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Realtor, family play the Sanjaya card

The Federal Way home where Sanjaya Malakar lived for two years, 2313 S.W. 339th St., is for sale. Realtor Dennis Fletcher is asking $360,000. There will be an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9. The Malakar family will not attend the open house.  - Margo Horner/The Mirror
The Federal Way home where Sanjaya Malakar lived for two years, 2313 S.W. 339th St., is for sale. Realtor Dennis Fletcher is asking $360,000. There will be an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9. The Malakar family will not attend the open house.
— image credit: Margo Horner/The Mirror

Realtor Dennis Fletcher is hoping that the Sanjaya fever hasn’t cooled since “American Idol.”

Sanjaya Malakar, 17, of Federal Way, was one of the most loved and hated contestants on “American Idol” this season before getting voted off at seventh place.

Despite being voted off the popular television talent show, Sanjaya remained wildly popular with his fans. In August, he was voted winner of the 2007 Teen Choice Awards for Best Male Actor in a Reality Show.

Now, the family plans to sell their Federal Way home and move to Hollywood where Sanjaya, his sister Shyamali and his soon-to-be stepfather Chad Quist can pursue their musical careers.

Fletcher has taken the task of selling the family home, where Sanjaya lived for two years before auditioning for “American Idol.”

The house, built in 1963, has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a bonus room with a recording studio. It is on the market for $360,000 — a reasonable price, Fletcher said.

“People are insistent on saying that I came up with the price of the house based on Sanjaya,” he said. “This house is a great house. It is definitely worth $360,000 or more.”

The price doesn’t include a Sanjaya premium, Fletcher said. But he is using the teen’s fame as a marketing tool to sell the house.

“They have to say that I’m using the Sanjaya card, which, of course, I am. But I think we all are,” he said. “We’re trying to do it tastefully. I want to shed good light on Sanjaya. I don’t want to exploit him or make him feel uncomfortable.”

As part of his marketing strategy, Fletcher has appeared in local newspapers and on Evening Magazine. He distributed Sanjaya T-shirts and pasted stickers of Sanjaya on the back of his business card. The fliers in front of the house have autographed pictures of Sanjaya on the back. The online slideshow with images of the house features Sanjaya singing in the background.

Sanjaya’s mother and stepfather approved of the marketing plan, Fletcher said.

“I think there are people that will buy a house based on that status thing, but am I counting on that to sell the house? No,” Fletcher said. “I’m looking for serious buyers and they’ll be pleased when they come. It’s a good value for the house... It’s not a rundown neighborhood. It’s close to all the amenities.”

Selling the house Sanjaya lived in has posed a slight challenge, Fletcher said. He’s received up to 20 calls a day, many of them prank calls.

“Who’s really serious about buying and who’s just a fan, that’s the challenge,” he said. “But that’s going to be easy to detect. If there’s an offer in, it’s going to be in writing.”

Quist, Sanjaya’s soon-to-be stepfather, said the family hopes that Sanjaya’s fame will help sell the house more quickly. They plan to move to Hollywood next month.

“I think it’s really the place to be,” Quist said. “I’m confident about it. I think that’s where the majority of the work in the entertainment industry is.”

Sanjaya is currently on an “American Idol” tour, Quist said. The teen has already received offers in Hollywood, but Quist declined to be more specific.

“Until it’s a done deal, it’s just talk,” he said.

The family doesn’t see any significant risk associated with moving to Hollywood, Quist said.

“Housing is a little bit more expensive down there, so I suppose we’re at risk of losing a little bit of money,” he said. “But other than that, I don’t really see a risk in doing it.”

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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