The article is about the problem that realtors have in selling homes in which people (often old) have accumulated such large amounts of objects and materials that realtors have to work to get it removed. Poor realtors — they can’t just move in their tacky “staging” and instantly make a sale (the writer is talking about New York, and even points out that it is a “tight” (good for realtors) market).
The author throws around the word hoarding, and points out that hoarding is now listed as a distinct disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (a controversial document) and an estimated 3 to 5 percent of Americans suffer from the condition (she doesn’t say who came to this grand conclusion and how). And as an example she digs up the story about the Collyer brothers, who received national notice for dying with 120 tons of books magazines, and other objects in their mansion in 1947—over 65 years ago.
According to my handy Dashboard Dictionary, hoarding refers to (1) amassing money or other valuable objects and hiding and storing them away (museums? The wealthy?), (2) accumulating a supply of (something) in a time of scarcity, (3) reserving in the mind for future use. Those don’t seem to be too evil or unnatural. And I think that in most cases, the problem Ms. Rosenblum has is that strangers (perhaps especially realtors who love blank space), or even family members can’t understand that the material in question has (or had in the case of death) such high value to the persons who accumulated it—probably even the Collyer brothers.
Ms. Rosenblum would probably consider our house “cluttered” (photo shows typical shelves in my home office). We love it the way it is, as do most people who visit us. My wife and I have lived in it for many years, raised four kids in it, are leading a full and wonderful life, and like to be surrounded by objects that provoke fond memories and please us aesthetically, And we are not about to “unclutter” it in order to simplify the life of a future realtor.
“Uncluttering” can also be dangerous to one’s well being. I watched two situations in which elderly distant relatives, having lost their wives, allowed things they loved and that reminded them of good times to escape the boundaries of closets, shelves, and drawers and fill the house. In both cases the houses were then “organized” by professional neatness nazis hired by their immediate families to do so. In both cases my elderly relatives died soon after. Coincidence?
But the realtors were probably over-joyed with the cleanliness and orderliness of their homes. Probably they radically reduced their commissions.