For $100 and with a whole lot of luck, Heather Gray's four-bedroom home in Gilbert, Ariz., can be yours.
Gray lost her job in the economic meltdown and is now on the verge of losing her 2,200-square-foot home outside Mesa, too. But rather than have her credit destroyed and become another foreclosure statistic, the 33-year-old Air Force veteran, who served four years of active duty, has found a way out of her predicament.
For Gray, it's a chance to walk away with no financial obligations, and start all over again.
"While certainly, I want to get myself out of the situation that I'm in, I'm not looking to walk away with anything," says Gray, who bought the house in November 2007 but could no longer afford to live in it after she broke up with her fiance and was laid off as the public information coordinator for the city of Mesa.
"I just want to be at zero and get a chance to start over."
Gray called the Murray Grey Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Phoenix that provides assistance to military families facing foreclosure, and she proposed a novel idea: She would donate her home to the foundation, and it would raffle off the house at $100 a ticket.
People can join the raffle by making a $100 tax-deductible donation at the Murray Grey Foundation's Web site. http://themurraygreyfoundation.org Everyone who enters the raffle receives a $500 gas or grocery voucher that can be used anywhere in the country. The drawing will be held on April 11.
The lucky winner will wind up shelling out much more than $100, because the Internal Revenue Service considers raffle prizes to be taxable income. In the case of a non-cash prize, such as Gray's home, the winner must pay 25 percent of the fair market value of the prize, minus the price of the raffle ticket. Since the fair market value of Gray's house is $280,000, the winner will owe the taxman $69,900.00.
Then the winner must pay a tax on the property to Arizona at 5.04% — another $14,112.00. Factor in $1,200 in annual property taxes and all the other expenses a homeowner incurs – insurance, utilities, upkeep and repairs — and that $100 ticket has become more than $84,000. That's not chump change, but it's still a dirt-cheap price for a four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home in sunny Arizona.
The Murray Grey Foundation has no financial responsibility to the IRS or the state of Arizona once the house has been raffled off, and neither will Gray, as the $350,000 she will receive from the ticket sales will cover everything she owes.
Murray Grey hopes that its partnership with Gray will not only give someone a home, but that it will also elevate the profile of the problems military servicemen and women are facing in this economy.The foundation reports that it has heard many stories like Heather's, particularly regarding active duty servicemen and women.
Gray hopes her story will inspire Americans to help other military veterans and active duty servicemen and women who are in danger of losing their homes. Though she says her plans for the future are unclear, she is committed to continuing the donation/raffle program with Murray Grey.