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You could own this $1.2 million home for less than $20 and a letter

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After suffering a fall last summer, Alla Wagner has decided to part with her $1.7 Million Georgian-style Canadian mansion using an essay contest. The entry fee is $25 in Canadian currency (just under $19 in US funds). “Looking out these windows every morning when I wake up has been so inspirational,” Wagner says. After suffering a fall last summer, Alla Wagner has decided to part with her $1.7 Million Georgian-style Canadian mansion using an essay contest. The entry fee is $25 in Canadian currency (just under $19 in US funds). “Looking out these windows every morning when I wake up has been so inspirational,” Wagner says. (Image courtesy of Alla Wagner)

If all goes well, a beautiful 5,000 sq. ft. home in rural Alberta Canada will soon trade hands for less than 20 bucks and a few well-chosen words, according to Alla Wagner, the home’s current owner.

“This has been my dream home since I moved here in 2011,” Wagner told me during a phone interview. “Since we first saw this area, my family and I were determined to live here, surrounded by the endlessly inspiring views.”

Valued at $1.7 million in Canadian dollars (or $1.27 million in US currency), Wagner says that a serious fall she suffered last summer has forced her to part with her dream home.

“My bones were weak, and I hurt myself in a very bad way, which makes it difficult to stay here,” Wagner said. “This has been my dream home but my dream of growing old here came crashing down last June. I’m very independent and don’t want people taking care of me. It’s become a very big home for one person to take care of.”

Last month, Wagner launched an essay contest in an attempt to find her home’s next owner. For an entry fee of $25 in Canadian currency ($18.87 in U.S. funds), and a one-page story, letter, email or poem (maximum of 350 words), you’ll be in the running to win.

According to Wagner, two stories with Maine connections inspired her decision to sell her home using an essay contest.

“The Center Lovell Inn traded hands with a similar contest in 2015,” said Wagner. “And when I told a friend that I was thinking about doing something like it, they said I had to watch the movie ‘The Spitfire Grill.’”

The 1996 movie, set in Gilead, Maine, tells the story of Percy, a young woman starting over after being released from prison. She lands a job as a waitress at a small diner at risk of closing after the owner suffers a fall. Percy devises a plan to sell the diner through an essay contest.

“It’s a beautiful movie and I felt a strong connection to my own story when I saw it,” Wagner told me.

Wagner outlines the rules of her contest at www.WriteaLetterWinaHome.ca and on Facebook. In order to generate $1.7 million in Canadian currency, a minimum of 68,000 entries must be received prior to April 5.

Each entry is read by Wagner, who says she will select 500 finalists whose entries will be read by a panel of judges.

“It’s an open format contest,” she said. “Some people send poems, some write essays. One person just sent a single paragraph that was so compelling I was in amazement when I read it. In very few words, they made a very strong case for why they should be living in this home. I still think about it even after reading 500 entries each day.”

Wagner says she has blown away by the response to her contest and says she didn’t realize how difficult her job would be in selecting finalists.

“I’ve read so many touching stories that it will be difficult to choose only 500 finalists out of 68,000 entries at the end,” she said. “The most important thing when I read a letter is that I want to feel that people are being honest and are talking from their heart. There have been a few letters that did not come across that way.”

Wagner says the 5,000 square foot Georgian-style mansion comes complete with an expansive wine cellar and sits on a 1.1-acre lot, surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain views. She says she currently pays under $600 per month for property taxes.

“Looking out these windows every morning when I wake up has been so inspirational,” Wagner says. “I was planning on growing old here surrounded by the beauty of the Alberta foothills. After the contest ends, I would like to stay in this area, but it will be in a much smaller home.”

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