How to Put a Hoarder's Home on the Market

Admittedly the phrase "staging on steroids" is something of a light statement about a very serious topic, dealing with the residence of a hoarder that needs to be sold. The reality is that dealing with a hoarding situation, including hoarding cleanup and preparing a the home of a hoarder for sale, requires much, much more than staging essentials. Indeed, there is a myriad of considerations that you must bear in mind when it comes to a hoarder's residence, hoarding cleanup, and how all of this potentially impacts selling a home. By paying heed to these considerations, you will be able to get a hoarder's home in a proper condition for sale. 

The Necessity of Comprehensive Hoarder Cleanup

Nothing can be left to chance when it comes to hoarding cleanup. In other words, the cleanup of a residence occupied by a hoarder in anticipation must the extremely exhaustive. As a preliminary matter, if the hoarder is living and still in the residence, he or she must but into the cleanup process in order for it to succeed. In other words, hoarding cleanup cannot be forced upon a person who hoards as a general rule. 

The first phase of hoarding cleanup is sorting through what likely will be a tremendous amount of objects and items. A practical means of dealing with items in a hoarder's residence is to sort them into four general categories:

  • items to keep
  • items to sell
  • items to donate
  • items to dispose

In undertaking a hoarding cleanup, developing some type of staging area is wise. By this is meant that a space associated with the residence should be created where objects that appear to be disposable can be stowed for a specific period of time to confirm that the hoarder is willing and capable of departing with these items. 

Because large quantities of hoarded items ideally will be disposed, have an onsite dumpster or similar container is a must. Having this type of staging area allows a hoarder a sense of security knowing that items that are important to him or her are not going to be eliminated on a whim. 

Once the removal, segregation, and proper disposition of different items has occurred, the needs for sanitization of the premises may be necessary. Indeed, if hoarding has gone on for a significant period of time, biohazardous waste can be present in a residence. For example, a residence in which hoarding has gone on for an extended period of time is not likely to have functioning toilet and similar facilities. Thus, it is not uncommon to find human feces and urine in a residence in the advances stages of hoarding. 

Deodorization must also be undertaken as part of hoarder cleanup in advance of putting a home owned by a hoarder on the market for sale. The reality is that a severe case of hoarding can result in foul odors permeating the property. Odors may have absorbed into flooring, wall coverings, and so forth. Thus, the battle to remediate odors can be intense. Nevertheless, it must be done. If there is any trace of a persistent foul odor in a home, that consistently will prove to be a deal breaker when it comes to the residence being sold.

As was said previously, the ultimate objective of hoarding cleanup is to restore a residence to a fully livable and marketable state. In the simplest of terms, there must be no trace whatsoever of the fact that hoarding occurred in a property. This includes any evidence detectable by any of the human senses. 

Legal Disclosures and a Hoarder's Home

All U.S. states maintain specific disclosures that must be made by a homeowner to a prospective buyers. The occurrence of hoarding in a residence does not, in and of itself, necessitate a legal disclosure to a prospective buyer. With that, when a serious hoarding situation has existed in a residence, odds are relatively strong that there may exist issues with a residence that might warrant legal disclosures of one type of another. Again, what must be disclosed depends on the legal requirements of a specific state.

If a hoarding situation is in existence at a residence for an extended period of time, it can result in there being structural damage to a residence. For example, there may be plumbing issues at a residence as a result of hoarding. Of course, in advance of putting a residence on the market for sale, repairs may have been undertaken at the residence. However, depending on the nature of the structural issue, even if a repair was undertaken, a disclosure might need to be made.

In other instances, a decision might have been made to cut losses and put a residence on the market without repairs being undertaken. Thus, certain types of damage or defects would be subject to disclosures by the seller to a prospective buyer.

Real estate attorneys are relatively uniform when it comes to the legal requirements of disclosures by a homeowner to a prospective buyer. They nearly uniformly maintain that a homeowner should always err on the side of disclosing. 

At first glance, taking on hoarding cleanup can seem like an impossible task. It certainly can be virtually overwhelming in many cases. For this reason, many individuals do seek assistance from a qualified, experienced hoarding cleanup specialist. In the end, and typically with professional assistance, a residence can be restored to a wholly salable and livable condition. 

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