FL Couple Works With Charity to Raffle Estate

A Florida couple has teamed up with a local charity, The Mission of St. Francis, to raffle off their $3 million Fort Lauderdale waterfront estate for just $10 per ticket. After the drawing is held, the deed and title to the home will be transferred to the winner with no mortgage.

Miles and Laura Brannan bought their 6,000-square-foot home in 2005. Moving is something they never thought would happen, but the economic crisis has caused them to make many tough decisions. The family, including a daughter at college who often comes home to visit, and two other girls, ages seven and nine, don’t want to move, but they can’t afford to stay in a home this size, according to Mr. Brannan.

“In our business, my wife and I work with a lot of rental properties and real estate around the state and we’re doing well,” he told Managing REO.

“But we were putting as much money into the property to pay it down as we could. And then we went to start pulling back out, and of course, home-equity loans don’t exist, so it’s become a little more difficult to do it. So all my money is tied up in the property and I can’t really do anything.” The gated property features six bedrooms and six bathrooms. It has a four-car garage, movie theater, office, game room and heated swimming pool. It also showcases a chef’s kitchen, an office, wet bar and lush tropical landscaping.

He says the family is not in danger of being foreclosed on but they are concerned about future payment problems where they might reach that point.

“I said, 'Let’s nip it in the bud before it becomes that.’ We haven’t missed any payments. We just don’t want that to happen. I would rather someone win the house for $10 than lose it to foreclosure,” Mr. Brannan said.

The complete Brannan household also includes two dogs and a cat. The family hopes to find a more affordable house in the same area of Florida. He says the whole experience of being involved in the raffle has been quite stressful and “not fun at all.”

“I would not recommend it to someone not as a first alternative to selling a house, but maybe a last,” he said.

“We just looked at the appraisal on the house the other day at Zillow.com and it was up to $3.4 million but regardless it’s what you can find somebody will pay for a house right now. Most of the time people have to pay cash or 50% down. On these houses they didn’t really appreciate much. You just have less buyers.”

In addition to offering people the opportunity to win the home for just $10, a portion of the proceeds from the drawing will benefit The Mission of St. Francis. The organization helps individuals suffering from addictions by providing them housing and helping them get jobs to get back on their feet. “We’ve all been hit hard by the poor economy lately, and I feel the mission is really making a difference in people’s lives,” added Mr. Brannan.

Only 300,000 tickets will be sold for this raffle, and the drawing will take place once all tickets have been sold. Once the drawing has taken place the winner will be notified within 24 hours by phone, e-mail or certified mail. Winners do not need to be present to win.

So far the couple has sold over 75,000 tickets. Visitors flock to the website where the Brannan’s have posted interior photographs of the game room and kitchen, outside shots of the pool as well as videos. While most of the buyers of the tickets are from the U.S., they also include folks from Canada, England, Australia and Germany.

“There are some who buy one ticket. One lady wrote me an e-mail saying this is restoring her hope. Her husband lost his job and they are losing their home. We also are seeing investors that buy 100 tickets,” he noted.

Since the family has started this initiative, Mr. Brannan has noticed a huge increase in the number of raffles that are going on.

“We’ve had quite a few people contact us about helping them do their raffles. I’ve already had a couple of requests for people to stop by and see the home. To be honest, I don’t mind, just call ahead of time. Make an appointment with my wife. We haven’t really done any open houses just because when you have an open house too many things disappear,” he said.

Mr. Brannan is quick to point out the raffle is legitimate, and all of the money collected is being held by Chicago Title Insurance Agency Inc.

“With all the scams, everyone is a little gun-shy. We have no access to the money. Whoever wins gets the house free and clear. Once we have sold all the tickets, then we will give ourselves enough time before we hold the drawing to establish where we will go and figure out how we will move out.”

The date for the raffle is now set for Dec. 25. If the goal is not met to sell 300,000 tickets, Mr. Brennan said they are going to end up holding a drawing for the cash that has been collected. “Then we would have to figure out another alternative,” he said.

“I expect it to be done way before the Dec. 25 drawing. The more people that buy tickets tell 10 friends and so on. It’s starting to snowball.”

Visit www.floridaluxuryauctions.com for more information.