How to Sell a Hoarder House
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Shortly after AMI was formed, we experienced our first, real Hoarder House in the flesh. The owner was incredibly nice and had realized things had gotten out of control. However, the owner still couldn't bring themselves to go through the items to purge and put the house on the market.
While we work with a west Houston area real estate team that has a lot of experience in listing as-is homes (including homes that have not been cleared of their contents), the owner also needed to sell and get their equity out before they could move. And they were adamant that they didn't want their neighbors of 20 years to see what their house had become. And so, they felt a cash, off-market sale was their best option.
Disclaimer – The information on this page is intended for general informational purposes only and not to provide legal or medical advice.
What is hoarding?
According to the Mayo Clinic, hoarding is a disorder that causes “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.”
Hoarding most often starts in one room of the home. It spreads – eventually taking over the house, yard, garage, vehicles, and any other property the hoarder owns. Often, hoarders have created narrow walk-ways throughout that lets them navigate areas of the home. In extreme cases, hoarders exist within the home daily in tiny cleared living spaces, surrounded by items they're hoarding, within a handful of rooms. In severe cases, hoarding will include trash in addition to everyday items.
People affected by hoarding disorder may not consider their hoarding an issue. Even though people without hoarding disorder can see the hoarder's living conditions are creating a low quality of life and, in some instances, are unsafe to inhabit. This disregard can make treating hoarding disorder very challenging, and treatment is best left to being provided by professional medical professionals.
Examples of hoarding
Below are photos of homes we have contracted that could be classified as hoarder homes.
How do you sell an unoccupied hoarder house?
Clean out the home and put it on the market with a real estate agent
Clearing a hoarder house on your own can take an extensive amount of time, stress, and money. Even if you're willing to put in the sweat equity of going through the contents of the home to clear it out, you will still incur significant expenses with dumpsters and trash removal. You may also encounter secondary expenses once the home is cleared to make it appealing to buyers. These additional expenses can include pest control, extensive yard work, mold remediation, and more – depending on the severity of the hoarding.
List the home with a real estate agent who offers concierge services
In this scenario, you would work with a Realtor who offers a concierge service to get the home market-ready for you. Some real estate agents will pay the expenses involved in getting a home listing ready. These agents will wait to be reimbursed for those expenses in the form of additional commission once the sale of the home closes. Concierge service is an option for sellers if there is equity in the home that can cover the agent's additional expenses on the backend, in addition to their sales commission.
While there are real estate agents who offer concierge services, they're usually limited to homeowners in need new flooring or deep cleaning to maximize their equity. There is a much smaller pool of agents willing to provide concierge service for a hoarder home.
Sell the home off-market to a cash buyer
While there are numerous cash home buyer companies out there, a hoarder home can even scare off some investors. However, highly-experienced investors will most likely be interested in purchasing a hoarder home and have the ability to see past the home's current condition. At AMI, we're not phased by hoarder homes, and we've put several of them under contract to purchase over the years.
As the seller, you take what you want from the house and walk away from the rest. We can typically close on hoarder houses in less than two weeks. We can close even faster if the owner or heir is facing financial issues or time constraints, which are creating hard deadlines. You can request a free, no-obligation, judgment-free cash offer from us for a hoarder home here.
What do you do with an occupied hoarder house?
Selling a hoarder house in this situation can be a bit more difficult – but not for us as investors. Instead, it is often a more emotionally and anxiety-ridden task for the hoarder occupant. Attempts to clear the home to list it on the market or via agent offering concierge services while the hoarder is still living in the home may be met with extreme resistance.
Logic is usually an ineffective method for combatting hoarding disorder. Hoarding is a mental health issue, and any attempts to convince, reason with, intimidate, argue, or “take control” with a hoarder will often be frustrating and fruitless as a result. The process of purging – whether they're doing it or someone else is – while the hoarder still lives in the home is likely to create emotional turmoil for the hoarder.
In these cases, it may be best to sell the home to a cash buyer who is willing to provide a leaseback after the sale. A leaseback allows the owner to get their equity out of the house first and then move out of the home – without needing to clear it or watch it be removed. But the owner needs to have reached the point where they agree to move from the house.
We've rarely seen this happen willingly, and typically is only be an acceptable outcome to a hoarder facing an unavoidable loss of the home, such as an impending foreclosure sale.
Selling with a leaseback can allow you to rent a moving truck with the proceeds of the sale and limit the hoarder to only taking the items that can fit into it when they're moving out. Leaving things behind can often be easier for a hoarder than going through them one by one or watching them be thrown away. An envelope containing a bill paid ten years ago seems like apparent trash to someone who is not a hoarder. But the item may be seen as a valuable memory to someone with hoarding disorder.
That said, getting a hoarder out of their home with a lower amount of possessions will not cure hoarding disorder. If they don't seek out the treatment needed, they may begin hoarding again in their new living situation. You need to ensure you obtain professional help from a mental health professional after the sale if you want to prevent the hoarding from reoccurring.
Helping a loved one with hoarding
The below are a list of national and Texas specific resources for families who are dealing with hoarding disorder.
- Texas Hoarding Cleanup
- Hoarding help from the International OCD Foundation
- Hoarder resources from the American Psychiatric Association
- Help for Hoarder Families from Hoarders.com
Selling a hoarder home can be a challenging process depending on if the home is occupied or not, but it is possible in either scenario with the right help. At AMI House Buyers, we understand hoarders are typically good people who suffer from a rare form of OCD and do our best to help families find the best possible outcome based on their unique situation. If you want to sell a hoarder home for cash in the Houston, Texas area, or anywhere else nationwide, please fill out our offer request form. It's free and there is no obligation to sell your home to us in requesting us to make an offer.