Cave dwellers can't refinance; put home on eBay
Dig the idea of living in a cave? A Missouri family did, too — until they spelunked themselves into debt building a three-story cave dwelling during the housing downturn.
The housing crisis is now affecting cave dwellers.
At least, that’s the case for Curt and Deborah Sleeper of Festus, Mo. They have fewer than 90 days to pay off the $83,000 balance on their home, just outside of St. Louis in a former mine that once produced limestone and sandstone.
The family of five — a new baby was born in the cave just recently — has put their dwelling, at 215 Cave Drive, up for sale on eBay priced at $300,000.
The Sleepers bought the 15,000-square-foot cave through the auction site in 2004. They paid about half of the $160,000 purchase price in cash. The sellers loaned them the balance with a five-year interest-only loan. The initial idea was to build a regular home outside and use the cave as a place for the kids to play, Curt Sleeper says. Later, he decided to build the house inside the cave. Sleeper says that he intended to refinance his mortgage, using the new home as equity once it was completed.
Then came the housing bust and the credit markets tightened up. Curt Sleeper says he has been unable to secure a new loan. “I’m self-employed, my credit score is somewhere between 600 and 710, depending on who you talk to. I live in a cave with no comparable homes in the area and I gave up credit cards 10 years ago,” he says.
Curt Sleeper says he is sorting through about 5,000 emails — sent to him through eBay and a message board at Caveland.us — from people who want to buy the property, those who want to loan the family money and those who “want to steal it from me” by buying it and renting it back to the family.
The family spent four years and about $150,000 in materials constructing the three-story home, adding another 2,000 square feet of living space. They funded the project using a combination of personal income and his wife's inheritance, he says. Friends in the construction industry helped the self-employed Web designer and small business consultant build the structure. Deborah Sleeper, a stay-at-home mother who is working on a degree in creative writing, washed laundry in buckets during construction, and the family lived in a tent inside the cave. The city required six different inspections on the cave, Curt Sleeper says, and it granted the family an occupancy permit last year.
The family was planning to stay in the cave for life, and moving out is not an appealing option. “I frequently joke that there’s got to be some barge or corn silo screaming my name,” Curt Sleeper says of where he will go should he be forced to move. “I can’t imagine going back to a box.”
By Sushil Cheema, The Wall Street Journal
Almost 3 years ago I lost my husband. He had no insurance and had run up the cred. cards so I was massively in debt. Through hard work I've managed to hold on to my house which he had refinanced to supposedly pay off all other debts. I don't know what happened to that. Now medical disability means I'm looking at $700/month as my total income. No savings. $400 on that will go to prescriptions. How on earth am I to live on $300/month? I guess I'll be moving to my car. I also have 2 homeless people I gave a home to. I guess my car will be crowded. No one wants to have a 60 year old seriously disabled person around. I guess I'm now worthless to anyone. There are folks a lot worse off than this couple even though the home is terrific. I've worked hard all my life. Nobody cares.
I always wanted to build home in the cave! I wish I had money, I would help them. I hope some good people offer help......
Although there are no comparable properties, the lenders should be able to contact a certified general appraiser and have the home valued on a cost basis through utilization of Marshall and swift. Residential appraiser could possibly do it but the analysis and quality of the construction due to the home being built in a mine shaft would prob. require the expertise of a certified general appraiser to inspect-they could even underwrite the loan with a co inspection from a commercial general contractor to assist the appraiser-would be a difficult assignment but not that impossible. Lender would prob. rate the property at a higher interest rate as well due to the atypical construction but it can be done without selling out on ebay. They should call the Appraisal Institute for a master appraiser recommendation, it can be done and it wont be cheap (the appraisal fees) but it is possible. May want to call Fannie mae as well as see if they have any primary residential loan opinions that would cover an atypical sfr structure. There is a way with the right contacts and research for this property to be appraised (cost wise) and a loan secured for this family.
HERE'S FOR ANOTHER ROUND OF BANK BAILOUT'S. YOU KNOW SO THEY CAN FORECLOSE ON ANOTHER MILLION HOMES. All so ultra rich greedy pieces of (insert profanity here) can get even more rich?
IT IS NOT A FINANCIAL CRISIS WERE ARE IN HERE. IT IS THE BIGGEST HEIST ANYONE WILL EVER SEE. WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON IS A MILLION TIMES BIGGER THAN MADOFF OR AIG. THEY ARE USING THAT AS A SMOKE SCREEN SO YOU DON'T GET DOWN TO THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT JUST HOW MUCH THESE BUSINESSES SCAMMED WHILE THE GOV'T STOOD THERE WITH THEIR HANDS OUT FOR THEM TO FILL ON THEIR WAY OUT THE DOOR.
HOW MANY PEOPLE BOTHERED TO READ AND FIND OUT THAT MERRIL LYNCH GAVE OUT $3.5 BILLION IN BONUSES IN DECEMBER THE DAY BEFORE THEY WERE BOUGHT BY BANK OF AMERICA, AND 3 MONTHS EARLIER THAN THE BONUSES WERE SUPPOSED TO BE PAID OUT. THREE AND A HALF BILLION DOLLARS THAT'S THREE AND A HALF THOUSAND MILLION OR TWENTY TIMES THE AMOUNT PAID OUT BY AIG.
OH YEAH THIS MONEY WAS INCLUDED IN BANK OF AMERICA'S LOSSES FOR THE FOURTH QUARTER OF 2008.
HECK I'M CANADIAN AND I KNOW ALL OF THIS
I really hope somebody can help these guys! I'd love to build a home for myself and these guys have done a fantastic job... they deserve to live in it! This is a prime opportunity for none other than our President Obama to step in. Maybe if the word can reach out to him...
All the best!
Hey! have you checked with your local chamber of combers--they may know a little something about other possible loan or grants?
Also you should google "Hard Loans" they are fast overnight cash, however, they are 12% or higher interest. GOOD LUCK and God speed. If I had the money I would lend it to you intrest free I know how it is I lost my home do to job loss and the econnomy.
I wish they gave them more time to pay that money, then i would suggested that a donation from everyone who want to see the beauty and the construction of it would help. I hope they get to keep their house, best wishes to them
To the unemployed vet,
Look you sorry olf fart, stop whinning about the way the government runs this country. If you were so much better you would be in control and not loosing your house. I am in a bad situation myself, but by **** about it things are not going to get better. If you really think you can make a difference do something. Things are bad and may get worse, you are not the only one who diserves help just cause you a veteran. I've met a lot of veterans and they never even had the chance to shot a rifle. Some of you join the military cause you were ignorant and believed all they said.
You gonna laugh all your way to hell, but the people on top will be laughing on their way to Hawaii.
I hate the fact that now that the economy's really bad almost everyone blames it on the government. If I well remember most Americans were in favor of the war. That same war that is costing billions of dollars. Another thing that triggered this crisis is the fact that a lot of people thought they could afford more than one house at the time without really having the ability to make the mortgage payments. If things are the way they are is because we live a extremely materialized country and all we think and care about is acquiring more and more stuff even when we can afford to live that way.
We Americans wanted to start a war with not just one, but two countries and now we are paying the price.
Do not just blame one guy (in this case Bush), we have to blame ourselves for letting one of the dumbest maybe the dumbest person ever, to make us believe what he wanted us to believe.
I think we deserve all this. We deserve it for not thinking of what could be ahead of us. I understand this is (well, probably was) the most powerful country in the globe and that is why we believe we have the right to do war with whomever we please, but honestly we should be more concerned in making friends than enemies.
I think it's very cool, and wish them the best of luck.
As for myself, I'd rather not have dirt from the walls and ceiling.
Falling into my meals as I am preparing or trying to eat them, .
But those old underground missile silos that the Government was selling sound cool to,
and I'm sure a lot easier to keep clean,.