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How to Make $500/week Cleaning out Foreclosures
Foreclosure Sign

by - April 22, 2012 - 29 Comments

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!


  • http://tightfistedmiser.com Andy Hough

    My stepdaughter and her boyfriend actually have a business similar to this. They mainly clean out rentals when the tenants leave stuff behind but they will do any similar job that comes their way. Real estate agents and property management companies are their best contacts.

    • IV Smith

      I would like to do something like this but in hope that the over head in not too expensive,

  • Amy Ledesma

    Great article.Very helpful.

  • http://www.review.thealisokitchen.com Rachael

    Great article! Do you think it is best to have a website to share with potential clients? Do you need any sort of insurance? What’s the best way to get started?

    I am very interested, but I don’t want to do anything illegal.

    Thanks for the great ideas! I love this website.

  • http://www.ehustleonline.com Carla Easley

    I used to clean out garages to make a little extra money on the side and also received a lot of free things that I sold on Ebay so I pretty much doubled my income from doing something that wasn’t stressful to me.

  • Melissa

    Hey everyone, please check out my page, Cross Fit Cleaning, I am based in Philadelphia, I am in the cleaning business, I have been doing this for a long time now, looking to get into clean outs and clean ups of all kinds!!! Thanks to my Aunt I found this website thanks to my Aunt! Hope to hear from you all
    Free estimates, low rates and dust free worries!

  • http://www.russacklaw.com/ Russack Law

    Why is this? When banks and real estate agencies are calling corporations for foreclosure clean up jobs, they are usually going through the phone book or surfing the internet looking for companies.

  • juanes

    I wanted to get into this business but I still trying find out if there still good money to be made some say the business is slowing down. What do you think

  • LML

    This is fairly good info, but you leave a lot out.

    Figure on average, costs exceeding $3000/month, then wait for repayment 30-90 days after the job is completed. If you’re hard up for money, just close this page immediately!

    Work 7-10 hours a day, 6 days a week. 100 miles+ per day!

    Have 2 to 4 employees. Banks want 24 hour turnaround on bids, 3 day turn around to finish. Can’t do this alone! Homeless people are often inside, or coming in at night and pooping in sinks, etc.

    Equipment: riding and push mower, weed eater, edger, trimmer, chain saw, ladders, drills, all cleaning equipment including water and head lamps as you’ll be in a home with no power, & no water. Yes, you’ll need to sweep carpets or have a generator. You should also have all safety harnesses, hazardous materials training, CPR training, GPS on your vehicle to jump from house to house, etc. L&I will monitor your every step.

    I could go on, but people seem to think this is a “get rich quick” business, but in reality you will work your a$$ off, maybe net $60k/year, but have to pay taxes up to $10k in the income, so work the following year just to cover taxes. Good lord, this is FAR from fun or rich!!

    • PAULA JOHNSON

      Thanks for the reality check. This kind of detail should be in the initial article.

  • http://cheap-threadmills.digistore-online.com sale treadmills

    You are right. Many of these things are bad purchase ideas, but I have found some good Ebay deals from time to time.

  • cclyn

    You might want to mention that selling items left in the house is ILLEGAL!!!!!!!! Items left in the home are to be put in storage for a minimum of 30 days, during which time the bank has to notify the homeowner that the items are in storage and that they either have to collect their belongings or pay the storage fee. After that time is passed, and the homeowners have not claimed the items, the bank may auction off the contents of the storage unit. Mortgage holders do NOT have any legal claim to personal property left in the contents of the home to ‘offset” the cost of the foreclosure, until after the items are held in storage. Mortgages are on the home and the land, not on the contents of the home. Trash out companies who remove items from the home can be charged with theft and can be prosecuted. In some states it is even a felony.

    • plebe

      You should check your acts on the illegality of selling things. it is different not only by state but also by county that the clean out is in. Another factor in it is if it is a foreclosure or eviction. it is always wise to check your local laws prior to selling. also it could be in the foreclosure paperwork that anything left behind is up to the lender to decide what happens to it.

      • plebe

        facts not acts

    • http://Mail Leticia

      I wish I would have knew about this because me & my kids lost our home because my xhusband desided to go on with his life so I could not pay my house anymore we’ll I had just had my baby & was at the hospital when I came back my house was empty they took all my stuff & left us with nothing I could not believe when my neighbors told me that the workers were losing there cars with all my furniture I lost everything I still have nightmares because they took my life my kids thing all my memories vides pictures everything!! I tried calling my mortgage people & they couldn’t give me any info nobody helped me find my stuff they said that it was thrown in the trash I was alone atleast that’s how I feelt I will never forget this tragety & I can’t believe that there are people that cruel that was my stuff I knew I was loosing my home & that hurt so much as it was but loosing all I had hurt even more.

      • Jacqueline M

        Leticia, So sorry to hear of your tragedy. The mortgage companies definitely know who they use for preservation services. When attempting contact it is best to do everything in writing so that you have written proof if you need to escalate your complaints. Let me know if you need assistance.

  • Reed Soderberg

    Keep up the good work i will return often.

  • mary waltimyer

    so, how do I “sign-up” for this job ?

    Thank you,

    Mary E. Waltimyer

    waltimyer@aol.com

  • Andrew Merino

    Im ready to clean, I live in dallas tx,

  • Karlaina Wilson

    I’m very interested in this opportunity, how do I get started or where do I sign up….

    • Ray Charles

      Theire are several companies you cans sign up for. You can try AMS, Safeguard Properties, and Cyprexx. Keep in min that some of these companies dont work in every state. And you will need insurance for your business, and in some cases the will ask for a licence.

  • http://proofinprofit.weebly.com Melaney Bridges

    I could ditch my part time to clean houses and work with my home business a heck of a lot more. What cleaning supplies are needed? I’m always looking to expand my business and keep myself educated in the business. With the money I already make this will be an awesome addition the the fund family!

  • http://www.oddsorerrands.com Odds or Errands

    Great article with very helpful info I can use in my business.

  • Ray Charles

    I am actually a contractor for Safeguard Properties. They have direct contact with many banks and then they call me when they need a house cleaned out. Bank of America is the best paying bank that i know of. I one made $8000 cleaning a Bank of America foreclosed home. You have to apply at Safeguard Properties. When they need help, they will call you, but one they call you, you will constantly get homes to clean out. I usualy clean out 4 homes a week. The down side is that you some times have to travle to other towns and you will have to work on the weekends. The average home pays $500. They pay depending on how much trach is in the property.

  • susan r

    I always need extra money and not afraid of hard work.
    Tks for the real info.

  • Jacqueline M

    Hi Everyone,
    Remember, any expenses you incur (mileage, supplies) to perform the services could be a tax write off for your business.
    Go for it! To your success

  • http://www.beautyflow.com/best-prenatal-vitamins/ Dina Herbew

    seems like quite nice business possibility. I guess it just depends on the luck too.

  • Dre

    Actually the mortgagee is the one who loans money (like a bank). The mortgagor (borrower) is the one who receives the loan against the property. It’s a common mistake people get mixed up because it sounds like it should be the other way around.

  • TheBloggersNest

    This is actually called Property Preservation and can be a great source of income especially if you learn to do lock changes and weatherization work.

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