Now that our house has been on the market for 10 days, I’m no longer surprised when I drive up the street and see the “For Sale” sign in front. I’ve gotten used to it and now, if the post and sign were to be taken out, the front yard would look empty, kind of the way that the living room looks after the Christmas tree is taken down.

But I can’t say that I’ve really gotten used to having strangers in our bedroom. Of course, I want a steady stream of real estate agents showing our house but even when we have close friends over for Thanksgiving I can be pretty sure that no one is expecting a tour of the master bath before being served the pumpkin pie.

Heaven forbid I should leave my underwear drawer partially open and someone I don’t know, but who might know me, sees it. Whether it has long-johns or thongs in it, I don’t want a potential buyer making any judgments about our lifestyle which in turn leads to judgments about the quality of our house. “Oh, this house must have a really good foundation because look at how neatly the bras are lined up in the drawer.”

Which leads me to wonder, how paranoid do I need to be about people opening drawers and cupboards when they are looking at our house? I can certainly understand looking in closets; if I were seriously considering buying a house I would want to know how much storage space it had and if closet systems had been installed. But looking in kitchen and bathroom drawers? I’m not so sure.

In old detective movies, they would put a hair in front of a door and if it was still there it meant that no one had come in. I fantasize about doing the same thing but in our case it will be a hunk of cat hair in front of the medicine cabinet to see if anyone coming through the house is curious if we take anything stronger than Advil and Pepto.

Opening drawers and cabinets is probably acceptable and I should embrace at the process because it does have its benefits. Every day for the past year I’ve opened my yucky make-up drawer in the bathroom and thought, “I should really clean out the lotion that has spilled and now has hair and eye shadow stuck to it. It’s really gross.” 

Imagining someone I don’t know pulling the drawer open and having the same thought was a great motivator for cleaning it out – an even better one that picturing my mother looking over my shoulder. This morning it was such a pleasant surprise to open the drawer and be able to see the pattern in the vinyl drawer liner all shiny and clean.

The last time we went through this process was 17 years ago when we sold our house in San Rafael and moved to Petaluma. At that time, it was tough to keep the house looking and smelling its best with two small kids, a ton of toys and a diaper pail. Now, we have two teenage girls, a lot of clothes and litter boxes. Like before, I’ll keep a shovel and can of Lysol handy.