Last one out, lock the door and make sure the light is on.
Every year, thousands of Augusta-area residents leave town for Masters Week, throwing their homes open to golfers and fans who rent houses during the tournament. Preparing for these short-term dwellers is an annual tradition.
Laurie Easterlin has tried to make the process easy with a recently published guide: So You're Renting Your House for the Tournament? - subtitled A step-by-step rental and home preparation guide. The 42-page booklet includes checklists and month-by-month - even week-by-week - guides of what to do when, in order to have everything complete by the first week of April.
"I thought it would be nice to get everyone on the same page so that everyone could see `This is the anticipated thing. This is how your house should look when you rent it,"' said Mrs. Easterlin, librarian at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School.
This month, for instance, is devoted to cleaning and straightening storage spaces, closets and drawers, as well as buying any needed dining room linens and bathroom towels. Beginning in March, the guide lists specific chores for each week.
There are tips on marketing your house for rental, working with the Masters Housing Bureau, hiring a maid, organizing care of the house during the week and refurbishing children's rooms for adult visitors.
"I think it's really hard on teen-agers. You really can't let them go wild in their rooms," Mrs. Easterlin said. Floor-to-ceiling posters and other colorful decorations would make it difficult for a teen's personalized space to be quickly transformed into a guest room. "They have to live a little more carefully than other teen-agers."
Mrs. Easterlin solves the problem by allowing some "wild" accessories that are easily removed at tournament time. Then she brings down sedate comforters and other bedroom items she keeps stored in the attic for Masters week.
She and her family have rented their house for four years, both the Skinner Mill Road ranch house they now live in and a Summerville home they moved from two years ago. The family - including three daughters - usually vacations at a family farm in Louisville, Ga., during the week they open their home to renters.
Mrs. Easterlin's husband, Abbott, had to be persuaded to rent their home.
"That's a common thing I hear from women, that they have to convince their husbands," she said. "He just kept saying, `I can't imagine someone sleeping in my bed."'
The guide is available at several area stores. Borders Books and Music will hold a signing with Mrs. Easterlin from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Friday.
Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223.