pounds 600,000 house on offer at pounds 105

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The Independent Online
Why would anyone want to buy a pounds 600,000 Edwardian house for pounds 105? It sounds a silly question, but it is precisely the one posed by an Oxfordshire woman who is selling her former home. Answers on a postcard - and it could be yours.

Grace Trehan is not bothering with estate agents. Instead she has devised a competition which, she hopes, will simultaneously raise pounds 32,500 for homeless charities and pounds 600,000 for the owners of the property. The prize - an eight bedroom Edwardian house in north Oxford - is, as it were, inbuilt.

Entrants must simply write a cheque for pounds 105 and write between 50 and 75 words describing "why they need the house". The entries will be judged by an independent panel which will be looking for "an interesting, personal, persuasive account of why winning the house is so important".

The deadline has been set as 31 December with the winner due to be announced on 12 January. However, if the 6,500 entries needed to make the competition work are not collected by then, the date will be postponed a couple of months. pounds 5 of every entry will go towards the unnamed homeless charities and after the pounds 600,000 is raised for the owner any extra entry money will go to charity.

"I suddenly realised it would be much quicker to sell a house of this value by running a competition which offered the chance of a lifetime to the lucky winner," explained Mrs Trehan.

"So I volunteered my help and devised the contest, which is not a lottery or a raffle, but a competition of skill, in the hope that some of my favourite charities can benefit at the same time."

It is, she feels, well worth a gamble. "Some people spend that much when they go out with friends for dinner, or bet that much in a month or two on the lottery where the odds are about eight million to one to win," she said.

The semi-detached house, which is called Belmor, has a reception hall room, together with an additional 12 rooms, plus two kitchens and five bathrooms. The garden is walled and includes a fish pond, waterfall and fountain.

Mrs Trehan would like the house to go to "people who really need it." The idea of it being turned into a homeless hostel would be "really wonderful", she said. Sadly, however, this is not much of a clue. She is not on the panel of judges.

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