A couple in Houston is holding an essay contest to determine who should buy their home.
You may remember a story we reported in March, about the Center Lovell Inn and Restaurant in Lovell, Maine. The innkeeper, Janice Sage, wanted to retire, so she held an essay contest to find the most deserving successor. She charged $125 per entry in the hope of taking in the property's estimated value. That contest stopped accepting entries a week ago, but the results aren't in yet. It was a neat idea and attracted a lot of attention, including from Houston real estate agent Michael Wachs and his wife, Stephanie.
Inspired by Janice Sage, they decided to sell their home the same way. Their contest, which just went live on 150house.com, is almost exactly the same. The entry fee is slightly higher, $150, but they're also asking for anonymous essays of 200 words or less. The biggest difference is the property: instead of a 210-year old 10-bedroom bed & breakfast in rural Maine, this is a cute two-bedroom home in Houston's trendy Sunset Heights neighborhood. Located at 213 E. 23rd Street, it's across the street from a park, within walking distance of shops and restaurants, and minutes from downtown Houston. Built in 1920 but recently renovated, the 1,056 square foot home contains hardwood floors and a two-car garage. Best of all, it comes with a mold remediation certificate! The property was recently appraised at almost $400,000, and it could be yours for only $150. That is, if you have a way with words.
I'd drop three figures on this place. (via Michael Wachs)
Entries are being accepted until June 13. That gives you slightly less than a month to work on your 200-word opus. Essays must be submitted along with the $150 on the couple's website, and may not contain any identifying information about yourself. The couple has promised that if they change their mind about how to sell their home, they will refund every applicant's fee. Considering that they only need 3,000 entries to take in $450,000, however, I'd say that's unlikely. Who can resist the temptation of a house for the price of a used bicycle?
It'll actually be interesting to see if this contest attracts the same level of attention as Janice Sage's. It's not as romantic an idea to win a midsize home based on your writing ability as it is to win a historic bed & breakfast, but it's definitely more practical. Houston is the country's fastest-growing city, and The Center Lovell Inn didn't even have a mold remediation certificate. Regardless of whether they choose to enter, I'm sure every writer will want to know about this contest. I may even enter myself, considering how well my last entry came out.
If you're still on the fence about whether to enter, or whether to tell that writer in your life about it, check out these enticing photos Michael Wachs supplied, along with my estimate for how much each room is going for:
Stylish kitchen, $15.
Spacious living room, $30.
Well-lit master bedroom, $20.
Cozy bathroom, $7.50.
Understated dining room, $25, featuring chandelier, $2.50.
Baby's room, $50 (nothing's too expensive for your little bundle of joy.)
Lush backyard, thrown in for free.
If you're reading this, you may be looking at your new home. But you'd better get writing, because the competition will be fierce. And I'll let you know if I decide to enter, because then you'll have no chance. Good luck!