Was it all a dream... house? The San Francisco Dream House raffle, a yearly benefit for the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, advertises a mansion home as its grand prize, but it won't necessarily give one out, as the Chronicle and the Better Business Bureau have taken notice.
In fact, in the seven-year history of the raffle, no one has ever moved into the dream house. Perhaps that's because they've simply taken the other grand prize offer: A $4 million annuity or, alternatively, a $2.8 million one-time payment, instead of the manse which is advertised as being worth $5 million.
Each ticket clocks in at $150, and there are many prizes awarded each year from cars to vacations to cash. But the dream house, as seen in advertisements all about town, is only up for grabs if 65,000 tickets are sold by the draw on July 9th. So, what are the chances of that?
It would be nice to know! The Better Business Bureau has asked, but the raffle won't say. "We're not feeling comfortable in divulging the way in which we administer the raffle," Yerba Buena spokesperson Voleine Amilcar told the Chron. "We'd essentially be giving away our playbook."
According to the Better Business Bureau, they have "requested that the organization clarify the raffle by substantiating whether there is an existing house as pictured in the brochures and on their website, if the house was donated or being purchased, how many houses have been given away, if early bird prizes are guaranteed, and if the raffle was run by Yerba Buena Center of the Arts or another organization."
In response, wrote the raffle: "Your letter requested that we provide information that we consider to be proprietary and/or subject to non-disclosure agreements. Should you have a specific complaint regarding the nature or accuracy of our advertising materials you should direct them to either the AG's office or the office of a local District Attorney."
Well, one thing's for sure. The house advertised this year is real. Here's another thing that's known. It already has some real occupants.
"Usually, the nonprofit is not given the home," the Chronicle explained in 2009. "It might lease it from the owner with an option to buy if the winner chooses the home. The owner gets paid for keeping the house off the market during the raffle, and even if it doesn't end in a sale, the home gets plenty of free publicity."
This time, the property is located in St. Francis Wood at an undisclosed address. It was listed on the market at roughly $5 million for some time, but now the would-be seller has moved back in. That owner kept mum when asked about the contest, having signed paperwork to keep whatever arrangement there might be strictly confidential.
So, should you buy a ticket to this charity raffle? Sure, if you aren't banking on it scoring you a place to live.