Imagine yourself living in a 5,000-plus-square-foot lake home with a great room boasting a 30-foot-tall limestone fireplace; a wave pool and spa; a separate dock house with its...
Imagine yourself living in a 5,000-plus-square-foot lake home with a great room boasting a 30-foot-tall limestone fireplace; a wave pool and spa; a separate dock house with its own kitchen, living area and bedroom; and views from windows, porches, balconies and a “crow’s nest” that go on forever.
That home is this year’s HGTV Dream Home, and this million-dollar baby on Lake Tyler, two hours east of Fort Worth, Texas, will be won by some lucky person in March. (The sweepstakes for the home began Jan. 1.)
This is the ninth year for HGTV’s Dream Home giveaway, and the first time the home has been in Texas.
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The 2005 Dream Home, designed by a Houston architect, is almost twice as big as previous giveaway homes — Texas-sized, HGTV would say — and the prize package, which includes a 2005 GMC Envoy Denali and $250,000 from Lendingtree.com, is the biggest yet at $1.5 million.
Like the Envoy, the Dream Home comes fully loaded, which means winning it is not like buying a home. You don’t shop for new blinds, and you don’t arrange for burly men from Mayflower to load your belongings into a van and transport them to your new digs.
Should you win, in fact, you won’t even need the table you inherited from Aunt Suzie or that raggedy old sofa you have in your family room. The Dream Home has a gorgeous table for 10 created from an old Mexican door (doorknob still attached) and an abundance of beautiful sofas — lush leather ones in the great room, cozy love seats in the sunroom, a cushy sectional in the media room.
The house comes with all the best appliances — a freezerless Sub-Zero refrigerator in the kitchen, a sub-zero freezer in the pantry, a Cuisinart espresso machine in the “honeymoon suite.”
The kitchen comes fully stocked with dishes and glassware (and there’s a separate set in the dock house for all the parties you’ll be hosting there.)
It’s not just the big things that are supplied, either. There are piles of fluffy towels in the bathrooms, scented candles scattered on ledges, a complete set of “Lemony Snicket” books for the amusement of the young ones in the bunkhouse (children’s bedroom), three vacuum cleaners ready to be switched on, and even six bottles of Bissell wood-floor cleaner in the utility room.
All you need to do, should you win, is pack your clothes, your toothbrush and your checkbook.
Your checkbook? Yes, your checkbook is very important. Fame and fortune don’t come without a price — in this case, quite a hefty one.
Winning a Dream Home, you see, has some taxing problems associated with it. Just ask the previous eight winners.
Milton O’Bryant, a Midland, Texas, policeman, knew taxes would be a problem as soon as he learned in 2002 that he was the winner of the Chesapeake Bay waterfront Dream Home in Maryland. But the home was soooo beautiful …
“When we first saw it, we thought, ‘Well, maybe.’ We kind of toyed with the idea of packing up and moving there,” says O’Bryant, who supervises the front desk for the Midland Police Department.
But O’Bryant’s family lives in Texas, and in the end, he and his wife decided it was simpler just to sell the house.
The total income tax bill for this year’s prize package will be around $525,000, which means, even with the $250,000 in cold cash from Lendingtree.com, the winner will need to come up with about $275,000 to keep the IRS at bay.
But that doesn’t mean winning isn’t a wonderful event.
Lori Wallace, HGTV vice president of ad sales marketing, says winning the Dream Home is a dream come true, no matter what happens with the house.
“There are various reasons why people don’t keep them,” Wallace said. “It’s sometimes challenging for a person to pick up and move their entire life. Whether they keep the home or sell it, they have the ability to create their own dream home.”
O’Bryant would agree.
He sold his Maryland Dream Home for about $1.3 million and paid taxes of about $450,000. Selling the house was easy: “We had people lined up,” he said.
He expects to be building his own dream home in about four years, when he retires.
“We did purchase a hilltop, right down in the middle of Hill Country in Kerrville. We will be building a dream house. It’s a no-lose situation.”
To the folks at HGTV, the word “dream” means more than just “big,” more than just “expensive.”
“We have quite a number of criteria we look at,” Wallace said. “The main one is editorial value. We air a one-hour special during the sweepstakes period. The special has to portray the dream home not only as a dreamy-looking home, but the area has to have a dreamy look as well.
“We look to find an area that’s somewhat undiscovered, so that, in presenting the Dream Home, we’re revealing this undiscovered treasure.”
In other words, Santa Fe and Aspen need not apply.