'Win a home' contest falls flat

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By Gabriel Vasquez

It sounded too good to be true. But some 675 people tried anyway.

The “win a home” essay contest that gave people a chance to win Todd and Tiffany Lovell’s White Rock home fizzled last month, a result of failing to collect the 2,500 entries needed to keep the contest running.

For an entrance fee of $100 and a 500-word essay on the topic of their choice, contestants were given a chance to win the couple’s three-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot home with a remodeled bathroom, one-car garage, wood shop, Jacuzzi and outdoor fireplace.

In March, the couple set up winahome.blogspot.com, a website outlining the rules of the contest and asking participants from all over the country to join the hunt for the biggest bargain on the real estate market.

“It needed to pop or have a ‘wow’ factor,” Tiffany told the Monitor earlier this year.

The plan was to receive 2,500 entries by June 20, netting the couple a $250,000, roughly the value of the home.

Because the current housing market in Los Alamos County heavily favors buyers, the couple would most likely have taken a loss by selling the house as is, so they chose the essay contest to level the playing field.

At first, the Lovells’ plan took off.

The couple appeared on nationally syndicated television shows like Fox and Friends and the Today Show, and their website received 500 hits within the first three days of posting.

The site stated that if not enough entries were received, the couple would provide a full refund to all who participated.

By the June 20 deadline, the couple had only received 27 percent of the entries needed. They decided to call the contest off.

“I’d say it was a good experience,” Todd told the Journal Santa Fe. “Just to see what kind of interest people had as far as their essays.”

Some people wrote about why they should win the Lovells’ house, “or what a house is,” Todd said. Others wrote about political issues.

The contest was to be judged by a panel of 10 “distinguished” Los Alamos residents.

So far, only a few calls have come in to the Monitor from concerned participants who had not yet received their refund.

One Arizona woman said she was told by the Lovells that all refunds had already been mailed, but around 12 or so encountered delivery problems and were returned to them. She said the problem was in the process of being corrected.

The couple’s focus has now changed. The Lovells decided to stay in Los Alamos, upgrade their home and continue working in the area.

Todd works the graveyard shift at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Tiffany runs a scrapbooking website.

The contest website, winahome.blogspot.com, has been closed.