Liquidate A Hoarder House

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Liquidate a Hoarder House

To date, I have liquidated the contents of four entire “hoarder” houses and dozens of apartments (deadbeat tenants often walk out leaving a lot if not everything behind!).  One house was so packed, I had to work from within two garbage cans to make enough room just to get in the front door!

The biggest problem with liquidating the contents of any living space is separating trash from treasure in a reasonable amount of time.  

The #hoarder house above took THREE MONTHS full time and 100 yards of dumpsters.  I made about $15,000 running weekend tag sales myself. I am sure a lot of valuable books, records, and who-knows-what-else went out into the dumpsters because I needed to empty the place and renovate it to sell.  And the Big Crash was just about to happen, so time, as it turned out, became very, very important.

Can you spot the treasures in this photo? See details below.

So…first step: Take a laptop into the space, log onto eBay, and search the “Sold” value of anything you think might be valuable.  Simply name the article (including the brand name helps) and in the left column, where #eBay lets you choose price ranges and locations, click the “Sold” choice.  This gives you results of similar items that have actually been sold recently. Basing your value estimate on asking prices is risky since people often ask for a lot more than the price for which they finally settle.  Take these items out on the lawn on a warm weekend and sell them off in a yard sale (after you check with local municipal ordinances).

Don’t immediately discount the used clothes.  Often these can prove to be quite desirable as vintage fashion is highly desirable – especially women’s dresses and coats, costume jewelry, custom-made men’s suits, and almost anything with an embroidered emblem or name – like a golf shirt.

During that yard sale, you may get people who want to see the rest of the goods or even the property itself – if it is for sale or rent.  The ones that come really early in the morning are the #pickers who will try to rob you blind. You can often make quick, take-it-all-or-else deals with them, and if you know what the stuff is worth, you can deal wisely. If you’d rather not sell to pickers, politely tell them, “Come back in the afternoon.

This antique marble clock sold for $50. A disappointment.

”  They never will.


If you do let anyone go into the property while running a yard sale, get a volunteer or two as needed, to stay in the space(s) while you do the cash outside.  I’ve found that given the opportunity, some browsers will try to pocket stuff. In the later days, you can just let them steal as they will be doing you a favor by reducing the rubbish load.  By then, you are nearing the costly phase of cleaning out a dwelling.

Three rare antique radios. All three old for a lousy $20.

Once you’ve gotten the valuables and even remotely desirable items liquidated, now comes the costly part. Hire a junk remover and pay by the truckload to haul it off.  Of, get a truck that can hold a good load of stuff. I like the Home Depot’s $19.95 you drive vans and pickups because they are quick and easy, lowest cost and not the kind of hassle you get at the large outfits that combine storage cubicles with truck rentals.  

If you need some help, trade some goods with friends or offer to pay. For larger jobs, you can also a pair of day laborers. They prefer to work in pairs for safety, and their price ranges from $110-$150 per person, per 7 hour day.  Most day workers start early – 8AM or so and like to finish by 4PM. When negotiating price, you can make friends and get better help by offering to buy a hot lunch. They will usually know where to buy the best lunches at the best prices.  It helps if you speak some Spanish, but many day workers speak enough English and if you speak English slowly and use common gestures you can get by.

Start early in the morning by taking your workers the loaded truck to the municipal dump where the day workers will throw the stuff into the appropriate bins.  If your municipality does not accept such refuse, look into a local Waste Management facility. They charge a minimum flat rate of about $180 per ton (a large van full of junk) and you weigh the truck as you enter and after you leave to determine the fee.

Did you pick this one? Bravo! This breakfront turned out to be a rare period antique and sold to a picker for $2,500!

Maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a treasure or two.  A great mid-century Karl Springer coffee table or the #Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen” and you might make enough to pay for the workers and buy the truck.  Best of luck!

By George Avgerakis

George started writing professionally at 16 with an interview of Ray Charles. He founded a leading NYC multilingual…

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