How would you like to buy a pristine, 1056-square-foot, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home with a 2-car garage in Houston’s Heights for $150? Well, “buy” may not be the correct word; how would you like to “win” a renovated, 1920s bungalow with a big yard for a small, $150 application fee?
Thanks to Heights homeowner, Mark Wachs, 34, all are invited to write a 200-word essay addressing why each would like to own the home, and submit it with the $150 application fee to www.150house.com. Wachs will choose from the submissions, and essays will be accepted through June 13, 2015, when the competition is scheduled to end.
Wachs, who is himself a Realtor with the Houston-based Hunter Real Estate Group, is currently residing in the home with his wife and 16-month-old daughter. As the child is getting older, the little family is seeking to move closer to her school near Rice Village. Together, the couple came up with this idea for the sale.
“Originally, when we were shopping for a home,” said Wachs, “we would make an offer, and we were continually out-bid by people with cash. We are familiar with the challenges of buying in this market environment. My wife and I decided that this [competition] is a great way to help someone get into a home who may not otherwise have the chance, to help someone realize their dream.”
The little home is located at 213 E. 23rd Street, and the area has a 78 WalkScore, perfect for a family. On the website, Wachs states that many of the appliances are less than a year old and will stay. He also says the wood floors have been exposed, that the bath has been renovated and much of the plumbing was redone.
Harris County Appraisal District lists the home’s value at about $400,000. To recoup that, Wachs will need about 2,700 essays and application fees. The offer was announced on May 14, 2015, so how is going? Are the essays rolling in?
“We have a little more than 2,000 essays in from all over Houston, even out-of-state,” Wachs said. “However, we have only about 500 essays that also include an application fee. It is running about three and half essays for every one with the application fee paid.”
Notably, the $150 fee does not wave other fees that cannot be avoided, including title and closing costs. It could take as much as $10,000 or more to get a family into the home. However, with similar homes in the Heights going for $500,000 or more, most would agree: it’s still the buy of the century.
Wachs knew this creative offer was a bit out of the ordinary, to say the least. On the home’s website he states that he reserves the right to extend the competition’s time line, or cancel it altogether. At such time, all existing application fees would be returned.