Five bizarre ways to sell your home

Home for sale sign

In some parts of the country, selling your property is a matter of mentioning to an estate agent that you are thinking of selling, and then getting the buyers to form an orderly queue. Elsewhere, meanwhile, houses have languished on the market for months - or even years.

It means that some people have been turning to more creative ways to sell their property. We reveal five of the oddest approaches - and their chances of success

1. Raffle the property off - 1 out of 5

This was all the rage just after the financial crisis hit, when at one stage a former Grand Design and a £1 million Devon estate with its own lake and fishing rights were up for grabs. However, if you fancy emulating their success, it's worth being aware that there are a few downsides.

To stick within the law, you can't technically hold a raffle with such an expensive prize, so you have to run it as a competition with a question. The question has to be difficult enough to qualify as a genuine competition.

You then have to sell enough tickets to make it worth your while. If you're charging £30 per ticket for a £250,000 home, for example, you'll need to sell more than eight thousand tickets. If you spend money on marketing and promotions, you'll need to sell even more.

In 2010 Howard and Marie Lipsey from the Wirral opted for this approach to sell their £725,000 property. Unfortunately the Gambling Commission had issues with the question they used, so put ticket sales on hold. By the time they resumed, the closing date was too near, and the cost of relaunching the competition was too high, so they were forced to scrap it.

Eventually they only sold £10,000 worth of tickets - which they had spent on marketing. They put their house on the market more traditionally and pledged to repay all ticket holders as soon as the property was sold.

The risks involved give this approach just one out of five.

2. Throw in a car - 2 out of 5

In an effort to sell up, some property owners are offering to throw in a fancy car as part of the package. In 2011 a Minnesota man offered a replica Lamborghini Diablo as a freebie to anyone who bought his house. Admittedly under the bonnet he didn't have anything more flash than a General Motors V6, but he hoped the car's good looks would attract buyers to his $393,000 home.

Meanwhile in 2008 in Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol, a property developer said he would give away his Ferrari F430 Spider worth £100,000 to the buyer of his £1 million six-bedroom property. Sadly it didn't work, and he submitted a planning application to convert the property into offices.

This approach does seem to attract headlines, and may boost interest in the property. However, there are far more tales of people who have tried and failed to sell using this gimmick than those who succeeded. After-all if you wanted a car, why wouldn't you just buy the car? For that reason we give this two out of five.

3. Sell it on eBay - 3 out of 5

Auctions have traditionally been a popular option for hard-to-sell houses, but some have taken this one step further, and put their house on eBay. The site says that across the world it sells 4,364 properties a month, and during peak months the UK site has sold more than 100.

At the moment there are 10 houses in the UK and Ireland for sale by auction on the website - ranging from a two-bedroom house in Durham with bids set to start at £56,000 to a converted reservoir in Maidstone, with the starting bid set at £2 million. Unfortunately none have received a single bid.

This seems like a cutting edge approach, but with next-to-no-one offering starting bids lower than the market price for the property, it tends to be used as another avenue for advertising a property that is already on the market with a traditional agent. For that reason it scores three out of five.

4. Swap it - 2 out of 5

Typically this was something offered by home-builders, who would let you part-exchange your existing property for a brand new one. However, as people have struggled to sell, the idea has taken hold elsewhere in the market.

Investors have taken to this kind of approach, especially where they have improved a property to raise its value and are struggling to sell and capitalise on it. If they swap it for another property with more potential for improvement they can trade up and move onto the next project without having to sell.

There are organisations which help advertise swaps - which are in essence simply where two sellers agree to buy each other's homes - and exchange cash if there's a significant difference in price. Some eBay sellers will also advertise that they would consider a swap.

Unfortunately for normal sellers whose properties don't offer potential to investors, this is unlikely to yield much success, as effectively you are making the process of selling even harder: it's not enough for someone to want your home - you have to want theirs too.

5. Try before you buy - 2 out of 5

This is another idea that has come from property developers - where they give potential buyers the opportunity to rent the property first - usually at a reduced rate. If they like it, they can buy it, and if they don't, they are under no obligation. Some developers will subtract all the rent you pay from the eventual purchase price - so there's nothing to lose.

Beyond new-builds, the approach is less common, although in 2009 the owner of a £2.45 million property in Surrey was offering buyers the chance to rent it for £7,000 a month instead - with any rent eventually deducted from the asking price.

It has the advantage of getting buyers hooked on the property - giving them a financial incentive to buy. However, the problem here is that you are taking the risk that the potential buyer will tie the property up for months and decide not to buy. You will still receive the rental payments, but if you're keen to sell and move on it won't necessarily appeal.

In the current market you also have to ask whether the thing holding buyers back is that they are uncertain about the property itself, or whether there are financial issues which could unravel any sale even if they are desperate to buy.

In the final analysis, these alternative techniques are hardy sure things. But what do you think? Would you consider using one of them?

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