While hoarding has become the focal point of many reality TV shows today, if you or a family member is a hoarder…you understand just how real and serious the situation is. Selling a home is hard enough, but selling a hoarder’s home is tough on a completely different level. We have worked with a quite a few homeowners in this situation. One scenario that comes to mind includes a woman who lived in Mira Mesa by herself and had fallen victim to hoarding after years of living by herself. In her isolation, and her love for cats, she had begun collecting and hoarding cats among other animals. The cats were everywhere on the property…inside and out. But, she certainly isn’t the only person who has fallen into hoarding. Mira Mesa has a median resident age that is 7% higher than San Diego as a whole, and is home to many of the county’s senior citizens. Hoarding is an illness that seems to intensify with age, and many times develop in a person’s senior years as they may be come more isolated and things have just piled up over the years.
While hoarding cases may vary, they all share the emotional plight of whether to get rid of the things collected before selling…or sell the home as it is and move on. In many cases, a hoarder’s home isn’t sold until the homeowner is forced to, or sadly passes away and the house is inherited. The thought of having to get rid of items, clean, and make decisions about the belongings is often too much to face. We have grown to understand that the best approach to selling a hoarder house is to be sympathetic, provide options, and stress the fact that safety is key.
How Hoarding Can Affect You & Your Home
As you may know, hoarding can be categorized by excessive amounts of clutter and the inability to discard anything. It’s not uncommon to find piles of clothes and things in a hoarded house, sometimes even pets. Anything that someone with this disorder comes into contact with overtime or that he or she purchases in bulk will just pile up all around them and eventually consume all of the space they own. But, what people may not realize, is how painful and emotionally draining this disorder can be on those who suffer from it (along with their family members).
Characterizing the disorder:
- A severe attachment to things and belongings
- Inability to make decisions about the things they have or purchase
- Unorganized chaos
- Social isolation
It is also important to remember that hoarding may be present by itself or stem from other disorders. Most often, OCD, OCPD, ADHD, and depression can be linked to hoarding.
Dangers and risks associated with hoarding:
- Psychological well-being- the anxiety and causes of hoarding can be debilitating and incredibly unhealthy. The stresses associated with hoarding can make it nearly impossible to function in normal life.
- Relationships – this illness can often times force those who suffer to feel ashamed, and therefore isolated from others. Hoarding can affect relationships with family members and ultimately cripple social interaction.
- Physical ailment- aside from the psychological pain that can be endured, there is also a huge risk of disease or illness associated with hoarding.
- Risk of fire: piles of things and trash can greatly increase the likelihood of fires. Collecting potentially flammable items or storing boxes close to heating sources can be serious fire hazards.
- Risk of illness: Hoarding of materials or trash can often result in mold growth in the home and, if animals are present, toxins that can lead to major health issues.
How to minimize hoarding in your home:
- Make immediate decisions. When you go through mail etc., make an immediate decision about what is needed and what isn’t. Get rid of whatever is not needed.
- Think again about what you bring in. If you know you struggle with hoarding, make it a habit of thinking twice about what you bring in (ex: when shopping, think about a purchase for a day before making it). If you decide to buy something new, be sure to discard something else to make room for it.
- Baby steps, but start taking the steps. Begin setting aside even 20 minutes a day to begin decluttering. Trying to clean an entire house all at once can be incredibly overwhelming, take it step by step and take breaks to breathe when you need.
- Get rid of anything you haven’t used within the last year. Any “but, what if…” items will remain “what if” items, and are not needed in your home.
- Ask for help. Probably the most beneficial action you can take is to ask for help from a professional. If you can’t cope with the problem on your own, consult with a mental health expert who can give you the tools and resources necessary to make it through the process.
Do You Want to Clean Up the Mess or Sell the House?
If you want to try to address the mess, there are some ways to effectively take on the project. Be mindful that cleaning a house that has been used for hoarding is no easy task, and can also be stressful for those involved. But, it is possible! The best way to address the problem is to first enlist help. If you are going to try to do the cleaning without an expert service, develop a plan of action. Begin with an idea of which rooms you are going to go through first and commit to three decisions: throw, donate and keep. When cleaning, be sure to wear gloves and masks. Hoarding homes can allow you to be exposed to many bio-hazards. If animals were hoarded at the home, you should always hire a bio-hazard cleanup company.
If cleaning up the house seems like too large of a task and you think selling the property is your best option, you need to consider your best option. Overall, selling a hoarder home is nearly impossible. Even if you enlist the help of a real estate agent, it isn’t very often that agents will have an easy time selling a property that is overly crowded with stuff. Not only are the things scary for a buyer looking at the house, but so is the possibility of additional damage to the home caused by the hoarding.
Your absolute best option is to sell direct to a cash buyer who is willing to clean up the mess for you with the help of professionals. Clean-up fees can cost from $300-1000 a day depending on the size of the house and the mess. This is something that a company like ours is happy to pay for. We’ll haul away all of the junk at the property (after you’ve taken what’s important) and donate any items that are in good shape. We’ll also address any repairs needed to make the home safe again.
We’re here to help. We know how difficult of a decision it may be to sell a home, especially if hoarding is a part of the scenario. But, we’ll help you no matter how difficult the project may be. We will buy your house regardless of the condition and assure that your needs are met when it comes to getting things cleaned up. We’ll even coordinate the donation of items you’d like to leave behind.Views: 14