Preparing a hoarder house for the market can be taxing and often emotionally draining, especially if the hoarder is a family member or doesn’t believe there’s a problem.
Since not all clutter is hoarding, and hoards are not the same as clutter, it’s helpful to know the difference.
Hoarding Vs Clutter
No one can be on top of everything all of the time, making a certain amount of household clutter normal. Dishes by the kitchen sink, stacks of books you keep meaning to read, even that pile of newspaper you have yet to recycle are all considered typical signs of clutter.
The important thing with all these examples is that they are easily tidied, say before dinner guests arrive, and the house itself is reasonably clean and safe to navigate.
Clutter turns into hoarding when that stops being the case. A guest can’t sit at your kitchen table not only because there are magazines piled on all the chairs but because the surrounding floor and surface areas are covered in magazines too. Rooms in the house are inaccessible, or accessing them is unsafe.
In extreme cases, rotting food and sewage can be present in hoarder homes, and that’s far from typical household clutter. With that in mind, it helps to have a plan as you tackle selling a hoarder’s house. The job is often overwhelming, and the more you can break it down into manageable pieces, the better.
Cleaning up a Hoarder House
When cleaning a hoarder’s house, it’s important to remember no one can do everything in a day. Whether you’re cleaning a hoarder’s house in preparation for a sale or realtors or simply trying to tackle a problem, hoarding cleanup is a mammoth undertaking and takes time.
To thoroughly clean a hoarder’s home, you’ll need:
- Sturdy boxes
- Heavy-duty trash bags
- Cleaning gloves
- Surface Cleaner
You’re also going to need a plan of attack. Hoarders accrue an unwieldy amount of possessions, and cleaning a hoarder home can quickly begin to feel overwhelming. To help manage the stress of cleaning a hoarder’s home, avoid doing everything at once.
Clean Room by Room
Cleaning room by room is important since hoarder homes are often so overstuffed that moving from room to room is unsafe at best and impossible at worst.
Instead of trying to declutter an entire hoarder home all at once, go systematically through individual rooms. This helps you see your progress and feel a sense of achievement.
Starting with the main room is best; this is often biggest and centrally situated, so once you’ve tidied it up, you’ll be confronted with a clean, well-ordered room on subsequent visits.
Have Distinctive Piles
Hoarders are often inordinately attached to possessions others wouldn’t think twice about throwing away. Consequently, cleaning a hoarder home can be a challenge. Sorting possessions into piles of salvage, disposal, and donation will help you keep track of possessions and notice if your hoarder tries to salvage anything unduly.
Expect to Find Mould or Pests
Because of the hoarder’s lifestyle, regular and thorough cleaning is often impossible. When you clean a hoarder home for sale or even just for better living, expect to find mold or pests in the hoarder house and take appropriate precautions.
Long-sleeved clothing, gloves, and masks will all help protect you against mold spores and minimize exposure to pests.
If you are trying to sell the hoarder house, you’ll want to make sure you’ve had any mold or pests you discover professionally seen to before contacting realtors or trying to sell the hoarder’s home.
Performing Minor Repairs on a Hoarder House
Once you’ve cleaned the hoarder house as much as possible, you can start thinking about necessary repairs. This is particularly important if you’re trying to sell the hoarder home or in touch with a real estate agent.
With possessions now at a manageable level, you can go looking for cracked drywall and warped wood on floors or doors. These are the kinds of minor repairs you can perform on the hoarder home yourself if you feel comfortable.
It’s worth remembering that there will be other essential jobs involved in repairing a hoarder house. Mould, pests, and water damage left unmanaged can all lead to structural problems in the hoarder house that will need addressing.
Don’t Forget the Animals
If your hoarder kept pets, that’s another consideration. There’s a good chance the state of the house precluded ready access to litter boxes or even the backyard. That increases the chances that animal fecal matter has been sitting undealt within the house, and that can cause damage all on its own.
While a potent chemical agent will treat the most obvious signs of mold, hiring professional cleaners to fumigate and deep-clean the hoarder house is best if you want to attract prospective home buyers to the hoarder house.
And if there were pets, hiring a service that deals in hazardous material to help with the removal of animal detritus is a must. They’ll be able to handle it safely, and you’ll be able to assess if there is any damage done to the property.
Make Updates to the Property
Remembering that mold, pests, and water damage all come with the potential for structural damage if left untreated, there’s a good chance you’re looking at updating the property before contacting realtors or real estate agents to sell the hoarder house.
These are best carried out by professionals since, depending on the extent of the damage, remodeling or even renovating may save money in the long run.
While the entire property might not need updating, hoarding can have a tremendous effect on several crucial parts of the house. If you’re thinking of selling a hoarder house, these are worth updating before going to a real estate agent.
Here’s what you’ll want to assess, evaluate, and, if necessary, update in the hoarder’s house:
- Heating and air conditioning
While hoarding may not be responsible for all the damage, the house’s inaccessibility because of hoarding may have exacerbated the damage. Contact professionals and make any updates necessary before selling the hoarder house.
Research the Best Way to Sell Your Hoarder House
If cleaning up a hoarder house is daunting, selling one can be even trickier. Real estate agents are by nature designed to sell fit-for-purpose houses or at least homes with minimal need for remodeling.
That means realtors aren’t always equipped to market a hoarder house unless you’ve put both considerable time and money into restoring the home first.
That doesn’t make selling a hoarder home impossible, though; it simply means you’ve got to do your research. There are people out there who enjoy the challenge of fixing up a hoarder home. If you go that route, though, then it’s worth remembering that pictures of the hoarder home as it is will be public, which may be upsetting both for you and the hoarder.
Besides, it’s a rare home buyer that’s prepared to buy the hoarder house as-is. Fixing the house can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is more than the average homeowner wants to spend on their newly-acquired home.
Working With Cash Home Buyers
Instead of trying to sell a hoarder home through the market or negotiating with real estate agents, your best bet is to consider working with cash home buyers. Getting a hoarder house into the type of condition that would make it market-ready can take time and cost more than you want to spend.
Cash offers free you and the hoarder not only of the repairs and daunting cleanup but allow you to come away from the offer with money, instead of spending it.
What is a Cash Buyer?
A cash home buyer has enough money saved that they can buy the house outright, without the need for a mortgage or loan. While cash buyers often buy at a slight discount from those looking to sell quickly, their sales are also less likely to fall through. After all, they’re looking to acquire a house as promptly as you are looking to sell one.
Benefits of a Cash Offer
It’s not unusual with cash offers to sell a home as-is in the expectation that the home buyer sees to the subsequent restoration and renovation of the property.
If you’re looking to sell a hoarding house to a cash home buyer in Boston, MA, we can help. We’ll work with you to get a fair cash offer on your hoarder home and simultaneously alleviate the extra costs of getting it market-ready.
When selling a hoarder house, consider the time and energy that goes into cleaning, repairing, and updating it. It can be a long and expensive process, as well as an emotionally draining one for you and the hoarder, particularly if the hoarder is a family member.
Be methodical about cleaning and repairs, and bank on spending money on professional cleaners and even hazardous waste handling.
Don’t let it get too much for you or the hoarder, either. Remember selling a house as-is in the MA area is always an option.
A cash offer can save you negotiating with realtors and time and has the added benefit of putting cash into your bank account rather than taking it out. If that’s an option you choose to consider, we’re more than happy to help.