Inside the Homes of Hoarders

Act 4: Hoarders undertake the daunting task of cleaning up years' worth of belongings in their homes
7:05 | 11/15/13

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Transcript for Inside the Homes of Hoarders
It's real estate 101, buy the worst house on the block, fix it up, you could make a mint. But what happens when you open that front door and have no place to step abc's cecilia vega steps into the ultimate real estate makeover, when you buy a hoarder house. Reporter: Something's rotten in some of the most desirable neighbhorhoods in southern california. We don't just have a hoarded house here backyard piled with stuff today. We have a hoarded yard. Reporter: Hoarding. It's a problem guaranteed to send even the most eager house hunter running for the hills. When I first walked this property I had a path swimming pool with trash through here. But now that's not even there anymore. Whenever you see in the paper, "great bones," that's code for "hoarder." Reporter: Real estate mogul barbara corcoran. Listen, when you are a real estate broker and you find yourself about to get a listing owned by a hoarder, it's your worst nightmare, all right? Hard to sell, hard to advertise, impossible to show. So we're not even in the kitchen, right? We're on top of the kitchen. Reporter: But mission impossible just happens to be right in roger faulkner's sweetspot. I'm looking for the worst house on the block. So if your house is in disrepair, it's cluttered up, I'm looking for your house. That's how I'm going to make money. Reporter: He's a developer who specializes in real estate rehab, and he just made a screaming deal on a house that would leave most buyers just screaming. Oh my god! No one lived here. Come on. This can't be real. This is a tear down. Push it in the pool. Dump everything in the pool and put dirt on top. That's what I would do here. Reporter: But roger ran the comps and found similar, clean houses selling for up to $500,000. For him there's treasure in this trash. We picked this house up around $320,000. We're gonna, minimum, I have to put $75,000 to fix this house and bring it up to code. And then on resale, it's around $475,000. Reporter: Faulkner says he'll take it down to the bones. Replacing everything but the studs and the roof. You could say, "oh my god," you know? My biggest thing is that people were living here. And I feel sorry for them. I'm going to head for the back bedroom off to the right here. Reporter: This is kira. Somehow, she, her daughter and ailing mother called this home. You hear this word "hoarding" thrown around. And you don't really think that that's what you're doing. You think it's collections of this or collections of that. Reporter: She blames both she and her mom's lifelong struggles with depression and other health problems for their inability to stop accumulating stuff. It kept growing and growing and growing. And I didn't want to admit that I had anything to do with it. Reporter: They didn't want to sell. But impending foreclosure left them with no choice. Still, kira can't let go. No, no. It's only been a week and a half. You know, it's so fresh. Reporter: It's typical for hoarders to want to stay in their homes. Living amid the fire hazards and biohazards. You can't understand the smells that I've smellt. Reporter: And that's a major problem for darren johnson, a fire inspector in orange county. Some type of mold. Not sure what it is. Reporter: He's part of a hoarding task force. This is not right. Reporter: Ahh! He's got rodents running everywhere. Reporter: I don't want to know. I don't want to know. The mousetrap has a dead mouse in it. Reporter: Stop! We receive probably eight to ten cases a month. Reporter: Just look what darren found here behind the lush gardens and beautifully appointed exteriors of an upscale townhouse community. I don't consider myself a hoarder. Reporter: Meet 72-year-old nancy. She lives amid decades of dust, cobwebs and, to put it mildly, clutter. Her kitchen has everything. From last night's chardonnay to, well, we don't even want to go there. Reporter: What do you consider yourself? I consider myself the grand poobah of the procrastinators club. I'd look at it and go, "i'll do that tomorrow." Reporter: Her bed is like the rest of this room, piled high with letters, bills and clippings from really old newspapers and magazines. She's kept this one since 1981. Magnum p.I. Was big back then. Reporter: We asked hoarder home buyer roger faulkner to tour nancy's neighborhood, look at photos of the worst of her hoarding and do the numbers. The full value of this is $500,000. But without getting inside, I'm gonna have to do a gutshot and say $350,000. And the worst part about it is you feel so badly for the homeowner because you know they are never going to get as much money out of that home as if they could possibly clean up. Reporter: Nancy says her home is not for sale, though the choice isn't all hers. Inspector johnson could nail a red tag on her door right now, and she'd have 30 days to move out or sell. But that's not his style. Writing a ticket, red-tagging a house, kicking them out of their own house, that's not success. I'll state it over and over. We really, really need you to pick up the pace. Reporter: He charms, cajoles, and warns nancy he'll be back in a month expecting the combustible clutter to be gone. Nancy has been a very tough case. Reporter: In nancy's case counselling, and inspector johnson's gentle nudges, seem to have made a noticeable difference. It's been a month since he's seen her place. Holy cow! You could not walk in this room whatsoever. This looks great, nancy. It's a room. I know. I can actually get to my desk. Reporter: But will nancy's home improvements make a difference in roger's earlier estimate? Without getting inside I'm gonna have to do a gutshot and say $350,000. Reporter: Apparently not much. Your property is worth in my mind around $360,000 in its current condition. Reporter: She absorbs the raw truth, but nancy isn't selling. No, I don't want to sell. Reporter: Because she has a dream. What's next for you nancy? If I come back in six months, what am I going to see? I might not be there yet, but my aim is house beautiful. Reporter: Or at least not house horrible. Down in san diego, kira's deal meant she had to hand over the keys without taking the time to move everything out. Still, she's grateful to have found roger, a buyer crazy enough to taken on the mother of all fixer-uppers. I'm hopefully the solution for everybody. I can come and buy this property. I can rehabilitate it and sell it to a nice family. I can bring the values of the community up. Reporter: For her part, kira gets a fresh start, relocating to another state. I think I'm gonna come out on the other side a bit beaten and weathered. But I'm gonna come out of it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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