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Who Needs a Real Estate Agent? Just Just Run a Contest Instead

Win This House Essay Contest

Auctions, discount brokers, etc., have all taken a stab at real estate agents and their profession, working to turn them into a commodity or even get them to disappear altogether. Now there may be a new trend taking place, have a contest to sell your home.

That’s right, in Ocala, Florida, there is a woman that decided she wanted to sell her home, valued at around $1.25 million, through a contest. She claims she is having an essay contest because she wants to sell her home to a pet lover, and not just anyone. She has even put up a website devoted to her contest and is working hard to gain publicity for it.

Before you go thinking this is an innovative idea, take a look at some of the details of the contest. Clementina Marie Giovannetti, the property’s owner and author of pet books, has set the contest up so she can’t lose, and in fact, could walk away with thousands of dollars in profit without actually giving up her property. It could also be a marketing ploy as she is gaining free publicity from this contest and using it to promote her new book.

She is charging a $200 entry fee (which she claims is no big deal for people), and requires a minimum of 6,250 entries. Sound suspicious? If you multiply $200 by 6,250 entries you get…drum roll please…$1,250,000. Go figure. It doesn’t mention what she will do with the money if she gets more than 6,250, but I would bet she will pocket it.

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What if she doesn’t get 6,250 entries, what happens then?

At her sole discretion, she can extend the contest as long as she wants, if the minimum number of entries has not been achieved. Her other option is to “close the contest” and refund the money, but there will be a processing fee of $20.00 for each entry. That means she can still make thousands on the entrants even if the contest gets closed.

Think about that, if she gets 6,000 entries, she has the option to close the contest and pocket $120,000!!!

What happens to the winner?

Sure they get to move into a million dollar mansion, but remember that there is a drawback to winning contests. Just think of what the taxes will cost the winner and I am guessing no one entering has even thought about that.

Other contests have cash prizes, where Uncle Sam’s cut gets taken out from the winnings. Since this is a home, the winner has got to be capable of paying those taxes or this home could be lost very quickly to a tax lien. One option they may have is to do a cash out refinance once they take ownership, assuming they can qualify for the new jumbo loan.

Will a Contest Become a New Way to Sell Real Estate?

I rather doubt it because of the many drawbacks. Sure, some creative people out there will find a way to do something like this, but beware. I am willing to bet most, if not all, who run contests to sell their home are doing it to make more money than they should through a normal sale, and doing so at the entrant’s expense.

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Melina Tomson

    May 7, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Clementina has been a blog spamming queen for the past few weeks! Actually some folks in Oregon in Yachats, have been holding their contest for a whlie. I am guessing Clementina took the idea from them.

  2. Toby Boyce

    May 8, 2008 at 6:25 am

    I have had a very interesting dialog on my blog regarding a similar contest in Ohio.

    A major thing is that – at least in Ohio – a lot of these contests are illegal and once the state becomes aware of them they get shut down.

    The one in my post has just required every entry fee to be returned and the contest shut down.

  3. Dennis Pease

    May 9, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Melina, I am not familiar with the one in Yachats but 25 miles south in Florence Oregon is a Commercial Real Estate auction. dot com.

    This property was on the market for some time and didn’t sell. I have been curious about this one and the legalities of it.

  4. Melina Tomson

    May 9, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Here is the link for the one in Yachats.

    I know the seller of the house in Yachats spoke with the AG’s office about it. Oregon does not allow gambling except on reservations, with the EXCEPTION of essay contests. You are allowed to win prizes with an essay contest in Oregon. So, the seller set up an LLC and rules. They started taking entries in January.

    The other contest started in March, so I am sure they took the idea from them.

    The seller of the house in Yachats had the house on the market for a long time, but wasn’t willing to drop the price of it, so this was their alternative idea to get money out of the house.

    It is indeed legal in the state of Oregon.

  5. Melina Tomson

    May 9, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I fogot to mention that the Yachats one ends at the end of May, and they have 2092 entries of the 3,000 needed to run the contest. I am dying to see what happens. I’m guessing Joe winner will be in for a big surprise when they get the old tax bill on this win…

  6. Dennis Pease

    May 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I would say you are correct that the Florence property owners got the idea from the Yachats folks. The web addresses are almost identical.

    win-this-home dot com
    win-this-property dot com.

    These should be interesting to watch unfold.

  7. Holly White

    July 2, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    This is funny. I was scrolling through some of your older posts and I decided to click the link to see just how much she had collected so far, and hmmm…. the contest has been canceled due to a “lack of response” and all $200 was refunded to those who entered. My guess is it was illegal to start with. Anyone know for sure?

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