Money

You could win this $1.3 million lake house in Canada for just $20, but there's a catch

Source: Alla Wagner

For many people, owning a million-dollar home is just a dream. But thanks to one woman's innovative idea, if you can write a letter and have around $20 US, you can enter to win a 5,000-square-foot lakefront house in Canada that has been listed for $1.7 million Canadian, or about $1.27 million US.

The three-bedroom home in Millarville, Alberta, Canada, belongs to Alla Wagner, who has lived there since 2011, but now needs to move for health reasons. Wagner told CNN it was depressing to watch her beloved house sit on the market for months, so she decided to try something creative.

Drawing inspiration from a 2015 contest to win a historic inn in Maine, Wagner decided to hold a contest of hew own, with her lake house as the prize.

Wagner launched her "Write a Letter, Win a House" competition on Facebook in January. To enter, you must submit a one-page, 350-word maximum answer to the question, "Why would moving to this lakefront dream home change your life?" There is an entry fee of $25 Canadian, or $19.04 US.

"Once [the] contest started and [I] started reading letters it is more and more about doing something that is beyond market control and be able to choose who gets to live in what was built as my dream home," Wagner, who says she is in her 50s, tells CNBC Make It.

There is a big catch, however. For anyone to win, Wagner must receive contest entry fees totaling a minimum of $1.7 million Canadian. So far, Wagner says she has received over 15,000 messages, but has not sorted them all to see how many are legitimate entries. If Wagner does not get the requisite money, she can cancel the contest and refunds will be issued, according to the contest website.

It's unclear how much the house would appraise for, but it was custom-designed and has three bedrooms, three full baths and two half baths, a wine cellar and panoramic views of the nearby mountains and pond, according to CNN, and the winner can expect to pay $600 in monthly taxes on the house.

Source: Alla Wagner

If she gets enough submissions, Wagner will select 500 finalists, who will then have their letters reviewed by a panel of Wagner's neighbors and realtors. The judges will narrow it down to three submissions. The people who wrote those three letters will then be interviewed and a winner/new owner selected.

"The most important criteria is creative writing in open format, but it has to truly touch my heart why they should live in this heavenly (cold but winter wonderland) corner of Canada," Wagner tells CNBC Make It. "Why and how their life will be changed being in this house and why will it be better for them to be here and make this into a home as I have."

Currently, Wagner plans to accept submissions through April 5, but could extend the deadline in order to reach the minimum number of entry fees. Indeed, Wagner tells CNBC Make It, "I have given hope to so many people and also have given a chance to tell their story that no matter how difficult this gets, I will see this all the way to the end, where we will be celebrating housewarming for new owners."

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