With as much as 6 percent of the U.S. population affected by hoarding, real estate brokers often have to navigate deals where a client is suffering from the disorder.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, symptoms include “difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value” which “results in the accumulation of possessions that congest and clutter active living areas and substantially compromises their intended use.”
Rita Danielle Steele, principal broker-owner at Steele Realty Consultants International, said that in less severe cases, she’s given sellers extra time to go through their possessions with family members to gradually declutter the home. Other cases are more complicated.
“At its worst, while acting as a buyer’s agent, we dealt with a seller who became so destabilized by the prospect of their financially necessary move and separation from their belongings that they ultimately committed suicide,” Steele wrote in a column for Inman.
Steele recommends that brokers seek support from family members if possible. She also urges brokers to admit when they are in over their heads.
“Be prepared to acknowledge your own limitations before you jump into this type of transaction,” she wrote. [Inman] — Kathryn Brenzel