Issue: November 2007 Issue
It's a Dirty Job, But ...
Jackie Smith clears out abandoned homes to prep for sale.
Jackie Smith had driven by the vacant home time and time again. The sister of the former homeowner couldn't come to terms with clearing it out after her sibling died.
"We were in the same boat, having to clear out a house for a friend who passed away," explains Smith, who was inspired by these challenges.
So in April 2006, in a desperate housing market, Smith founded Home Seller Solutions to clear out and clean up homes in situations where an owner has died with no heirs, a tenant skips out or a homeowner relocates.
"People either think we're crazy or the answer to their prayers," says Smith, 40, a legal secretary for 20 years.
Home Seller Solutions prides itself on working closely with local food and clothing banks, schools and libraries to sell, donate, recycle and disburse of all items.
"Why do our landfills need to be filled up with this stuff?" asks Smith, who was swamped from March through July, keeping her and her husband, a Cleveland police officer, busy. "There is no reason for furniture to be sitting on a tree lawn instead of in the hands of those who need it."
Once everything is cleared, homes are thoroughly cleaned and evaluated for much-needed repairs. For the cost of labor and supplies, Home Seller Solutions will do improvements including painting, flooring, electrical, landscaping or really "anything to make it more marketable," says Smith, who has partnered with real estate companies such as Prudential and Howard Hanna Rocky River to expand her services.
To date, Smith has cleared out more than 20 homes, which takes a crew of four to five people to do the job in as little as two days per home, she says. But she is sure to keep a standby team of about nine friends and family to call on anytime.
And with the recent rush of foreclosures, Smith may need the extra hands.
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