Raffle tickets new way of selling grand UK mansions

Sajid Shaikh
Digital finance editor
Dancers Hill House, a Grade II listed £6.2m manor house in Barnet, north London. Photograph: Windancershillhouse.com

Selling multimillion-pound mansions is usually a task assigned to top estate agents or done via a private sale or through an auction. However, some country house and mansion owners are finding it difficult to sell their properties through traditional channels with homes unsold even after months of being listed on estate agents’ websites, forcing them to adopt novel ways of selling their homes: raffle tickets and competitions putting up their homes as top prizes.

In Barnet, north London, the Dancers Hill House, a Grade II listed building with its landscaped gardens complete with a lake and 2,000 fish is among those being raffled away.

The historic manor house, which has been used in TV dramas – as a backdrop for the 1999 adaptation of ‘Great Expectations’ and as an Italian prisoner of war camp in the Second World War – is being offered as a winning prize for a raffle ticket costing £13.50.

“We’ve sought a creative approach to sell our much-loved family home,” said owners Melanie and Nigel Walsh. They’ve lived in the house for almost three decades, but its history dates back to the Georgian times. It was built in 1760 as a fancy building in a large garden for decoration and amusement and extended several times in the 19th century. It now has six bedrooms, six shower/bathrooms, a gym, a cinema room and a stocked lake in a four-acre pristine spot in Barnet.

“We purchased it when it was just a shell in 1991 and have refurbished bit by bit including all 54 windows,” said Melanie.

Lake in the grounds of Dancers Hill House, stocked with 2,00 fish

But selling the property – despite it’s size, location and history – has proved difficult. The property is listed for £6.25m on Rightmove, but has failed to attract buyers.

“Brexit and uncertainty in the property market has hit the buying sentiment. We had to opt for a creative route and hence came up with the raffle idea as we’ve seen this has worked for other people,” Melanie said.

The Walsh family claim the competition is getting a good response globally with tickets selling in 50 countries, particularly in the US. On Friday there were new raffle purchases in Dubai.

The minimum ticket sale limit is 600,000 and at that target the property will fetch £8.1m, nearly £2m more than it’s listing price and enough to cover the £700,000 stamp duty and other legal costs.

Melling Manor in Lancashire was won as prize for £2 lucky draw raffle ticket last year. Photograph: Winacountryhouse.com

Selling high-value properties via raffle tickets and competitions is also emerging as a trend. Last year an 18th-century country home in Lancashire worth £800,000 was won by Marie Segar of Warrington for a £2 raffle ticket. She also won the title Lady of Melling, which was raffled off alongside the property.

Other multi-million pound properties being put up as prizes include a five-bedroom mansion in Cheshire, worth £2m. It too has failed to sell despite being on the market since 2014. Owners Helena and John Rowton’s grade II listed Elizabethan country house could be won via entering a house prize competition for £5.

In Devon, a £2.3m detached mansion complete with indoor heated swimming pool, four-car garage, three-hole golfing greens spread over 10-acre of landscaped grounds is billed as Millionaire Mansion – the price for the chance to win it is £10.50.

What do estate agents make of it?

Paul Vickerstaff, national sales director of Purplebricks, said:  “Selling a property via a raffle isn’t really estate agency, it’s a marketing and publicity initiative and most estate agents, including Purplebricks, wouldn’t consider doing it. In putting a house up for raffle, you lose a lot of control over the process and have no expert advice available. Nothing can replace the services of an experienced and knowledgeable estate agent.” 

Such competitions, though legal, are also largely self-regulated. “Raffle draws and competitions with high-value properties as top prizes are not regulated. However, our website has advice regarding what organisers of such competition need to be aware of to make sure such competitions don’t fall under ‘illegal’ lottery sales,” said a spokeswoman at the Gambling Commission.