More often than not, foreclosed homes are in desperate need of significant cleaning and repairs before they can be put back onto the market. Realtors and banks must hire contractors to repair holes, paint, eliminate odors, clean, rip out carpet, haul junk, clean pools, landscape or handle electrical and plumbing issues. If you’re considering starting a business cleaning out foreclosed houses, the more skills you can provide, the more jobs you’ll be able to take.

Things You Will Need
  • Liability insurance

  • Business license

  • Certification

  • Contractor's license

  • Truck

  • Trailer

  • Worker's compensation

  • Receptionist

  • Employee(s)

  • Location

  • Brochures

Step 1.

Write up a business plan. Select a structure for your business and detail how you intend to compete. While you may be able to clean a well-cared for home on your own, many foreclosed homes will require skills or energy you may not have. Consider starting with an assistant or team. By having a team of contractors on your payroll that are skilled in a variety of jobs, such as an electrician and plumber, you can complete all aspects of the job. Realtors and banks can save money and time by contracting the entire job to you versus hiring various contractors. Detail expenses such as office space, equipment, salaries, advertising, gas, vehicle maintenance, uniforms, dump fees, office supplies, insurance, bonding coverage, training and licenses.

Step 2.

Get your business license. Then purchase bonding coverage and $1 million in liability insurance.

Step 3.

Get certified or contact contractors who already are about being available for subcontracted work. The Society for Protective Coatings offers certifications for painters. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration offers certifications in odor control, carpet cleaning and restoration from smoke, fire or water damage. (See Resources) These are great resume items and can help you compete with other cleaners targeting repossessed homes. Additionally, you may be required to hold a general contractor’s license. Contact your state licensing department for details.

Step 4.

Find a location for your business. When starting out, you may be able to store your supplies and equipment in a garage or spare room. As your business expands and your team grows, you’ll need a physical location and office. At that point, it may be a good idea to hire a trustworthy receptionist to handle the payroll and small business taxes. Purchase worker’s compensation insurance for your employees.

Step 5.

Learn how to bid on contracts offered by Realtors. Understand the project’s budget and requirements for manpower, time and equipment.

Step 6.

Purchase a truck, trailer, hauling equipment, tools, safety gear, cleaning supplies, landscaping and lawn care supplies, chemicals, uniforms, a commercial mower, vacuum cleaner and shampooer.

Step 7.

Find approved landfills for dumping trash.

Step 8.

Create a checklist to use during the inspection of the home. Create a brochure detailing the services you provide, the certifications and training your team has and your prices. Check your local MLS board to find Realtors listing foreclosures. Contact Realtors, bank managers and investors looking to buy foreclosed homes.


Many Realtors will allow you to keep the items you haul. Consider selling these to supplement your income or donating them to local charities. This is another good way to get your name out there.


Safety is a valid concern in this industry. Confer with neighbors before each job to learn the likelihood of the evicted homeowner returning to his home. Angry homeowners may take their frustration out on you. Also, beware of any pets that may have been left behind.