By Constantinos Psillides
A couple from Nicosia will be raffling off their three-bedroom home in Kokkinotrimithia in an attempt to deal with crushing debt, 39-year-old owner Pambos Charalambous told the Cyprus Mail.
Taking his cue from a similar incident that took place in Spain recently, Charalambous posted photos of the house on his Facebook page on Wednesday, with a caption explaining that he would be raffling off his home. He said that the raffle ticket would be priced at €50 and that he would go through with his scheme once he sells 3,500 tickets.
The man told the Cyprus Mail that his intention by posting on Facebook was to gauge the public interest.
“I was amazed by the feedback. I received numerous messages and my phone has been ringing off the hook. My little experiment worked fine so I’m going through with this as soon as possible, said Charalambous, explaining that after the Easter holidays he would hire a lawyer to help him navigate any legal minefields.
“I’m not trying to rip anyone off. I want this to be completely legal. I’m going to file for a licence to be allowed to run a lottery for the house and do everything by the book. I won’t take a cent from anyone until this is an officially sanctioned lottery by the state,” pledged Charalambous, pointing out that he would only go through with it if he gathers the required amount.
“My debt for the house is €162,000. Additionally, the state requires a portion of the lottery winnings. Along with transfer fees and all related costs, I estimate around 5,000 tickets. In any case, the procedure will be run under full transparency. People who buy tickets will know exactly what they are paying for.”
Charalambous wants to allay fears that this was a scam, saying that there was no need for deception.
“If this goes as planned it’s a win-win for everyone involved. I get out of my debt, the bank gets all its money and doesn’t have to settle or go though a foreclosure procedure, and some lucky guy gets a brand new house for €50.”
Charalambous claims to have bought the house from the state’s Housing Financing Corporation (HFC) in 2012 for €166,000. He said at the time he bought the house he was counting on €68,000 in state aid and that the household’s combined income came to €3,000.
“The aid didn’t come through because the government changed the criteria. Plus, my wife lost her job and my salary was cut by €500. I couldn’t afford to pay off the debt any more,” he said.
Asked about the nature of the state aid, Charalambous said that he was told that he was entitled to aid from the Service for the Displaced Persons.
“I got the aid package available to refugees when I was first married 16 years ago. After my divorce I didn’t claim the house I built using that aid but decided to transfer it to my 15-year old daughter. I got remarried in 2006 and when I applied to the HFC I was informed that I was entitled to €68,000 in state aid because I am a refugee and I had given the house I previously owned to my daughter. After the deed was done, I was informed that I wasn’t entitled to the aid any more because I had applied in the past. So my €100,000 debt shot up to €168,000, at the same time I was facing a salary cut.”
Charalambous claims that he had first tried to give the house back to the HFC but was advised to sell it.
“I had it up for sale for a year and a half but nobody was interested. I’m guessing that’s due to the financial crisis. I just couldn’t cope with the debt any more. I needed a way out. Once I saw the story about the home in Spain I knew exactly what to do,” he said.