Since April 2018 there have been no less than 15 hopeful homeowners opting to go down the house competition route in order to sell their home and maximise their financial return while doing so.
However, research by Winmydreamhome (WMDH) has revealed that just one of these has resulted in a lucky winner actually receiving the property in questions, with just a further six resulting in a cash payout and the remaining either refunding their ticket sales or the result still remaining a mystery.
Using information from the UK competition authority portal, Loquax, WMDH has looked at the chequered past of house competitions, how they have turned out and provided their tips on what to look for when entering to ensure it is a legitimate outfit.
As mentioned, just one house competition has seen the actual property given as a reward. Win a Feckin House launched in April 2018 offering the prize of a four-bed, semi-detached house in the village of Termonfeckin in the Republic of Ireland.
Valued at £280,000 it had by far the highest ticket entry price at £100 and sold just 8,000 tickets with those entering needing only to join the local G.A.A club in order to qualify for entry.
However, the gamble paid off for Vicky Hanratty from Drogheda who won the house once the competition closed in December 2018.
The Not So Good
Of the other 14 competitions, six struggled to sell the required number of tickets and instead gave the winner a cash prize, although the amount given and the basis of this amount were less than transparent. Win Fred’s Home in Bolton gifted just £7,000 to the winner having sold just 1,000 tickets at £10 a pop, while Cadivus, who offered a luxury flat in Kensington, gifted just £53,500 with the competition marred by transparency issues.
Win a Maida Vale Home ran for eight months selling 4,200 tickets at £25 each before gifting £79,350 of the £105,000 generated by these sales instead of the home.
Millionaire’s Mansion gave away £100,000 in cash after extending the competition for a year. While the number of ticket sales remains unknown £100,000 isn’t a bad prize, but it’s a far cry from the £2.3m house originally offered, with the competition winner also supposed to receive a Rolls Royce and £50k in cash.
Win a Mega Home gave away just £110,070 of the £750,000 generated via ticket sales after failing to gift the £3m home and also pulling their charitable donation and most recently, Raffle House gave away £173,013 after failing to sell enough tickets for the £650,000 home despite a string of extensions to their timeline.
The bad include Win a House Club in Edinburgh who claim to have picked a winner but whose website has now vanished, much like House Prize Competition in Cheshire who have done the same. 2 Pound Home in Bristol who claim to have chosen a winner but are still taking money via an unsecured website and finally Win the Home that Jo Made in Scotland who announced a winner but it also remains unknown as to what was awarded.
Win Barns Farm Life and Win a Yorkshire Home are amongst the ugliest with the competitions closing down and the outcome either unknown or refunds given.
And despite a celebrity face fronting them, the one and only Mr Motivator and his Golden Ticket competition for a mansion in Jamaica and Win a Property Now, organised by F1 legend Eddie Jordan’s son but using his name, also closed down with Golden Ticket refunding those that entered and the outcome of Win a Property Now still unknown.
Top tips when entering a house competition
1. Do your research: Check out the company or person running the competition. Have they tried and failed before? Do they have any experience with property sales or house competitions? Is there any other information you can find to validate them or their company?
2. Deadline extensions: A hard one to know upon launch but a sure sign of troubled waters is if a competition continues to extend their closing deadline. This means they aren’t selling enough tickets and more often than not are just maximising ticket sales before closing without gifting the house.
3. The skill test: There is a whole host of legalities surrounding a house competition in order to avoid it being classed as an illegal raffle by the Gambling Commission. One vital one is that those entering must pass a skill test that a proportionate percentage of the population will fail. Many opt for a spot the ball competition or multiple choice. Anything that can be Googled in time to answer could see the competition find themselves in hot water. While ‘spot the ball’ does pass, this isn’t a skill test and is picked by a judge after you enter. This means it is actually complete luck whether you’re guess is right and isn’t the most legitimate or transparent method for those running the competition.
4. Ticket sales: House competitions are designed to make a profit and there’s nothing to be ashamed of in admitting this. However, if a competition refuses to reveal the number of tickets they’ve sold by the end or any other financial details, then this would suggest something isn’t quite right.
5. Terms and Conditions: Check the terms and conditions, they should be easily accessible and if they aren’t, again something isn’t quite right. When a house competition promises to ‘gift’ a sum of money if the required number of tickets aren’t sold they usually cover themselves by this sum coming after the running costs are removed. This means the competition can keep as much of the profit as they want to ‘cover’ costs without having to justify this sum, and so the winner not only loses out on the house but their fair share of the money. Make sure the alternative cash prize does not have “costs” taken out of it.
6. Third part financial controller: A legitimate house competition will use a third-party company to hold all finances during the competition. This ensures that the winner is paid their due first, then the chosen charity, before those running the competition are finally paid their share.
7. Charity Donations: Are the company making a significant donation to charity? some give just a tiny fraction to make it seem like they are supporting a good cause. Check just how much they are giving in the small print.
Marc Gershon of Win my Dream Home commented: “When you look back at previous house competitions in the UK and abroad, it’s clear to see why the public perception of the format is a negative one, with just one house awarded and a small handful gifting a cash prize.
"These competitions are a business venture at the end of the day and if not enough tickets are sold, a cash prize is an acceptable substitute. However, when it is done in a less than transparent manner with the financial details or ticket sales being withheld, you can see why those that do win still feel hard done by.
"A lack of understanding is the driving factor behind the poor running of these competitions and due to dodgy T&Cs, extensions to closing dates and inadequate skills test like spot the ball, there’s a lot to do to raise the bar in the house competition sector and get the public back on side.”