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What is a Hoarder House?

Hoarder house with trash piled up.
What is a hoarder house? The picture above explains everything.

Hoarder houses are homes nearly every real estate professional will come across in their career. While they’re often unhygienic and in disarray, hoarder houses may present an excellent opportunity for savvy real estate investors and wholesalers who have experience in turning hoarder houses into livable properties. 

However, you may be wondering whether or not you should buy hoarder homes as an investor due to the health problems and various consequences that may come with purchasing a house like this. 

This article will discuss hoarder homes, why people hoard, and allow you to decide whether or not to invest in a hoarder home.

What is a Hoarder?

Hoarders are people who obtain an excessive amount of possessions and store them in their homes or living spaces. They often have psychological issues they deal with which causes them to hold onto most of their possessions.

These people may choose to hoard items including:

  • Household items
  • Rotten food
  • Newspaper
  • Clothes
  • Handbags
  • Collectibles
  • Mail
  • Books

Hoarder homes are often cluttered with excessive items, making it difficult to walk through the house like you would in a normal home. 

Since hoarders often collect food items, there could be dangerous living conditions that lead to health problems for the hoarder and their family members. They often have flammable items out in the open, potentially making it hard for the hoarder and their family to escape in the event of a fire.

Even when a hoarder is confronted about their hoarding, they may still disagree and believe there are no issues with their living condition and the number of items in their home.

What Does a Hoarder House Look Like?

Hoarder home with trash on the floor.
Hoarder home with lots of trash on the floor.

A hoarder house is very recognizable once you see one. Popular TV shows like “Hoarders” give you a realistic look into what hoarder houses look like and why they can be so unhealthy. 

Typical pictures of hoarder homes include trash and garbage spread across a backyard, living room, and just about everywhere in the house. The homes are sometimes in disrepair as well, making them that much more dangerous to live in.

Why do people hoard?

Psychologists believe people hoard for different reasons, but they all show signs of mental illness. It’s currently unclear what triggers hoarding and more research needs to be done.

Hoarding disorder

There are several risk factors that people with hoarding disorder have in common, including:

  • Familial issues. Nearly all hoarders have domestic problems which lead to their hoarding. Other hoarders cause familial issues as a result of their excessive hoarding. Common signs of familial issues triggering these behaviors include abuse, life events, or a death in the family.
  • Childhood trauma. Certain types of childhood trauma can lead to hoarding behavior, such as bullying or a house fire, or other circumstances where you lost some or all of your possessions as a child.
  • Other mental illnesses. Hoarding has been known to appear in people with other mental illnesses like depression or OCD.

Risks of living in a hoarder house

Poor living conditions

Hoarder houses are known for being places of poor living conditions with serious health risks. Contaminated air in hoarder houses leads to respiratory issues and increased mortality for people and animals. 

Hoarders tend to have other health issues due to the environment that their hoarding has led to. There have been hoarders who live in unsanitary conditions with pet hair, fecal matter, and urine found within the property.

There have been instances of hoarder houses where there’s no maintenance done on the property, leading to broken toilets, refrigerators, and dishwashers that further contribute to the poor living conditions. 

Other health and safety hazards

Rodents, cockroaches, and flies are all common in hoarder homes, which makes cleaning up a challenge for potential investors.

Cleaning a hoarder house

When a hoarder house goes for sale, the buyer is often responsible for cleaning up the house to make it livable for themselves or a future tenant. That’s why cleaning a hoarder house is so important and why you must take it seriously if you plan to buy the home.

Below are some services you may want to consider when investing in a hoarder house:

  • Pest extermination. If the property is infested with rodents or insects as a result of hoarding, you’ll want to call in a professional exterminator to handle the problem. They use industrial tools to get rid of pests in homes, which is why it’s worth investing in a pest exterminator for a hoarder house investment.
  • Junk removal. Some hoarders have so much stuff that they’ll need to call a professional junk removal service to pick up their garbage. You can find local junk removal services on your municipal website.
  • Donation pick-ups. Donation services like Goodwill or the Salvation Army may arrange a pick-up at the hoarder house for anything of value that you’d like to donate. 
Hoarder house entryway
Hoarder houses present challenges when it comes time to sell.

Professional cleaners 

Believe it or not, professional cleaning services specialize in cleaning up hoarder homes. They have the tools necessary to clean these homes and often have a team of cleaners who ensure the house is sanitary. 

You can find hoarder house cleaners by doing a simple Google search to find cleaners in your area.

Challenges of selling a hoarder house

Hoarding houses are sometimes in such bad condition that it makes it very challenging to clean up the property into a clean environment for a new tenant. You may need to use a ventilation mask when cleaning the house to avoid the effects of black mold, mildew, rotting food, and dead bugs or rodents.

You should also do your best to ensure the hoarder is not near the property to help clean up before the sale because they may react badly to seeing all their stuff get thrown away.

Final Thoughts

Hoarder houses can surprisingly be one of the best investments for serious real estate investors and wholesalers. Since most hoarder houses are in disarray, you can usually get a hoarder house under market value. However, you should ensure you know enough about hoarder houses to transform them into livable and desirable homes or you could lose your investment.

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About the author: Ryan hovers around a 10-20 handicap any given day. But the talent is there, no question.