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Hoarders: The properties you don’t forget

By - Last modified: November 9, 2012 at 3:04 PM

The Christmas lights are up. The cute plastic tree and Santa Claus figurine are on display on the porch – in fact, they’re holding up some of the light strings wrapped around the front of the house.

All very nice, except that they’re from LAST Christmas, and they’ve been up all year. In addition to the full boxes of stuff, there’s the extra rear bench seat from an 1989 Dodge Caravan, and let’s not forget the rest of the Caravan strewn around the side yard …

Hoarders are a major, if little noticed, problem in neighborhoods all around central Pennsylvania. They affect property values and quality of life for the neighbors and generally cause unneighborly friction that spills over into municipal meetings. Believe me, I know of what I speak.

What’s a “hoarder”? You’ll know it when you see it. My wife and I have particular history with the disorder (and it is a clinical disorder) – we bought our first home from a person who had rented it to hoarders for years. The place was incredible. Nothing can prepare you for piles and piles of things … things you’d never think to keep.

I won’t gross you out with specifics. Let’s just say that he had an entire car dealership in the place (he had apparently owned one years prior). Everything. Including the big lighted Jaguar sign he must have taken down from the street. Did I mention the Jaguars in the garage buried under a mountain of boxes? We couldn’t open the garage door.

Here in Pennsylvania, I see them around. The fences over which a client and I would peek with a sense of dread while showing a home. The ominous piles where you wouldn’t expect them. The grim faces of the neighbors.

When the town tries to come down on the situation, they cry foul and threaten to call their lawyer. The community is the big loser in this battle of property rights versus the common good.

Have you seen a hoarder property?



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