If the only thing standing between you and a cozy cabin in the Catskills is a lack of cash, Andrew Bares and Kelly Lavorgna have a proposal for you: win theirs. The couple, who’ve been struggling to sell the home through more traditional channels, are now planning to offload the cabin via essay contest.
The prompt: “How would owning the lakefront dream home change your life?” Write 200 very persuasive words and pay a $149 entry fee, and the Bethel, NY house could be yours. “The reality is, somebody is going to win this house for $149,” Bares told the New York Times. Most recently, it was listed for $825,000.
As the Times points out, though, it’s not quite that simple. Whoever wins the place will be on the hook for about $11,000 a year in property taxes, plus income taxes (since the prize would be treated as income). And depending on your circumstances, and the appraisal value of the house, that could be substantial.
The other caveat: if the contest doesn’t get 5,500 entries, all bets are off. Entrants will get $100 of their fee back, and the rest will be lost to administrative expenses.
While the owners are optimistic about their prospects, brokers seem less convinced. “I don’t see this happening in this neck of the woods,” a saleswoman from Chapin Sotheby’s told the Times, noting that unlike other, more famous vacation spots, Catskills buyers tend to have “regional knowledge.”
Also, she said, the place just isn’t that nice. It’s “basically a three-car garage with a finished apartment above it,” she said. Harsh.
Though contests like this have their problems—namely, winners who might not actually be able to afford the cost of homeownership—Bares and Lavorgna are hardly the first to give it a go. Plus, they’ve got a bigger goal in mind: they’re hoping to use the essay contest to jump-start their latest business venture, an “internet platform where sellers could list homes for sale by contest.”
- Write an Essay, Win This House [New York Times]
- Lake Front Dream House [Home]
- 5 Things to Know About Win-A-House Essay Contests [Curbed NY]