Week four of Masters prep has arrived. This is generally the week where you live in a state of concern...what are you forgetting? (Keep a list on your kitchen counter and free your brain from the fear of forgetting)....Am I going to finish this? (If you've kept up with this blog fairly well, you will)....How do I finish and house while living in it? (I'll give some tips here.) First on the list, this week is planting week. Hopefully you've gotten the yard ready for this final "load in". We are hopefully past the freeze fear and now is the day to put pops of color around your yard. If your home is small, you may want to concentrate on a few colorful planters at the front door and at your backyard gathering area. Planters need: a thrill, a fill, and a spill....something tall, something which fills and pot, and something that cascades downward. Remember to put plants in their desired light area. Don't cheat or they'll die in the rental period. And remind your housekeeper to water them, unless the watering system will do that. Walk the property, being sure that all areas you cleaned earlier remain web free. Be sure your front door is sparkling and your welcome mat is free from debris or dirt. Your grill should be clean, with grilling tools nearby. (If your grill is a bit difficult to navigate, leave the owner's manual in the kitchen, or print it off of the internet if you've lost yours.) Do you have a basket of bug spray? Is there a way for guests to pull a little blue tooth speaker outside if you have an outdoor eating area? We place one on the screen porch that they can use. If you have a pool or hot tub, leave a basket of rolled beach towels near these areas so that your bathroom towels are not used. Get things to a very welcoming point outdoors this week. Of course you will have to mow/blow and tidy one last time the day before your guests come in, but your yard should be a 95% this week. Do you need to cancel your mail? Our housekeeper deals with our mail, tucking it in a discreet place away from the guests. But you may prefer that the post office handle that. Speaking of housekeepers, this is the week to meet with that person and go over the details and expectations for the week. Walk your house prior to the housekeeper visit. Where will housekeeping store and sort linens? Are all cleaning supplies stocked and in easy to reach places? Show your housekeeper where things like lightbulbs, batteries, etc... are kept. Speaking of batteries, be sure things like smoke detectors have fresh batteries so your detector does not make the irritating beep during the rental period. This is the week for any information to be printed. You don't want to bombard your guests with little notes everywhere, but if you have confusing remotes, multi-switch light switches, or any very quirky things about your home....do leave a little note. (I like to include our cell numbers, as well as the housekeeper's cell number, but your agent can advise you of their protocol.) We also tie green ribbons to the drawers we have emptied in each room and leave a small note, telling our guests that the drawers with the ribbons are for their use and we wish them a good stay. (Remember they need 2 drawers and a place to hang their clothing in every bedroom.) We also tell them where extra blankets and pillows are kept if they have different needs than what we prepared. If you have a large home with many bedrooms, you may want to print out some creative numbers for the doors. It is easy for the guests to leave a note for the housekeeper to change sheets in bedrooms, 1, 5, and 6. Our regular housekeeper will come the day before our renters and deep clean the house. I plan to be all but ready for my guests at that time, and we will be a "shoes off at the door" family for the last 24 hours we are in this house. I try to corral the family into one area for tv watching and I have a basket of clean linens ready and stored to switch out the beds we are still using until the last minute blast off. This is a good time to take photos of your home. Your house is likely looking very pristine. Take pictures of your home in this most favorable light so that you have photos ready for relisting in the fall. (If you do not have pictures of your home and contents for insurance purposes, you can add this into your photo taking time.) Hopefully you've been working along with us and although you may be anxious, you've kept up and it will all fall into place. Your goal is to create a home that is clean, inviting, user-friendly, and ready to go. You've created some guest baskets with toiletries and a few rain ponchos...you've arranged for a little welcome basket of treats and maybe some wine and beer in your cleaned out fridge...you've thought about your home as a guest will see it and have worked to create a space you would leave for your most beloved friends to enjoy your home. This is the time where you'll question yourself as to why you did this as it is SO much work. But it is really a disciplined way to create a space for your family to enjoy all year that is clean and organized. And you're getting paid to do so! So pull out all the stops. Get it to "magazine photo" pretty and then know that in just a few weeks, YOU will be the lovely recipient of a perfectly "groomed" home that is ready for a summer of fun. Happy Renting!