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Selling a Hoarder’s House

Property Saviour » House Clearance » Selling a Hoarder’s House

Hoarding is a mental disorder.  Unfortunately, personal items over time can result in stacks of clutter in what seems like a hoarder’s house. 

In this article, we will cover what is a hoarding house, why hoarder homes can be difficult to sell and the best option on how you can sell it without carrying out necessary repairs. 

You can skip to a chapter that interests you in our Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

What is hoarding?

In June 2018, The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an International Classification of Diseases.  Hoarding disorder is classified as a mental condition in older adults.  Hoarding Disorders UK, a community interest company, describes it as:

“Hoarding disorder is characterised by accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value. Excessive acquisition is characterized by repetitive urges or behaviours related to amassing or buying items. Difficulty discarding possessions is characterised by a perceived need to save items and the distress associated with discarding them.

Accumulation of possessions results in living spaces becoming cluttered to the point that their use or safety is compromised. The symptoms result in significant distress or significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

Cardboard boxes and rubbish piled on
Severe form of hoarding can invite pests such as rats and pigeons looking for left-over food and shelter.

Sell hoarder's house 'as is' or clean up?

Do you sell hoarder’s house ‘as is’ or would you like to undertake cleaning and house clearance?

If you have already retrieved the Will, important documents and items of sentimental value, it may be worth selling it ‘as is’.  We can help with the recovery of the remaining items if it helps.

Here at Property Saviour, we’ll make you a cash offer, offer free house clearance and enable you to move on.

Sell with certainty & speed

What happens if you clean a hoarder's house?

Be prepared to see maggots, cockroaches, insects attracted to filth as well as vermin such as mice and rats.

These creatures also breed disease so if you are bitten by a rat, immediately seek medical treatment at your local A&E.

Cleaning a hoarder's house

Cleaning a hoarder’s home is a job for two people.  The scale of the task is far too big, and you will need to take safety precautions such as:

  • Wearing face masks;
  • Anti-cut gloves;
  • Hard-hats;
  • Steel-toe cap shoes or trainers;
  • Waterproof overalls;
  • Safety goggles.

Companies offer house clearance services; however, they may dispose of items of sentimental value or throw away important documents.  We use a specialist company with experience of recovering items of sentimental value along with any documents.

Hire skips

Try to use your bins first; however, you will need a skip. 

  1. Order a large skip and be ready to fill it; otherwise, you will find that neighbours will have filled it overnight.
  2. If your furniture items are clean, safe to use, and have fire hazard labels, then you can donate them to local charities.  British Heart Foundation collect for free – and we donate to them.
  3. If furniture or large bulky items such as fridge freezers are to be disposed of, then your local council offers a large bulky collection service for a nominal sum.


Within a hoarder’s home, there may be asbestos, damp, dry rot or hazardous materials, so while the task may seem adventurous, it is dangerous, and hence, the cost of house clearance easily runs into thousands of pounds.

The key still is to identify the risk and to get rid of it safely – such as professionally removing asbestos.  Breathing in asbestos particles can lead to lung cancer.

Be prepared to deal with dust, rotten food, a strong smell of urine if the property has pets, dealing with soiled carpets, and lifting floorboards.

It is a good idea to have professionals on standby, such as electricians, plumbers and gas-safe engineers, to safely disconnect appliances. 

Buy cleaning supplies

Here is a list of essential cleaning equipment that you will need to provide or purchase:

Cleaning clothes

Floor wipes

Vaccum cleaner

Carpet cleaner & shampoo

Heavy-duty leak-proof refuse sacks

Cleaning sprays



See-through bags for storing items

Cardboard boxes & tape

First aid kit

How do you get the smell out of a hoarder's house?

Often, surplus food can rot away and attract rodents and stray cats, resulting in excessive cat pee smell that can be very difficult to get rid of.

Clean the floor and sanitise the walls thoroughly using bleach or an anti-septic cleaning solution.

However, if cat urine seeps through the wooden floors and is allowed to dry over an extended period of time, the only option left might be to replace the floors.

Underlying causes of hoarding

We are sympathetic to any form of hoarding situation, having seen hundreds of homes as potential buyers.  Whether you are a hoarder or a family member handling an estate sale, our approach is always non-judgemental, and as problem solvers, we are here to help.  

Let’s talk about the reasons behind a hoarding home:

Loss of a loved one

The loss of a loved one can lead to valuable items becoming of sentimental value. You could feel personally abused if someone moves or throws away items as you see them as a physical extension of your life.

You may need extra time to come to terms with it.  This is not an easy task.

You might need the help of a professional cleaning company and a professional organiser, but this clean up can take a lot of time and cost a lot of money.

Obsessive thoughts

Obsessive thoughts could mean that one lives in a reactionary way. Persistent difficulty dealing with mail gets left to pile up at the front door, plastic bags from shopping scattered on the floor, and cardboard boxes from online orders.    

These unsanitary conditions can become a serious problem with an increased risk of fire hazards.  If your property is empty, squatters can move in, leaving human waste or hazardous materials such as syringes used for drugs.

Chronically overwhelmed

It is easy to become chronically overwhelmed when all parts of your life, family, friends, relationships, and work are up in the air. 

The best way to help a collector is to get attention from professionals. Collections can vary from fine art, empty bottles, plastic lids, or dead animals.   

Once you have taken the first step to appraise the collection, it can be sold on to a new owner, and this can pay for deep cleaning.  This may reveal any structural problems that could put off any prospective buyers.

Children have flown the nest

Property owners can feel loneliness, depression, or loss of purpose when children have flown the nest. What was once a family house can easily turn into a hoarder house. It may be time to perhaps downsize into a new home.

Life changing events

Substantial life-changing events such as redundancy or trauma can cause hoarding disorders.

Hoarder's house
Over time a neglected property can decay quickly with even a higher repair and clean up bill.

Why a hoarder’s house can be difficult to sell?

Because hoarding can seem unusual for people without the disorder, a hoarder’s home will not appeal to typical home buyers.  The first thing you need is a reliable cleaning service.  You may have to roll up your sleeves and wear gloves to assist the cleaning crew before you can sell the house.

Be very careful before you start de-cluttering, particularly if the property hasn’t sold in the last 30 years or more. It could be unregistered, and your property deeds could be stored within the home.  Losing original deeds can be very costly and could adversely affect the value of your property. We can still help you.

If it is an inherited house, check for the original death certificate, original copy of the Will, copies of life insurance documents, funeral plan, bills, savings books, shares, pensions, and bank cards.

You’ve put in a lot of work, and your hard work has resulted in items being donated to local charities. Now, all you see is a lot of repairs with structural issues and a home requiring a new kitchen, bathroom, and fresh coat of paint.

It can be embarrassing to invite an estate agent to put the property on the open market.  The first challenge is to take professional photos. So how do you get rid of a hoarder’s house?

How do you get rid of a hoarder's house?

Estate agents won’t be too keen on selling a hoarder’s house due to the risk of someone falling and suing them. It is best to sell a hoarder’s home to a cash buyer.

It will be difficult to host an open house to invite property investors or any would-be property owners because the hoarding problem leaves clues.  So, what are your options:

  • Estate agent
  • Auctioneer
  • Professional cash buyers like Property Saviour

Estate agent

Not all estate agents are great, and often, we hear sellers complain about estate agents or solicitors over-promising and under-delivering.  It is easy to sign up with an estate agent on a six-month exclusivity contract to sell your property, but they won’t tell you that it’s not mortgageable due to its condition.

Properties that have been neglected tend to be unmortgageable.  You will only find out that your property is unmortgageable when a naïve buyer will book a mortgage survey.

This is when your estate agent will ‘refer’ you to their auctioneer to get paid an introducer commission.  One way or another, they will try to make money out of you.

How to sell a hoarder's house at auction
When auctioning a property, its full address is put on the internet, and any member of the public can view it and go through the legal pack.


Auctions can be a good way to sell a property if you like taking a risk.

When auctioning a property, its full address is put on the internet, and any member of the public can view it and go through the legal pack.

There are two types of property auctions – both offering in-person and online bidding:

  • Most traditional in-room auctions now allow online bids. This is where the buyer puts down a 10% deposit and has 28 days to complete the purchase.
  • Modern Method of Auction: This attracts first-time buyers, with the winning bidder paying up to £9,600 as a buyer’s premium. This buyer’s premium does not form part of the deposit, and effectively, a buyer can back up out of the sale and lose this sum – just like with a traditional auction.  For a seller, this means that the buyer will bid £10,000 less for your property.  The auctioneer and their introducing estate agent will split this buyer’s premium between them, and you will be told, ‘We will sell your property for free, and there are no fees to pay’.  Even if your buyers pull out, you won’t see a penny of it.

Picking regional or national auctioneers

There are local auctions with 5 or 10 lots held every two months, and then there are regional auctions.  Regional auctioneers tend to have more lots in their catalogue and attract a bigger audience than your local auctioneer. 

Quite a few estate agents have now become auctioneers due to lucrative commission structures, as buyers could end up paying as much as £9,600 for a buyer’s premium.

Low guide price

The auctioneer will suggest that you put in a low guide price to attract interest.  He/she may say that the guide price is just a marketing price – this is untrue

Your reserve price (a price you must sell at) can’t be more than 10% above its guide price.  For example, let’s say that the guide price is £100,000, then your reserve price can’t be more than £110,000. 

Up to 56 days for completion

The buyer has 28 days to exchange and a further 28 to complete the purchase.  How fair is it that the auctioneer and his friendly estate agent will get paid on the auction day, but you won’t see funds for up to two months?

Let’s look at what happens if your property does sell at auction

Sale isn't guaranteed

There is no guarantee that after paying upfront entry fees, paying for searches and a solicitor to prepare a legal pack, your property will be sold. The auctioneer will tell you that if the buyer backs out, you can sue them.  It is easier said than done. 

Litigation is very expensive at £400 per hour, and you could end up throwing tens of thousands of pounds without any prospect of success.  More importantly, do you have time, inclination and money to start court proceedings?

Property Placement In Online Auction Catalogue

Lots of things can go against you if you are an inexperienced seller. For instance, your property could be placed in the auction as lot number 199 out of 200 and get very little to no interest.  Auctioneers love repeat business from councils and administrators who influence where their properties are placed in the auction catalogue for maximum exposure and best results.  You will be treated as just a one-off customer.

Exclusivity clause in case property doesn't sell

Auctioneers usually have an exclusivity clause within their contract that prevents you from selling the property for another month if it did not sell at auction.  Now, every property speculator (or chancer) will put in a cheeky bid on your property, which is usually substantially lower than your original guide price.  There will be a permanent record on the internet of your unsold property – a stigma as to why this property was not sold.

Property Auctions aren't fast

The next auction could be months away, and if you are worried about time constraints, then auctioning your house might not be a good fit.

You have to allow one month of marketing and up to two months for completion.  But what if you just want to sell now?

What is a Professional cash buyers
We will buy any property with structural damage or neglect.  All we need are interior photos to make you an offer. 

Professional cash buyers

The good news is that Property Saviours are genuine cash buyers.  We can make you a fair cash offer. 

We will buy any property with structural damage or neglect.  All we need are interior photos to make you an offer.  We are good people trusted by executives and homeowners with five-star reviews.

There are no estate agent’s commissions to pay.  You can sell your property as it is and let us take off any hoarding.  We will also pay £1,500 towards your legal fees. 

Let us show you there’s an easy way to sell.  The whole process can be completed within 2 weeks, allowing you to move on with life.

Sell with certainty & speed

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.
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