Because we have been planning to move house for a number of years, you'd think that we would have spent that time gradually preparing our existing home for sale. That way, when the time came and we finally secured that elusive Dublin city centre property, it would be simply a matter of plumping a few cushions, popping the bread in the oven, and we'd be ready to go to market. You'd think.
Somehow, though, life gets in the way of keeping your home in show-house condition. You might buy newspapers on a Sunday and not finish reading them until the following Saturday, for instance. Or you might receive a bill in the post and leave it lying around on the kitchen table for a week or two until you remember where you put your chequebook, or your password for online banking. The school might send home a circular. Your children might wear clothes that need to be washed and ironed. They might even need to eat. And you might decide you fancy a curry, which is a definite no-no when you're selling your house.
As a journalist who writes about property, I often visit houses that are for sale. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I'm filled with admiration for the immaculate state in which most of these houses are presented. We have spent every evening and weekend for months fixing, de-cluttering and polishing. I have made the acquaintance of more tradespeople in the past few months than in the previous 10 years.
I have visited Woodies at least once a day for weeks on end, and their opening hours are written on my brain. I have alphabetised our books and agonised for longer than I should about what those books say about us as a family. I have spent far more on fancy soap in dispenser bottles than I should. I have bought vast quantities of bed linen and am an expert on the propensity to creasing of different thread counts. I have visited TK Maxx umpteen times and can confirm that it is absolutely brilliant.
I have made the wonderful discovery of hassle.com, which will supply you with a helpful and pre-vetted cleaner with just a few hours' notice, and of storageworld.ie in Dublin 8, where we have rented a smart, modern unit that I think I may want to hang on to for ever.
And I can vouch for the truism that your house will never look as good as it will when you are about to leave it.
Now, though, the primping is finished. The flowers are in the vases and we have reached the point of peak diffuser. A month ago, I didn't even know what a diffuser was, and now I have one in every room. The board has gone up. Viewings have started. Now all we need is a buyer or preferably two who love our house so much that they will fight each other to the death to get it.