HGTV 'Dream Home' winners reveal what happens after

Cheryl Kahla
Jun 01, 2018
10:50 A.M.
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The HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes were first held in 1997, and while the show offers a life-changing experience, many winners don't get to keep their homes.


As reported by Good Housekeeping, the show created 21 winners since Dream Home's inception, but only six winners lived in their homes for more than a year. 

Their reasons for choosing the cash price and vehicle instead of their dream mansion is simple: the income federal tax bill is simply too steep. 

Add to that the costs of maintaining the house and property, utilities, real estate tax and the costs of uprooting their lives and moving to the dream home. 


Winners who take the cash alternative prize of $250,000 get to keep their vehicle as well. In most cases, the participant sells the home back to developers within a year. 

However, despite the let-down of not being to take residence in the mansion, winning still changes a family's quality of life. In most cases, the cash prize is enough to purchase a new home of their choosing. 

The 1998 winner, Tina Carlson from California, is the only contestant to have kept her dream mansion for an extended period.


She used the home as a vacation property but eventually sold it in 2005 after when the tax bill became too steep. 

The 2016 winner, Dave Rennie, took the cash prize and vehicle, a choice he doesn't regret. 

“I had never personally driven a new car. We’d never purchased a vehicle with all of the bells and whistles, just the basic model.”

Dave Rennie, Do You Remember, February 23, 2018.



He said choosing between the home and the cash-and-car combo was a "no-brainer" and not just because of the tax bills. He also didn't want to uproot his life Connecticut. 

Instead, they used to cash prize to remodel their family home in a similar style as the house that HGTV offered them in Florida. 

When a house is sold back to the developer, HGTV puts the house on the market. In most cases, the homes are bought within a month. 

The 2017 house, located at Urban Oasis, Knoxville, Tennessee, was a definite favorite with the public and was sold within a few days.