Marketplace Scratch Pad

Can’t sell the house? Raffle it off

Scott Jagow Jun 8, 2009

Frustrated homeowners have a new option for unloading their properties — hold a raffle. Here’s how it works:

Most state laws require home raffles to benefit non-profit organizations. There are several new websites, like USAHomeraffle.com, that connect homeowners with non-profits. Homeowners sell tickets (I’ve seen $10 to $150 a piece). The raffle winner gets the house, mortgage-free but not tax-free. The charity gets the leftover proceeds. The Miami Herald profiles one South Florida homeowner who is selling tickets for $50:

”It’s a win-win-win situation,” said Cardiello, 26, leaning over his green Formica kitchen countertop. “You get a new home, I get to unload the property, and the money goes toward charity.”

Cardiello’s goal is to sell 6,000 raffle tickets by Sept. 30. The $300,000 collected will more than pay for the house, which the Broward Property Appraiser’s Office values at $143,000, and any legal fees to transfer the deed.

Cardiello says the remainder will be donated to Bit by Bit Therapy, a nonprofit that trains autistic and disabled children to groom and ride horses.

Cardiello paid $225,000 for his townhouse, so obviously he’s taking a hit, but he’s getting rid of the thing. He says if he can’t sell 6,000 tickets, he’ll still hold the raffle and give half the money to the winner, half to the charity. In that case, he’ll still be stuck with the house.

The Herald also mentions a real estate agent who’s hoping to raffle off his $2.4 million home by selling $10 tickets, 300,000 of them, by Christmas. The home is now valued at $1.4 million. His raffle is being held at Floridaluxuryauctions.com.

If you’re interested in taking a shot at Cardiello’s place or another home, USAHomeraffle has a list of homes that are being raffled.

Both guys say the hardest part of this is convincing people that there’s no catch to it. I mean, you’re not likely to win, but you have a much better chance than if you spent the money on lottery tickets. And charities benefit.

Seems like a pretty creative solution to me. What do you think?

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