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Dirty vs. Disheveled… Which is Worse on Value?

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Have you ever wondered if a messy, or worse, a dirty home, has a negative impact on market value? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. I’m asked this question often. It’s usually asked by homeowners whose homes are, well, either messy or dirty.

There are several things to consider. Let’s talk about them.


In some homes I have appraised, the interior is very disheveled, with underwear hanging from doorknobs, bathroom towels on the floor and clutter everywhere. Often, it is these types of situations, that the homeowner asks if this is going to have an impact on market value. 

Appraiser’s assume that if you try to sell your home, you will pick up the clutter.

When appraising for a refinance, if the home is messy, it may not have a major impact on market value. Appraisers are looking beyond the mess. We are looking at the condition and quality of a home. Usually, we assume that if a person goes to sell their home, they are going to clean up the mess to help the marketability of their home. 

Why, even when a home is foreclosed upon, typically banks will remove the content of the home to make it more marketable, among other reasons. So, when it comes to appraising a home for a refinance, a disheveled home is typically not going to have much of an impact on the appraiser’s opinion of value. However, it can!


I have appraised some homes that appear to be owned by hoarders. (I am not qualified to make that diagnosis) This is a disorder that some people suffer from. I have seen some homes in which the clutter was so bad, that it did affect my opinion of value. Some homes have so much clutter that it may create a health and safety issue. In those situations, market value will be adversely affected.


This video demonstrates a good example of this.


However, clutter that reaches this level is rare. What about selling a home? Can a cluttered home impact market value? It can. It really depends on the who’s looking to purchase the home. Some buyers may be able to look beyond the clutter, while others may be turned off by it, which could impact what they are willing to offer.

Currently, most parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of inventory on the market. With less homes to choose from, buyer’s may be more willing to look beyond the clutter right now. However, if competing homes are not cluttered, buyer’s are likely to be more attracted to the home that is not disheveled. So, yes, having a cluttered home can impact market value in this situation. 

It’s one thing to have a disheveled home. It’s another thing to have a dirty home.


I think that to some degree, a dirty home is a matter of opinion. Some homes are always immaculate. They may consider their home dirty if it has not been vacuumed in a week. While other people may have homes that are so dirty, it is obvious that deep cleaning is needed.  When it comes to value, the latter is where we run into value issues.

Dirty homes can have a negative impact on value.

A home that is lived-in, is generally not going to have a major impact on market value. Most homes these days are more lived-in than they used to be, due to the current pandemic. 

However, when the level of dirt gets to the point that it is very obvious, or even worse, begins to affect the condition of the home, than you can be certain that it will impact market value negatively. A home that is filthy may create doubt in the buyer’s mind about what other parts of the home may have been neglected, that are unseen. 

Part of valuing a home is to measure the market’s reaction to that home. This includes more than just gross living area, lot size and room count. Market appeal has to be considered. If the home is cluttered or dirty, beyond what is typical, this has to be considered. How does an appraiser determine what is typical? Appraisers go into homes as part of our work. So, we have a pretty good idea of what is typical and what is not.  


Real estate agents see firsthand how buyers react to different situations. They can provide excellent recommendations to a homeowner, about what will help their home sell more quickly, and at a higher price. 

Ironically, while a home filled with clutter may be a turn-off to buyers, a home with no furnishings at all, may also not show as well as a home with some well-arranged furnishings. That’s why staging a home can be helpful.

Here is some information taken from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) which you might find interesting. 


Staging a home can help a buyer’s first impression of a home to be positive. Staging can also help potential buyers picture themselves living in different spaces. All of this can add to the market appeal of a home. The higher the market appeal, the higher the value, at least to a certain degree. 

So, which is worse on value? A dirty or disheveled home? It really depends on many factors. But one thing is for sure! When a potential buyer is looking at two homes, priced for the same amount, with all other things being equal, the cleaner and more organized home is going to win. Hopefully, I have given you some food for thought when it comes how a dirty or disheveled home may impact value. 

Thanks as always for being here! Have a safe two weeks out there! 


I leave you this week with some re-tooled Nickelback songs. I hope you enjoy!

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What better band to parody 2020 than Nickelback 😂

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If you enjoy listening to podcasts, check my new podcast out. I hope you enjoy it! You can find my on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Google Play Music, Sound Cloud,, RadioPublic, Deezer, Breaker, Stitcher as well as other feeds. (I’m working on new episodes that will be out soon!)

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Here are some links to other articles and podcasts I’ve enjoyed recently! I hope you will also…

From The Humid, Hot Shadows of COVID, The Housing Action Is All Wet – Housing Notes by Jonathan Miller

Biz-O-Meter Alert! – Voice of Appraisal PODCAST

A Little on Split-Levels – Home Value Stories PODCAST

What is Refined Judgement? – George Dell’s The Analogue Blog

So Many Cost Approach Questions. So Few Answers – The Appraiser’s Advocate PODCAST

The Con, We Were All Sold a Lie – THE CON 5-Part Docuseries

Newz: Appraisers in New Movie – Appraisal Reviews – Hybrids – APPRAISAL TODAY



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