Columbus couple having trouble selling their home has ditched the for-sale sign and opted for a more creative approach.

Timothy and Deanna Railing are selling a log home valued at about $675,000 through an essay contest.

The traditional route of listing the home with a real estate agent didn’t work, so the couple needed to think creatively, Deanna Railing said.

Just $150 and 250 words is all that separates a prospective homeowner from a 6,200-square-foot home on the west side of Bartholomew County.

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“I asked my husband if this was the craziest thing he’d ever done,” she said. “He said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’”

The home, located on nearly five acres at 8950 West Old Nashville Road off State Road 46, has a log façade and features an indoor swimming pool, Deanna Railing’s favorite feature.

“It’s really nice to be able to go into the pool rain, shine, summer, winter,” she said.

Built in 2004, the home has four bedrooms, four bathrooms and an open-concept floorplan that plays off its log theme.

The Railings have created a website and a Facebook page for the home and essay contest in order to drum up interest.

Meeting asking price

In order to meet their asking price, the Railings need at least 4,500 essay entries. If they fail to meet their goal, they will refund the entry fees and just wait it out in Columbus, Deanna Railing said.

“Whether I sell my house today or in 10 years, it doesn’t really matter,” she said.

Although the concept of selling a home through an essay contest is unusual, it’s not an original idea.

The couple were struggling to sell the home last year when they saw a news story about a bed-and-breakfast in Maine that sold via a similar essay contest.

While it is not clear why the home did not attract buyers, Deanna Railing thinks the log home’s large size was the reason it remained on the market for so long, she said.

The essay contest began June 15 and entries will be accepted through Nov. 16 with the winner being announced on Dec. 31.

The couple plans to have an independent panel judge the entries to determine a winner if the needed number of entries arrive.

Contest rules state the winner takes the home as-is and will receive the property deed and the responsibility for paying the property taxes, estimated at $6,587 this year.

(For those of you doing the math in your head, that’s approaching $600 a month to save enough to pay the tax man.)

Utility expenses for the house are $1,200 a month, but that number may be higher than what the new owners would pay, the couple said.

Since Timothy Railing is a quadriplegic, the family keeps the house warmer than most in the winter, the couple said.

The house doesn’t have any liens or back taxes. In addition, the home could come with a warranty, Deanna Railing said.

Ready to move on

The Railings originally moved into their Columbus home from Dallas after Timothy Railing retired from his work at the Presbyterian Foundation. They purchased the home for $600,000 in February 2013, county records show.

Originally from Scottsburg, Timothy Railing wanted to move back to Indiana to be closer to his family.

Although the log dream home once met their needs, it’s now becoming too much for the empty-nesters.

The couple’s children are going off to college, and now the couple is thinking about buying a recreational vehicle and traveling the country.

“I guess we are people who think outside of the box … it’s fun, it’s raising eyebrows and interests,” Deanna said.

Fun aside, there are some financial issues to be aware of when going after a home as large as this, real estate agent Cheryl Stuckwish said.

“They just need to be aware of the amenities of a home of that size,” Stuckwish said of those considering entering the contest.

Landscaping, pool cleaning and general upkeep come with a high maintenance cost for a house of this big, Stuckwish said.

Following a t


The Railings went with the theme of “A Life Well Lived” for the essay contest, something close to the couple’s hearts.

Timothy Railing knows firsthand that life can change in an instant: He was paralyzed in a skiing accident at age 17. The accident broke his neck, and he has spent the past 35 years using a wheelchair.

The theme is meant to reflect Timothy Railing’s life story of determination.

Even though he is a quadriplegic, he has fought through his disability by continuing to work, instead of giving up, his wife said.

The dichotomy of the instant change in his life versus the instant positive change in the winner’s life was a fitting theme, she said.

“He did not give up, he persevered … we just thought that theme spoke to what we tried to do in our lives,” she said.

How to enter

To enter the log home essay contest, visit for an application.

To apply, send your essay, application form and cashier’s check for $150 to Columbus Log Home, 450 Jackson St., P.O. Box 1757, Columbus, IN, 47202.

Entries can be emailed to

For more information on the contest and the home, visit the contest’s Facebook page at