Until I saw the report about it on NBC News last night, I'd never heard of the trash-out business.
But when I googled it, I got over 14 million hits.
In a late-December article in USA Today, I read that:
Foreclosures are creating an economic boon for entrepreneurs, as brokers and investors require services to clean or "trash-out" homes seized by lenders.
One of the folks interviewed in that article, Rancho Mirage's Joe Cino, who runs a booming trash-out business (and also manages ongoing upkeep of foreclosed homes), said:
"It's an unfortunate business to be in, it's sad, but the reality is, someone has to do it....We've had rocks thrown at us... There's yelling, cursing, screaming."
The trash-out businesses often do maintenance clean-up work, fixing broken windows, patching holes in punched in walls, etc. That's after they've hauled away the moldy food and broken toys.
Business, all agree, is booming.
And it's no doubt especially booming in the states that are having the most foreclosures: Florida, California, Arizona, and Nevada.
Not only are there all sorts of trash-out businesses, there are all sorts of businesses to help people starting up a trash-out business. One such outfit,in foreclosure hotspot Florida, Cleaning Foreclosures, claims that:
This is a recession proof business. As the economy crashes and unemployment continues to rise.
My Business Booms!!
Well, it may not exactly be a recession-proof business. Sure, people clean out houses even in good times, but this is more or less a counter-cyclical business. While there will no doubt be foreclosures for as long as there is real estate, one can assume that the rate and level of foreclosures will decline if and when the economy improves. Especially given that, at least for a couple of decades or so, there are likely to be more stringent rules about who gets what size mortgage. But I'm quibbling here. It's obviously this recession proof.
But you can apparently make quite a bit of dough at it - this site says you can make up to $2.5K per clean out, in the USA Today article, put the figure at $2K. Plus you can, apparently, keep the trash-treasures you find. Joe, the guy who runs Cleaning Foreclosures, has a picture of a decent flat-screen TV that he picked up on the job.
Joe-the-Clean-out guy has written a book about setting up a business, which you can buy for $29.95.
He has pictures of some of his jobs, and it's really amazing to see how much junk people leave behind, and just how chaotic and out of control the lives of some of these fore-closees must have been. The places look as if someone just up and fled in the night which, come to think of it, is probably exactly what happened.
I suppose that, for many people, what they can take with them is what can fit in their car. Thus, they're leaving behind food, clothing, toys, kitchen goods, appliances. While a lot of the stuff is straight-to-the-dump trash, some of it could no doubt have been e-Bayed or yard-saled, making them a little driving around money.
Obviously, people are leaving with no place to go - or at least no place for their stuff to go.
Of course, if your place gets foreclosed, you probably don't have the money to put it in storage, let alone the money to rent the van to schlepp it there.
And who knows how much of the stuff that gets left behind was bought using the same beyond-their-means credit that went into the home purchase.
All very depressing and horrifying.
I may also be writing about Joe-the-Clean-out guy over on Opinionated Marketers at some point.
It does not appear from this site that a lot of web-design or fancy-arse marketing help went into this operation.
But, boy, this guy has message clarity down pat.
You don't have to look very hard to figure out what Joe's about.
Go read the Info About Me page:
Life is hard and it just seems to get harder every day. I am not an author or claim to be a book writer. The One Thing I do know is that I Know about the Foreclosure Cleaning Business Inside and Out. I know anyone trying to sell a book 200 pages on this subject is just trying to portray themselves as some kind of experts.There is nothing that you can write in 200 pages about cleaning foreclosures that my package can not offer. I am an honest person .I really never get mad ,but just like most people piss me off and I get even. I am selling my package for very little . My package is "cut to the chase" so you do not waste any time learning this business.
One of the big marketing trends now is to give your business a personality.
Well, Joe does a pretty good job getting his across - although he really could use a common after "most people," so the casual reader easily understands that it's not "most people" who "piss him off", it's "just like most people, piss me off and I get even." (If you're reading this, Joe, please put a comma in.)
This has got to be one god-awful business to be involved in.
Just going through all the detritus of someone else's life, seeing the anger (those punched in walls) and the despair.
But with all the major lay-offs being announced, I guess it's good to know that some businesses are booming.