Household clutter or hoarding?
Sometimes it is hard to differentiate between hoarding and extreme clutter.
Many times in my real estate career, I have come across people who do not see the clutter when they come to sell their homes.
It is rude to point it out to them, and sometimes difficult to be tactful, so how does one help in these situations?
When it comes to selling a home, the property needs to be clean and tidy and “less is always more”.
Less is more
Buyers like to be able to imagine their possessions in a home in order to visualise living there.
This is not possible if it is overcrowded with clutter. Having a messy room might be the result of a lot of factors.
It might mean that one is too busy and has very little time to clean and organise. It might also be a sign that one has too much stuff.
Or it might be the result of having young children or teens in the house who are likely to have to be motivated to clean up after themselves.
Household clutter is a common problem, but crowded spaces full of clutter of all kinds that make rooms no longer habitable can be a sign that the inhabitant has a hoarding disorder.
“A “Hoarding disorder” is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with a hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.
Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.”
It is important to understand that hoarding has nothing to do with being messy, lazy or indecisive.
Instead, it’s a mental health disorder. People who hoard struggle to decide when to throw something away.
Some people develop a hoarding disorder after experiencing a stressful life event that they had difficulty coping with, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, eviction or losing possessions in a fire.
If you have a relative or friend who shows signs of being a hoarder, then it is best to tackle the situation in an empathetic way.
Help them by trying to understand the reason for their behaviour, and then set a plan in motion to encourage and enable them with positive reinforcement to sort out their belongings.
Gently help them recognise that there is also professional help available if need be. If they have suffered a loss of some kind, the hoarding will probably be temporary, until they can come to terms with their grief.
Besides anything else, be kind. Putting yourself in their shoes and showing kindness and understanding will go a long way to resolving the issue.