In a non-traditional run around the local real estate market, one enterprising couple is attempting to sell their Bethel, N.Y. vacation house by inviting buyers to submit a 200-word essay on, ““How would owning the lakefront dream home change your life?” along with $149. Andrew Bares and Kelly Lavorgna had attempted to sell the two-bedroom cabin on five-and-a-half acres at 391 Woodstone Trail twice in the last four years without success, which prompted them to undertake this slightly different angle on the prospective buyer’s “sweetheart letter.” If the contest attracts 5,500 applicants, it will bring the sellers $819,500 for the house (h/t New York Times).
The rustic vacation home is steps from a lake and has vaulted ceilings and a stone fireplace. The (married) couple rarely get a chance to visit the house, which is about two hours north of New York City, in part because they’re too busy with the two bed-and-breakfasts they own in Cape May, New Jersey. They aren’t the first to try this unconventional method to unload property, though it’s fraught with potential pitfalls; if the contest succeeds, the couple hopes to start an online platform to help other sellers do the same.
As mentioned, the idea isn’t without caveats: The winner will have to pay property taxes of about $11,000, plus income taxes on the prize itself, which could be substantial. And if the house doesn’t bring in the hoped-for sum of $819,500, it will be cancelled. Entrants will get $100 back, with $49 kept as a non-refundable administration fee. On the seller’s side, the headaches are even greater. In addition to “serious legwork” with no guarantee of success–the pair have spent $40,000 on marketing efforts alone–contestants who don’t win might take issue with the results in addition to the many complicated legal issues that come with holding a national contest.
The home itself is within the gated community of Chapin Estate. The cabin has an Adirondack lodge feel with vaulted ceilings and exposed beams.
Bedrooms overlook five-and-a-half acres of wooded property. The deck faces Swinging Bridge Reservoir, on which the property has 250 feet of lake frontage. The house also sits above a three-car garage.
Bares and Lavorgna, who run an interior design company in addition to their bed-and-breakfasts, and have been featured on HGTV, see the concept as an opportunity for them to start a new business: Based on the Catskills house, they’re creating an internet platform for sellers to run similar contests. The thinking is that the low entry fee is just the thing to spur entrants to throw their proverbial hats in the ring for the chance at a deal.
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