|A rendering of the 2014 HGTV Dream Home|
Although the contest hasn't officially opened, HGTV has announced the location of its 2014 Dream Home: Lake Tahoe, California. The 3,200-square-foot cabin is being built in Schaffer's Mill, a golf, ski, and lake community, with lots starting at $275,000. This is the 18th Dream Home giveaway, which most likely means the 18th home HGTV builds, and then either has the builder sell (if the winner takes cash) or watches the new owner sell after the reality of outrageous property taxes sets in.
The winner will be granted access to a 48-foot yacht (owned by the Schaffer's Mill community) and door-to-door service to a nearby ski resort. In addition to the home, the winner will receive $250,000 and a new vehicle from GMC, but is responsible for real estate transfer taxes, deed recording costs, and closing costs (ack!). The IRS will, of course, take a cut.
The design features two wings, one with entertainment space, the other with three bedrooms. The wings are separated by an outdoor living space.
Alternately, the lucky winner can take a cash prize, effectively giving the property back to the builder to sell. "Sometimes, it's not even a matter of whether or not they can afford the house," says Jack Thomasson, the HGTV house planner. "Sometimes, it's a matter of geography, and if you and your family are very settled in a certain area in another part of the country, it's not really practical to move to another location."
Somehow, I have trouble believing this, as even winners who have tried to claim the properties have ultimately sold them, usually for financial reasons.
2013 Dream Home | Kiawah Island, South Carolina
Carole Simpson, a resident of rural Columbia, Tennessee, won this Kiawah Island property, not too far from Parris Island, where she was formerly stationed as a Marine. An avid baker, Carole was especially excited about the well-appointed kitchen, as well as the gas fireplace (so she'd no longer have to haul wood). She planned to use part of the $500,000 cash prize to visit her son in Australia.
Alas, Carole listed the home in June for $2,395,000. (See the listing here.) Features include an aluminum roof, hurricane-proof windows, a great room with 22-foot ceilings, a 600-square-foot deck, a plunge pool, and easy access to the beach.
2012 Dream Home | Midway, Utah
Ultimately, the couple decided to take the cash prize, so the house was listed for sale, fully furnished, for $1,495,000. The home sold in 2012, but lots are still available in the development.
2011 Dream Home | Stowe, Vermont
Which is why they put it up for sale. The selling price: $2.7 million, down from nearly $3.8 million (with annual taxes of $27,720). A family of seven from Boston bought the place, with plans to add a fourth bedroom over the garage. The home boasts two giant gathering rooms, a chef's kitchen, and fantastic views of the ski slopes, and was sold with all of the furnishings and artwork from HGTV.
2010 Dream Home | Sandia Park, New Mexico
2009 Dream Home | Sonoma, California
The couple sold the home 3 months later for $2.2 million to the man who built it. (He turned around and listed it again for 10 percent more than that.) The charming part of the story: The couple donated the contents of the home, valued at $187,000, to a California charity for needy children and schools. They did, however, keep the wine from the fully stocked cellar for themselves.
2008 Dream Home | Islamorada, Florida
Then there was the money issue: She and her husband would have to fork over $700,000 in sales taxes, another $20,000 in annual property taxes, and several thousand a year for wind insurance. The couple sold the home a few months later for $1,650,000. Then 14 months later, the new owners listed it for $1,599,000 million. The house sold approximately 700 days later for $850,000.
2007 Dream Home | Winter Park, Colorado
This one is close to my heart: The winner lived in Johnson City, Tennessee, where I was born! Bob O'Neill, a retired postmaster from Florida, and his new wife in Tennessee won the 4,000-square-foot Rocky Mountain chalet after they'd spent months hunting for a home together. He ended up selling the place to invest in a dream home closer to his Tennessee residence.
2006 Dream Home | Lake Lure, North Carolina
The winner of this Blue Ridge Mountain mansion, Donald Cook, was from West Virginia. His plan: to live in the 5,700-square-foot home for a few weeks, then sell it to avoid shelling out nearly 20 grand a year in property taxes. He ultimately sold it back to the developer of the lake-view community, Grey Rock.
The day the building site was announced, the Dream Home developers received 6,000 property inquiries. As of 2010, though, Grey Rock still only had one home: the HGTV Dream Home. It sold at foreclosure price in 2009. The new owners say they relish the solitude: "Being the only home on 4,500 acres is somewhat unique in that our 'neighbors' include black bears, deer, fox, bobcats, wolves, coyotes, plus too many turkeys to count...We still have a number of people who drive up to the electronic gate in hopes of getting in to see the Dream Home. We usually politely refuse their requests to visit."
2005 Dream Home | Lake Tyler, Texas
Don Cruz of Ilinois won this Texas Dream Home, and in a rare move, opted to settle into the barn-inspired home for good, rather than immediately selling it as most winners do. At 6,000 square feet, the prize home, which includes a main building, separate master suite, and guest house, was seven times the size of his Chicago-area residence.
His first plan was to make the home a B&B, but then he found out he didn't actually own the land the behemoth was built on. He just had a 30-year lease on it, which, according to local rules, meant he couldn't open a business on the property. Then, he considered selling the guest cottage, but hit the same roadblock: Town regulations required that the property stay intact. He finally decided to make ends meet by simply living off of the then-$250,000 prize money.
But the expenses quickly piled up: $2,900 in monthly upkeep, $7,000 a year for homeowners' insurance, $1,000 a month for the mortgage on the family home back in Indiana, and thousands a month on electricity. Then there were the property taxes and the $672,000 he was expected to pay on his winnings. Oh, and the $11,000 he spent repairing his boat, $6,000 to install a dog run, $2,000 for scuba lessons, $1,800 for a go-kart, and $40,000 to charity.
He finally faced reality after a year and listed the house for $5.5 million, even though local realtors said it was only worth $2.5 million. The final selling price after the home went into foreclosure: $1.43 million.
Did he regret not selling it from the start? Nope. "It's been a blessing. I'm going to miss all of our family and friends here," Cruz told a local reporter. "But no regrets, whatsover. I'd do it all over again."
2004 Dream Home | St. Marys, Georgia
Californian Kathi Nakao claimed this coastal beauty, but with her background in accounting, immediately knew she wouldn't be able to keep the place for long. "I never let myself get where I thought I was going to stay there forever," she told reporters. After spending several long vacations at her Georgia Dream Home, she sold it in July 2005. How'd she spend the winnings? She paid her taxes on the home, renovated her house in Sacramento to resemble the Dream Home, donated money to charity, helped out her children, and bought a 1956 Chevrolet sports car.
The 3,900-square-foot home is now back on the market for $1.25 million, down from $1.5 million. (See the listing here.)