Admit it. You’ve paused, curious, while scrolling through your channel guide when you land on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive. What’s more, you’ve probably watched at least part of an episode, and while you felt devastated for the featured hoarder whose mental illness underlies the phenomenon, you have felt better about your own slack housekeeping routine. Or perhaps you’ve seen the 1975 documentary Grey Gardens, or more recently the 2009 HBO film Grey Gardens, and wondered how a home comes back from that state and goes on to be sold and inhabited. As you’ve seen from any of these pop culture examples, hoarding has devastating effects to both the hoarder and the hoarder’s friends and family, both emotionally and financially.
REALTORS® don’t necessarily have the buffer of TV to separate themselves from the situation. At some point, a home owned by a hoarder will likely be sold, and REALTORS® who take on the task of selling that home have to deal with a myriad of obstacles including negative stigma associated with the home, health-related concerns that arise from long term hoarding in a home, and they have to know how to work with a person suffering from a clinical disorder. Compassion, realistic expectations, and optimism are key when catering to this demographic. Realistically, the home will likely need professional cleaners to rid it of any infestations, molds, or fungus.
NAR’s Information Services, Library & Archives has put together a new Field Guide to Hoarding and Real Estate to help REALTORS® understand their clients’ issues and needs. The field guide includes links to resources to help friends or relatives who are suffering from the disorder. NAR’s Library also has a Field Guide to Preparing & Staging a House for Sale that would help the REALTOR® once the issues of clutter and cleaning are handled.