In between shows on British TV, there’s a decent chance you would’ve seen an advert for a house raffle. Should you enter, and have you factored in the hidden costs that come with owning a dream property?
Earlier this year, an advert popped up on the TV offering the chance to win an incredible house in the Cotswolds. My wife said, “Wow, that’s amazing. Wouldn’t you love to live there?”. I immediately said, “No! There’s a stream running through the grounds, and there looks like there’s some sort of valley. That’s probably going to flood!”
Why would I hold this view? Well, for one, I used to work as a property agent many years ago; secondly, I have developed multiple properties, and thirdly, my wife and I have bought and sold around twenty homes. In addition to this, I am the type of person who factors in all the likely possibilities and given that I have had an experience of flooding on land we’d owned, it wasn’t difficult for me to envisage what could happen.
As someone who owned and lived in the type of properties advertised in the house raffles seen on TV, I can offer a unique, first-hand insight into the challenges of owning what some would consider being a dream home.
This article is not written to denigrate house raffle companies, some of which I am sure have well-meaning intentions; after all, a whopping 80% of the profits from the Cotswold house raffle were go to charity. However, as reported by thisismoney.co.uk, the Cotswold property was, as I initially thought, prone to flooding—although measures are in place to try to ensure it wouldn’t happen in the future.
Based on our experience of owning a property with even more land than the Cotswold property in the raffle, which was within a similar topography; even with the best well thought out flood avoidance measures, the British weather, as it is often said, “has a mind of its own”.
Given all the weather extremes being experienced by many countries worldwide, nothing can be taken for granted, so our advice is always to do your homework before entering a house raffle, use your gut instincts (Occam’s razor) and we know this sounds odd; always expect the unexpected.
There are some other things that need to be considered if you enter a house raffle and find yourself winning one. Let’s suppose you are currently renting a house as you are unable to fund the purchase of a home of your own, and you end up winning. It is likely that a good portion of your income is going into running your current home (rent, mortgage, bills etc.) However, and before you know it, you’ll be the owner of an incredible property, plus you’ll still have your own to maintain.
Large, multi-million-pound properties are not cheap to own. The one we had that was similar to the one in the Cotswolds came with a multitude of costs, such as insurance, security, high energy bills and the council tax charges, which alone amounted to £4,000 p.a., back in 2006!
In addition to this, there is the upkeep of the grounds. Just the cost of having our hedges cut around our property was £2,500 each time, and if you think that you’ll keep costs down by mowing the grass yourself, think again! Large grounds require a tremendous amount of work to maintain and frequently need the help of professionals with the right equipment. If you believe that you’ll leave it and maintain it less often, it will simply cost you more in the longer term.
This feature is not one that is designed to dissuade people from entering a house raffle; it is more to highlight that there are costs attached to winning that might not have been factored in by those who enter.
The title of the piece is asking the question, “If you enter a house raffle and win, is its a bed of roses?” If you have enough extra income, of course, it is. If you don’t have enough spare income, you’ll need to find enough to get you through the short term, which will allow you to sell the property at a discounted price in what is currently a very buoyant market. The good news is that the money raised by selling the property will be, for most, life-changing.
If you’re thinking of living in the property you win, it’s an entirely different picture depending on the amount of disposable income you have. As highlighted above, dream homes cost money even if you’re not living in them, so be prepared to dig into your pockets or borrow if you win a dream home in a house raffle.
My wife and I have experienced the extremes when it comes to property ownership. We’ve had the enormous country properties with huge gated driveways, more rooms than we’d ever need and grounds as far as the eye can see. That is vastly different to what we today (by choice) and if you were to ask us would we go back to a ‘Dream Property’, the answer would very likely be no.
The life we lived back then was more a life based upon what others expected us to have, not what we actually needed. The thought of owning a dream property is to us, just a nice thought nowadays. Would we enter a house raffle? The answer is yes, and if we won, we’d pop the property on the market right away knowing that we also helped to support a good cause by entering.
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