By Paul Speredes
When dealing with a new construction or rehab building, there are a whole bunch of variables to keep in mind before getting that home in tip-top shape for the market. One aspect that many people overlook is the construction materials and debris, otherwise known as “junk,” that can often remain outside of the building. The numerous Realtors I have worked with all confirm that properties appraise much higher and sell easier once the building is cleared of all the clutter. In fact, the appraisal can vary up to $7,000 when the debris and rubbish have not been removed. For example, there was one seller who invested $4,000 for us to clean out a three-flat building, which led to a $30,000 increase when they had the property appraised again. The same is true for commercial properties. After Aronson Furniture Warehouse in Chicago went bankrupt, the company left the whole building piled high and deep with furniture remnants, packaging, etc. All the materials left inside made it difficult for the bank to sell the property. The company hired us to empty the building, and we ended up hauling away 36 truckloads from the location. They were able to sell the building shortly afterwards. Aside from just increasing the appraisal price of the home, there are other ways that junk removal might be something that your property needs. For instance, if a property has an insect or rodent infestation, it’s best to empty the premises of all household goods before bringing in an extermination service. We had one assignment where an apartment complex became infested with bed bugs. As a result, we ended up hauling away several hundred mattresses and box springs. The same steps should be taken with flood-damaged basements. Let your clients know they should remove all wet debris from a basement flood immediately to avoid contaminating the house with mold. We’ve seen many people in our business who have had major basement floods just let everything dry out for many months or years. This leaves the basement with an awful smell and unsavory mold, which can be unhealthy for the people living there. In addition, having mold in a house can make the property difficult to sell. Aside from the health and scent factor, it’s amazing how much bigger basements, attics and garages look when there is no unwanted junk inside. Showing the true square footage of a property is a great selling point, which applies to both the inside and outside of a property. We’ve seen many properties that look like a jungle in the backyard with overgrown trees, bushes and shrubbery etc. This can hide the square footage of the yard making it appear much smaller. Another way to maximize a property’s space is to remove items that have been built in that no one needs. There was one home where we removed an eight-foot chest meat freezer from the basement. This large item would not fit through a doorway leading to the stairs, so our solution was to cut it up into four smaller pieces with a steel cutting saw. The owners of the home had done various remodeling jobs over the span of the 50 years that they lived in the house, and they didn’t even realize that the freezer was blocked in their basement. Realtors should look out for nuisance items like this because it happens more often than you think. It can happen to a refrigerator, couch, pool table and other large pieces that people remodel their houses around. Realtors need to be aware of the costs involved in cleaning out a building full of junk. A seller must honor the contract and leave the premises empty and broom-swept by the time of closing. If you’re representing the buyer, make sure that this is taken care of as agreed because it can cost more than people expect to get rid of all the unwanted junk left behind by a previous owner. Don’t ever let your clients assume that a buyer won’t mind a few items left behind on the premises. Items such as storm windows, washers, dryers, refrigerators, extra roofing shingles, firewood and lawn statues are not always appreciated by the buyer. A real estate contract must specify exactly what is to be removed from the premises in order to avoid conflicts later on. Additionally, I’ve noticed that a lot of times people have “hidden” rubbish. As a Realtor, be sure to look up, as sometimes homeowners have rafters in a garage or basement with huge amounts of debris stored away. You might think a garage is broom-swept and junk-free but there could be several hundred dollars worth of removal costs sitting under the roof rafters. Make sure your sellers know that no one wants to move their junk, except maybe us. For more information on Able Removal junk removal service, visit ableremoval.com or call 847.338.0588.