$150 House Headed for the MLS, Expecting Much Higher Offers

$150 HOUSE HEADED FOR THE MLS, EXPECTING MUCH HIGHER OFFERS 213 E. 23rd St., Houston HeightsHere’s the final tally for real estate agent Michael Wachs’s failed attempt to sell his Heights bungalow at 213 E. 23rd. St. for $150: After a flurry of late entries, the total number of essays-with-$150-application-fees came to more than 1000, though a slightly larger number of essays came in without any fees at all. Wachs and his family are now rich in heartfelt stories documenting the residential yearnings of strangers, but the total funds received were not enough to “make it work,” Wachs writes in a new note on the house-offer website. He’ll soon be listing the house on HAR at a much higher price, and accepting what he terms “traditional” offers, though he does encourage interested buyers to attach a “heartstrings” letter. A FAQ about fee refunds has been posted to the website as well. [$150 House; previously on Swamplot] Photo: $150 House.

15 Comment

  • This guy wasted the time of a lot of desperate people for nothing. This looks like a creepy plan to get money from the poor. I hope he really does send back the money to these people who probably really need it so this doesn’t become an even uglier story.

  • If this house were a football stadium, it would have to be called LAME-BO field.

  • …and yet another reason for people to dislike Realtors. Ugh. Thanks Tool! You have made us all proud.

  • What a jerk. If he had any courage, any, he would sell it to best writer who submitted the $150. Nice stunt to prove that he is *not* better than anyone else; that at the end of the day, it still is all about the money.

  • I might be wrong but I believe this is what happens when you have the mistaken impression that you and your situation are special.

  • Eh, I understand the frustration, but this guy had an interesting idea and gave it a shot. He’s not going to sell the house for $200k less than market value, the demand just wasn’t there for the contest. Life goes on.

  • Gives the profession a bad name. Was this a ploy to acquire 1000 new buyer leads?

  • @Ian: Not really an interesting idea, just an attempt to sidestep the law on gambling.

  • I don’t really have a problem with the idea he had, in fact if it was sincere I would think it was sort of neat. But the fact that he deposited those checks makes me think this was a cashflow scam. Just a way for him to get some free capital to do something with temporarily. Super sketchy.

  • I’m really proud of us all for not making him rich off this, whether it’s legal or not.

  • I don’t understand the vitriol. It was really clear that he was going to refund if he didn’t get X amount of dollars. The only thing he didn’t disclose was that you’d still have to pay tax on the value of the prize but that’s understandable since tax law is pretty complex. I would have happily done that, but most don’t have the ability to part with that much cash at once. At the end of the day, it’s complex / unfair tax laws and the difficulty of making things go viral on the internet that doomed this one from the get go, that and people refuse to follow instructions.

  • I don’t think it’s a scam at all. Was it unconventional? Yes. They were trying to sell their home to someone who really deserved it and thought of a creative way of doing so. Did it work? No. I applaud their creativity. Oh, and btw- I’m an ex-realtor.

  • Sadly I’m sure the guy hasn’t heard the last of the vitriol against him either. You can bet the press will run the story again once it’s on MLS, and again if a buyer tears it down and builds something in its place.

  • @Houstonian, I don’t either. He gave people a chance to score a fabulous deal for only $150. He was very clear about the number of applications required and that the deposits were non-refundable. Hell, who wouldn’t take the chance to get a home in the Heights for $150 and an emotional essay?? That’s just a month’s worth of Starbucks for a lot of people. Anyone who participated and thought they were getting fleeced weren’t paying attention.

  • @RoadChick: “He gave people a chance to score a fabulous deal for only $150.”
    Fifth word in your sentence explains it all. He tried to get chumps to bet $150 that they could win a house. It was a game of chance, regardless of the “essay” hand waving. And if he didn’t pick the winner at random, that’s even worse. Then it’s a rigged game.