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27 Nov 2008

Win A Property... Or Not

win a property or not

Not another one, I hear you cry. Yes, the property competition phenomenon is still raging on, fuelled by sellers eager to escape the economic downturn. But now these jackpot vendors are being warned by the Law Society to tread carefully or risk breaking the law…

Ok, Ok, this will be the last ‘win a property’ story I regale you with - until the next one comes along, that is. It’s always interesting to see the ways in which people react to a crisis, and this current credit crisis has provoked a new craze - property competitions.

As I told you about in’s news story of 5th November, we’ve already had a spate of property lotteries and raffle draws. The latest is a Florida property package worth £850,000 which could be yours for the cost of a £25 raffle ticket.

Wow- what a great Christmas present that would be - Santa’s sack runneth over. But check out the competition website, ( and you’ll notice that a mere five tickets have so far been sold, which will nowhere near recoup the costs for the vendors.

This is where these competitions are fatally flawed. If the vendor doesn’t sell enough tickets to recoup the price, what happens to the prize? Because property competitions are such a new phenomenon, we are yet to see what happens when someone actually wins.

This latest throw of the dice idea belongs to British expat couple Colin and Sue Stafford. Originally from Manchester, the Staffords emigrated to the USA in 1997 and, in a bid to escape the US economic downturn, are raffling off their Orlando home.

Mr Stafford, a former Senior Manager at KPMG, said, “Sue and I fell in love with Florida as soon as we arrived and its been our home for a decade now.

“With such amazing weather all year round, the world-famous cities of Orlando and Tampa on the doorstep and an abundance of leisure facilities, it's impossible not to love it.

“Twenty-five pounds is an incredible price to pay for a million-dollar home in the Sunshine State and what better way to escape the cold winter nights of Blighty than to your own perfect holiday home?

“The lucky family really will be able to escape to another world - a dream home, perfect weather and the very best of American hospitality,” added Mr Stafford.

But, reality bites and now there are growing concerns about the legality of these online property competitions.

The advice from the Law Society is that anyone who is considering selling their home this way should seek legal advice from a solicitor. Under the Gambling Act 2005, anyone found guilty of running an unlawful lottery faces a maximum sentence of 51 weeks in prison and/or a fine of up to £5,000.

While some individuals may seek to introduce a skills or knowledge element into the competition to avoid the need to obtain a licence, if the skills element is at the legally required standard, the number of people eligible to enter is likely to be below the number required to make the competition viable.

So, no matter how much you want to shift that house- don’t take a gamble with the law-you may be unlucky.

For more information on American properties and the market in general, please visit

News submitted by Jon Moore, The Move Channel
Category: USA Property

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