The trick to entrepreneurship isn’t always how to start a business; it’s what business to start.
And it’s also not always about creating something new. When Steve Jobs built Apple, computers had been around for decades. Jobs didn’t make the first computer, he figured out how to make them smaller so that more people could have access to one. Cars weren’t new when Henry Ford introduced the Model-T. Ford innovated ways to sell cars for cheaper so that more people could buy them.
Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to look back at Ford and Jobs and conclude there were more opportunities in their time. However, opportunities still abound today, if you have an eye to spot them. One entrepreneurial venture that is booming right now is cleaning out foreclosures.
What is the Foreclosure Cleaning Business?
The housing bust has created a glut of foreclosed properties. Nearly 4.4% of all mortgages have received a foreclosure notice. Once homeowners move out, banks look to get the property on the market and sold as soon as possible. However, there is one major obstacle banks face in moving the houses to sell: cleaning.
Former mortgagees have no incentive to get properties in saleable condition when they leave their homes. In fact, most foreclosures are riddled with trash and property that foreclosed homeowners don’t feel like transporting with them. Foreclosed homes need a lot of TLC before they are ready for an open house. With a large inventory of bank-owned properties, there’s a need to hire cleaners.
How large of a need? From 2007-2010, foreclosure home cleaning businesses expanded 1,000%.
What’s the Work Like and What Does it Pay?
Those looking to start a foreclosed home cleaning business need a flexible schedule. Banks often need cleaners at a moment’s notice and work needs to be completed on a strict turn-around. Often weekend work is involved and some properties require a lot of work before they are in selling condition. However, the jobs pay well, often averaging between $500 to $2,500 per house.
Another way that foreclosure cleaners make extra money is by selling things that have been left behind by the previous homeowner. You obviously want to check with the client, but often times they’ll ask you to clear out anything left behind in the house. It’s your choice whether to dump the stuff, keep it, or sell it.
One time I was asked by a client to dump a left-behind treadmill and washing machine. I ended up making an extra $300 (in addition to my cleaning fee) by selling them on Craigslist!
How to Start Your Own Foreclosure Cleaning Business
The good news is that you don’t need much to start this type of business. All you need is a telephone number where you can be contacted and some cleaning supplies. The crux of business success is getting jobs. To accomplish this, you’ll need to do a bit of networking.
The best place to network is with real estate agents who specialize in selling real estate owned properties. They aren’t too difficult to locate. Simply call up local realtor offices and ask for the agents in charge of selling foreclosures. It might take some selling to get listed their cleaning vendor list, but if you have a competitive price and flexible schedule, there is no reason you can’t make in-roads.
While realtors are your best bet, you can also advertise on websites that have cleaning service directories. Also, it can be useful to contact local banks directly and reach out to real estate law firms. All this doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get cleaning jobs, but banks won’t know how to reach you if you don’t advertise.
However, with payment of $500 per house, you won’t need many jobs to earn a little extra money.
Good luck Penny Hoarders!