Selling a Hoarder's House

(April 21, 2015)

There was a very moving article posted on yahoo news last week about hoarding.  I truly appreciated hoarder housethe honesty, compassion and creativity that the photographer took in depicting what it was like living in that situation.  Hoarding is not just something that happens, there is often mental illness associated with it.

Living with Hoarding

I can absolutely relate, as my mom was a hoarder, too.  The hoarding became worse over the years, and in full disclosure, it didn't become an issue of substandard living until she had moved into her own home.  My mom died 10 years ago.  She lived alone and suffered greatly from mental illness, namely bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  When it was time to clean out her house, we could barely walk from one room to the next.

What do you do?

Hoarding is a result of the underlying illness, but can still be quite debilitating in and of itself.  When someone is selling a hoarder's house, it can be difficult to handle the situation.  On the one hand, it is only "stuff", right?  But on the other hand, that stuff still has history for the family.  And dealing with that stuff and that history brings up a ton of emotions.  The process of cleaning up and clearing out the house can become debilitating for anyone. 

Selling a Hoarder's House

When it's time to sell, there are really only 2 paths to consider.  The first way is to spend the time and effort to clear out the entire house, repair the house, and list it with a real estate agent.  This way, you will get top dollar for the house (depending on the repairs and remodeling that you do prior to sale).  The timeframe is usually 4-12 months depending on where you live in proximity to the house, your availability to work on the project, and the amount of money you have to get the house ready for sale.

The second way to sell a hoarder's house is "AS-IS".  That means no repairs, no clean-up, no nothing.  I have bought many houses in this condition.  And everytime I do, I think about my own story.  I often sense the seller's pain and embarrassment at the sight of the house.  I get it.  I've felt that way, too.  We are the survivors of that situation.  I tell sellers, it's not their fault and it's not the fault of the hoarder.  Bottom line, there are solutions. 

inherited house


Jennifer Shenbaum

Written by Jennifer Shenbaum

Jennifer Shenbaum is a real estate investor based in Southern California. She is a veteran of the housing market crash of 2007. Best of all, she offers free remodeling ideas to all who ask.

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