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$200 and an Essay Could Win a Horsefarm

“It’s heart wrenching” Silver described. “but the people that do win this will be following their own dreams but also be carrying on a legacy that this place already started.”~Randy Silvers

 For $200 and the most mind- catching essay, one could be rewarded with a 35-acre horse farm in a serene part of Virginia. I am not a particularly religious person, but there is one prayer I have continued reporting, since I was a child: “Dear God, please give me the opportunity to prove that money won’t ruin me.”


We all dream of producing something larger than what we already have; especially those related to finance. I am not suggesting anyone hope that the neighborhood Labrador turns into a unicorn. I am merely suggesting that we do not limit our financial potential by a lack of creatively formed resources. Some aspirations can be inspirations borrowed from others. The older we get, the the greater the tendency to acquiese to the voices in our heads repeating current reality louder than potential future. Those who think outside the box pave the way for the rest of, so that we do not have to live inside financial confines. Get creative and crowdfund!

A Labor of Love

Randy Silvers may be providing just such opportunity, and one you may be view-from-the-southsurprised to discover is powered by real estate crowdfunding in a very unique form. Silvers, has owned an 18th century horse farm in Essex County, VA for more than 20 years. Since purchased in 1995, he restored the farm creating a five-stall barn and tack room. Lumber from the old farm house was repurposed into beams, mantles and other details in the new home. A true labor of love formed as Randy Silvers hammered every fence post into the ground, nailing each cross board to change a wheat field into generous horse paddocks. The humans who re-built it are aging at the same pace as the home needing continued maintenance. No matter the heart and soul invested: this labor of love entails labor that love cannot fuel alone. The upkeep has become daunting for this one time do-it-him-selfer. So, why doesn’t Mr. Silvers and his second wife sell the farm? They have finally decided to, but in a very unique way.

Anything But a Traditional Sale?

55249f52f38e9.imageAs with any work done for one’s satisfaction, over monetary reward, this labor of love is worth more to the Silvers family than the $600,000 appraisal value deems. Living mainly in California, I am stuck on the realization that such property, would be valued in the millions. No matter the value, and the personal connection, the Silvers family is ready move to the next chapter of their life, and that leaves a few details to be solved: Rock Spring Farm, a suitable real estate agent, and Mr Silvers yelling “We aren’t selling the farm!”

Related: Write a House

Mrs. Silvers, increasingly tortured by watching her aging husband work twice as hard to keep up with half the demands of the horse farm, had to come up with an idea so unique that it woud capture her husband's interest. Health issues made this even more of an urgency. So, how could she excite her husband about the thought of strangers traipsing through their home? By ensuring him that they wouldn't be. She also wanted to find someone who could convince her that they would love the beautiful horse farm like she and her husband do.

Real Estate Crowdfunding, Began Before Cyberspace

inn-dec_92_opener-720x544In 1993, Bill Mosca and his wife held an essay contest to sell their Inn. They encouraged people who loved the Center Lovell Inn to compete in a writing contest. Each entry cost $100, and the rest was up to a few appointed judges and fate. Before the limitless potential of the internet and social media existed, Mosca’s essay contest was announced where? The phil Donahue Show! The Moscas collected 2,000 entries. The crowd enabled them to reach their $500,000 goal, Quite impressive after purchasing the Inn 1974 for just $39,500.

Related: Giveback Homes

And now, Mrs. Silvers takes talent-based real estate crowdfunding a step further. The end result comes with a few conditions: That the property not be developed, that the new owners keep the current lease of the tenant renting the cottage, and that they not sell the house for 2 years. An essay contest, reminiscent Center Lovell Inn efforts unfolds, and a not-so-obvious crowdfunding campaign is underway. It has drawn in writers who just want to compete as well as people desperately hoping to buy a home for $200. Having access to the wiles of cyberspace activity, and the desire to find someone who will love their home and functioning horse farm as they do, Mrs. Silver started the Rock Spring Farm Give Away essay campaign. Yes, a 1000 word essay contest. Each person pays an entry fee of $200 for the opportunity to submit their finest work, convincing the Silvers of why they are the best fit to inhabit Mr. Silver's 20+ year labor of love. The winning writer will have to convince a panel of judges, horse enthusiasts, and educators that they want to live in Essex County, VA. They also need to convey a great love of the property that the Silvers have nurtured all of these years. By writing an essay? Not just by writing an essay, but also by sending in an entrance fee. And, thus, the crowdfunding begins.

Blood, Sweat, Tears & 20 Years:

What's in it for the Silvers?

Real Estate Crowdfunding They hope to inspire 5,000 applicants at $200 each. If all goes as planned, talented writers will have real estate crowdfunded $1,000,000.000.The collective fees will have born one talented writer a house and delightful horse farm. The crowd of writers will have crowdfunded the Silver’s remaining mortgage, purchase a retirement home, pay Uncle Sam, and create a college fund for their four grandsons.

And, let's not forget the writers: Novice or a pro, each writer expands their skill each time they are challenged to stray off their general beaten path, so I think that you will discover winners of personal rewards reaching yet farther than on contest.

This is a unique concept, but not a new one. Here are three of the approximately six such current essay contests with real estate as the reward:

  1. “A Life Well Lived” Essay Contest – St. Louis, MO - 6200 sq ft home assessed value unknown.
  2.  Indiana Couple Essay Contest – Columbus, Ind.-6200 sq ft home on five acres valued at $675,000
  3. Houston Bungalow worth $400,000.

All entries Are due October 1st and The Winner will be chosen in October 17, 2015. The new Rock Springs Farm owner will be chosen on or before November 26, 2015. I am anxious to read the winning essay that will reap such real estate fruit. We'll also report back on the total raised, and learn about any changes in the Silver couple’s plans. One caviot: If the contest receives less than than 5,000 entries, the current homeowners may elect to accept fewer, or return the entry fees and keep the farm. The finances are currently handled by a trustee.

The winners will be assessed federal and state taxes, and be gifted a home.

While seemingly with out the safeguards of a formal real estate crowdfunding platform, this type of crowdfunding, if properly monitored, is legal in VA. It is certainly one of the most unique forms of talent-served realesate crowdfunding that I have seen. To learn more, including tracking deadline updates, visit Rock Spring Farm Giveaway

$200, and 500 competitors: How would you weigh the cost and benefits? Would you enter the competition? Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

If you want to learn more, take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about real estate crowdfunding on a daily basis and find out why so many people are crowdfunding real estate projects across the country with Patch of Land.
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6 thoughts on “$200 and an Essay Could Win a Horsefarm”

  • Laurie

    Laurie commented August 2, 2015

    Fascinating article on a very interesting subject. I will be curious to see if they are successful in their fundraising, if 5000 people are willing to pick up and move and win a fairly expensive endeavor, albeit with a home and no mortgage. Go team Silver!

    Karen Perkins

    Karen Perkins reply August 10, 2015

    Thank you, Laurie. We hope to have an update on the effects of Team Silver's efforts soon.

  • David Poynter

    David Poynter commented August 2, 2015

    Crowd Funding continues to be an interesting concept in the real estate/community improving field. While I would be hesitant to invest in this particular parcel, you've once again whetted my appetite with this cleverly conceived notion. (Now, if it were a little studio apartment built onto the back of a bar, then I would be inspired to draw from my limited resources and write the essay of my life! And, yes, I'd part with $200.) Seriously, though, I look forward to your next installment, Karen Perkins

    Karen Perkins

    Karen Perkins reply August 10, 2015

    Dear David,
    Is there a creatively designed Tiny-Home/Pub-Combo in your future? Create it, market it and look into crowdfunding it. Or, think of an abandonded building in a rising community, and your tiny-home/pub dreams may still be a crowdfundable reality.
    ~Hoping to continue to inspire.

  • Kerri Buie

    Kerri Buie commented August 3, 2015

    A fascinating and beautiful idea that benefits the seller and potentially makes someone's dreams come true. This article is wonderfully written; the ideas are very well articulated.

    Karen Perkins

    Karen Perkins reply August 10, 2015

    Thank you, Kerri. We hope that it inspires you.

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