newport land and law house raffle

How to Raffle Your House (Or Why You Probably Shouldn’t)

If you’ve ever attempted to sell a house, you’ll likely know just what a pain in the bottom it can be.

Once you’ve gone through the steps of choosing an estate agent and signing their contract, you’ll then have to engage in a process akin to a dark art known as ‘preparing your house for viewings.’ This process typically involves shoving paperwork, knick-knacks and children’s toys into any available cupboard space, then having said items fall onto your head every time you open the cupboard door.

There’s then the issue of dealing with the viewings themselves. Depending on how your chosen estate agent operates, this may involve having to vacate your home for half an hour (usually just when you need to feed the kids/attend a work zoom meeting), or it may involve having to adopt a fixed smile and walk a pair of strangers around your house, all while trying to strategically place yourself in front of any dings in the paintwork.

As if all this nonsense wasn’t bad enough, you might find that the whole thing goes on for months or – whisper it – maybe even years if the market is bad enough or your property is particularly, shall we say, quirky.

Is there another way?!

Given the above scenario, it’s probably not surprising that some would-be sellers are open to more creative options. One of those options is the idea of raffling your house.

Yes, raffling your house. You did read that correctly.

In this scenario, Mr Homeowner might decide that he’s just not getting enough interest in selling his property in the usual way. This might be because of a sluggish market, or it might be because the property is in an unpopular location or requires large upkeep costs.

Mr Homeowner might then arrange a raffle and invite interested parties to buy a ticket for anything between £2–£25 each. On a certain pre-arranged date, a winning raffle ticket would be chosen and Ms Winner would become the lucky owner of Mr Homeowner’s house.

House raffles first started to take off in 2008 when the property market was impacted by the financial crash. However, so few of them actually made it to completion that they soon declined in popularity… until the late 2010s when they experienced something of a revival.

Is this… a good idea?

Well. Far be it from us to tell us what you should and shouldn’t do, but we will point out that a house raffle raises rather a number of potential pitfalls.

First of all, there’s the pesky matter of obeying the law. The UK has a selection of laws in place to regulate the gambling industry, and this sort of behaviour very definitely sits within those regulations. Deciding to raffle off your two-bed terrace would therefore require a lot more preparation than buying a book of tickets from the newsagents and popping round to knock on your neighbours’ doors. (If you don’t want to take our word on this, do be prepared to accept a £5,000 fine or even a prison sentence).

A raffle is essentially a lottery, and it’s illegal for a lottery to be run for private profit. In order to get round this, Mr Homeowner would need to do one of two things:

1. Donate a percentage of the proceeds to charity
2. Introduce a competition element, i.e. interested parties would need to correctly answer a multiple choice question before purchasing a ticket

Of course, that wouldn’t solve all the legal argy-bargy involved. In order to make sure everything was shipshape and above board, Mr Homeowner would also need to involve a solicitor to draw up a robust set of terms and conditions and oversee everything. The cost of this would obviously be on top of all the usual conveyancing fees that arise during the sale of a property.

What else would be involved?

You almost certainly wouldn’t be able to sell enough raffle tickets to cover the cost of a house just by going door to door. Rather, you’d need to have a marketing plan that gave you a much bigger reach. This might be through buying advertising online or on social media, or it might be through getting media coverage. Some house rafflers have had success by ‘going viral’ but that sort of thing is certainly not to be relied on.

You’d also need to consider the other costs of buying a property. Would you plan to cover the cost of stamp duty with the prize, or would Ms Winner have to stump up the cost of that herself? What about the cost of conveyancing? Though it’s nice to think that buying a property could be as simple as buying a raffle ticket(!) all the usual conveyancing activity would still need to take place.

Would you make enough money?

Remember we mentioned a set of robust terms and conditions? Well, in those Ts & Cs, Mr Homeowner would need to add a clause about a minimum income threshold for the house. In other words: that the house would only be given as a prize if the required number of tickets were sold.

For example, if Mr Homeowner’s house was worth £300,000, the raffle would need to raise that amount plus expenses for all to go ahead as planned. If the raffle income was £250,000, Mr Homeowner would be out of pocket if he handed over the house. Instead, he would have to either hand over the cash as the prize (minus expenses etc) or refund all the tickets.

SO… should you sell your house in a raffle?

We don’t want to burst any bubbles here, but despite the huge number of houses that have been offered in raffles, only a handful have ever actually reached completion.

In the vast majority of cases, you’d likely find that trying to pull off a raffle would be far more effort than it was worth. This is likely to be the case if you’re trying to offload ownership of a fairly standard family home. In these situations, it’d almost certainly be more fruitful to trust Rightmove and your local estate agent to get the job done.

Those who are thinking of selling a property in a raffle because it seems virtually unsellable might want to examine the ethics of the situation. For example, would you be misleading raffle entrants about the true reality of a leasehold contract? Would you be trying to escape the reality of what a property survey would bring up? Would you be trying to get some distance between yourself and whatever’s buried under the rockery?

If you’re in a tricky situation with selling your property, it’s always best to talk. Please do get in touch if we can help you consider your options.

We’ll do our best to untangle your sales situation and help you decide on the best route forwards… though we’ll tell you now that we’re unlikely to be able to help in any buried-under-the-rockery situations.

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