With its industrial chic interior, Lara Buckler’s flat in Nunhead, South London, is a smart, bijou residence but nothing out of the ordinary in this part of the capital.
What sets it apart is that it could be bought for as little as £2 – despite being worth about £300,000.
Lara, 28, is selling the flat by prize competition. Entrants pay £2 for a ticket, and when all the tickets have sold, the winner will pick up the deeds.
With its industrial chic interior, Lara Buckler’s flat in Nunhead, South London, is a smart, bijou residence but nothing out of the ordinary in this part of the capital
She is not the first to employ this method of shifting her property.
In London, with buy-to-let investors thin on the ground after stamp duty rises and market uncertainty due to Brexit, others are choosing to offload their homes like this.
And with many worrying how they will ever get on the ladder, it is easy to see how this selling model might take off.
Lara has so much confidence in the idea that she and her property developer husband Chris, 31, are launching a company – houseagogo – that will use the same method to ‘sell’ other people’s properties.
Lara, who has a law degree but now works as a property consultant, bought the Nunhead flat at auction in 2014, paying £190,000, and then did it up.
After its refurbishment, her plan was to sell it for a profit, but despite its trendy look and Nunhead’s rising appeal, it proved difficult to shift.
What sets it apart is that it could be bought for as little as £2 – despite being worth about £300,000. Pictured: The bathroom
‘I put it on the market for £300,000 and had a lot of interest but no offers, so I dropped the price to £275,000 but it still wouldn’t sell,’ she says.
‘So I was stuck in a situation where we couldn’t get the money out and didn’t want to rent it.’ Then she had her brainwave – to sell it through a prize competition.
With her legal background, she was aware that there are a number of rules governing raffle-style competitions and says she spent six months with a solicitor’s firm that specialises in this field, formulating how it would work.
‘The main rule with a competition of this sort is that there has to be an element of skill,’ she says.
‘So participants will have to answer a question for their entry to have a chance of winning.’
Lara says the process of selling a property through her company is simple and free.
First she gives the vendor a valuation, then the property is surveyed at houseagogo’s expense and the vendor takes it off the market and signs a contract with the company that stipulates they won’t try to sell it again during the four months while the competition tickets are sold.
She says houseagogo will use some advertising, social media and word of mouth to sell the tickets. For her property, she needs to sell 200,000. Once those have sold, the competition closes. Tickets are £2 each but no one is allowed to buy more than 500.
This will raise £400,000, of which she, as the owner, will pocket £300,000. Seventy-five per cent of the remaining £100,000 will pay for the winner’s stamp duty, council tax and building insurance on the property for six months, and a large fee to cover the handling of tickets sales online.
OF THE remaining £25,000, ten per cent will go to a local council project and ten per cent to a mental health charity. The rest of the proceeds will be spent on marketing the next property on houseagogo’s list.
Lara, 28, is selling the flat by prize competition. Entrants pay £2 for a ticket, and when all the tickets have sold, the winner will pick up the deeds
Houseagogo won’t make a profit on Lara’s flat but she hopes the idea catches on and that it will make a profit on future properties. ‘It offers a far better chance than you get in the National Lottery,’ says Lara. ‘And for the seller, there are no estate agent or legal fees and no chance of gazumping.’
But what if all the tickets don’t sell? ‘Then there will be a draw and a winner chosen who will get all the money raised,’ she says.
But the vendor, of course, will be left to ruefully knock on the estate agent’s door again – and some agents are cautious about the entire scheme.
Martin Bikhit of Kay & Co said: ‘This is an innovative idea and it’s great that charitable donations will be made.
‘However, with lotteries there always more losers than winners.
‘And I’m not just talking about buyers here. The seller could also lose out. Sellers potentially face losing tens of thousands of pounds if the price is incorrect.
‘The only way of ever knowing that you are getting the best price for your property is to put it on the open market. As in all forms of gambling, “the house always wins”, and in this case it will be houseagogo.’