Transitions Anxiety: Did I say “LET GO and WALK AWAY?!”

Accredited Estate Liquidator

If you read my blog, raise your hand and shake something you want to sell.

I’ve been a downsizer and transitions manager, estate and stuff seller for 22 years. I’ve written about it too much. Not much of what I write gets read by my potential clients. I think that’s too bad. Maybe I’m not great at SEO but I am great at estate selling.

We at EstateMAX have been working with real estate and moving pros with our clients through out the “pandemic” to liquidate personal property and clean out properties, and get packed and moved, without fail. No one has gotten sick and we employ required precautions.

There’s no argument to the fact that  almost everyone has too much stuff.  Unless you are residing in a monastery this applies to you.

Stuff is that word that defines personal property: a quagmire of objects of all qualities, shapes, sizes, textures, colors and ages. Stuff is the smorgasbord of things. No bias works in the stuff business. It all has value.  At EstateMAX when conducting an on site estate sale we tag it and attempt to sell it all, other than the trash, that is put in bags and taken out before the sale setup. From the screwdriver in the junk drawer to the John Deere in the garage, or the dining room table.

When it’s time to move, it’s time to move. It’s all stuff, pretty or ugly, fine or rough, Dollar Store or Tiffany.

Let it up to EstateMAX to define the value of your personal property within the context of  what it is and it’s sales environment. That includes the neighborhood, the time and date, the home itself in all of it’s peculiarities. We know what we are doing and have seen almost everything. No dead bodies so far. Well there was that canary in the Baggie inside the birdcage in the attic in NW DC that time…

EstateMAX is an Accredited Member of the American Society of Estate Liquidators. We earned that through 22 years of handling, pricing and selling our client’s stuff.

We handle all the details of marketing and advertising, organization and setup, negotiating and payment, deliveries and trash out and final property clean up. EstateMAX helps get you packed and moved, your stuff sold and your home listed and sold.

So, hire experience and knowledge. Call Us Today.

Your move will happen, and your estate will get liquidated. We have the plan, the expertise and strategies to make it happen for you.

 

Planning Your Future, One Step at a Time-All Details Handled!

Planning Your Future: One Step at a Time-Do It Before You Hire Anyone!
EstateMAX is a service company specializing in transitions and downsizing, estate and downsizing sales and property clean up on all size properties.
Additionally our professional resource network in the moving, estate/legal, and real estate industries are available for our clients for consultation and hire! Just ask us!
Our aim is to handle all the details of an individual’s or family’s life transition, beginning with comprehensive planning and fulfillment of the physical transition of their personal property to its new home,  living-estate and estate sales, real estate sales and property updating, as needed.
Hire us for one service, or the entire package!

Specifically, our professional team includes: transitions/downsizing specialists, moving companies, estate attorneys, real estate pros, estate/downsizing sales, property improvement contractors and last but not least, trash out and basic property improvement. All of our team are known professionals in their trades. 

We can leave your property sold, clean and ready for settlement and you moved and set up in your new home!
Call Laurie Zook of EstateMAX now for your no cost phone consultation.
Let’s Plan Your Future Together, One Step at a Time. 301-332-5585

EstateMAX is a 6X Angie’s List Super Service Award Earning Company, as Reviewed by Real Clients! Since 1999-fully vetted and insured.

What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?

What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?
First of all, I’m going to go with the idea that if you are reading this you are on track to hire a professional to assist you in your downsizing process and personal property sale…So, before you trust in that someone, ask yourself this:

What is your time and energy worth? What are your expectations? What criteria are you using to determine how to make your decisions, and are your capable of doing it alone? What is “Value” to you?

EstateMAX is a 20 year veteran Service Provider that handles all of the facets our clients need to transition from the old to the new!

Our valuable project management comes into play for full transitions, move management, downsizing and estate and downsizing sales, with follow up property clean up.

During the estate and downsizing sale, we do everything needed to promote, merchandise and sell used personal property to “minimize the stress and maximize the returns” for our clients. An EstateMAX copyrighted slogan from 2015, often copied by our competition. Before, we help you downsize, pack, move, set up in your new home and can help you sell your property through our professional relationships.

Individual or our full menu of services,  can be employed on contract to meet the needs of  individual projects.

Those steps include:

For Downsizing & Moving Projects: 

  • Downsizing the Home with the Client, Packing and Organizing for Move Out
  • Personalized Move Management-Step by Step
  • Moving Services, Recommendations on Moving Companies
  • Property Clean Up
  • Organization and Merchandising the Home

For Staging and/or Sale Event

  • Photography, Videography for Advertising
  • Advertising On Line and In Print
  • Conducting the Estate or Downsizing Sale
  • Cleaning up Following the Sale
  • Donating to Charity
  • Shipping to Family or Friends, if needed
  • Statement of Sales/Expenses

Additional Professional Services

  • Full House Cleaning and Specialty Property Services
  • Moving Services
  • Real Estate Services

The Value of “Stuff”

I’ve had clients compare what they paid for their furniture, 10 to 40 years ago, to the prices we negotiate for it today.

Presently, we do NOT buy outright, and we do NOT take items out of your house to sell them for you. We are not a method to supplement your income. Anyone who says they can promise you a profit over your original cost on your household goods is not being honest. Turning stuff into cash can be a disappointment. Be realistic.

Estate Sellers not retailers of used goods. We provide “liquidation” services and we do it en masse, in your home, after you have removed what you want to keep, or hired us to help you do so and move into your new home.

What this means is that your $5000 typical dining room set bought 12 years ago will probably be sold for between $1500 and $500, depending on condition, style, market demand, time of year, advertising coverage and buyers inclinations. We sell everything we can possibly sell in your home the same way. It all adds up. Our job is to handle all of that so you can go forward.  The overall return on the project is where the difference shows up.

So Why Have an On-site Estate Sale?

Because the buying public likes to shop in person, in the home, regardless of Covid 19. We have hundreds of shoppers at most of our sales. We take all needed precautions. (Our production fell approximately 40% in 2020 but so far in 2021 we have produced 10 sales in 4 month, yielding almost $200,000 of revenue for our clients!) Context is important. How the items look in place, were used, give the buyer an understanding of their vintage and quality and the care the original owners gave to their furnishings and decor. Selling the volume of the little stuff; the nuts and bolts, the linens, the garage and shed items, clothing, pantry items, along with the furniture and decor is possible in the context of the home, not through on line auction.

Bottom line- there is a volume of used personal property on the market  because of the aging of Americans.

Estate sellers compete with Goodwill and other charities for the same public dollars. We present the goods in the best possible way, merchandised on our own table tops, taken out of cabinets, pulled out of closets and unpacked out of boxes. What is not sold on site, is then donated to these charities so our pricing has to be sharp to sell it in the home. Online sales venues like Facebook Marketplace and Letgo, etc have sullied the class that “estate sales” used to enjoy.

Furniture and other consumer property is “commodity.”

The loss of retail value on new furniture, just like vehicles, which we also sell, happens relatively quickly.  We explain up front where the bottom line is on the return value of used furniture. If it’s collectible, rare, and in style, which makes it of true interest to the buying public, the value is higher. Such defines less than the 30% of goods in a home, typically. The 70% of the return is in the cumulative sale of all things in a household, and the time and labor savings and stress reduction recognized pays for our services.

We ask our clients for a positive review following our work for them. Our results are not only measurable only in dollars and cents, they are in attention to detail, getting the job completed and ready for settlement, on time without hassles. We are not an “auction house” We are a services company. If our clients can’t leave us a positive review, we know that the questions I posed above have not been clarified in advance of our work for them and I take that personally.

EstateMAX handles the details for you, efficiently and honestly. Call Laurie Zook today for a NO-Cost Consultation.
before final clean up hoarders estate sale
After final clean up, same area.

EstateMAX Covid 19 Selling Standards

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EstateMAX is Selling Successfully On-Site and On-Line During Covid 19-

We are up and running and have been since April, albeit not as busy as we would have been otherwise, but none the less, have been conducting estate and downsizing sales following Maryland Real Estate Covid 19 Guidelines.

What does this mean to our clients?

It means we can conduct your sale NOW, with no risk to you – or our sale shoppers because we enforce the rules.

We allow 10 persons in the home at one time, more in larger homes. Masks and Social Distancing regulations are followed and enforced. An estate sale is a business enterprise, in a residential environment and our customers respect our standards, or else they are asked to leave.

Give us a call today to schedule your no cost consultation to sell your unwanted personal property, on site, or on line!

 

 

The Stuff Left After the Stuff That Sold!

There is always that person at an estate sale who asks ” What do you do with the stuff that’s left after the sale is over?!” (Because there always IS stuff left over, regardless of how large or small the inventory.) Sarcasm, my closest friend, overwhelms my good manners, and I retort” I burn it all in the back yard!”. All the stuff never sells.

We are just completing clean up of an estate sale that we held last weekend. The sale setup included removal of 20 cubic yards of trash, just to get to the stuff that was salable and accommodate it’s setup and shop-ability…And this household had record mounds of stuff to begin with.

We sold an unprecedented volume of stuff over 3 days which left the dregs of unsold stuff behind, in piles.  Piles- because estate sale shoppers are not concerned with neatness, when sifting and picking through inventory, looking for the next “great find”. It looked like a cyclone had gone through the house.

This leftover stuff includes empty cardboard boxes from a myriad of items, including a closet of dust and cardboard scraps left from the sale of  vintage board games, a lawn mower,  old, out of style furniture, Xmas decor, Easter decor, Halloween decor, etc., cleaning supplies, a seashell collection, scraps of stained glass, jars, dried stuff, craft supplies, fabrics, sewing magazines, books, books, books, framed artwork, a daisy art collection, personal care items, shoes, clothes, a bed, a deep freeze full of old food, a Wurlitzer piano, weight bench, scraps of vintage toys, burnt out power tools, dusty fake floral arrangements, an unexplored attic full of who knows what…kitchen stuff, laundry stuff, Tupper ware, old food, and a hundred other items I can’t define.

Yesterday a 26 foot truck load went to charity. Today a 30 cubic yard dumpster or two is being filled with the leftover trash. The estate will pay for removal of the stuff, out of the estate sale proceeds and will still see a profit over and above all expenses.

This is the stuff of someones lives. And those someones left it all there for someone else to deal with-someday. Someday is here. I am the one who is dealing with it. This someone’s son was wise. He hired EstateMAX to handle the details of his parent’s stuff. The house will be sold and life will go on.

Advice to you pack rats and hoarders. You people with OCD, and shopping addictions: STOP now! Don’t leave this for your children to fix later. Take a pill, go to the beach, start running. Do something else while you are alive!

 

What Do We Sell!?

EstateMAX puts up for sale the personal property-all contents- of estates and homes that both gone through their downsizing process or estates that are full of personal property, AS-IS.

In which case we do full organization and trash removal as part of our estate sale service.

Just ask us if you have questions about our ability to market your items to the right buying groups.

Inventories of used and like new items can include and are not limited to, (in no preferential order as below:)

  • Furniture
  • Decor ( Lamps, Lighting, Mirrors, Wall Shelves, Hardware. etc.)
  • Clocks
  • Books
  • Antiques and Collectibles of all Types and Descriptions
  • Precious Metals and Coins
  • Fine and Costume Jewelry
  • Fine and Decorative Art
  • Figurines, Sculpture, etc.
  • Fine Porcelain, China, Pottery
  • Fine Crystal
  • Vintage Glassware
  • Electronics, including non working, vintage computers, receivers, stereos, etc
  • Vinyl LP’s and 45’s
  • DVD’s, CD’s, XBox, etc.
  • Cell phones, other phones
  • Day to Day Kitchen Ware in Good Condition
  • Linens, Table and Bedding
  • Quilts and Fabrics, Textiles
  • Sewing Equipment
  • Dolls, Doll Accessories
  • Advertising Memorabilia
  • Native American Collections
  • Specialty Collections
  • Military Uniforms and Medals and Flags
  • Legal Firearms, Armament
  • Passenger Vehicles: (whether running or not)
  • Lawn and Garden Equipment
  • Farm Equipment
  • Power and Hand Tools and Hardware
  • Garage Items
  • New Building Materials
  • Appliances
  • Musical Instruments
  • Ephemera of all types
  • Designer and Vintage Clothing and High Quality Clothing including
  • Bags, Scarves, Shoes
  • Food in Cupboards
  • And More- Just Ask!

What we do not sell: These Items Can be Considered as Trash or Recycling For all Intents and Purposes of an Estate Sale and Should be Removed From the House Before Estate Sale Setup-either by the Client or EstateMAX Will Handle as Pre-sale Trash Out at Additional Cost, Deducted From the Sale Proceeds-

  • Mattresses and Box Springs ( we can give away with the Headboard, etc.) Against the law to sell used. Ask Us!
  • Piles of empty boxes
  • Particle Board Furniture- Does not usually survive moving and re-installation
  • Broken Furniture, Unless Antique or Collectible-Ask Us!
  • Used Building Materials, Unless Pristine!
  • Personal Trophies, Photos  (Antique Scrapbooks are OK!)
  • Old Software Not Dedicated to Vintage Electronics
  • Old Clothes, Unless Designer and or Vintage/Antique
  • Lawn Chemicals that are opened or illegal ( DDT, etc.)
  • Worn Towels, etc. are donated to Animal Shelters
  • Expired Personal Care Products
  • Very Old, Expired Foods
  • Periodicals-unless Collectible- Ask Us! ( Not Ntl. Geographics.) Are all recycled!
  • Non working appliances- can be recycled by your electric company if they are operating, or can be recycled as scrap
  • Old Baby Cribs, Car Seats, etc. that are not up to current safety codes
  • Soiled Kitchen ware
  • Plastic storage containers, can be recycled

DO NOT DONATE ANYTHING TO CHARITY BEFORE YOUR SALE INVENTORY IS REVIEWED BY ESTATEMAX.

WE SELL FIRST, THEN DONATE AND TRASH LAST

CALL ESTATEMAX at 301-332-5585 for your No Cost Consultation!

 

 

 

Downsizing & Selling Your Stuff? Minimize Your Expectations & Maximize Your Planning!

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To Boomers and Seniors or Estates considering downsizing and why and how to sell their stuff by any method- Auction, Online Auction or Onsite Estate Sale-


The Reality of Stuff

All estate sale companies do the pretty much the same thing-

We all sell as much as we can over the period of the estate sale for the highest possible return. The more we sell, the more income for the client and for us!

The key word here is “possible”. It’s relative to conditions.

EstateMAX’s goal is to clear the house, but realistically that rarely happens. We sell between 70% to 85% of contents. 

(After the sale what do we do with “what doesn’t sell?” No, I don’t burn it in the back yard…I like to tease customers when asked. The balance goes to charity or auction, but only IF the auctioneer wants it, and most don’t want the dregs of a household.)

How do we get the buyers into our sales?

EstateMAX uses progressive social media cross marketing techniques, bringing in hundreds of potential buyers over a 3 day sale. We produce You Tube videos and ongoing live videos on Facebook during the sale. We use every “ticket in the book” to market your sale. The competition for used stuff is fierce!

Under normal conditions, it’s a busy estate sale market. On any (pre-Covid) weekend you could count on 30 to 60 estate sales in the DC Metro area.

Most of it is now sold online, and that does not empty a household.

Online agents “cherry-pick” the home and sell the stuff that is going to bring the money. The tough-to-sell furniture ( it takes a sales person to move it out!), clothes, screws, bolts, garbage bags, cleaning products, linens, volumes of books, household and junk, and who knows what- are left behind for the homeowner to deal with. Charity does not pick up with less than a 8 week schedule and worse, during Covid times. So, what’s the value in hiring EstateMAX? What is the Real Value in Hiring EstateMAX?

(EstateMAX has continued to perform our job onsite during this pandemic following State Realtor Regulations and we perform a full sale over 3 days and a complete clean out afterward making the home ready for settlement or improvement.)

We set realistic starting prices and discount over the course of the sale, and negotiate ongoing on larger purchases. We take bids on the big stuff and the highest prices offered at the end of the day Sunday. We run 3 day sales, typically 8 hour days, depending on location and inventory. Auctioneers start at a buck for online and off site auctions, typically. It doesn’t matter what is being sold if it’s typical household goods and used furniture. 

We MAX out the sales hours and sale possibilities!

So, Potential Sellers Should Consider these Points When Considering Hiring a Company to “Sell Your Stuff”:

  • You have lived with the items for a while. How long-doesn’t really matter when selling your “stuff”.  It is all “used merchandise”- to the buying public. These Items have served their purpose, and made your life better  over the days past. Now the time has come when you don’t need them. For whatever reason- they don’t serve your purposes, are worn out, the style is no longer what you like, etc.
You are moving on! So let go of the stuff and the expectation!
  • Your emotional attachment and opinion about your stuff doesn’t matter anymore… What matters is what the potential buyer thinks.
  • We are talking about used furniture and personal property of all types. It’s intrinsic market value is from 10 cents to 25 cents of the original dollar. Yes, there are exceptions.  If you are the lucky owner of rare, hard to find, specialty collectibles, coins, precious metals, certain antiques, antiquities, certain vehicles, machinery it can be a seller’s market on those items. ( In 21 years of conducting estate sales I have only run into rarities a few times.) Most people’s homes are duplicates of one another, with differences in color, pattern, furniture style, perhaps, but still- what people have been living with for 30 to 40 years has been dictated by furniture manufacturers and designers of the era. Cookie cutter environments, for the most part.
Stuff is expensive to move and moving is stressful.
  • From Maryland to Florida, for instance- figure a 26 foot truck load is from $5600- up. It’s based on weight and distance and that does not include packing fees, boxes, paper and saran wrap used to cover furniture is several thousand more. Moving is a small fortune. It’s usually fiscally beneficial to disburse of the stuff locally, and buy good, used or new in Florida. You can buy it there for 25 to 50 cents on the dollar. Used stuff is cheap to replace, even the good stuff!
Hire EstateMAX, a reputable company, make a small investment in quality service and reap the financial and stress- free benefits of selling and donating the stuff you no longer want or need.
  • What you think is pretty, useful, cool, valuable, special or handy, is subjective. Estate sale shoppers  might not be as awestruck by it. (Your custom, large floral print valances and Ethan Allen brass and glass coffee table with the Ionic column pilaster legs and the French Provincial armoire were your taste, in the 90’s. Sure they look like-new and have barely been used, but it takes a special someone to walk in the door of your estate sale who will have that similar sense of style and a place to use them, and a few thousand dollars to dole out the weekend of the sale.
The world is innundated with used brand-name and older furniture.
  • Baby Boomers are retiring by the thousands daily and moving out of their homes, leaving the stuff behind they don’t want. The smart ones “get it” that it’s all used, out of style, worn out or somewhat worn out, stuff.
  • Expect a sell through of 70% to 85%, more or less, if your style is “in-style” or vintage, collectible, and the quality is great, and your house is full of small, useful objects and affordable pieces. Highly stylized furniture takes a specific buyer.
  • Be prepared. Get packed up with the stuff you are keeping (30% of a household is typical when downsizing ) and allow your seller enough time to advertise effectively, saturate the market with information, and set up and conduct the sale.
To Make it Easy on Yourself, Start your downsizing 6 months in advance of your move. EstateMAX can help.
  • Hire EstateMAX a minimum of 6 weeks prior to your move out date. Give us time to advertise and get the word out for the best result! We need two weeks prior to your sale for initial pictures and ten days for proper setup, sale and clean up,- that’s a smaller home. Larger homes should have 5 to 7 sale days to maximize results and minimize unsold merchandise.

Expect the best of your estate sale professional- The EstateMAX team is a pro-active, problem-solver, ready to step in and handle personal property disbursements resulting from divorce, old age, suicide, death of elderly, and downsizing transitions.


“There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality, or lower your expectations” 

 

― Jodi Picoult

A Hoarders house, after the sale. This is the stuff that is left after the crowds bought what they wanted. It gets sorted, goes to charity, trash and recycling.
A table top view of a set up ready for the sale in a condo. A real collector.

6 Estate Sales in 6 Weeks! We MAX-ed it out for our Clients!

In May thru June the EstateMAX team conducted 6 separate downsizing and/or estate sales in 30 days! How do we do it? We have our system! What do we do?

Set up includes merchandising, organization, pricing (based on our 30 years of market value experience, and doing additional market research as needed), extensive advertising including copyrighting all ads and marketing on line, producing sale videos, marketing on site with lawn signage and banners, then conducting and managing the sale of merchandise in the home on sale days and continuing the selling following sale days to “be backs” ( people who have thought it thru and come back for the item-) on furniture delivery and clean up days, then final house clean up including packing and broom sweeping, moving donations to charity and transport of consignments, if any, to Other People’s Stuff by EstateMAX, our estate liquidation warehouse. WHEW!

I pay my clients within one week of end of their sale by bank wire transfer and forward the sales statement by email and a hard copy with all sales receipts, and charity receipts by USPS.

Our clients only need to move out with the items they are keeping and leave the rest to us to sell and prepare their home for settlement or staging!

For those in the downsizing process, we also refer and coordinate with moving services on our client’s behalf as part of our MissionTransition, Transitions management services, or as a stand alone complimentary service to our clients.

We provide downsizing assistance to clients and their realtors to prepare a home for sale, and provide professional home staging which saves money on the staging process by eliminating duplication of services.

Laurie has a pro work background in interior design and furnishing (30 years)- which combined with the EstateMax resources and O.P.S. warehouse inventory gives our team unlimited resources to work with!

Call us for your no cost consultation for your once in a lifetime downsizing or family estate sale, transitions services and staging!

301-332-5585 Laurie Zook, President EstateMAX

Transition is Tough, We Make It Simple!

 

Pack Rat or Hoarder? 6 Signs That Tell The Difference

As a downsizer, organizer, estate seller I’ve been working in the People and Their Stuff Business, intensely for 18 years. Here’s a great article from HP.

If you’re on the fringe, take a step back and go see a doctor for a OCD prescription. Not kidding. I’ve worked with so many people who are incapable of letting go of “junk” because of an Obsessive Compulsive “Cling On”, “Love My Stuff” Mentality. Without medical help nothing is going to change for long, garbage collection or not! By the way, I don’t work with hoarders or serious packrats anymore. Did my time!

How Do You Know if You are a Packrat?

Hoarding is a serious issue that goes far beyond being disorganized. It’s estimated that between 2 and 5 percent of the U.S. population exhibits some hoarding behavior, though some figures vary (one estimate puts the number of people with a full-blown hoarding disorder in the United States at 4 million, but it could be as high as 15 million). But the question has always remained, especially to those of us who have struggled to keep up with the tide of stuff in our homes: What’s the difference between being a “pack rat” and being a full-on hoarder?

“All of us can have more possessions than we really need and wrestle to keep our stuff organized, yet for those with a hoarding issue, it’s to an extreme, where it interferes with their life and ability to use their space effectively,” says Dr. Annette Perot, a licensed psychologist who specializes in anxiety issues and hoarding.

While many of us think of the extreme cases, such as the ones featured on shows like A&E’s “Hoarders,” there are a few everyday signs that you, or someone you know, might have hoarding tendencies.

1. They keep acquiring things, but don’t have a use for the items and/or a reason to display them.

This goes beyond bringing in a random vintage find that you intend to use as a holiday decoration, for example. But for those who have hoarding tendencies, acquisition is an emotional experience. “[…] Many of us buy things because it feels good, even though that feeling is only temporary,” says Dr. Perot. “So, for people with hoarding issues, buying or saving items can be done in order to create more positive feelings.” It’s also a habit that can’t be stopped easily. Hartford Hospital’s Anxiety Disorders Center notes that those with compulsive hoarding have feelings of distress when they see something they want, and can’t feel better until the object is in their possession.

2. Their collection has taken over.

There’s a difference between “collecting” and hoarding. Randy O. Frost, a professor of psychology at Smith College and author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and The Meaning Of Things,” says that the difference is in how the collection is stored and organized. “For the person whose collecting has become hoarding, possessions become unorganized piles of clutter that are so large that they prevent rooms from being used for normal activities,” Frost says.

3. Their chairs are too cluttered to be used, or there’s one room that cannot be used as intended.

Though extremely uninhabitable homes often come to mind when we think of hoarding, a more common example are chairs and pathways that are piled with so much stuff that they cannot be used. Some also designate at least one specific room or space in their home to the accumulation.

4. They had strong attachments to objects at a young age.

old toy

Though most of us had collections when we were young, a Scientific American article says that children might “reveal a proclivity to hoarding in their emotions.” Attachments can manifest in a few ways. Dr. Perot names a few examples: “Someone might feel guilty about discarding an old toy for fear that he is hurting the toy’s feelings. Or, someone might have difficulty getting rid of her daughter’s baby clothes because she feels like she is getting rid of her daughter.”

5. It’s a huge challenge to get rid of unwanted items.

The difficulty of finally weeding through your closet is universal. The difference is when you can’t seem to get rid of anything (even if it’s in your way) because you might “need it someday.” “People who have hoarding issues are very creative and can see limitless possibilities for the use of an item as simple as a bottle cap,” Dr. Perot says. “Yet more time ends up being spent saving items than in actually creatively using what is saved.” She also says that individuals with hoarding tendencies have a hard time letting go of items, since possessions are perceived as a part of their identity. “Imagine being told to part with a dear friend or part of your identity … That’s how it can feel to someone with hoarding issues.”

6. There’s so much stuff, they don’t want to have visitors over.

Those with hoarding tendencies tend to keep accumulations a secret. Often, it’s because they’re concerned about someone touching the collected objects. Many admit that clutter causes feelings of “shame” and don’t want others to witness the accumulations.

If someone you know needs help, Dr. Perot advises that respect is key. “It’s important to remember that each of us has the right to govern our own lives and make changes if and when we’re ready,” she says. And though it’s tempting, she recommends not “helping” the individual by throwing things away without their permission.

To read more about hoarding and the effects on family, visit Children Of Hoarders. And to learn more about hoarding, check out the interview with professor Randy O. Frost and hoarding expert Dr. Gail Steketee on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

Less-serious roommate situations still need to be dealt with a gentle hand. Here’s what you should never say to someone you live with.

Things You Never Want To Hear From A Roommate

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