I work part time as a real estate agent in Los Angeles. I’ve also owned several homes since I was 22. I was actually way ahead of the curb when it comes to buying foreclosed home. The last home I bought on the edge of the Hollywood Hills was a foreclosed home. This was back in 2003 when finding a foreclosed home was a rarity. 

The story of this particular foreclosure is one that is tragically Los Angeles. It belonged to a screenwriter that had found success in the 1970s and 1980s, then found a serious drug habit in the 1990s and by the time the bank foreclosed in 2003 he was broke and penniless. The house itself had turned into a drug den and by the time I took possession of it I had a lot of cleaning to do.

So I know a thing or three about cleaning up (or ‘trashing out’) a foreclosure. Here’s Five Steps to Cleaning Up a Foreclosure…

1. Do a Walk Through

The first thing you need to do is to do a walkthrough and establish how much work you will need to put into cleaning up. You’ll want a pen and a notebook. You may also want to wear boots or at least shoes that completely cover your feet (yes, I’ve been in homes that are that bad). Take note off all the junk or garbage in each room. Also note any repairs that need to be made (holes in walls, carpet replacement, missing or cracked tile, etc).

Don’t forget about the backyard, the garage, and areas like storage sheds. I was representing a foreclosed home in Van Nuys. I did a walkthrough and the house itself was pretty clean. I didn’t check a shed that was in the backyard. Two weeks later a pair of prospective buyers did check that shed and found piles of rusty tools and a couple of small, dead (very dead animals). Needless to say they didn’t bite and I lost a sale.

2. Hire Professionals

I never do my own clean out. It simply takes far too long for a single person to clean out your averaged sized home that is filled with garbage, trash, and left behind junk. This is a job best left to the professionals.

When you trash out a foreclosure you have two options: hire workers and rent a dumpster, or hire a junk removal company that specializes in foreclosure clean out and trash out. Which should you do? Hiring labor and renting a dumpster will probably cost less but take more time. A junk removal company will cost more (sometimes a lot more) but they’ll be able clean out a foreclosure in a day or less. 

If you want to know more about junk removal vs dumpster rental check this out…

Regardless of which you choose, I’d recommend being on site the day of the job to make sure you’re getting the clean up you need.

3.  Hire a Handyman Service

You can also hire a contractor, but I generally prefer to hire a handyman service. Why? Handymen are generally cheaper and in most cases they are more suited for making small repairs (like hole patching and minor fixes). You can also use this time to began a major remodel if you have plans to remodel your home before moving in.

4. Hire a Professional Cleaning Service

Bring in a professional cleaning or maid service to clean the entire house from top to bottom. You may also want to hire a professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpets.

And then you are ready to move in. See? That was easy.