If you feel like you’re the only family moving in your neighborhood this year, take another look around.

According to new figures released by the National Association of Realtors, nearly 7.2 million existing homes will be sold in 2005, plus another 1.2 million newly-built homes. That means at least 8.4 million families, plus millions of renters, will be feeling your moving pain as well.

While the moving season slows as the weather grows colder, it picks up as the spring home buying season begins, typically in mid- to late January. If you’re planning on moving then, it’s not too soon to start preparing for the move to your new home.

Here are some issues you should think through, and plan for, well before moving day:

-Don’t take everything with you. Sort through, throw out, give away, or sell things you don’t need anymore. Think about whether you need — and will have room for — that older furniture. What about your children’s art projects from the last few years? Do you still have a basement full of their grade school paintings? It may be time to use your digital camera to capture these works of art, and then toss the physical remains into the trash.

-Save your newspapers. Eventually, you’ll recycle. In the meantime, those old newspapers will come in handy for wrapping delicate objects like china and glassware. You may want to double- or triple-wrap each piece, so stack away about three times as much newspaper as you think you’ll need. If you aren’t interesting in washing newspaper ink off all of your plates, consider buying butcher’s wrap or plain newsprint or tissue paper. Or, you can go to a warehouse club, buy an oversized roll of plastic wrap and then use the newspaper.

-Do you need an interim move? I recently sold an investment property to a couple. The property is rented through the end of next July, but the couple wanted to close before the end of the year. They considered making an interim move, but wound up working things out with their buyer. They’ll rent back their old house after closing. If that isn’t an option for you, an interim move can make a lot of sense, and can help you plan for your double move.

-Schedule repair or renovation work ahead of time. If you need repair, decorating or renovation work done on your new house, and have the extra float time, get busy scheduling the work four to six weeks before you move. If you’re planning to paint or decorate, you may want to plan it to happen before you’ve unpacked most things and settled into your new home. Planning ahead will allow you to bid out the job, hire a suitable contractor, sign a contract, decide on colors and furnishings before you get crazy with unpacking.

-Don’t forget to sign up for your new utility accounts. Three weeks before you move, you’ll want to contact your local utility companies (telephone, electricity, cable, gas, water, satellite, etc.) and inform them of the move. Arrange to have these services cut off at your current home at the end of the moving day. Arrange to have your new accounts start at the beginning of the moving day at your new home. Sometimes utility companies blow these target times, so be sure you have a working, charged-up cell phone so you have some means of contact in the days surrounding the move.

For more information about moving, check out the American Moving and Storage Association’s website (www.moving.org).

Next week, I’ll go over more things to think about before you move.