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How to Address Health and Safety Concerns When Selling a Hoarded Home

The discovery that a relative or someone you cared for deeply had a hoarding problem is always a shock. Often, hoarders hide the extent of the problem from others, either keeping them out of the parts of the home that have gotten out of hand or deciding to withdraw from the world altogether.

When they pass away or move on to a better situation, a lot of feelings can arise for those left to deal with the aftermath that is their home. Guilt, distress, and overwhelm are all common emotions for people trying to sell a hoarded home.

Besides the difficulties of tackling such a big task, there are also health and safety concerns.

Health & Safety and a Hoarded Home

There are always at least some health and safety concerns with a hoarded home, though the severity does depend on the type of hoarding, how long it had been going on for, and other factors about the conditions the hoarder was living in. Here are some of the health and safety concerns you need to consider when getting ready to sell a hoarded home:

  • Falling and Tripping Hazards: The first concern is the most obvious and the one that affects all hoarders, regardless of other factors. Hoarders typically pile items up until there are narrow pathways through their home, or even until certain rooms become impassable. These narrow pathways are a tripping hazard, and in extreme cases, there is also the risk of items that are piled high falling on top of anyone passing through those rooms.
  • Waste: It is common for anyone in a hoarding situation to end up in a relatively unclean situation. While most hoarders do not hoard waste products themselves, their situation can get bad enough that they feel unable to put out the garbage can or find that food scraps and similar objects get lost amongst all the things they’re keeping on purpose. Of course, this creates an unclean environment.
  • Pests: Where there’s waste, there are often pests. If you’ve ever had a mouse or ants in your home, you’ll know that it takes very little to attract them. A hoarder’s home is often a paradise for them; plenty of dark nooks and crannies for them to live and hide in, and ready access to food and water. Since hoarders are almost always aware that their living situation has gotten out of hand, even if they feel unable to do anything about it, they will not seek help for their pest problem. Some pests pose a risk from bites and stings, but the biggest risk to your health and safety is their waste.
  • Mold: Hoarding situations create areas of the home where there is little airflow, which creates an ideal environment for mold to breed. As you move out the hoarded objects, you’ll also disturb the mold, which can irritate your respiratory system. This is a big risk for those with respiratory issues (such as asthma), but anyone doing this should wear appropriate protective masks and clothing.
  • Damage to the Home: Mold often grows where there’s excess moisture, which can lead to dampness and damage to the home on a much bigger scale than damaged wallpaper. It’s not unusual to discover rotten walls and floorboards. Another issue is long-lasting odors. In cases where there has been a build-up of waste, the smell of decay or pest urine and feces can mean that walls and floors must be removed and replaced to get rid of the smell.

How to Protect Yourself When Cleaning a Hoarded Home

If the home is something you believe you can tackle and isn’t in such a state that specialist equipment may be necessary, you should equip yourself with heavy-duty gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection. If there are signs of pests, you need to be especially careful because their waste poses a serious health risk. If in doubt, always consult a professional company that offers cleaning for hoarding situations, since they’ll have the right protective equipment to safely clear the home.

Click here for more advice about cleaning a hoarding home.

How much does it cost to clean up a hoarded home?

Using a professional company to clean up a hoarded home varies significantly since every situation is different. If there is simply a build-up of stuff, with no serious waste or mold issues, you would be looking at around $3,000 – $5,000 for a 2,000 sqft home.

What can I do with a hoarder home?

If you’ve inherited a home from a hoarder or otherwise have responsibility for selling the home once the hoarder has moved on, you’ve got two options:

  1. Clean the home or pay for a professional cleaning company to clear the home for you so you can prepare it for sale
  2. Sell to a trusted, accredited cash home buyer

You will not be able to sell the home through a real estate agent or (in most cases) an auction until the home is clear of debris. Traditional buyers will not be willing to purchase a home without a good assessment of what’s there and what the repercussions of the hoarding situation may be for the home.

Your other option is to sell to an investor that cash-buys homes in as-is condition. Experienced investors can assess the overall condition of the home and will buy the property from you without you having to do any serious cleanup.

We Buy Homes in a Hoarder Condition

We understand that dealing with the home of someone who ended up in a hoarding situation is a sensitive issue, and dealing with the aftermath can often be too much for the family to handle. We can talk you through the situation, all your different options, and give you a cash offer if you decide selling as-is is the right decision for you.

If you decide to move ahead and sell your hoarder property to us, we can close in as little as 2-3 weeks so you can move on with your life and get the stress of the property off your shoulders as soon as possible. To find out more about how we work or to contact us about your property, click here.

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