It’s called an earth home and except for some antennas and a vent sticking out of tall weeds on its roof, people who drove by it just off the intersection of Shore and Frazier Lake roads would be hard-pressed to guess what was on the other side. It recently was put up for sale by a local bank and Jason Noble of Nino Real Estate had to try to figure out how to market it. After all, there aren’t any dirt-covered homes in San Benito County he could go to for comps to come up with a sales price.

Noble said that when he first got the assignment to sell the 1,880-square foot, two bedroom, two bath home, he had to Google it to figure out what he had on his hands and how to sell it. He found a company in the South that constructs such homes, mostly out of recycled materials.

“Figuring that financing might be an issue from the uniqueness and style of it was an issue because Fannie Mae underwriting guidelines require that you have at least one comparable listing of the same construction type on your appraisal,” he said. “There’s not a lot of those houses for miles around. So, we went through a couple of buyers before finding the ones who ultimately purchased it.”

Noble said he contacted the company that builds such homes and asked who typically finances them. He was told nobody does and he found that to also be true locally, so the buyers paid $408,200 in cash as a rental investment.

While marketing the property, Noble had a chance to go inside and found out that the home was built out of cinder blocks on three sides and then covered by dirt. The front is a combination of cinder blocks and glass blocks, sliding glass doors and a three-car garage. He said the roof, which recently had the foliage removed from it, appears to be poured concrete. There is a utility room and a long storage area that runs the length of the building in back.

Noble believes the home was built in the mid-1980s by a man who was an engineer and pilot. Other than a little paint and new carpeting in one room, nothing much more was done before putting it on the market. Because of the dirt on top of it, throughout summer and winter the ambient temperature never changes. In fact, Noble said, a heating system that might have been installed when the home was built had never been hooked up to power.

“I did ask someone to mow the roof,” Noble said. “That was a first.”

John Chadwell worked as a feature, news and investigative reporter for BenitoLink on a freelance basis for seven years, leaving the role in Sept. 2023. Chadwell first entered the U.S. Navy right out of...