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Moving the Motion Picture (House)

I happened across a story about a guy who was giving away his two screen motion picture theater, located in Houlton, ME, a quaint and charming town just this side of the Canadian border. To claim it, you had to write a 250 word essay on why you wanted it. The market value to purchase the theater is $350,000, and the place actually looks pretty neat, just based on the stuff they showed.

The concept of writing an essay to get a movie house, no matter where it was located in the USA, seemed intriguing but, of course, there is a catch: a one-hundred dollar entry fee. And there was a secondary notation: money refunded if fewer than 3,500 entries were received by January 31.

You don't have to be a mathematician to know what's going on here. This guy wants his $350K for the sale of his Milk Duds, but he apparently can't get anyone to pay it out flat. So, create a contest, get 3,500 people (or more!) to enter, get your pricetag (or more!) and hand over the keys to whomever you want.

Actually, they are apparently attempting to be fair about it: the essay may not have a name attached to it and after the first round of judging, the top essays will be ranked by a panel of three independent judges, presuming the 3500 entries are received.

Still it feels like getting rid of a white elephant to me, despite the fact that it's a contest, and it really isn't a "giveaway," if you have to spend 100 bucks for the entry fee. Plus, what's the deal on property tax if you "give" the place away as opposed to selling it? I guess that's for the courts to decide.

I applaud the person who thought to try this concept and it would be great for a local to win it, since they presumably care about this old theater and have attended many movies there, over time. But, for the rest of us, relocating to one of the northernmost points of the forty-eight contiguous might be a lot more trouble than it's worth.

The other little nagging element that all of this raises: I wonder if more and more people are going to try similar things to move their real estate off the market if they can't get their pricetag? Would this constitute a lottery, and would it actually be legal if suddenly everyone from New York condos to Malibu Beach Houses started doing it? And would someone hire me to write their essay?

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
ravenfeather
Jan. 25th, 2016 06:18 pm (UTC)
My last job was as a housing counselor in a non profit. Real estate was a huge part of that, and I have seen many many off the wall ideas for a "seller" to get money in a reduced market. Penny to one dollar raffles seem to be the most prevalent, and all with the same stipulation of a minimum number of applicants to carry out the end result.

I think the essay is a GREAT idea, not only does this guy want money, but he want someone who cares. For me, my first idea is that he wants someone who wants to actually RUN it as opposed to a real estate company that is looking for an investment run by some other entity. What company investment broker is going to bother with an essay?

I see from the article about it in the hollywood reporter (? I wonder how much they pay to be the FIRST link to come up on a google search?) that the current owner is not really an operator either, but more of a collector of nostalgic theaters, and the loss of the operator who CARES prompted this. It will be interesting to see what the conclusion is,
penpusher
Jan. 25th, 2016 07:37 pm (UTC)
Clearly there is an element of caring involved here. But, by the same turn, it's just mercenary when all is said and done. Still, it does suggest that this could be a more mainstream approach if everything about this is considered okay by the market, but I guess, if I'm understanding you right, this is a practice already widely in use (minus the essay portion of the application).

ravenfeather
Jan. 25th, 2016 11:02 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Ever since the housing market started crashing some ten years ago, there have been inventive ways of unloading property, while benefiting someone financially.
low_delta
Jan. 26th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)
Did you notice your userpics together?
ravenfeather
Jan. 27th, 2016 12:00 am (UTC)
Are they synced? I will have to hit "add comment" before I can check. I did not notice...
low_delta
Jan. 27th, 2016 12:55 am (UTC)
Very close. At least they were on my other computer (at work). Now Dean's runs a lot faster.
ravenfeather
Jan. 27th, 2016 03:31 am (UTC)
I had a hard time telling, because his runs faster when I have two of mine open, as opposed to one of mine and one of his. His definitely varies in speed.
penpusher
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:03 am (UTC)
I don't know how it works!!!
ravenfeather
Jan. 27th, 2016 12:01 am (UTC)
It is slightly nauseating, isn't it?
penpusher
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:03 am (UTC)
Oh, you!!
ravenfeather
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:15 pm (UTC)
oh yeah, THAT is better...
low_delta
Jan. 26th, 2016 06:15 pm (UTC)
He's not going to get 3500 entries.
penpusher
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:04 am (UTC)
I think they've already extended the entry date twice to get to January 31 without refunding anything. Maybe they're close? I'm sure if they have 3000, they'd hate to give up and have to start all over.
rafferbee
Jan. 26th, 2016 07:02 pm (UTC)
Someone recently tried that with a horse farm in Virginia, $200 and an essay. They only got 3,000 entries instead of the 5,000 they needed, so they refunded all the money and put it up for sale the usual way for $600,000.
low_delta
Jan. 27th, 2016 12:54 am (UTC)
So, they got what they would have gotten?
penpusher
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:09 am (UTC)
Hm. So they wanted an essay pot of a million, but were willing to sell it for 3/5ths of that...

I still wonder about property tax and how it works if you're "giving" a piece of property to someone. I have to think there are some other hidden stipulations, somehow.
ravenfeather
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:19 pm (UTC)
I would think that it would be the same as in a quit claiming property. For a "nominal fee" (usually a dollar) the taxes go along with the deed. It is basically a legal way to give something to someone that the gov't either can't or won't fight. Or take a cut of.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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