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Sale of MN "Mushroom" House Offers Hope for Market

A foam and burlap house that looks like a giant mushroom just sold for $170,000 after being vacant for several years and on the market since August 2010; although there was considerable interest in the home, it was impossible to finance and required an all-cash deal.

Sale of MN

It may be a buyers' residential housing market-but a recent home sale in Minnetrista proves that even the most hard-to-sell properties have a chance.

A foam and burlap house that looks like a giant mushroom recently sold for $170,000 after being vacant for several years and on the market since August 2010, said the home's listing agent, Dayna Murray of Keller Williams Realty. (The original price tag was $237,000-which includes 8.4 acres of land-but it's been dropped since.)

Known as the "Ensculptic House," the structure was built in 1969. Murray said Thursday that the buyers are from Virginia and purchased the house sight-unseen based on online photos they viewed.

"The interest has been ridiculous," Murray said, adding that hundreds of prospective buyers looked at the house. It likely would have sold months ago if it wasn't for the fact that the home was impossible to finance, according to Murray. Prior to the all-cash deal that just took place, Murray got calls about the house from MTV, which wanted to feature it on a show about what it's like to live in an unusual home, and Merv Griffin Studios, which wanted to feature it on a game show.

The new owners have said that they plan to fix up the house and use it as their retirement home.

According to a 2010 Star Tribune feature about the house, experimental architect Winslow Wedin took a road trip to Minnesota from Auburn University with seven architecture students in the summer of 1969. They camped out all summer and strung three-quarter-inch nylon cables into a spiderweb pattern and fit custom-made burlap into the open spaces. They then sprayed polyurethane foam, which turned rock-hard in about half a minute, over the structure.

Although the home is structurally sound, there is no running water, the septic system is shot, and some of the copper piping has been stripped out, Murray said. She estimates that making the home habitable would require about $30,000.

To read the 2010 Star Tribune feature about the home, click here.

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