Woman sells $1.2M home she won in raffle

December 08, 2009|By Emma Brown | The Washington Post

A Colorado woman who won a $1.2 million home in Edgewater in a $50-a-ticket raffle last January has sold the property to a local church at a bargain-basement price.

"Hooray, finally!" said Karen McHale, 47, who lives in a home she built with her husband in the mountains west of Denver and never intended to move to the Mid-Atlantic. "I tell you, that was a giant rock around my neck."

McHale said she bought two raffle tickets last year as a contribution to the charity that was co-sponsoring the contest, which came about when a mortgage broker teamed up with the Annapolis-based We Care and Friends, which helps at-risk youths, to sell his home.

A week after one of those tickets was chosen as the winner, McHale lost her job as a chemical engineer. Eager to sell the home before Dec. 31 to avoid paying some $300,000 in 2009 income taxes, she put it on the market in March for $799,000.

When no one bit, McHale dropped the price in May to $749,000. A dozen prospective buyers inquired after the property; no one submitted an offer. It fell through.

The six-bedroom, 4.5-bath windfall, despite sitting empty, was accompanied by a hefty monthly bill - between $600 and $800 in utilities and homeowner's insurance.

McHale finally sealed a $650,000 deal in November with Unity By the Bay, a Severna Park-based church that has outgrown its modest quarters in a Severna Park Strip mall. The church paid $450,000 in cash, said McHale, and she made an additional $200,000 tax-deductible contribution to stem the flow of her winnings to the IRS.

All in all, McHale said she will pocket about $200,000 after paying state and federal tax bills.

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