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Monday, October 12, 2009


Couple giving away $425,000 home free to enter competition

Couple give away their $425,000 home in competition that's FREE to enter

Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:54 PM on 12th October 2009

A couple have decided to give their $425,000 house away for free in a bid to settle their business debts.

Michelle and Paul Wood, both 50, have come up with the plan to give away the home they have lived in for 11 years in Allerton, West Yorkshire, as top prize in a competition in the hope they will make a profit from advertising revenue.

They decided on the unusual move when their business debts began to spiral after the luxury chocolate company they started in 2004, Theobrama in Harrogate, ran into trouble.

Prize: Paul and Michelle Wood are giving away their $450,000 home for free in a competition they hope will remove their business debts

They hope to make between $850,000 and $1million from advertising on the competition website to enable them to give their two-bedroom home away for free.

Things started to go wrong for their company when a banking error resulted in direct debit payments for a credit card not being paid.

Mrs Wood said: 'I hadn't even checked my bank account online so I had no idea that the payments hadn't been going out but then I went to get a business loan and the man said "do you know you have a court court judgment on your record?".

'The credit card company had taken action against us because of the banking error but I hadn't even been notified.

'I was dumbfounded and it meant that people were rejecting our applications for business loans.'

When the unfortunate couple did eventually get a loan and a new account, they ran into more problems in December 2007 when they claim a software developer took $12,000 from them and failed to deliver the programme.

After another failed venture into the animation industry, which they had worked on throughout 2008, the deflated couple decided to return to an idea they stumbled across in 2004.

Mrs Wood said: 'I remember seeing this woman in the paper, she was raffling off her house. She couldn't sell it because her neighbours were obstructing the sale, so she decided to raffle it instead.

'I remember thinking, we could do that, but then it got put to the back of my mind because we were trying to do so many other things over the years.

'When everything else seemed to go down the pan we decided to try it.'

Potential advertisers will be invited to pay for space on the competition website, which has 200 available slots a day.

It is hoped that the money paid for the adverts will help the Woods reach their target.

Mrs Wood, a mother-of-one, said: 'I am sure we will reach the target of $850,000.

'I've done the research and in three months about $850million is spent on advertising on the internet in this country.

'I am confident that we can attract at least a portion of that. Advertisers are looking for new places to put their ads all the time and we're going to be writing to big and small businesses over the next few weeks.

'The last few years have been like walking up hill, backwards, in concrete boots.

'But we have never stopped, not had a day off and have worked through the night some nights on this project and we think it will work.'

Competition entrants will get the chance of winning the 120-year-old stone-built property, which stands in 1,800sq ft of land, by answering daily questions correctly. 

The competition will run for 12 weeks from November 2 and people will get the chance to enter up to 20 times a day by clicking on sponsors links on the website. 

Each week one person who has answered a question correctly will be selected at random and put through to the overall final in January, where one lucky person will win the house.

Mrs Wood added: 'If we get to $850,000 that money will pay off our mortgage, business loans, creditors and various debts we're got along the way, so whoever wins the house will have no hidden costs.'

The couple, who have been married for 25 years, said they had made sure that all pitfalls had been avoided and ensured the house competition was legal by asking questions which require the entrants to exercise skill, judgement or knowledge, rather than those that rely wholly on chance, as they do in a lottery.

The couple have contacted the Gambling Commission and taken legal advice, and the couple now hope to move nearer to their daughter in Newcastle at the end of the competition.

Mrs Wood said: 'We have lived in the house since 1998 and it is a lovely house. Over the years, we have done it up ourselves.

'It has taken a long time but it looks really lovely and will be a great prize for someone.'



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