When it comes to hoarding the first thought is someone with a messy home. A person who can’t or won’t clean up. But, it’s more complicated than what meets the eye. Cleaning the house will not automatically solve the problem. Hoarding is a mental illness and must be treated with compassion. However, swift treatment is key due to the hazards that come with hoarding and selling the home of a hoarder.
Common symptoms of hoarding:
Hoarding is a mental illness. But, if you can spot the signs early you can encourage the person to see a doctor before things progress.
1. Excessively purchasing unnecessary items.
This person may buy items they don’t need nor, can they store. They may believe this item will have a use in the future and is unique. That is their justification for the purchase.
2. Emotional attachment to their belongings:
This goes beyond one or two items which have sentimental value. It also does not include things they use daily or would have a legitimate use for in the future. They are emotionally attached to a vase they never use. Or, a broken appliance that is beyond repair. For the hoarder, these items may remind them of better days or of a loved one they have lost.
3. Saving unnecessary things:
Hoarders will become attached to empty detergent bottles or empty boxes. Things non-hoarders would throw away when they are consumed. A hoarder will justify this because they don’t want to waste anything.
The clutter that accumulates due to a hoarder’s behavior renders rooms unusable. This problem extends beyond an inconvenience or messiness. This kind of clutter creates a fire and trip threat for the hoarder. If the mess is blocking windows and entrances, it becomes a fire hazard. Yet, the clutter makes the hoarder feel safe and secure. Despite the safety problems is causes.
Who is at risk?
There are some risk factors common among hoarders. Those who are indecisive are more susceptible to hoarding. If the person has a family history of hoarding they are a high risk of becoming hoarders themselves. Unhealthy coping skills can result in hoarding too. If the person has had a divorce, eviction, or job loss recently they may revert to hoarding.
There are numerous health and safety risks associated with hoarding. Anyone assisting a hoarder needs to understand these risks and prepare accordingly.
Excessive clutter makes proper cleaning difficult. This also becomes a breeding ground for germs. Living in this environment compromises the hoarder’s health and immune system. Rotting food that is left indoors becomes food for germs which can make the occupants sick. If the person hoards animals, it creates more problems. Decomposing carcasses make go unnoticed and attract bugs and rodents. The germs that cling to animal’s waste can make everyone in the home ill.
The litter, rotting food, and waste create the perfect environment for pest and mold infestations. Bedbugs are attracted to clutter as they can hide in small crevasses. Rats and flies will flock to the rotting food. Since there is so much clutter they can hide from the person living in the home. These pests are far from harmless. Many are carriers of parasites. Their waste in your home puts you at risk for E. Coli and salmonella.
3. Respiratory issues:
Junk can fall into vents obstructing air from properly circulating. The rotten food becomes a magnet for mold, mildew, and fungus. The mold causes several respiratory and health issues.
4. Fire Hazard:
Hoarding is a fire hazard in many ways. First, is the flammable clutter in the home. If some of it were to hit the stove or heater the house would quickly be in flames. The rodents can chew through wires putting the home at risk for an electrical fire. Unsafe appliances make heating the home dangerous. In the event of a fire, the fire department would have a difficult time finding the occupants. The sheer amount of clutter is an obstruction for them. Often, entryways are blocked by boxes and other items making rescue difficult.
5. Structural integrity:
The weight of the unnecessary items compromises the structural integrity of the dwelling. The load-bearing structures become stressed making the home dangerous. The clutter itself may collapse and cause additional damage.
How to prepare a hoarder’s home for sale:
It is possible to prepare to sell a home after a hoarder has lived there. However, you will need to call a few professionals for help.
1. Professional hoarding clean-up:
This goes beyond a regular clean-up job. It will require a team of cleaners and take several days. The team begins by completely clearing out the room. Then, they will sift through the clutter and separate what to keep and what to throw away. Another option is hiring a junk removal service. They clear out the home completely and dispose of everything.
2. Professional exterminators:
You must hire a professional exterminator when selling a hoarder’s home. Pest control will asses the damage and come up with a plan to fix problems like rodents or bedbugs.
3. Trusted contractor:
You want to hire a trusted contractor to fix any structural damage to the home before sale. This is especially important for load-bearing walls.
4. Mold remediation:
The mold growth in the home of a hoarder is hazardous to the health of everyone. You need a mold remediation expert to help. They start by assessing the extent of the damage. From there they come up with a plan that includes isolating contaminated areas, removing all mold infested items, and extensively cleaning and killing the mold. After this is complete, they will make sure the mold issue is resolved.
Hoarding is a serious illness that affects the hoarders mental and physical well-being. The clutter and safety hazards are symptoms of a deeper mental illness. Cleaning the home does not resolve the problem. What you see as junk they see as treasure. Even after cleaning it up the hoarder will go back to their old ways without effective therapy. The hoarder needs the help of a mental health expert while the physical needs of the home are being tended to.
Yet, it is not impossible to sell a home that a hoarder lived in. Once you understand the time and money involved in the repairs you can get to work. Every hoarding situation is different. Many homes can be restored and sold after a hoarding occupant.
Contact Seller’s Advantage online or call us at 1-800-208-3243 to get a no-cost, no-obligation quote on your home. We purchase homes in AS-IS condition and can give you a cash offer in as little as 24 hours.