The industry of trash-out and foreclosure cleanup encompasses caring for REO ("real estate owned") properties including those that sit empty and are in pre-foreclosure, or those lender-owned homes that have gone through the full foreclosure process.

Industry Still in Its Infancy

Many of these foreclosed properties are vacant and need services such as debris removal, cleaning inside and out, initial and ongoing lawn work, the cleaning of gutters and the pressure washing of the homes' exteriors and driveways, flooring (cleaning, taking out), as well as closing up windows and doors with approved boarding. Also, services such as securing homes by changing locks, as well as roof work, minor repairs, covering pools, mold removal, interior and exterior inspections, and more are part of the cache of services under the foreclosure cleaning umbrella.

With, according to some analysts, one in five borrowers predicted to lose their homes in the near future, the burgeoning REO trash-out and foreclosure cleanup industry is still in its infancy.

Questions Galore from New Businesses Cropping Up

As a foreclosure cleanup business consultant, I get tons of queries from new business owners in the industry. The questions range from start-up advice, pricing and marketing, to advertising, insurance, job processes and procedures, and more. Some questions are very general in nature, while some are very specific; for example, what is "UI" as it relates to boarding a window? (See answer later in this article.)

Common Foreclosure Cleanup Questions & Answers

Here are three common questions that have come across my desk in the last several months:

Business Insurance

Question: Do I need workmen's compensation insurance, and if so, is there a way around it, because I will not have any employees. I will be using places like the labor ready temp type services for any trash-out jobs.

Answer: Many larger property preservation companies will require you have workman's compensation (or workers' compensation) before they give you work. They "may" consider your application without it, but they won't hire you until your application is complete, which will require you to provide proof of the required insurance.

Email Marketing

Question: I am in the process of setting up my newsletter along with my email marketing campaign, but I can't seem to figure out how to locate email addresses for the local realtors. Any advice?

Answer: Building an email address list is necessary, but it can be a painstaking process and will take lots of garnering and cleaning. Here's a quick start: Start by going to your local multiple listing service ("MLS") and click on property listings, and then ultimately click out to the agents' websites. Many times their email addresses are disguised, but a great deal of them are not. You can start building a list that way. Care not to SPAM anyone.

Start-up Marketing

Question: Can you give me some tips about marketing my business?

Answer: Postcard mailings to local realtors really work. There are several quality, affordable postcard printing companies online. Start out with 250-500 postcards in your area, and repeat this every five or six weeks in the beginning. You have to follow-up with a phone call and a mailer that includes your business card over the weeks. You will inevitably have some returns, so work on cleaning and building a workable list that you can target over and over again.

Specific Queries

The above are some of the common questions received; some of the less common include queries related to cost schedules, invoicing, winterization procedures, and service questions like the following:

Question: The term "UI" is used when describing the window boarding cost schedule. What does it mean if it states .35 per UI?

Answer: UI is the abbreviated version of "united inch" as it relates to boarding. (Note: UI is used to assist in the formula for measuring windows.)

The "Less Smart" Questions Are the Ones Never Asked

Remember, when you are just starting out in business, the "less smart" questions are the ones that are never asked. If you don't know the answer to something, either ask the company that's giving you the work order to clarify what they mean, or seek answers from an industry colleague so you don't miss out on lucrative work orders.

Good luck to you as you grow your REO trash-out and foreclosure cleanup business. See for start-up information.

by Cassandra Black

Author's Bio: 

CASSANDRA BLACK is a writer, publisher and entrepreneur. She has authored and published several business publications via Stone Cottage Books (, as well as a children's picture book and adult fiction titles.