How To Sell A Hoarder House
by Kevin Bazazzadeh – Updated July 7th, 2022
Are you trying to sell the home of someone who hoarded possessions?
Unfortunately, it can be a real headache to sell a house with hundreds of possessions that are packed into every nook and cranny of the home. Just CLEANING the place can take months. So what should you do? At Brilliant Day Homes, we’ve worked with many homeowners in this exact situation. And here’s what we always tell them are the options.
What Is A Hoarder House?
A hoarder house refers to the home of a person with the incessant habit of stacking items at the house without discarding them once they become unnecessary. Hoarders place intrinsic value on possessions that they do not really need to have in the first place. When such items pile up over time, they pose a threat to homeowners and those in the vicinity. Commonly hoarded items are food, photographs, clothes, newspapers, cardboard boxes, magazines and even animals in some cases.
Hoarders characteristically exhibit symptoms of emotional turmoil. They are anxious about discarding items, indecisive about which items to keep or throw away, embarrassed about their possessions, and suspicious that others are trying to touch their property. Obsessive thoughts on how they might need certain items in the future and difficulty in organizing possessions are common.
Since not much is known about the causes of hoarding, there is no surefire way to prevent it. Getting treatment early can however go a long way in preventing hoarding from taking root and complicating selling the property.
What To Do With A Hoarder House
1. Establish Ownership of The House
This might seem like an unnecessary step but considering the circumstances, it is always wise to cover your bases when it comes to the legal ownership of the residence itself. Many times it is heirs to the property after the hoarder has passed away that end up either trying to fix up the house or trying to sell it. The last thing you want to happen is to start the process and spend a bunch of money cleaning and renovating the home only to find out someone else has a claim to the ownership. The home is already a big mess, don’t add a legal mess to it as well.
2. Bring In Cleaners
This is not a clean-up job for you and your friends. This is not even a clean-up job for the local cleaning service. This is a job for extreme cleaning professionals. The cost of clean-up isn’t cheap but you should spend the time to research the cost to clean out a hoarder house and what it entails.
The truth is that when it comes to cleaning a hoarder’s house, what you can see is merely the beginning. Every pile of newspapers or towers of trash is hiding something underneath, something that is probably unhygienic and possibly toxic. We’re not just talking about moldy food or dirty clothes. We’re talking about feces, dead animals, and black mold. So many things in a hoarder’s house could be unsafe if not handled and disposed of properly. Mold and bacteria need to be cleaned thoroughly. Animal and human waste needs to be disposed of in a proper manner. In all these cases the house will smell terrible and it can be a challenge to deodorize the house.
The point is, if there was ever a situation that called for professionals who understand what it means to enter a potentially dangerous environment in order to clean it, this is it. Whatever costs involved, they’ll be worth it in the end so you can bring the home back up to a livable level.
One other thing to consider…not everything being hoarded is trash. There might be valuable items buried amongst the piles. There might be keepsakes that the owner or the owner’s family would like to keep. There might also be items worth selling in order to defray the costs involved in the selling process (or to help the homeowner get by in the meantime). Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll find.
3. Understand The Repairs
Just like you don’t know exactly what’s going on underneath the mess until you start cleaning it, you don’t know how extensive any damage is to the house until you really get in there as well. Years of neglect are bound to take their toll and it’s very likely that a hoarder hasn’t done their due diligence to maintain the integrity of all the materials that make up a livable home.
Even after the cleaning is over, you’re not out of the woods yet. You might be able to see some damage but you won’t know the full extent until you get inspection professionals in to look for structural damage, electrical issues, and plumbing problems. Even if you can make the home look spotless, you might have a dozen issues that aren’t up to code lurking behind the walls and under the floors. Repairing these issues can help you out in the long run.
Don’t cut any corners when it comes to knowing every single issue going on with the house. The last thing you want is to put in extensive work decluttering and cleaning up the home and selling it only to have the buyers back out because they discovered damage you hadn’t considered. Buyers may already be wary of buying a hoarder’s home, to begin with, don’t give them any further ammunition.
Sell A Hoarder House As-Is Vs. Fix It Up
To gain maximum profit from selling any home, making repairs is the best way to go. A fully functional and beautiful house will draw in more potential buyers eager to get themselves a new place of residence.
Home repairs typically include things like fixing the roof, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, as well as re-modeled like paint, cabinets, and flooring. Time is of the essence when one contemplates getting repairs done. Given we’re all busy with work, family, and social demands, a started renovation project may be a distraction. Without adequate time and attention, renovations can go off the rails. You start repairs with the goal of netting more income, and by the end, have lost more money than gained due to ongoing costs (taxes, utilities, insurance) and mismanagement.
Due to time constraints, a good way to get repairs done is to hire contractors. Some homeowners fear going the contractor route due to inflated costs, incomplete renovations, and low-quality workmanship. In such situations, homeowners may opt to do the repairs on their own or by ensuring that they are present during the contractual repairs.
To do a great repair job when repairing a hoarder house, a good contractor is the best bet. Do some thorough cost checking by shopping around and comparing prices. Although living in the hoarder house is not recommended, living near the site can be convenient since you can carefully monitor progress. Living further away could allow contractors to slack off and take longer to perform even the most mundane of tasks. This means greater costs incurred.
Having an emergency fund in place can prove to be the difference between a well-done repair job and a shoddy one. Emergency funds are wonderful because they can help cushion our financial situations in times of distress. For homeowners planning to put in some work on their houses before selling, they play a pivotal role in ensuring that any unforeseen issues are well handled in time.
Selling A Hoarder House As-Is
Selling a hoarder house ‘as-is’ is a great option for homeowners strapped for time and cash to transform the house. The best people to buy property “as-is” are real estate investors. Real estate investors buy property fast for cash, you make no repairs (even for a cluttered hoarder home), and afterward re-sell for some profits.
Selling to real estate investors can have added benefits compared to selling through the ‘traditional’ real estate agents. Investors don’t charge realtor commissions, perform fast closings, sell on cash terms, and only need a small handful of showings/inspections of the house.
Professional cash buyers can easily be located on the internet, through direct mail, and by local real estate agents. To ensure a smooth home sale, always vet real estate investors. Proper vetting can be done by meeting up in person with a local investor, check up on the business’s online presence (website and social media pages), and be sure to review their bank statements for proof of funds.
Fixing Up A Hoarder House Before Selling
This will take a lot of time and effort, but it’s certainly an option. If you’re not in a hurry to sell the house, then you might consider doing a lot of runs to the dump, hosting yard sales, making repairs, and updating the house until it’s ready for traditional buyers. If you’re trying to “do it yourself” on a hoarder house renovation, you need equipment like gloves and face masks.
What should you do with hoarder items?
Separating items into 3 categories: things to keep, things to trash, and items to donate. The clean-up job may prove to be a little too hard to handle. Make sure to ask for help when we are overwhelmed by responsibility.
Hiring a cleaning service can go a long way in ensuring that we are able to cover the usually labor-intensive job of cleaning up a hoarder’s house. Cleaning services hire professionals committed to ensuring that the hoarder’s house is cleaned promptly.
In order to select a reliable cleaning service agency, homeowners should try to get referrals from other clients. Good people to ask neighbors, friends, and relatives. Another way to check trustworthiness would be calling the business to ascertain exactly what services they offer.
You should also factor in the number of laborers necessary, a walk-through with the cleaning representatives, and consulting with family members about whether hiring a cleaning service is the best way to go.
Should I Use A Realtor To Sell My Hoarder House?
Hiring a realtor means listing the house on the market. Most people like to look at interior photos in order to have an idea of what kind of purchase they are making. Given the fact that hoarder houses are not picturesque sites, getting good clean photos may prove impossible.
To sell a hoarder house, a lot of time is necessary to get the house in order. Prospective buyers may be turned off as they are not used to living or even seeing the property in this condition. You may want to consider only showing the property to investors or others that understand the condition and are willing to buy “as-is”.
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