You Could Win This Catskills Vacation Home By Writing an Essay

Two homeowners are putting their Bethel vacation digs up for grabs.


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Photo Credit: John McBay

Hoping the third time will be the charm, Kelly Lavorgna and Andrew Bares are putting their Catskills vacation home on the market yet again, but there’s a catch. In order to be the next homeowner you have to be the winner of an essay contest.

“How would owning the lakefront dream home change your life?” is the question that contestants’ must answer in their best 200 words if they are looking to relocate to 391 Woodstone Trail, Bethel, N.Y.

“We caught up with these restaurant owners who are our friends, and their business was struggling,” says Lavorgna. “They told us that they won a bed and breakfast in Maine by submitting an essay to a contest, and we thought it would be a cool idea if we did that.”

Contestants must first submit a $149 fee in order to be considered, with $5 of the first 5,500 entries and $10 every following entry being donated to Girls Inc. and the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation. However, if the contest does not attract 5,500 applicants, bringing in a total $819,500 for the house, the contest will be canceled and participants will receive a $100 refund, minus a $49 administrative fee.

Lavorgna and Bares are among the minority when it comes to this sales approach. The method of selling homes via contests is considered unorthodox due to the tremendous amount of work that goes into selling the house, with no guarantee of success.



The couple has already spent $40,000 on lawyers to enact rules, judges to read entries, and a publicist to spark enthusiasm. Even so, Lavorgna and Bares had to extend their original deadline from January 31 to April 30.

“The timing in the beginning with the election and then the holidays made it very tough to do the contest,” Lavorgna says.” We are still optimistic that it will work this time.”

The two do have a background when it comes to real estate. The couple owns two bed-and-breakfasts, along with their own interior design company. They’ve even been featured on popular HGTV shows Caribbean Life and Flea Market Flip where they won $5,000.

“We have a platform about running contests,” Bares says. “No matter what happens we have invested in a platform. We provide unique opportunities in selling houses, as well as unique opportunities in buying houses.”


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