RICE TWP. – For sale: A three-bedroom, 1½ bath townhouse on Patriot Circle in Mountain Top.
Listing price: A $200 entry fee and an essay describing why you should get the house.
No, Andrea Koretz isn’t kidding. In fact, she’s quite serious about helping someone who might not otherwise be able to purchase a home. “I think it’s an opportunity,” she said. “I need to sell my home and thought it would be nice to help someone.”
Koretz, a single mother of two, said her 14- and 16-year-old daughters, Kara Koretz Smith and Kasey Koretz Smith, will soon be attending a charter school in Harrisburg, and she considered the traditional selling route. But, after noticing other similar townhouses were selling for less than what she had paid for the home, she knew what she had to do.
“You can really change someone’s life,” Koretz said. “I’m just going to go for it.”
The property includes a living room, dining room, kitchen, attic and deck. The townhouse is located at 253 Patriot Circle.
Koretz consulted Wilkes-Barre attorney Larry Kansky about the legality of her essay contest.
Koretz hopes to get about 580 entries – enough to pay off her $116,000 mortgage at a $200 entry fee each – and that essays will be judged by three independent people Koretz has yet to ask to help her.
“If it were a raffle, it would not be legal,” Kansky said. “But, an essay requires skill, so it becomes a competitive bargaining process and therefore is legal.”
Kansky said after much research, he believes it’s a good idea to help someone who couldn’t otherwise afford a home.
Koretz said if she does not receive the 580 submissions she needs, all money will be returned to those who enter the contest, and she’ll have to consider other ways to sell the home.
Attorney Hank Lerner, who works for the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, said Koretz’s essay contest is legal, but he hasn’t heard of many people selling their homes in that fashion.
“Each time it happens it generates a lot of press,” Lerner said.
If someone came to a member of the association with a similar request, said Lerner, he would provide information on how to structure the contest legally, such as Koretz did when consulting with Kansky. “It’s a lot to think about,” Lerner said.
Koretz said her gift of giving back comes from a belief that “whatever we put out there, we end up getting back” and that she has struggled through her life in recent years and is going through a healing process.
Koretz realizes people might be skeptical of the $200 fee, but that the amount is a fraction of what’s fronted to purchase a house traditionally.
“In my mind, it might be worth the gamble of $200,” Koretz said. “You have to be positive and open-minded. But I realize it might not appeal to everyone.”
She would like to obtain a little extra money through the contest to help her move, but realizes that might not happen.
Koretz will be keeping her full-time job in sales since she works from home, she said, and is in the beginning stages of developing Koretz Communications, which she hopes to eventually establish as an agency that helps girls develop confidence and self-esteem.