Hoarders seeking to sell their homes make notoriously difficult clients for real estate agents, but a clean-up service that caters to homeowners with the psychiatric condition may help agents uncover new opportunity in this segment of homesellers. Agents who join a referral network launched by clean-up and junk-removal service Address Our Mess can earn up to a $250 referral fee for sending customers the firm’s way.

  • Agents who join Address Our Mess's referral network can earn up to $250 for sending a customer to the clean-up service, and may also receive free referrals.
  • Address Our Mess claims to cover 27 states and perform five to 10 clean ups everyday.

Hoarders seeking to sell their homes make notoriously difficult clients for real estate agents, but a clean-up service that caters to homeowners with the psychiatric condition may help agents uncover new opportunity in this segment of homesellers.

Agents who join a referral network launched by clean-up and junk-removal service Address Our Mess can earn up to a $250 referral fee for sending customers the firm’s way. The company may also direct customers looking to sell their homes to agents part of its network, and for no fee.

Address Our Mess covers over 25 states and typically performs between five and 10 clean-ups a day, according to Jeff Cohn, co-founder of Address Our Mess.

The company specializes in serving homeowners who suffer from hoarding disorder, a condition marked by a tendency to “excessively save items that others may view as worthless,” according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Employees are taught to deal with the psychological tenderness of hoarders, with the company continually seeking to incorporate the latest research on the condition into its service model, Address Our Mess says on its website.

Address Our Mess also serves many homeowners who aren’t hoarders, but still need to declutter and remove junk from their homes.

Descriptions of some of Address My Mess's services. Source: clutterhoardingcleanup.com

Descriptions of some of Address Our Mess’s services. Source: clutterhoardingcleanup.com

Say a customer wanted to trash a quarter of a home’s possessions, send another quarter to two family members, donate another quarter to charity and recycle the last quarter, said Cohn. That’s the sort of complicated clean-up job that Address Our Mess specializes in performing, he said.

Address Our Mess is looking to recruit as many real estate agents as possible to its network. The firm would pay agents who refer customers to the company around five percent of what the firm is paid by the referred customer — up to $250.

Referral fees of this sort are above board so long as the cleaning service isn’t tied to a settlement or closing with a federally related mortgage, such as if a lender required a cleaning as a condition for making a loan, said Sara Wiskerchen, a spokeswoman at the National Association of Realtors (NAR)

Agents part of Address Our Mess’s network also stand a shot at receiving free referrals from the clean-up company.

Homeowners — hoarders and non-hoarders alike — often hire Address Our Mess to remove junk so they can sell a property. If those owners express interest in hiring a real estate agent, Address Our Mess will direct them to agents part of its network. The company will send these referrals to agents free of charge, Cohn said.

Address Our Mess’s network could help some agents earn more money off a type of homeowner that many agents often steer clear of.

“You cannot just go into the property and tell them to empty it. It takes kid gloves, patience, support, and counseling,” said Ontario, Canada-based agent Cheri Koschir, commenting on a real estate Facebook conversation about serving hoarders. “You can exacerbate the problem with a few simple words or actions.”

Escondido, California-based agent Christopher Paul adds that working with hoarders can endear an agent to neighbors, setting them up for referrals. And it’s also “your opportunity to shine and prove that we as professionals are not just in it for the money,” he said.

Email Teke Wiggin

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the name of the clean-up company referenced in the article is Address Our Mess, not Address My Mess. 

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