Before & After: A Hoarder’s House Gets a Fresh Start

hoarder house before-exterior

Last year, a reader named Cindy sent me a link to a “Bad MLS Listing” in Long Beach, California, that was actually too bad for me to post. It looked like a hoarder (or two or three) lived there and they had pretty much destroyed that poor place. It made me sad for the house and the homeowners to see those photos.

hoarder house before-entry

The house was on the market for $412,000, and the listing actually stated, “No need to see inside.” It was probably better that way.

hoarder house before-living room

The kitchen is in there somewhere:

hoarder house before-kitchen

A tentative peek inside the bathroom:

hoarder house before-bathroom

It looks like there was so much dust and dirt in the air that the camera actually photographed it floating around in the bedroom:

hoarder house before-bedroom

Some rooms were completely unidentifiable. All you could see were piles:

hoarder house before-stacks

But this house story has a happy ending. Cindy tells me that the house sold for $350,000 in October to someone who has already cleaned it out and fixed it up, giving this adorable house a fresh start. It’s back on the market for $549,000, and it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. I can’t believe how quickly they turned it around.

Here’s how it looks now, all shiny and clean. (Is it my imagination, or is it smiling?)

house after-exterior

It was built in 1929. It’s a charming little house with 3 bedrooms and about 1,200 square feet.

house after-living room

The kitchen:

house after-kitchen

No need to fear the bathroom any longer:

house after-bathroom

The dust and dirt and that awful blue paint that were in the master bedroom are gone:

house after-bedroom

I love it when a house gets a happy ending. My hat is off to the people who rescued it because it wasn’t a job for the faint of heart.

house after-front porch

Can’t get enough? Check out more Before & Afters and Bad MLS Photos.

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  1. says


    That is an adorable cottage house – love everything about the “after” – especially that front porch!

    ~angela @ peonypatch
    .-= Angela´s last blog ..Ash Wednesday =-.

  2. says

    Wow – I feel like I’m watching a chick flick where the girl gets the guy! What a happy, fairy tale ending! The house looks amazing and shows no signs of abuse at all. I’m so glad someone was able to fix it up, although I’m sure that was a huge challenge. The end result, I think, must have been worth it!
    .-= Sarah @ Dream In Domestic´s last blog ..Vintage Paint Colors =-.

  3. says

    I remember that house! The transformation is amazing. I do believe that house is smiling. It’s gorgeous under all that was packed into it. Kudos to the people who were brave enough to tackle that scene!
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Christine’s Video Blog 2.18 =-.

  4. says

    Wow! That’s a perfect example of how a house can look completely different with renovation and a lot of TLC.

  5. Char says

    WOW! I had flashbacks of our house! It looked very similar to that and we completely facelifted it and replaced everything. Very well done!

  6. says

    Very awesome! I love it that someone had the vision of what the house could be.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post.
    .-= Becky K´s last blog ..A Give Away! =-.

  7. Lesli R Messinger says

    It is a wonderful house. In the “before” picture of the bedroom, did anyone consider that the spots may be orbs? They sure looked like it to me. If so, I bet the orbs are happy now that the house is taken care of. ; )

  8. Kelli says

    That’s amazing! I’m happy for the soul of that house, if that makes sense.

  9. says

    I love this story!

    My parents used to do this for a living. They’d find a house in bad need of overhauling–and some were very, very bad–then fix it up and sell it. It’s amazing to me that people can let houses get into such disrepair. . . but then it’s so wonderful to see them restored to their former glory!
    .-= Richella at Imparting Grace´s last blog ..Is it really that easy? =-.

  10. Cori Heffernan says

    It’s funny, in the before shot of the outside of the house ,you don’t really have an idea of just how bad the inside of the house looks. I love that someone was able to see past all the mountains of garbage and fix it up.

  11. says

    WOW! I loved reading this post – I remember reading that first one and being just disgusted with the state of that place. How wonderful that someone brought it back to life! And it’s so cute now too!

    Hope you have a great weekend Julia!
    .-= christy´s last blog ..Your Thursday Foo Fix =-.

  12. says

    I love the before and after of the outside of the house! So happy to see it all cleaned up. Isn’t is so sad that people actually live like that?!
    .-= Sunshine´s last blog ..Mobile Home?! =-.

  13. says

    Oh that makes me so happy! I can. not. stand it when people mistreat a house…especially one with so much charm and character!
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..New rug! =-.

  14. says

    Those vintage houses made with quality materials and craftsmanship can withstand a lot, but even I’m surprised that one pulled through!
    .-= StuccoHouse´s last blog ..Register Covers =-.

  15. says

    So often potential buyers are turned away from a great property because it needs work. It was obvious that the house had good bones and it was a shame to overlook it because of the mess. A roll off dumpster, or twenty or more, can do wonders. A great transformation. I am impressed that the house is on the market for over $200 per square foot. Obviously the neighborhood is still desirable despite the weak economy.

    Susan and Bentley
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Longing for Spring =-.

  16. Jan says

    Count me in with this group of well-wishers for that lovely rescued house! I am another one who can’t stand to see houses so unloved and mistreated — especially when there are so many folks in this world (and in this economy) who are grateful to have a home! All this house needs now is a happy soul/couple/family to bring it to life! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful transformation!

    Jan at Rosemary Cottage

  17. says

    This is unbelievable! I would like to think one day that I can take an old, unloved house and turn it around someday to make it my dream home, but I don’t know if I’d be able to take on a house that looked like that! Kudos to the people who did. It is amazing! Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Karrie @ The Brick Cottage´s last blog ..No Longer a Teddy Bear =-.

  18. says

    Now that’s a transformation if I’ve ever seen one! I have watched the show Hoarders and there is no way I could go in there and clean it up not even with a gas mask on!!


  19. says

    Oh. my. word. The buyers deserve some sort of award. Believe it or not, the house next door to me was shamefully similar, except theirs spilled out into the yard when they were evicted by the owner (the tenant’s own father!! so you know it must have been bad). It’s still being (gutted) renovated, and my prayer is that a nice family will move in and give the home a happy ending just like this one! :)
    .-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..Friday Favorites Feature ::Weekend Bloggy Reading:: =-.

  20. says

    I first said “holy what the…..?” when I saw the before pictures. And then I said “awww” when I saw the after pictures. What an amazing transformation.
    .-= Carmen´s last blog ..7 years bad luck??? =-.

  21. Suzette says

    AMAZING! My hat is off to the people who invested a ton of time into that place. Hopefully they will be able to sell it and see their hard work pay off!

  22. MaryBeth says

    What a transformation. I would be too scared to take on such a dirty house. It makes my skin crawl to even look at the mess. MB

  23. says

    I can hardly believe that is the same house. It looked like it had great bones from the outside but the inside looked like it would never recover. I am blown away! Great job, it is beautiful now.

  24. says

    OMG that is amazing! I really need to watch that Hoarders show…I find that so fascinating and it makes my little ‘pack rat’ ways not seem so bad.
    What a fun post and transformation and YES that house is smiling SO BIG!
    Happy Friday Julia~
    .-= Morning T´s last blog ..What’s in your bag? =-.

  25. says

    How amazing….shows what a little love – or maybe A LOT of love can do!
    We did a make over on a home we inherited, nothing like this, but still a major re-do. Though the work just about did us in, the satisfaction when finished was over whelming.
    I can’t help but wonder what happened to the previous owners…that part is so sad to me. I hope they received the help they needed to function in a healtheir way.
    .-= Pat´s last blog ..FRIDAY FAVorite =-.

  26. Kim says

    That house is amazing. Too bad all of the hoarder houses can’t be cleaned and fixed up. I don’t understand how anybody can live in a house that messy. I would go crazy and be disgusted.

    I used to watch the show Clean House, but haven’t gotten around to watching it in a while.

  27. says

    That is one amazing transformation! I can’t imagine how much time and hard work that took. It is so sad to see houses like that, people who hoard are truly in so much emotional pain I really hope the previous owners were able to get help. It is hard to imagine what it must have felt like to live there.
    .-= Hip Hip Gin Gin ´s last blog ..Happy Friday! =-.

  28. Ms. Sharlotte's...Southern Reflections says

    Oh my goodness….that is quite a transformation. I think you are right, it definitely belonged to a hoarder…I can’t even imagine the smell. It looks great repaired…a new start for such a pretty home. Thanks for sharing.

  29. says

    I felt so bad for that house :) It has such great architecture and I’m so glad that someone fixed it. It’ s beautiful!

  30. E. George says

    Hi Julia all I can say is WOW and yes there is a Huge Smile… Regards Esther (speechless) from Sydney…..

  31. Nita says

    My ex mother-in-law, who is gone now so I can say this, was a horrible hoarder. She often would not open the door to our visits, and I never saw the kitchen until one day when it was open and I saw it as we were leaving. My mouth dropped open. There were used cans and boxes stacked to the ceiling and I am not kidding. One Thanksgiving, she invited us over, and we sat in a clean kitchen watching her make mashed potatoes. First, she washed and scrubbed the potatoes with soap, twice. Then she peeled them and boiled them. She was a germophobic. Would not let us help her fix the dining room wall, which was falling in from rain damage. Only a few months after our dinner, the kitchen was back to the same mess, and anyone who lives like this needs help, definitely. She had many other problems, and was not a good grandmother to our kids. It is good we weren’t around her much. In fact, if I’d known her more before I married her son, I wouldn’t have married him.

  32. says

    As a home stager I see some crazy “before” situations that blow my mind. But nothing can top your photos. Yikes!

  33. says

    Holy crap!!!! What a nightmare the “before” house was!!! Whoever bought it and fixed it up deserves a medal. Or two or three!! It’s a beautiful home now, both inside and out :-)

    .-= DesignTies´s last blog ..Why being a blogger rocks =-.

  34. Dawn says

    I love a happy ending too! This is great! I love the end result! So charming!!!!

  35. felicity says

    those before pictures scream METH HOUSE. Once a meth house, always a meth house (even after it’s been cleaned up)…unless the new owner did costly environmental fixes and rebuilt from the studs- a very costly improvement that MOST people don’t bother to do.

    If I were buying that house today, I would be testing it for meth contamination. I know this because I *almost* bought a meth house in Redondo Beach last year…but luckily found out soon enough to back out of the deal. The after photos look great- but as I said, to me, this really screams Meth…sorry.

  36. Cheryl says

    Wow, that’s amazing! I’m so glad this little house got a fresh start, it’s quite lovely now! :)

  37. says

    Impressive!! I wonder what the previous owner did with the $350,000? Two thumbs up to the new owners who had this incredible vision! :)
    .-= Melissa´s last blog ..Shoe Binge =-.

  38. says

    What a lovely happy ending for the house. I hope it was equally happy for the sad and troubled folk who used to live in it. Stories like this are why I specialised in homelife coaching after years as a life coach. You’d be horrified at how many folk slip into overwhelming situations like this and how hard it is for them to save themselves without guidance and support.
    .-= janice |Sharing the Journey´s last blog ..9 Simple Solutions for Procrastinators – and the Scent of Spring… =-.

  39. says

    Wow! The house looks wonderful now. Something I wouldn’t want to tackle!

    Thank you for stopping by AtticMag and leaving a sweet comment. I do love my laundry room! Be sure to come see the rest Tuesday and Wednesday.
    .-= Allison´s last blog ..Alabama Stone Cottage House Tour =-.

  40. says

    Holy cow, I hope whoever owned it before has gotten some help for their illness, hoarding must be so debilitating! But how wonderful that the house was not only rescued but lovingly restored! It’s hard to imagine it’s even the same place!

    Kat :)
    .-= low tide high style´s last blog ..Beautifully Beachy =-.

  41. says

    I’m in the middle of a winter cleaning, and your before/after pictures give me hope. The after photos are truly amazing! There is peace on the other side of an overhaul. I just know it. :-)

  42. says

    WOW, what a dramatic change! Julia, unfortunately, I see homes like this about once a month in my job…indescribable. The pictures don’t share one of the worst parts…the smell. I’ve been with policemen who couldn’t go in due to the smell. It really is sad that some folks live this way. If I had seen the before, I don’t think I could have been the buyer…that image would have been engraved in my brain forever! Thanks for sharing the after…so often they have to be gutted or torn down…especially if pets were living there, too.
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Welcome to the 58th Metamorphosis Monday and a Give-a-Way! =-.

  43. says

    I can’t believe that people live like that! I wouldn’t be able to sleep EVER! I am so glad that someone bought it and repaired it. Now someone can love it!
    .-= Melanie´s last blog ..Beef Bourguignon =-.

  44. says

    My son purchased a property for investment that was 100 times worse than this one. Every room had junk and trash piled to the ceiling. The owners had left avery small path through the house to the bedroom only. It took over 30 large dumpsters to get rid of all the garbage!

  45. says

    I stumbled across your blog post and saw the very first picture and thought to myself – wow, that looks like my hometown, Long Beach, Calif. Then I read a little further and lo and behold, it is! What an amazing transformation, I used to work in real estate in Long Beach and I feel so sorry for the poor agent who stumbled into that mess – pre-transformation, of course!

  46. christie says

    gr8 work and a real hats off to the team that worked on the house, do you think clean house coulda handled this? lol. its a wow factor.

  47. RJ says

    Oh my goodness – this one actually made me tear up! That poor house! And lucky for it that someone saw what it had to offer – hats off to the rescuers!

  48. Beck says

    I was hired by a friend (major hoarder) to help her organize and clean out….spent collectively 30 hours and never even got to the surface of her dining room table! She decided to quit because I was moving too fast for her and it was making her nervous. I estimate if she had let me continue to work with her, the entire house would have taken 2 years to complete and it is about a 1400 sf home. It is really a sad situation…

  49. Emily says

    What a great site – I have a wonderfully giving woman in my life who deserves a home make-over, in fact she deserves a new home that would allow her to be home and care for elderly women. She works more hours than she is paid for, goes beyond her duties, misses out on vacation time becasue it is hard for her to say, “no,” nurtures and cares for the handicapp and elderly above and beyond her duties…she is love! and in her “free” time she helps out with her mother…She herself is an amazing mother and friend…help me find her a contest to win and help make her hard work worth it and her dream of having her own place come true. She owns her home and has property to build. THANKS!

  50. Kalani says

    Wow I walk by that house nearly everyday! I remember when it came on the market I thought $549k was a little pricey for that house. It ended up selling for $550k. It’s amazing to me that buyers are out there willing to pay so much extra for lipstick on a house. They did a great job cleaning up the house but it in such a great location with great bones to begin with. Love this site though! Real eye-opener.

  51. says

    Although I could definitely see the potential in the “before” photos, I truly could not have entered the house let alone any of those rooms. Those people deserve every huge kudos and a whopping return on their investment.

  52. Ashley Reid says

    Incredible. Those people deserve a medal of honor!! So wonderful to see that house get the respect and TLC it deserves! Our next door neighbor is a hoarder. From the outside the house looks a little unkempt, but not too terrible. The inside is a completely different story. I find myself wishing he would move so somebody would buy it, gut it and renovate it. It’s a cute 1950’s house that deserves so much better than what it’s getting now.

  53. says

    Aw!! I LOVE the after. So happy to see that this house was rescued and given a new life. I agree, I think the house is smiling. :-)

  54. Christina says

    That is an amazing before and after. The before was absolutely horrible. My gosh how could anyone stay in such a cluttered, filthy, disgusting mess. I don’t understand how people can live that way. What on earth did the original owners move into and mess up when they put this up for sale. That truly takes and amazing team to clean up that mess. It’s almost like those people who clean up crime scenes. That team sure deserve quite a bit of money! I couldn’t stand to be in that place for 5 minutes, much less the 5-6 months it may have taken to clear out that garbage, clean up the huge mess, and finally gut the whole house because the people who owned this before surely didn’t leave it in any kind of liveable condition. You can see by the photos.. They have it in such a manner that it would have gone up in flames within seconds and burned down.. eyesore. So awful!! I don’t understand the mindset of hoarders. The collecting of so much junk.. the wasteful spending of pure crap. It’s a shame. The house looks amazing now!! Kudos to the people who brought that poor home back to life!!

  55. says

    That is pretty impressive work. The contractors who worked on that house must have been pretty good too.