Houston Heights home for sale for just $150 -- and an essay

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A house in the Houston Heights neighborhood could be yours, for far below cost

Michael Wachs loves his Heights bungalow. Situated on East 23rd Street, the 1920s house is just over 1,000 square feet, and he's willing to sell it for $150.

"It's a few minutes to downtown, it's super quiet at night. There are bike trails, it's a great place to live," said Wachs, who shares the home with his wife and young daughter.

The house is just enough for his family, but Wachs wants to move closer to his daughter's school, located in the Rice Village area. As a realtor, he could just list the home. Ever the untraditional guy, Wachs is choosing a different route. He's developed an essay contest with an entry fee.

"This is the only method that we can think of that we could get our money back and also give a chance to someone to start a new life or build a home right in the city," he said.

To make the project a reality, Wachs put together a website calling for entries. Those interested must submit $150 entry fee and an essay of 200 words or less. Winning essay gets the house, and must pay closing costs. Within a few hours of his website going live today, Wachs website crashed because of the amount of interest. He's already received dozens of submissions.

"What would I do?" reads one submission. "Dance with my friends, sing a Disney song, I never lived in a house."

Another submission says winning the house "could be lifesaving" because it would allow the writer to move back into the city.

Among those hoping to win is local writer Emma Lyders. She submitted an essay Thursday morning. For the past five years, Lyders and her husband have tried to refurbish a home by themselves. The house project has been a nightmare. Now, with a young boy, the family jumped on the chance to win a Heights home.

"We're very stressed because of the house project," admitted Lyders. "We're living in a garage apartment with my toddler, who doesn't have his own room."

Wachs admits just scanning the essays so far, picking a winner will be hard. He estimates he'll need to receive around 3,000 applications by mid-June to part with the house at market value, which is somewhere around $400,000. Wachs says he if he does not get the amount of interest he's hoping for, he will list his house the traditional way.

Meanwhile, he's already had to upgrade the bandwidth of his website because of the interest. Also, if you're wondering, the appliances will come with the house.

You can apply at www.150house.com.
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