Taking advantage of wait time during the design, planning and construction of a new home will make a new-home buyer’s journey much more pleasant.

This is particularly true for new-home buyers who plan to sell their existing home before taking possession of the new home. And there is a new factor to consider: the transitional real estate market that most of California is experiencing.

Begin with the tasks that may take time.

Repairs and permits

The last thing you want to learn a month before moving into your brand-new home is that your existing home may require repairs that can take months.

But several months before the move you can avoid these potential surprises.

If you’re already working with a real estate agent who will list your home, that person can conduct an initial, visual inspection of the house several months before listing. A good agent will provide you with a list of home features that may need attention.

They may even refer you to a professional building inspector to confirm or deny the items on the list. Some agents will even pay for this building inspection if you have an agreement to retain them through the sale of your existing home.

Make any necessary repairs that directly relate to the home’s safety and habitability. Be sure that any contractors obtain proper permits before conducting major work.

Speaking of permits, if any work has been completed on your home — either while you’ve owned it or by a previous owner — gather the permits for that work. If you cannot find the documents, your city or county should be able to provide them to you.

In the event you learn that any major remodels or additions were completed without permits, the building inspector’s report will outline which, if any, are up to code or not. Some can be permitted retroactively. Others, if they do not meet code, may require repairs or disclosure when the home is listed.

While those processes are underway, move to the basics of preparing a home for sale.

Find freedom from clutter

Before making any minor cosmetic improvements — the spiff-up step —  get rid of anything you don’t need in your new house. Start with the things you don’t even need in your existing home.

Do grown children’s bedrooms contain personal mementos, photos, musical instruments, textbooks, furnishings, bedding and good-quality clothing that no longer fits? Return it to them or give it away with their permission.

Eliminate excess books, unloved art, kids’ forgotten toys, herds of stuffed animals and all of the airtight bags of clothing that, five years ago, you thought you might eventually need.

Emptying clutter from under beds and inside closets frees up space to store other items that will need to be cleared from view before listing photography takes place.

Touch up and spiff up

If the move to the new home will happen in less than a few years, then significant remodels are not likely to pay for themselves.

Several other easy jobs will likely pay for themselves by way of shorter time on the market when your home is listed.

Take inspiration from the model homes at new-home communities. Resale homes that feel like model homes will sell more quickly. Work to replicate the brightness, simplicity and clean lines of a model home when preparing a home for resale.

Clean or replace heavily-worn carpet. Deep clean floors, tiles and grout. Repaint tired-looking rooms. Touch up chipped moldings or paint in other rooms, especially common areas. Re-caulk or reseal any noticeably cracked or dirty areas around windows, doors, sinks, counters and cabinets.

Good light makes for great listing photos. Closer to listing time, your agent may request that you remove some window treatments; they may even hire or recommend a professional window-washing service for you.

Touch up scuffs and scratches on kitchen and bathroom cabinetry using wood-stain markers. If the finish on any cabinetry is too worn for small touch-ups, explore the cost of painting or refinishing them in whites, light grays or light beiges.

Create lines of sight: Donate or store away large pieces of furniture that you can live without for a few months. Take down bulky artwork or family photos from surfaces and walls, painting over the marks on the walls.

During this work, make note of home fashions that you want to replicate in the new home or that you want to eliminate altogether. After all of the early preparation, move-in day at the new home will be several months closer to reality.


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