Stay-at-home dad wins Dream Home, but will he keep it?

HGTV's Dream Home giveaway is great for inspiring fantasies, but most winners can't afford to keep the houses.

By Teresa at MSN Real Estate Mar 14, 2011 10:25AM

2011 HGTV Dream Home (© HGTV)Come on, admit it. You've drooled over the HGTV Dream Home at least once over the years.


How could you not? The home is usually architecturally interesting, nestled in a beautiful spot and exquisitely photographed. This year's "don't-you-wish-you-were-there" fantasy home was a 3,000-square-foot rustic mountain lodge in Stowe, Vt.

The winner of this year's HGTV Dream Home is Eric Makstenieks of suburban Chicago, who has entered the contest every year since 2003. He even sent in an entry from the hospital the day his daughter was born.


He found out about his victory last week when HGTV designer Monica Pedersen dropped by. The award will be televised at 8 p.m. Eastern March 19.


"It hasn’t even hit us yet," Makstenieks told The Chicago Tribune's Bridget Doyle. "The most amazing part is the place is fully furnished — everything’s already set up. Place settings, napkins, towels, you name it. One of the production guys even told us there’s toothpaste in the cabinets. Do we even need a suitcase?"


Now Makstenieks and his wife, Catherine, who will see the house for the first time next month, have to decide whether they'll ever live in it.


Most winners don't.


Kathi Nakao, who worked in accounting for the state of California, won the Dream Home in St. Mary's, Ga., in 2004. She spent several vacations there, but she knew she'd never keep it.


"Ordinary people cannot keep a home like that," she told The Associated Press back in 2006, after she had sold the home. "I think it’s meant to change your life, more than that they (HGTV) expect you to keep it."

With the money from the sale of the home, she paid the taxes on her winnings -- which on a $2 million prize can total more than $600,000 -- renovated her home in Sacramento, Calif., donated to charity, helped her children and bought a 1956 Chevy hot rod.


Don Cruz, who won the 2005 Dream Home in Tyler, Texas, moved his family from Illinois with the hope of keeping the home.

But the $250,000 in cash included with their prize and the proceeds from refinancing the home went quickly. Keeping up the 6,000-square-foot home was expensive, about $2,900 a month, not including $25,000 a year in property taxes and $7,000 a year for insurance.

When the federal tax bill for $672,000 came, they sold the house at auction in 2008 for $1.32 million, netting additional money from selling the contents.


Don and Shelly Cruz told Money Magazine in 2006, before the sale of the home, that they had no regrets. "It was great to live the life of the rich and famous, if only for a year," Don Cruz said. 

Jun 16, 2013 8:08PM
I think that HGTV should pay the taxes on the new home. At least for a year or so..........
Jun 4, 2013 2:49AM
Nowhere in the world like IRS that steals peoples money making it law. It is extremely too much and should be forbidden. Taxes on gifts and winnings should be forbidden. Poor people's dreams goes down the drain because 'big dad' robbes it and you remain poor. Should someone talk?
Jun 4, 2013 2:39AM
Does anyone question IRS for taking to much money from people. You can not afford to win price on sweepstakes and to win lottery it is taking to much money out. You can not afford even to give and get gift, IRS wants half. No other country in the world do as much stilling as IRS does.
Feb 14, 2012 7:27PM
I would rather HGTV do this:  The winner gets to work with designers to design and build their own dream home.  They can build it where they want.  They can build one they can afford to live in.   I would watch a reality show based on the winner's experience of designing and building their dream home.  I would really enjoy it and the winners probably would too. 
Sep 27, 2011 1:07PM
I guess it's almost like all the contests if you dont live in California or another major metro area forget it. Walk in to a building center in the heatland a person would be surprised at the number do there own project too.
May 20, 2011 2:25PM
I have entered every day for years, and really intended to move away from CA to the HGTV House....this year my hubby had terminal illness, and if it would have been in CA, near medical Clinics, that would be fine....BUT high in the sky and snow and terrible weathers, and lawns to clear...CT had no desire.  I hope they will do a home that will not just be for youngsters far away from their grandparents, but THIS YEAR,HGTV, BUILD A LOVELY HOME that older folks have dreamed about all their life.  HOW ABOUT SANTA BARBARA, SAN DIEGO, LaJOLLA Ca.....perfect in size and ease to get around...and just a few miles from the best medical help in the whole world???? If they are going to cut Medicare, wouldn't it be grand to give a lovely and practical home for our age.........even a elevator up any stairs????
Mar 23, 2011 3:21AM

Puzzled and concerned, you puzzle and concern ME.  You believe it's fixed but gave no reason as to why you believe so, other than the fact you didn't win.  Then you lament how people that win are either well off (certainly not the case in the stories shared above) or are satisfied in life already. So what are you saying? Only people that are dissatisfied with life should win?!  I know poor people that are satisfied. Should they be excluded from entering?


Then you complain because entering gives people false hopes for something you say will never come true.  Well it comes true for at least 1 person a year. According to your logic, should everybody stop playing the lottery because it might give a false hope? No more entering publishers clearing house to avoid disappointment?


You have that "everyone should be a winner - all people should have the same lot in life" socialist mentality. You must have been educated in our public schools. Your reasoning's are grossly immature and definitely sour grapes.  Seriously, grow up!

Mar 20, 2011 10:55AM

I believe it's fixed anyway so that HGTV can keep the public interest.. Just as usual most who win don't even intend to use the property or already seem stable and satisfied or well off. Time to let more people win and time to have more than one house at a time to give away.Those who can really can  benefit never win...I hate it ...It's a nightmare for me..just takes up time and gives people false hopes for something that will never come true. It really is a dream to me .I never win and like most people I have entered the contests for all the homes daily and never won a damn thing...What's the use?


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