Sometime in the next 24-48 hours, you'll be getting your home back. What a wonderful feeling to sleep in your own bed, wander around your own kitchen, and wake to a familiar view. But the first hours at home can create havoc without the right attitude. It pays to remember that you rented your home out to people who enjoyed it and likely moved a few things and changed the location of a few things to make it their own. Breathe. And think...if you'd told your best friends to stay there for the week, you'd likely give them a "pass" on things like moving the outdoor furniture or the location of the rolling cooler. Right?
So....start with that attitude. I have never ever returned home to everything exactly as I left it. But let's face it, if I leave my husband alone for an hour, I have the same experience! I tend to walk my house, putting things back in the places where I like them to be to suit me. I do mentally assess the home for damages. But I don't run to my agent with a list! My rule of thumb is to expect a bit of damage.... a few wine glasses will break, a few cups may chip. If it's under 150.00, I chalk it up to normal wear and tear. If it is over that amount, I take photographs and jot down information to share with my agent during working hours.
Your agent has done all he/she can do to secure a renter for you and you want to stay on good terms. Nothing hurts your chances of being rented the following year more than being "THAT" homeowner, who phones the agent at midnight on Sunday to complain about a stray olive under the fridge. There will be stray items. Pick them up. Toss things that shouldn't be there. Believe me in a week, you won't remember the stray olive and life will go on as usual. And an agent who is woken at midnight on Sunday is not likely to think of your house first while filling homes next year. So breathe. Put things back where you like them and begin to enjoy your pristine home.
Don't stress about unpacking the house the first day. If you are like us, it took weeks to tuck things away and it'll take weeks to bring them back to their proper places. We tend to deal with the vacation laundry and luggage and sort the mail the first day. The rest of the things in our owner's closet can live there a bit longer. Furthermore, it might be a good time to look at your hidden clutter to decide if you really really need those things.
Take notes. If you think you might have the same renters next year, what did they buy that you might add into your welcome basket? Talk to your housekeeper. Were there any items they wished for that you did not have on hand? The presence of a good many styrofoam coolers outside made us purchase a large outdoor cooler for the following year. What did the housekeeper need? How did your plants and watering plan do? I have a small notepad I file under MASTERS and I pull it out each year to note things that worked, didn't work, what we need to think of next year. I also note what I paid the housekeeper and yardman for working the week. These notes will be so helpful next January.
I try to write the agent midweek to thank her for securing our client. If you have your client's email and it is fine with your agent to do so, thank them for their care of your home. Resist a slight danger here....often clients will want the home the following year and wish to bypass the agent fee and will ask you to do so at this time. We have never done so as in lean years (years where Easter Sunday is Masters Sunday, etc...) you will need your agent to know you had his/her back in times of plenty. Be wary of breaking those associations.
Take the time to enjoy your home. The prettiest days of the season are now here and you have a perfect home in your rearview mirror. THAT is why our family rents...so we can open the windows, pool, and our doors to friends and enjoy our home without a care in the world. The hard part is now behind you. Sit back and enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich and a cocktail. (And if you're lucky, they've left you a fun green Masters chair in which to enjoy your drink in the shade! I love the "spoils of Masters" and it is always such fun to see what food, drink, and Masters treats they've left. Some years, the house is cleared out, but other years, we end up with food for a week and liquor for years. That's half the fun of the return!)
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Need help with your rental? Laurie Easterlin is a home stager and professional Masters preparation specialist. She is available for in home visits to walk you through each room with a preparation checklist and purchase suggestions. If you are new to town and need suggestions on what to do to get the biggest return for your investment, contact Laurie before making large purchases or remodeling. There are ways to create more income! If you are a DIY style renter, purchase the book at