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€264,000 villa won for €10

THE dream of winning a house has come true for Bouches-du-Rhône woman who won a €264,000 villa with a €10 lottery stake

Roxanne Tornero, a waitress from Istres, won the 110m2 air-conditioned house complete with a pool, 250m2 garden, fully-equipped kitchen and a outdoors BBQ kitchen, in a novel draw organised by local firm Simpatico.

Company boss Léonard Simpatico said he started the draw because there were major problems in the housing market and people were getting no help from banks who were “rejecting 40% of the applications for loans”.

It was a way to help owners sell, help people to get a new property... and make some money. However, after he called to tell 23-year-old Roxanne of her win, he realised helping people realise their dreams was a fun and exciting business.

Roxanne had bought four entries for the draw – total cost €40 – and she and her partner Gerson have moved in to their new home.

Run through the website the draw allows people to buy €10 entries – to a limit of €50 a month – and the draw takes place once there are enough entries to cover the cost of the house.

Mr Simpatico said the firm gets a valuation done and takes that price, adds in notaire fees and its margin and offers it as a prize with the €10 entry being open only to people who subscribe to its site.

“Once we have sold enough entries to meet our total price we halt sales and a huissier (bailiff) holds an open draw so that everything is legal.”

He and his “business angel” backers put up the money to buy each prize property and it was put on the site to attract entries. The first draw took about five months with entries from around 30,000 people.

The next competition has already started – to win a €700,000 villa with pool in Marseille – and he said that to “avoid the dream becoming a nightmare” they had added a €50,000 contingency fund for each winner to cover local taxes and unexpected fees.

The company has also had many inquiries from owners who wanted their properties included and has now changed its website to help.

Mr Simpatico said: “We have added a page where owners can list a property and subscribers can vote for what will be the next prize. It makes it interesting and perhaps owners will find a sale. We are not an estate agency and take no commission.”

The draw is known legally as a game with no obligation to purchase – losers can claim their stakes back, but if too many did so then the draws could not continue.

It has been so successful people want to start fanchises and Simpatico is opening an office in Montpellier then franchises in Marseille, Lyon, Belgium and Spain. The eventual aim is to be offering one house per day.

* In Charente, a draw for a €1.2million property with two houses and river moorings failed to attract enough entrants and the prize was reduced to a Winner’s Pot share of 65% of the total entries. A bidder from Alsace won just under £6,500.

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