HGTV Dream Home Owner: "Foreclosure Proceedings Have Begun" - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

12/4/07-Lake Tyler

HGTV Dream Home Owner: "Foreclosure Proceedings Have Begun"

It's the beginning of what looks to be the end of quite a journey for Don Cruz and his family.

When asked if the house will be foreclosed on Don Cruz replied, "Yes. It will be sold on the courthouse steps, the first Tuesday of January.  All I know is we're out of money and we're four months behind on payments."

Four months behind on the mortgage Don took out last year.  The money from that loan helped him pay off the taxes on his winnings to the IRS.

The rest was supposed to help with monthly expenses.  Instead, Don said, the money paid for two family emergencies including his wife's brain surgery.

"There's no way we could have afforded to do it if we hadn't won the house. And then my dad ended up with cancer.  I paid for all the cancer treatment, paid for all the surgery and that ate up all the money we had," Don said.

When the dream home went on the market it was listed at almost $5 million at one point.  The price has now dropped to $1.43 million.

"The $1.43 million will pay off that and all the bills that we're behind on. And we'll break even," said Don.

"So you're essentially a million 430 thousand dollars in debt," asked KLTV 7 Reporter Christine Nelson.

"Yes, ma'am," Don said.

Most of the past dream home winners have sold the house to help finance a more affordable dream.  Something Don Cruz refused to do from the start. But Don said he does not regret his decision not to sell.

"It's still been a blessing.  I'm going to miss all of our family and friends here," said Don.  "But no regrets, whatsoever. I'd do it all over again."

Don now stares in the face of what looks to be the final days of living in the dream home.  An experience that, for him, turned into a money pit.

Don said he has moved his wife and son back to their Illinois home, but they're behind on payments on that home too.

He said he's still holding on to hope to get a buyer for the dream home before the home makes the scheduled January auction.  Which means a deal would have to be done by next Wednesday.

In response to the foreclosure news, HGTV issued the following written statement:

"...there are always options available to winners, including, in many cases, the option to sell the home back to the developer during the first year of ownership and receive cash, as there was in the 2005 HGTV Dream Home Giveaway.  We know that Don Cruz and his family had a strong desire to remain in the dream home and now find themselves in this current challenging situation. As we have from the beginning, we will continue to respect their right to make their own decisions."

Christine Nelson reporting.  cnelson@kltv.com

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