‘This was the happiest day of our lives!” said Caoimhe Murphy as she recalled winning my former home in Delgany in a raffle.

The 24-year-old and her partner Ross O’Callaghan had been watching Netflix in their rental home in Shankill, Co Dublin, when Caoimhe decided to check the ‘Win a Home in Delgany’ draw on raffall.com on Halloween night.

I’d put my apartment up as the prize in the raffle, for which people bought tickets for €23.

“The moment I realised I won was just so surreal. I could see I had won, but I just could not process it,” she said.

“The shock was just enormous. Myself and Ross were absolutely elated, and Ross ran across to Brady’s pub and got the biggest bottle of champagne he could get his hands on.”

Caoimhe, who is originally from Kildare, recently finished her finance studies and has started her first job in Dun Laoghaire. Ross, from Walkinstown, is a pharmaceutical engineer based in Blanchardstown.

The couple have been saving hard for the last two years to get a deposit for a home. Like so many young Irish people trying to get on to the property ladder, this was becoming increasingly difficult due to high rents and the cost of living.

“We were paying €1,600 a month on rent and our petrol costs had just recently soared,” Ross says. “We thought maybe we might get a mortgage and our dream home in possibly five more years, or more. It was definitely something in the distant future. All our peers are resigned to being in a rental market for the foreseeable future.”

The location of the apartment in a scheme in Delgany/Greystones has also proved fortuitous given that Caoimhe adores the sea.

“The sea is where I get my energy from,” she says. “We both consciously moved to Shankill to be beside the sea. It was my saving grace during lockdown, so to have won a seaside home is just the icing on the cake.”

Contracts will be signed in eight weeks for the transfer of the apartment and the couple can’t wait to move in.

The draw was the culmination of our decision to raffle our investment apartment in the Eden Gate Estate in Delgany, Co Wicklow, rather than sell it through normal estate agency channels.

Under a system operated by the UK-based company raffall.com, homeowners who sell a set number of tickets stand to benefit from more money than they would through selling their property. They also nominate a charity of their choice for a substantial cash benefit.

We planned to extend our family home in the area and would use the proceeds from the competition to do this. At the same time, I was able to raise much-needed funds for my late nephew’s charity, the Ross Nugent Foundation, which uses funds raised to buy equipment for St Clare’s Oncology Ward in Beaumont Hospital. I had a target to reach and if I did not reach the target, the winner would receive the cash prize, and myself and the charity would walk away and receive nothing.

But despite my best efforts, I did not reach the target of 15,000 to 20,000 tickets. In the end, we had sold 12,000.

So what went wrong on our end? I was bubbling with publicity, but constantly struggled with ticket sales. Why? Was €23 a ticket too expensive? It seems there were also other considerations. While local marketing and support was never a problem (quite the opposite), getting wider appeal outside Delgany/Greystones proved problematic.

We also got the impression that many people held on to a perception that the competition was not real.

Then there was the ‘apartment factor’. I had also noticed that the three previous successful raffles in Ireland through raffall.com were for houses.

Lastly, it could have had something to do with ‘home raffle overdose’ and the stiffer competition out there for raffling Irish homes generally, which has sprung up since we got going with our project.

On the night of the draw at 7pm, raffall.com pulled the winner’s name. I had to go live at 7.10pm on Facebook to tell everyone the decision. I had Caoimhe on the phone and I announced to everyone that, unfortunately, we did not reach the target and Caoimhe would receive the prize of €205,000, a hefty sum, but not the home itself. That’s the way the raffall.com system is set up.

The next morning, having slept on it, we decided that there was no way we were going to disappoint anyone.

I contacted Caoimhe, who was delighted either way with her big win, and I told her of our overnight decision, and that she had won the apartment.

I then informed Sandra and Don, Ross’s parents from the Ross Nugent Foundation, that we raised €12,100 for the charity. Don told me they can now buy eight to 12 new specialist chairs and monitors that will make patients’ lives so much more comfortable.

We probably would of made €30,000 more if we had sold our apartment with an auctioneer, but as Frank Sinatra would say: “That’s life!”

Raffling a property has been very successful for many people, but it comes with an exhausting workload, so don’t underestimate it. I was completely naive in thinking I could do it on my own.

Caoimhe and Ross called over the day after the raffle to see the apartment. We needed to do one final video to end the ‘Win a Home in Delgany’ competition Facebook page.

It was so dark outside the apartment block and Ross pulled up in their car and beamed the headlights at us, and bingo, I got the last scene filmed.

Our home-raffle adventure was over. It’s finally a wrap.

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