By Kay Wilson-Bolton
September 21, 2013
If a home in your neighborhood looks like no one is home for an extended period of time, do humanity a favor and knock on the door. It is possible someone is behind those closed doors living with unhealthy fears and behaviors.
In more cases that you would think, people are living and dying alone, surrounded by untold collections. Popular television programs have taken the lid off the topic of hoarding but not the mystery. All compulsive behaviors have causes and unpleasant side effects.
In almost a dozen recent properties that have been referred to me for sale, they were occupied by hoarders whose lives were driven by the passion of surrounding themselves with perceived comfort in the form of “things”. Unfortunately this can include pets.
There are five classifications of hoarders according to the National Study on Chronic Disorganization. The specific areas deal with Structure and Zoning, Pets and Rodents, Household Functions, Sanitation and Cleanliness
Hoarding can include excessive attachment to possessions, extreme clutter throughout the home’s living spaces, inability to discard items and the stacking of magazines, newspapers and junk. Hoarders will move items or trash from one pile to another, without ever discarding anything. They will acquire seemingly useless items, including trash. They have organizational difficulty or perfectionism, exhibit difficulty permitting others to touch or move accumulated items; put off doing what they know needs to be done; have difficulty making decision and managing daily tasks, and have limited or poor socialization skills.
Based on the level of hoarding identified, it may be best to contact the County’s Mental Health Department or in some cases the local police for a “well-being check”. If extreme Level 5 has been reached, it is recommended that clean-up be left to professionals who have the proper safety equipment and anti-bacterial chemicals and licenses.
You can help prevent this sad outcome in your neighborhood by watching for the lonely looking home where lack of yard care is evident; where few visitors are noticed except for regular deliveries from United Parcel of Fed-Ex, trash buildup and general lack of activity.
When the residents of these homes have passed away or moved to safer living situations, a REALTOR® with experience in clearing and cleaning such a home should be called in to assist in rehabilitating the property for resale and utilize appropriate marketing strategies and disclosures.
Kay Wilson-Bolton has been in full-time real estate since 1976.