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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 guide, 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.

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.

What can cause excessive accumulation of items?

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 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 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.
  • It is easy to become chronically overwhelmed when all parts of your life, family, friends, relationships, and work are up in the air. Covid-19 lockdown has resulted in many relationships breaking down.
  • The best way to help a collector is 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.
  • Often, 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.
  • 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, 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, property 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.  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 solicitors or estate agents 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 surveyor.

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.


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.

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 not true.  In fact, 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. 

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.

There are two types of 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 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.

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

There is no guarantee that after paying upfront entry fees, paying for searches and a solicitor to prepare a legal pack, that 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?

Lots of things can go against you if you are an inexperienced seller for instance your property could be placed in the auction as a 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.

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 did this property not sell?

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.

Professional cash buyers

The good news is that Property Saviour are a genuine cash buyer.  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 Executors and homeowners with five-star reviews.

There are no estate agent commissions to pay.  You can sell your property as it is and let us take of 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 3-4 weeks, allowing you to move on with life.

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