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Charity raffles house to raise money ticket by ticket
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The front side of the Dyer log home in Stephens County. - photo by Tom Reed

You say down economy, they say fundraising opportunity.

After trying for two years to sell his luxurious log home in a stalled housing market, Dwight Dyer is giving it up for charity.

An Alto-based nonprofit organization is now selling his house bit-by-bit in $105 raffle tickets to raise money for its efforts.

"You can’t sell it the other way," Dyer said.

Dyer built the white pine log home with a wraparound porch in 2005 with intentions of selling it. His son is married, and the 4,200-square-foot home is too big for two people, he said. But with the real estate market at a near standstill for almost two years, Dyer still hasn’t been able to fulfill his intentions.

"I didn’t know the economy was going to do what it done," Dyer said.

At least two or three times, Dyer thought he had his Stephens County home sold, but none of the offers ever followed through. To sweeten the deal, Dyer dropped the price from $995,000 for the home and 20 acres to $759,000.

Still, it sat unsold.

"We’ve had three or four people we thought were real serious about it, but they never did come through with no money," Dyer said.

But at least one area nonprofit feels that a greater good will come out of selling the house for a lower price.

Seed Sowers Inc. hopes to reap the benefit of Dyer’s real estate struggle. The Alto-based nonprofit aims to help single parents, the elderly and those with disabilities meet their practical needs, said vice president Cheryl Closs.

If the nonprofit sells enough raffle tickets, it will purchase Dyer’s home, raffle it off and use the equity for the nonprofit’s goals, said Seed Sowers’ John Closs. The raffle of Dyer’s home is registered with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office.

Clarkesville attorney Spencer Carr, who is helping to facilitate the Seed Sowers raffle, said interest is growing for home raffles in Georgia.

"I’ve gotten three calls this week about people wanting to do it," Carr said.

Carr worked on a home raffle last year that he believes was the first one in Georgia. He said the trend has become more popular since then.

"Since then, there’s been several come up," he said.

But the home raffle isn’t for the financially stressed homeowner who is
looking to unload a mortgage, Carr said. Regular homes in regular subdivisions are not usually attractive as a prize for a raffle, Carr said.

"The more unique the property is, the better response you get on ticket sales," Carr said. "... It’s got to be a prize that has mass appeal."

If selling tickets for this raffle proves successful for Seed Sowers, the organization could raise $100,000 to further its goals. The rest of the money would pay for Dyer’s house.

Typically, the organization just sends out a call for help when people in need come to the organization looking for assistance finding furniture, food, transport or help paying their bills. Most times, someone who can responds with a donation, Cheryl Closs said.

"Usually, we’re able to help," Cheryl Closs said.

But if the raffle of Dyer’s house goes well, Seed Sowers will be able to have money on hand to help people when they need it. Even if the charity does not sell enough tickets to purchase Dyer’s home and raffle it off as a prize, it will keep half the ticket money and raffle off the rest as a prize, John Closs said.

"We’re wanting to step it up a notch, so we do have (resources) available if people need it," Cheryl Closs said.

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