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House give away: $100 could buy you a home

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CASSVILLE, WI -- An unstable economy and slow housing market are making it tough for homeowners who are trying to sell and landlords who can't find renters. Now, one creative landlord is having a contest to give away six of his properties to actually save money.

Luke Ploussl says he generally rents out his homes by the day or week to vacationers in Cassville, but says he's not making much money lately. When gas prices hit record highs, Ploessl says he lost a lot of his summer renters that boat on the Mississippi.

He was also counting on Alliant Energy building a new power plant in town -- something that didn't happen. Some of his houses sat empty, and putting them up for sale wasn't working either.

"Even if you can afford a new house, people aren't really secure in their jobs, so they're not moving right now, so we were trying to come up with the best, unique idea we could to make it affordable for everybody to take a chance, yet benefit us," Ploussl said.

Ploussl's wife saw a news story about someone overseas who raffled off a house because of the tough economy. Raffles of that kind aren't legal in Wisconsin, so Ploussl and his wife thought up a contest to give away six of their houses.

A contest where one hundred dollars and an essay about why you want to own a house and deserve a vacation home can land you a mortgage-free house in Cassville.

"We've been getting several a day. Usually ten a day or so," Ploussl said. He is expecting more entries to pour in; the contest just started on February 1, and word of the contest is starting to spread.

Ploussl is paying all closing costs and is also giving away several big screen t.v.'s and cash prizes on the side. Ploussl will give away one house, one t.v. and $500 for every 1,500 entries. For all six houses to be given away, he would have to get 9,000 entries.  Ploussl will stop the contest if 10,000 entries are received.

As for winning, local judges will decide based only on essay content. The judges are local business owners. Judges will not be able to see names or any personal information of those who enter, only the actual essay.

"It can be any kind of story. You don't have to be in a crisis or a money crunch to win one of these homes. Anybody can win," Ploussl said.

Even with the $100 entry fees, the owners say they won't make much money, if any at all. That's because they're giving away so many prizes and donating money to the local high school. But, still, they say the cost of upkeeping and maintaining the six homes is still high enough that it's worth it.

The Wisconsin division of gaming has approved the contest which started last Sunday and ends March 15th.

To see Ploussl's Web site with photos of the houses and contest rules and instructions, click here.

Online Reporter: Jamie Grey

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