Win a Dream Home? House Raffles Catch On

More raffles offering up “dream homes” are popping up, whether from nonprofit groups using it as a fund-raiser or a desperate home owner trying out a creative way to give away a home while still making some cash.

For example, groups or home owners may sell raffle tickets at $100 each and then plan to sell up to 10,000 tickets, which would total $1 million. In one situation in Minneapolis, the home owner was going to use about $300,000 of the money raised to pay off the mortgage and the real estate agent fees, and then donate $700,000 toward youth programs funded by a nonprofit organization.

But in Minnesota, housing raffles are illegal.

“House raffles are difficult to pull off,” Michael Ries, a vice president at the National Association of Fundraising Professionals, told the Star-Tribune. “Some are started and then stopped because they don’t sell enough tickets. Some run into legal problems. It sounds good … but there are many, many issues to consider.”

That hasn’t stopped groups or home owners from trying, though, and in other states, some charities see housing raffles as strong money-makers. For example, in Chicago, a raffle for a $1.2 million luxury home is now taking place, in which tickets are selling for $150 each and proceeds going to support the Hope Institute for Children and Families of Springfield. So far, about 3,000 tickets have been sold since September, but the goal is to reach 35,000 by the end of January.

Every spring in Wisconsin, the Greater Marshfield United Way hosts a home raffle, “Dare to Dream Raffle,” for a chance to win a prefab home, which is donated to the organization for its raffle. Tickets are $150 a piece, and the fundraiser usually raises more than $110,000 a year for United Way-supported programs, organizers say.

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