I regularly work with clients who need to sell a hoarder home. Most of the time the original owner (the hoarder) is no longer with us, or is in an assisted living facility. In some cases the home must be sold as the result of a divorce, where one of the partners in the marriage was a hoarder.
The first thing I tell my client is not to be embarrassed by the condition of the home. According to the the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding is a mental health disorder that affects about 1 in 30 Americans. It is equally common between men and women, and crosses every racial, economic and social divide. Every country has hoarders.
While hoarding tendencies may start early, they become worse over time. There is no more shame in having a hoarder in the family than having someone who has any other disease.
Once you get past the embarrassment, the next step is to deal with the overwhelming task of selling the home. Below I’ve listed some of the things I’ve learned that can help.
1. Face the Problem Head-On
The thought of entering a hoarder house for the first time can be overwhelming. In many cases, hoarder houses are not inherently dangerous but are simply filled with accumulated possessions. By calling a local real estate expert you can significantly increase the chances of a successful sale.
A local real estate expert will guide you through the initial steps:
- Remove all perishable and non-perishables food items
- Remove any cash, medications or firearms
- Remove any items you or family members want to save
2. Seek Professional Guidance Instead of Quick Cash Offers
When searching for ways to sell your hoarder house, you may come across tempting offers online from real estate investors who offer to buy your property for cash. They promise fast turn-around, no closing fees, and no Realtor commissions.
It’s important to approach such offers with caution. While they promise convenience and a hassle-free process, these companies make money by undervaluing the property – leaving you with significantly less profit.
Once you’ve sold them the house, they simply call a local realtor to sell it again at a higher price, then keep (your) profit.
Instead, consider consulting with a local real estate agent like me who specializes in hoarder house sales. I have a deep understanding of the local market and can provide you with an accurate assessment of your property’s true value. I’ll work diligently to secure the best possible price for your asset, while at the same time coordinate local professionals to help us prepare the house for sale.
Not all Realtors have the know-how or willingness to deal with the unique challenges and complexities associated with these properties. It is essential to find one who cares and excels at problem solving. A skilled realtor will demonstrate empathy, understanding, and a proactive approach to assist you throughout the process.
3. Prepare the House for Maximum Returns
One of the key factors in maximizing your profit when selling a hoarder house is necessary preparations upfront. While it may require a small amount of additional time, the returns can be substantial.
Typically, the first step is to rent a dumpster to remove unwanted items, debris and trash. If desired, I can help to secure a professional cleaning crew experienced in handling hoarder houses. They can efficiently remove any unwanted items on the property, making it more appealing to potential buyers.
4. Organize an Estate Sale
If the hoarder house contains valuable items among the accumulated belongings, hosting an estate sale is an efficient and profitable way to declutter the property while generating additional income. An estate sale specialist will organize and manage the entire event, ensuring a smooth process and optimal financial returns. You don’t even have to show up!
Keep in mind that estate sales attract a wide range of buyers, including collectors, antique enthusiasts, and bargain hunters. These individuals may also express interest in purchasing the property itself, leading to a potentially quick sale.
I partner with a local estate sale company that specializes in hoarder houses. They do all the heavy lifting. They will organize, clean, price and conduct the sale. When it is all said and done, them home will be left in broom clean condition and ready for market.
5. Consider Repairs
In some cases, a hoarder house may require repairs due to neglect or damage. Typically, the only necessary repairs evolve around health and safety issues. Often they are necessary to insure the home is financeable. Examples of this are hot and cold running water, trip hazards or chipping paint. Again, I can help you facilitate all repairs.
Priorities at this stage are insuring a lender will loan on the home and that it will pass the inspection from a potential buyer and lead to a sale.
This is another case where an experienced real estate agent like me can help. I will determine which changes are required, and which are a waste of time and resources. I’ll consult with contractors or home improvement specialist to provide cost estimates for necessary repairs. Of course, I’ll inform you of everything first while making recommendations of your best course of action.
6. Collaborate with Professionals Experienced in Hoarding Cases
Selling a hoarder house requires a comprehensive understanding of the unique challenges associated with hoarding. Collaborating with professionals who have expertise in hoarding cases can provide valuable insights and support.
Furthermore, an experienced real estate agent has connections with professionals experienced in hoarding cleanouts, estate sales, handymen, and other related services. These resources can streamline the process, save you time and effort, and ensure that your hoarder house is presented in the best possible light.
By following these tips and using my expertise, you can navigate the complexities of selling a hoarder house in Michigan with confidence and compassion. I’ve learned that hoarding is a mental condition that requires understanding and support. I’ll approach the process with empathy as I help you to sell the hoarder house.