Last week, something that we had been working toward for nine months became a reality when the “For Sale” sign went up in front of our house.

After living in this house for 17 years, the prospect of selling it and moving is a pretty big deal for us. But we are looking forward to not having more space than we need or have the energy and finances to maintain. While our 1/3 of an acre lot hardly qualifies as “land” in this part of the world, our “low-maintenance” landscaping still seems to require a lot more attention than I want to give it. A concrete slab and a couple of potted plants would suit me just fine.

We did what we could to spruce the place up before putting it on the market. Touched up the paint, re-stained the decks, and I patrolled the carpet on my hands and knees to clip off the strands that the cats have plucked out. And we put down new redwood bark. It always makes me smile whenever I see a house that’s “For Sale” with fresh “gorilla hair” spread around the yard. It’s an accepted ploy that everybody uses to convince prospective buyers the house is well-maintained. Ploy or not, here’s hoping it achieves the desired affect.

Now, that we are on the MLS, we are into the stage of trying to live in our house while having it look like no one actually lives here. The rooms are so startlingly free of clutter that I feel like I’m living in a hotel. Dressers  and countertops without any piles of papers, clothes waiting to be put away, and quarter inch of dust? It’s a new experience.

We were sitting in the living room the other night and every time I looked down at the coffee table it surprised me. Did we get a new one? No, it’s just that I was used to seeing through a glass-topped coffee table darkly. I had forgotten that before the brokers’ open house I had Windexed it and vacuumed up the remaining Christmas tree needles.

I have heard a saying in the real estate business, “If it smells, it won’t sell.” Is it possible to make sure that the house always smells like there’s always a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the oven? I’m working on it. In the meantime, I plan to steer clear of certain things for dinner like French Onion soup and ribs cooked in the crock pot.

Cats are a little tougher to control. My last task before leaving everyday, will be to scoop the litter boxes and then just pray that they hold it until I get home. And I hope that if the agent and his/her clients come in the house and they find our orange cat, Nigel, sitting in the middle of the kitchen table, that they are a family who doesn’t mind moving into a house that has a little cat hair in the cracks.

Although making sure dirty socks and dishes are out-of-sight takes a little more time, Steve and I have commented on how we are enjoying living in a clutter-free house. One of the benefits of having the house on the market might be that we learn some new habits. Ok, I’ll give it 21 days for neatness to become a habit. On day 22, I want an offer!