Life as a Hoarder: “Trapped Inside a House I Can’t Afford”

According to the Mayo Clinic, Hoarding Disorder (HD) is when a person has “persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.”

HD can range from mild to severe. In the case of someone with mild HD, the disorder may not have much of an impact on their life. However, problems arise when hoarding becomes severe and starts to affect their finances, health, and relationships. Due to this disorder having a major effect on family and friends, this article is not only for those who suffer from HD but for those who know someone with a HD.

The focus of this article will be on the financial hurdles a person with a HD may undergo, and what they should do when they need to vacate or sell their home. Also featured in this article is a test to find out if you have HD, a list of several resources to help someone with a HD that plans to sell their home, and an exercise to help those without HD to get into the mindset of someone with a HD.

If you have HD, I encourage you to read this article to become informed about the hurdles you may face when you have to leave your home, but also to realize that you have options! If you are a family member or friend of someone with a HD, please remember that this is a disorder, and like any other illness, needs to be treated with care. Please read this article to better understand HD, how to support someone with a HD, and where to go for help.

How to Put Yourself in a Hoarder’s Shoes

Many of us have possessions that we would hate to throw away, but the difference between someone with a HD and someone without HD is the number of items kept and the value seen in them. Ben Soreff of House to Home Organizing stated “Typically, we see hoarding clients with a false sense of value. They don’t really care about keepsakes or art. They have attachments to napkins, plastic silverware and plastic bags. These items that they got for free seem to have great importance.” If you’re wondering why someone with a HD may see value in napkins, plastic silverware, or trash bags, please read the next paragraph.

To those without HD, I would like to create a scenario to help you see things through the eyes of a hoarder. Imagine you’re ten years old and every night before you go to bed you watch your father clean coins from his coin collection and place them into a coin book. Every day you and your father look for coins to add to the coin book, whether it’s just walking down a street or looking into abandoned houses. These adventures were some of your happiest childhood memories. Unfortunately, these happy times could not last forever. Your father suddenly became ill and passed away. Everything of his was sold or donated and the only thing that you had left was his coin book.

What if someone told you to get rid of that book? What if the book got damaged and people pressured you to throw out the book? Would you do it? If you’re thinking you wouldn’t do it, then you’re thinking like someone with a HD. People with a HD have attachments like this to all of their items. That is why it is next to impossible for them to get rid of any of their items. Next time you ask someone with a HD to give up an item imagine someone asking you to give up a prized possession, realize how hard it is for them, and try to support them in the process.

Are You A Hoarder?

Below you’ll see 9 images of a living room, 9 images of a kitchen, and 9 images of a bedroom. Start by observing the “Living Room” set of photos and then write down the number of the image that best represents your living room. Once you’ve written down this number, continue to the kitchen images and write down the number of the image that best represents your kitchen. For any bedrooms in your house, use the set of bedroom images to rate each bedroom. Continue this process for all the rooms in your house. To rate any rooms that are not a living room, kitchen, or bedroom (i.e., dining room, hallway, garage), use the living room set of images.

Living Room

Gail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press

Gail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press


Gail Steketee, Randy O. Frost Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Assessing Hoarding Problems. Copyright © 2013 by Oxford University Press

Once you have rated all your rooms, look at your list and note the rooms rated above a three. Any scores above a three in any room are cause for concern.

Also, if you are worried about a friend or family member, the Champaign Urbana Public Health District states a room rated a 4, 5, or 6 should be reported to them and a room rated 7,8, or 9 should be reported immediately.

If you would like to report a house, click on the link here and then the image that best represents the person’s house you are reporting. You’ll then be asked to fill out a form. Your information is confidential, and will not be shared with the person you want to help.

How Much Time & Money Do I Need to Sell My Cluttered House?

The house of someone with a HD usually needs more visits from repairmen and other professionals. Unfortunately, most people with a HD are ashamed of their home and rarely let in family members, let alone strangers. This causes their repair problems to go from bad to worse, and the amount of money needed to fix the repairs increase.

However, the worse part about these home maintenance issues is the deadly effect they can have on a hoarder’s health. One broken toilet can lead to black mold. A rat problem can easily become a rat feces problem. These conditions are why it’s extremely important for someone with a HD to change their living situation, whether that be by cleaning their house, organizing their house or selling it.

List of Resources: What You’ll Need to Sell a Hoarder House On the Market
If someone with HD wanted to sell their house on the open market, they would need to ask themselves “Is this something I can afford?”Below is a list of things needed for someone with a HD to sell their house on the open market. Some of the resources are optional, but some are not. Try to estimate what it would cost you to sell your house on the market and then look at the list below. See if your estimates are close to the actual numbers.

Show entriesSearch:
Resources Average Cost ($)
A real estate agent that is willing to attempt selling the hoarder house. 11334
Time to clean up the house, speak to consignment stores and antique dealers One day- several months
Money for mortgage payments $1,061 per month
People willing to help clean the house or money to hire a team $5,000-$10,000
Professional organizer $40-$120 per hour
Psychological help during the cleanup and after the sale $80-$100 per hour
Dumpsters 500
Storage Units $150 per month
Cleanup supplies (shovels, cleaning, products, mops, gloves, trash bags, masks, brooms) $100-$700
Home inspector 315
Showing 1 to 10 of 17 entriesPreviousNext
*Note this list will vary depending on the severity of the HD and some items on the list may be optional. These numbers were found by speaking to professionals in various fields and using US national averages.*

5 Issues with Selling a Cluttered House on the Market
1. Photos

Imagine that someone with HD found a willing real estate agent and listed their house on the market “as-is”. Chances are pictures of the interior would not be shown online. According to, 92% of home buyers look for their new home online. That means that interior photos of a house are a critical factor when selling any home.

2. Open House

“Forget the open house,” wrote Constance Rosenblum, a write for The New York Times and the author of Selling a Hoarder’s Home: The Trouble with Stuff. “Sometimes prospective buyers can’t get past the front door.”

3. Judgement

If someone with HD does happen to get prospective buyers to visit their home, it is extremely likely they will receive many insulting comments. In her article “Selling a Hoarder’s Home: The Trouble With Stuff,” Constance Rosenblum writes “many of the dozens of visitors made disparaging comments as they poked about the place, even when the owner was present. I said, ‘Please don’t. A person lives here, and you have to respect her.’”

4. Open House Logistics

If you have a cramped house, you may not be able to fit many buyers in your house at one time. Also, people with children will not be able to bring their children into the house.

5. Time

Time is arguably the biggest hurdle someone with HD will face when trying to sell their home. It takes time to clean a house, get it up to code, and to finally sell it; but a person suffering from HD may only have a certain amount of time before they need to vacate their house. They may need to vacate their house within a certain amount of time because of a lack of funds for mortgage payments or because of time-limits given by city officials.

How to Sell a Cluttered Home Fast and Without Paying for Anything
If you are suffering from HD and have a limited amount of funds but would still love to sell your house and get a fresh start on life, there is only one way to sell your house, through a real estate investor. If an investor believes your property is salvageable, they will make an offer on your house and take into account the cost of repairs and cleanup, renovation time, the properties location, and many other factors. Once the seller and investor agree on a sale price, the investor will give the owner cash for their property on the closing date. The closing date is the day all the paperwork is signed. It is an extremely easy process if you choose the right investor or company.

Is There Any Risk?
If you sell your house to a REPUTABLE investor or company, there are absolutely no risks involved. However, there is a risk if you trust the wrong investor. Some inexperienced or unethical investors may promise to purchase your house, but back out at the last minute. This unethical situation is especially problematic for those with HD. People that have HD usually have to sell their house because of the time-constraints made by the city or because they cannot afford another month of mortgage payments.

The No-Risk and Easy Way to Sell a Hoarder House
To get rid of risk, gain your independence back, and sell your house quickly, call We have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and have purchased over 2,200 houses since 2003. Our home buying specialists would love to hear about your personal situation and will express zero judgment. If you have a hoarding disorder, please don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about your house. There are millions of people with HD in the U.S. and has helped many of them gain their independence back.

Kimberly Thrasher, a licensed clinical social worker who has helped multiple people with HD, explains that selling your home with an investor, instead of having it taken away, can lead to a sense of self-control.

“Individuals that feel forced into changes without preparation or a sense of control can experience a reinforced belief that life is scary, others are out to harm them, and they are not worthy or deserve the psychic pain they are in. Alternatively, if they are able to sell their homes, full of all their treasures, their memories…their secrets… in a way that allows for a sense of choice, promotes dignity and autonomy, and results in a new start, the person may instead feel the world is good, others are helpful, and they are worthwhile. A good sell that facilitates the start of healing can be a catalyst to further growth and change.”

If you are interested in speaking with an our home buying specialist, click here and fill out the form or give us a call at 657-444-SALE. There’s no judgment, and we want to help.

You can even get an offer in 7 minutes or less! So what are you waiting for?? Call us and get the fresh start you’ve always wanted.

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