Man Living in Cave Faces Foreclosure

Curt Sleeper can't refinance his cave home, so he turns to eBay.

ByABC News
February 23, 2009, 5:16 PM

Feb. 24, 2009— -- You've heard plenty of stories about foreclosures, but the latest victims of this brutal recession are about to lose their cave.

That's right. For nearly five years, Curt Sleeper and his family have lived in a cave. His mortgage is about to come due and, like millions of other Americans, he can't refinance.

So now, the 17,000-square-foot, subterranean home is being auctioned off on eBay.

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Sleeper and his wife Deborah bought the cave outside St. Louis in May 2004 for $160,000. To pay for it, they sold their old home, TV and even the DVD collection. They made a 50 percent down payment and borrowed the other $80,000 from the seller. It was a five-year loan with a single balloon payment at the end.

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The Sleepers now have until May 1 to pay off the remaining $83,000 or sell the property. It's not a foreclosure sale yet, but if they can't come up with the money, they risk losing the house.

Besides the initial $80,000 payment, Sleeper said he spent another $150,000 on renovations to the cave and the surrounding 2.8 acres he owns.

The original plan was to refinance. But Sleeper, a self-employed computer consultant, said banks struggle to appraise the cave since there aren't any comparable properties nearby or, well any comparable properties at all. So while he might have received a loan two or three years ago, today he is in a bind.

"Right now, banks are not interested in anything odd," Sleeper said.

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He also acknowledges that he's not perfect. His credit score is 650 to 710 thanks to a few blemishes, including a dispute with a cell phone company.

Now he has turned to eBay.

Sleeper is asking $300,000 for the home but is also looking preferably for somebody to refinance his mortgage. After all, he and his family did put five years of their lives into building the three-bedroom, two-bathroom house into the cave. (During construction, Sleeper, his wife and their two kids lived in tents in the back of the cave and washed dishes and laundry in buckets. Their third child, a son, was born last week in the cave.)