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Hoarder House Hell

Friday, January 8, 2021   /   by Vanessa Saunders

Hoarder House Hell

By Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems Real Estate.

For some reason, in 2020 I came across more hoarder houses in the Hudson Valley than I have in my entire 20-year real estate career. Maybe it's due to depression caused by Covid-19 lockdowns, people's lack of social contact or all the uncertainties that we have been through during the last year. Perhaps some people find comfort in having their "stuff" around, even though it creates unpleasant situations (to others) and often dangerous living conditions which can become life-threatening.

I usually run across hoarders because family members need to get the hoarder into a better living arrangement and need to sell the house to finance it. Others have inherited a hoarder house after the relative living in it has passed. Whatever the reason, hoarder houses present an entirely different set of challenges than day-to-day real estate.

Hoarding as a psychological disorder.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, compulsive hoarding is a disabling psychological disorder characterized by excessive collecting and saving behavior that results in a cluttered living space and significant distress or impairment.

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder ("OCD") and anxiety disorder may also show symptoms of hoarding behavior.

Symptoms of hoarding disorder include a person collecting items in excess that he or she may not actually have the space for, strong emotional attachment to the items collected, and continued difficulty in discarding these items. Hoarding ranges from mild to severe. People with hoarding disorder may not see it as a problem, making treatment challenging.

Cleaning up to sell.
A vacant hoarder house is one of the simpler hoarding situations to deal with (although none are easy.) Hoarder houses must be cleaned and decluttered before they are sold, a job that home owners and regular house cleaners aren't usually capable of (or interested in). Fortunately, there are companies specializing in hoarder situations who have the proper resources, time, and planning to take care of the problem.

The average cost to clean a hoarder house ranges from $600 to $4,000+; though cleaning costs may vary widely depending on the condition and if major repairs are needed.

Here's a break down of the primary costs of hoarding cleanup services for those who would like to do it themselves:

Large roll-away dumpster rentals cost around $350-$500 for the day.

Junk Removal Labor
If you decide to hire labor to help remove junk, you may pay around $25/hour.

Cleaning Supplies
These can cost from $60 to $400 depending on the square footage of the house and the amount of the cleaning needed.

Cleaning Crew
A professional cleaning crew will charge around $100-$150 per person for 8 hours of deep cleaning. Deep cleaning of specific surfaces will require additional charges. If a house has such dangerous conditions that HAZMAT protective gear is required, one cleaning company we work with charges $600 per cleaner per day.

Repairing Deferred Maintenance
This is undoubtedly the biggest variable expense in a hoarder house cleaning budget. If regular maintenance has been neglected to such an extent that structure and systems (plumbing, electrical etc.) have suffered significant damage, the costs can skyrocket. Surfaces and fixtures may be damaged beyond cleaning and require repair or replacement. Flooring costs around $3 to $6 per square foot installed. A rule of thumb for many who look at vacant hoarder houses as investments is $25 to $45 per square foot for a full house rehab.

To find a hoarder house cleaner in your area, Google "hoarder house cleaning near me.” Or, you can post the details of your job on websites like Thumbtack, Porch and HomeAdvisor.

If a house has a tenant in place, it may not be possible to rehabilitate the house, especially as they may not think a problem exists or that cleaning is required. Hoarders want to hold on to their possessions and prevent any items from being discarded. They may not accept your offer for help. You may need to challenge the hoarder’s position on how they maintain their living conditions.

Everyone has a right to collect objects and create hoarding conditions. However, you may need to emphasize the dangers and potential health effects or hoarding. If that does not work, you may need to compromise with the hoarder and hang on to some of their belongings. In this situation, you may need to add an extra step to the cleaning process. Understand that without a change in the person’s behavior, the hoarding situations will come back in a matter of time.

As a Realtor, understanding hoarding situations and knowing how to deal with them and the people involved is part of my job, one that lets me give the most value to the seller. After all, that's what your Realtor is for in the first place. If you or someone you know needs to rehab and/or sell a hoarder house, or would like further information CONTACT US.

To get help for a hoarding friend or family member, contact the local social services offices in your area.


  hudson valley real estate, hudson valley property, 'urb to 'burb, home investment, selling your home, sales strategies, hoarder houses

Global Property Systems
Vanessa Saunders MBA MIMC CIPS - NYS RE Principal Broker
56 Lafayette Avenue Suite 320
White Plains, NY 10603



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