Warning: Hoarder House Ahead! (With Pictures!!)

by | BiggerPockets.com

Before I begin, let me leave you with a few pictures to jump start your imagination.

You are at an appointment with the seller, and the seller nervously shuffles through her belongings to find the keys, the door is cracked and you can just tell by the smell of the air that hits your face that this will make for a great story.

Moist boxes and packages strewn across the kitchen floor,  mold growing in the corner of the house, debris  and garbage bags filled with actual garbage (for who knows how long) literally filling the entirety of several bedroom.  A strange creature living in the garage (more on this later).

When it comes to real estate investing, if you have in the business long enough you will inevitably hear or experience these sort of situations first hand.  Let’s take a step back for a moment and see how this house in Fort Worth Texas fell into my lap as we walk through this case study from A to Z.

How I Bought, Rehabbed, Rented, Refinanced, and Repeated for 14 Rental Properties

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Lead Generation

It all started while I was out for lunch with a colleague who is also a realtor.

We were having a discussion about the Dallas Fort Worth real estate market and how it’s difficult to find deals given we are only at 2 months of inventory. Keep in mind this colleague point of view is coming purely as a realtor and not from the investor mindset.

Anyways, she had just finished up a meeting with a seller and decided it wasn’t a listing that he wanted to take on because A) it sounded like the property needed too much work and B) they needed to sell the house very quickly.

So he referred the lead to me and shortly after our get together I gave the seller a call to find out more about their situation and if I could help them.

As it turns out it was the daughter of the home owners who answered the phone. She was fielding calls because to be frank her parents were too embarrassed about the condition of the property they didn’t want to speak with anyone directly yet (you will find out exactly why they were embarrassed later).

As usual I took the time to listen to her concerns, build a rapport and figure out if we would be a good fit, it was so I arranged an appointment the next morning at the house.

The issue was the sellers needed to sell the property quickly as is to take care of some medical bills. The parents had been living in a condo, and their old home had been abandoned for several years at this point.

The Appointment

We pulled up to the house and I could already tell this was the sort of house that if I had driven the neighborhood, would have been added to my driving for dollars list.

Related: Driving for Dollars Bible 2: Tracking Down Owners & More Tips!

To give you an idea the trees surrounding the house were completely overgrown, and from the looks up it the branches were so close to the roof they were likely scraping off granules. The lawn was overgrown as well, and the exterior of the home wasn’t much better.

On the side of the house the exterior A/C unit looked barely functional. All clues that the house had been vacant for some time and likely needed some TLC.

We set up together to the front of the house and the sellers daughter unlocked the door and said feel free to look around, I asked if she would like to join me, but she insisted that she would like to remain outside.

Once on the interior I could see why. From the moment the door swung open you could detect an unpleasant odor.  As I made my way through the living room I could see mold growing in a few corners of the room. As I glanced down the hallways I could see it was filled with random items from a tricycle to a Dungeons and Dragons board game set.

The bathrooms were not much better, fixtures that looked busted and completely rusted and littered with cobwebs.  Nothing could prepare me for the bedrooms however. Each one, count three of them, was filled to the ceiling literally with garbage bags. I could see why the homeowners were embarrassed about the state of the home, it had turned into a hoarder home.

Now this isn’t the first hoarder house I have been inside, but it was probably one of the worse ones I had seen.  Take a moment to check out some of the pictures below from that appointment.
realtor fort worth house snap 01 realtor snap 02 fort worth realtor fort worth realtor snap 04

The Creature in the Garage

The garage wasn’t much better, a sea of trash once again.

Related: 13 Red Flags for Troublesome Tenants (+ 9 Totally Insane True-Life Tenant Stories)

In addition, there was some sort of creature rummaging around in the dark. I had a flashlight with me but even then I couldn’t identify it. Likely the garage had become home to squirrels or perhaps a raccoon. Sort of reminds me of that creature that was in the bottom of the garbage pit in the first Star Wars movie.
garage monster


After the appointment I gave them a fair offer and she forward it to her parents, but I made sure it was what they wanted, I always offer them another option as well and that is listing the property since I am a Realtor as well.

They decided a cash offer would be better and called me back and they asked if I would meet them for break feast at a local restaurant near the house the next day.  Signing contracts over a early morning stack of pancakes, yes sir! Wish I could do that more often.

After everything was all said and done, the clients were very happy and created a win-win situation. I was able to sell their property quickly wholesale and net them more than they were hoping for  to pay off the medical bills and net them some spending money.

The daughter was so impressed with my service I was even able to get a testimonial on my website.

Hoarder houses and crazy cat ladies are just part of the norm when you are a real estate investor.

Do you have any crazy stories that can top this?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

About Author

Chris Feltus

Chris is an active real estate investor who buys and flips houses in the Dallas real estate market. He enjoys helping others along on their journey. In addition, Chris operates as a licensed Realtor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


  1. I once went into a “bird” house. All that was left were some very large bird cages but the place stunk to high heaven and there was bird poop everywhere. Also holes in the floor and it may have become a party place too. As it was a mobile home and I was looking for a friend who could not get there immediately I suggested just trashing this one and replacing with a better one. Not even worth rehabbing. Yuk.

  2. A bird house? Wow that is definitely the first time I have heard of that one. I have been into several “cat” houses, which is probably just as unpleasant as you might imagine. I will probably share the story on a few of those at a later date. Thanks for sharing with us Clare!

  3. Chris, in a home such as this one where it may be difficult to inspect the home properly given the amount of garbage strewn about… do you assume a worst case scenario for determining the renovation costs?

    I understand that you have probably renovated similar homes before, but how did you manage to calculate this for your first hoarder home renovation?

    • Chris Feltus

      Sometimes its difficult. I had another house earlier this year. It ended up having termites, but we couldn’t see the trails because of where the furniture was stacked (the house had basically turn into storage) hid signs of termite damage. The seller had no idea it was an estate property and they hadn’t been inside for years. Try to be observant as possible and more importantly buy at the right price.

  4. Sorry but you have not actually encountered a hoarder. These people are amateurs, the professional hoarders I had left me with what took two 40 yard dumpsters to fill. Hard to believe all that fit into an 1100 square foot row house.

    • Hey Dennis,
      These pictures do not do it justice. These are only the areas where I had enough ROOM to move in and take pictures. The other rooms of the house were literally ceiling high with garbage. I had to literally climb a mountain of trash that taller than me to get to the living room.

      • I didn’t mention my hoarder also had 58 cats, throw in he was dead (not at this location) for 3 weeks leaving the cats to play and die. I bought the house as part of a short sale / estate, $200k in two mortgages were eliminated. Even at 1/3rd of the ARV I paid too much, 5 months later in a hot market I only cleared $50k. As the refuse was removed this 6 year old house just got worse and worse. Understanding the neighbors knew what was going on, I had to basically rebuild the house, while rooting out the sources of unspeakable odor. Great learning experience, I will never buy a cat house again, unless it is just about free, so I can tear it down.

  5. With hoarder houses the obvious sense that comes to mind is smell. But the one thing I’ll never forget about my most extreme hoarder house is the sound. Empty houses sound echoey, but a serious hoarder house has the strangest sense of quiet, and a lack of sound reverberation as all sound waves get absorbed by mountains of garbage. If you’ve never experienced it, you just haven’t been in an extreme hoarder house yet! It’s the strangest thing, and totally unexpected.

    My crazy story: you can read about it here https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/223/topics/133059-cat-litter-house-flip-653-and-it-could-be-the-worst-one-yet-look-at-the-pics-and-you-decide

  6. Hey Brian,
    Yes I noticed that as well. Its a very eerie feeling when you experience it first hand. Especially when the house is pitch black and all you have to expose whats in front of you is from your flash light and or camera flash. In most of the rooms of the house in this case study the garbage was piled up so high it was blocking light from entering the house. Most of the house was pitch black in broad daylight.

    Thanks for sharing your post about your cat litter hoarder house, that sounds like a crazy project indeed!

  7. We are just starting our second rehab-flip and second hoarder house. So far, we have taken out three 40 yard dumpsters of trash (including very small one car garage). We have scrapped some of the accumulated metal and have had other people stop by to pick up more. There have been interesting pieces of furniture that we have put by the curb and assorted people have taken everything we’ve put out. 21 bags of porn removed, from dvd’s to skin mags still in their original mailing wrappers, to inflatables…over 20,000 lbs of trash removed so far. Long dirty diapers strewn all over, maggots and roaches, bags of pure garbage stuffed into the basement, dog pee along all the baseboards. The stench was overwhelming.

    It is a surprisingly sound house, had to be to stand up to that much weight. It looks amazing now, with just being cleared of trash.

    As the garbage has been removed, this house is showing how beautiful it once was.

    • Hey Claudia,
      Three 40 yard dumpsters, adult materials, wow that is shocking. I think this story might top mine. Being a real estate investor leaves no shortage for stories to tell, thanks for sharing this with us. Im glad you guys were able to get it cleaned out alright, wishing you the best of luck when you put it on the market.

  8. I would love to see some after photos. I’ve rehabbed 2 hoarder houses, about to start on a third, and they never fail to disturb and mystify me. I rarely say “never,” but I will never understand the hoarder mindset. How people can live like that is beyond me. Very sad. But there are some nice houses underneath all the trash and neglect.

  9. Chris,

    My question is along the lines of your fair offer. How do you go about making a fair offer in that situation. Mostly I’m just curious if you use a formula of some type or just work off of the number that the seller gives you?

    Thanks for your blog posts. They are great material!


  10. Tom Moreau

    You can have a hoarder in a rental as well as in a rehab. I had a tenant in one of my first homes for a very short time. While taking out the garbage she only made it as far as the garage. The bags were stacked to the ceiling. The home was infested with roaches and the stench could be detected while we were still in the yard, approaching the house. It took us about three months to get rid of the odors and the roaches. We learned a lesson on periodic inspections of rental properties.

  11. I think I have the winner for the professional hoarder contest. These people took hoarding to a new level. The 1000 square foot house required 6 large dumpsters (and a high school wrestling team) to empty it. One of the bedrooms contained a cage with a dead monkey at the bottom of the hoard. We called that house the “Monkey House” for the entire time we owned it as a college rental after it was rehabbed. Of course we never told anyone why it was called that. lol
    2nd place goes to a tenant who said she was a witch and placed a “spell” on my husband when we evicted her. After she moved in, we found out that her last residence had been condemned. Within 6 months, the apartment had become uninhabitable. She is the only person I have ever evicted even though she was paying her rent.

  12. Jerry W.

    Hey Chris,
    I have a hoarder house still in the works. When I looked at it there were mounds piled all around the house about 7 foot high as well. The power was off and we had to use flashlights. The house was small and we were climbing over things. I eventually bought it a day before the foreclosure auction. It took 3 months of hauling stuff away to be able to work on it. Turns out it is over 2,000 sq feet, was just full of junk. Now I need to get the kitchen and bathroom remodeled. Thanks for the post.

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