loan rates are dependent on credit scores, and you can save big money by raising your score.
  3. Start researching homes online for the kind of home you want. You’ll begin to see what works and what doesn’t. Use one or two reliable sources, MLS direct. Many sources can’t filter homes active with offer, or the property is already sold.
  4. Start making your home market ready. How you sell your home isn’t how you live there. See it with new eyes, like a potential buyer.

You’ll probably want to visit a few open houses to see what ‘market ready’ looks like. Then, go home and ruthlessly purge your closets, attic and basement. It will make you feel 20 lbs. lighter, and you’ll be ahead of the game. The hardest part about moving is not the furniture, it is all the decisions of what to keep, to donate, or to throw. If you like garage sales, find out when the neighborhood garage sale will be, advertise ruthlessly.

9 months out, check schools, commute times to work, shopping, anywhere you go routinely. Keep purging, you couldn’t possibly have it all done by now. Don’t forget the garage. If there are minor repairs that you’ve been putting off, now is a better time than when you are pressured. If you think buyers will overlook details, think again. They will hone in on what you barely noticed.

Start watching new listings that you’re interested in. You’ll notice trends, pricing, how long on the market, price reductions, what sells for how much.

6 months, you are on track with the purging, repairing, touch ups.

3 months out, start packing. By now you’ve thought a lot about your new home, and are getting restless. Visit a few open houses to get a handle on what’s available. You’ll want to engage the kids, their world is upending. They’ll want to know where they are going, how to keep up with friends, and what it means as a family.