When Alla Wagner suffered a severe back injury last June, it changed her life. She could no longer get up the stairs of her 3800-square-foot house in Millarville, Alta., so she made the difficult decision to put it up for sale.
“It wasn’t selling and I wasn’t getting any offers,” she said. “It was really depressing.”
Her creative solution: a competition called “Write a Letter, Win a House.” It costs $25 to enter plus a letter explaining why you should be the winner.
“When this contest works, I know it’s all going to be well worthwhile and a lot of people will have hope,” Wagner said.
“That one family that will end up in this house and make it into a home for themselves and be happy here — as happy as I have been — I know it’s going to be a beautiful story in the end.”
Here’s the fine print: the total of all the entry fees must reach the $1.7 million listing price of the mountain view home. Also, the competition is over if the home sells before a winner is chosen. In both cases, everyone would get their money back.
“Because a panel of judges will be choosing a winner, this is not a lottery,” Wagner said. “It’s more like crowdfunding and it’s more like telling people: please help me in my situation.
“This is not a draw because it’s not a random choice because it’s chosen based on creative writing.”
To reach $1.7 million, Wagner will have to receive and read 68,000 letters. As of Saturday, the former librarian has relished reading around 300.
“I have nothing to lose,” she said. “I can try it. It’s a lot of work and Saturday, I realized it’s going to be even more difficult than I had imagined reading all these letters. They are so touching and so many letters with so many incredible stories.”
The three-bedroom house with a wine cellar must remain on the market until the end of January because of the listing contract, but Wagner said she may take it off after that.
She said five per cent of the net profits from the contest will be donated to the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.
The contest will last for three months, with the possibility of an extension to a maximum of six months.