An 18th-century manor in Lancashire now has a new owner – thanks to a £2 raffle ticket – and there is keen interest from other homeowners to raffle off their properties.
Marie Segar from Warrington spent £20 on raffle tickets to have a chance to win the manor house in the village of Melling after the owner, Dunstan Low, raffled 500,000 tickets at £2 each in a matter of months.
After renovating the six-bedroom Georgian house in 2011 – which includes a ballroom and plenty of original features – Mr Low, 37, struggled to pay the mortgage and was unable to re-mortgage, sell or rent out his home. He came up with the idea of a raffle as a last attempt to get the asking price before his home would be repossessed.
The raffle has raised £1 million to cover the sale of the house, stamp duty and legal fees, and expenses – which are expected to be around £100,000 – plus a donation of £40,000 to charity.
Mr Low, who studied fine arts and was a sculptor before working in online marketing, is planning to set up a company to help to others to raffle their properties.
He told Moneywise: “We have had more than 300 enquiries ranging from a £70,000 terraced house to a £5 million castle and a £12 million buy-to-let portfolio. Interest has been worldwide from Scotland to the Seychelles and Australia.”
However, while he was able to take payments via PayPal, he says that the online payments provider is not keen to get involved in future raffles because of problems with anti-gambling laws overseas – though people can still pay for tickets by debit and credit card, or bank transfer.
Laws to promote safe gambling will only allow lotteries or raffles to raise money for charitable causes, so Mr Low’s ‘raffle’ was, in effect, a prize competition, which had to have a test of skill involved – Mr Low asked entrants to say whether the house was Georgian, Tudor or Victorian.
But not everyone is convinced that house raffles are the best way to sell your home.
‘I don’t recommend lotteries as a sensible option for selling homes’
Property expert and buying agent Henry Pryor says: “This is the first successful raffle I have heard of, which I guess isn’t surprising given that this is a competition and the winner had odds that would make the finding Shergar look attractive.
“If you are in the lottery business, then offering a house as a prize is perhaps attractive, but I don’t recommend it as a sensible option for people looking to sell their home.
“It’s complicated because of the UK gambling laws and you usually have to sell tickets to half the UK population. Hats off to the gentleman in this case, but I won’t be surprised to learn in due course that it didn’t quite work out for everyone.”