Why Doesn't HGTV Give Away an Affordable Dream Home?

Ever Wonder Why HGTV Doesn't Give Away a Dream Home Winners Can Keep?

Man with empty pockets
Can't HGTV Give Away a Home That Won't Leave You Broke?. Michelle Gibson / Getty Images

Can't HGTV Give Away a Dream Home People Can Afford?

Every year, HGTV gives away a fantastic house in the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes, which is usually worth well over a million dollars. Each year's Dream Home includes a custom-built home in a fabulous location plus landscaping, furnishings, cash, a vehicle, and more.

One of the big problems with winning the Dream Home Sweepstakes, especially in years when cash or a cash option instead of the home are not offered, is how to pay taxes on a Dream Home prize.

At the time of this writing, no winner has been able to keep their Dream Home. 2005 winner Don Cruz tried, and went bankrupt in the process. The high cost of taxes caused every other winner to either sell quickly or take the cash option.

While winners still end up hundreds of thousands of dollars richer, having to sell the house is a disappointing thought for people who have been imagining themselves living in the beautiful home they have been watching on TV and seeing in photo tours online.

Which raises a common question: why doesn't HGTV give away a Dream Home that people can afford to keep?

For example,  Eileen wrote: "If HGTV wants to do this - why don't they make a sensible house that someone can afford?" And  MLD wrote: "HGTV: build a house which is maybe cheaper than $1.5M but includes all taxes etc paid and has everything taken care of... It would be much more practical for people and they could keep the house."

So why doesn't HGTV build a more practical and affordable Dream Home?

HGTV Uses the Dream Home Sweepstakes to Show Off Their Skills

The Dream Home is an opportunity for HGTV and its sponsors to show off the luxurious homes they can build.

The Dream Home giveaway makes money for HGTV and its partners by giving viewers inspiration for ideas they can implement in their own homes.

Exposure on the Dream Home series can boost sales for everything from paint colors to furniture styles. It increases demand for local builders and artists. It's big business.

Building an average home wouldn't have the same effect.

And HGTV Does Give Away (Slightly) More Affordable Homes

The HGTV Dream Home is not the only house that the Scrips Network gives away, and some of the other big giveaways are more affordable.

For example, HGTV also holds a  Smart Home Sweepstakes (which replaced the environmentally-friendly, and lower cost, Green Home Sweepstakes in 2013). The Smart Home 2016, worth a total of $1,378,076 , was at least slightly more affordable than the $1,750,756 Dream Home, and it also included a cash option.

HGTV also offers a luxury apartment giveaway in the Urban Oasis Sweepstakes. The 2015 Urban Oasis prize was worth "only" $586,115.

In addition, DIY, a sister site to HGTV which is also owned by the Scripps Network, gives away another home each year in the DIY Blog Cabin Sweepstakes. While these prizes used to be quite affordable, they have come with a higher ARV in recent years. The 2015 Blog Cabin was worth about $900,000.

Entering these sweepstakes gives you the chance to win a home that you have a better chance of being able to keep.

You Can Still Get Your Dream Home, Even If You Can't Keep Your Dream Home

HGTV has made it easier for Dream Home winners to handle the tax consequences. In recent years, they've offered not only a cash prize, which would make a big dent in the taxes, but they also offered a cash option in lieu of the home.

Winners who take the cash option would still receive the car, furnishings, artwork and the cash, but instead of taking possession of the Dream Home itself, they would receive a hefty cash payout. Many winners have donated the furnishings to charity to help with tax write-offs while doing some good in the world.

And with the extra cash? Winners can buy an amazing new home in an area of their choice, or do a complete remodel of their existing home. So they end up in a home they love, no matter what.

So if you're looking to win a more affordable home, wait for the Green Home or the Blog Cabin sweepstakes, or any of the lower-value homes given away by other sponsors (check the Mega Sweepstakes List for current giveaways.

And as long as HGTV is giving a cash option, enter the Dream Home Sweepstakes without fear of the tax consequences. Over a million dollars in cash makes it a sweet prize, whether you want to take possession of the home or not.