HGTV's Dream Home Giveaway: What Would-Be Winners Should Know

The Lowdown on One of America's Most Popular Annual Sweepstakes

Photo of the exterior of the HGTV Dream Home 2012.
Exterior of the HGTV Dream Home 2012. Image © 2011, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What Is the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway?

The HGTV Dream Home Giveaway is an annual sweepstakes from the Scripps Network's Home and Garden Television channel, which has run since 1997. Every year, HGTV uses a series of HGTV Dream Home television specials to showcase a gorgeous new home that their experts have built, then give it away. Dream Home winners receive prize packages including the house, cash, a car, and more totaling between one and three million dollars!

Since its 1997 conception, the HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes has since grown into one of America's biggest and most popular giveaways. How many people usually enter? The number has risen every year so far. In 1998, 2.5 million entries were received, but the 2016 HGTV Dream Home winner's name was chosen from among 127 million entries!

How to Enter and Win the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway:

If you want to know when the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway starts, look for an announcement toward the end of each year. Rules can change from year to year, but here are some tips on how it usually works.

Typically, entry is open to residents of the United States. To enter, you have to be at least 21 years. You're allowed to enter the Dream House sweepstakes every day, and in some years you can rack up extra entries for activities like referring friends, entering through partner websites, and other methods. Be sure to check each year for changes to these giveaway rules.

You can also enter the HGTVDream Home giveaway by mail, and unlike entering online, you can enter as often as you want through the postal service. 

Although it's alluring to think that you can get so many more entries by mail (some websites have even reported this as a loophole to be manipulated), check out should I enter sweepstakes online and by mail for the pros and cons.

If you'd like to enter by mail, I'd suggest setting a budget first. Decorating your envelopes might not be a bad idea, either. In their blog post about the 2016 Winner Drawing, HGTV showcased several of the beautifully decorated envelopes they received. No word on whether one of them was the winner, though!

If you're curious about the winner selection process, and how HGTV fairly selects a winner from among millions and millions of entries sent online and by mail, check out How HGTV Selects Winners.

How will you know if you've won? HGTV typically surprises their winners with an "ambush". They recruit friends and family to help set up a surprise announcement, and film the winners' reactions.

How the HGTV Dream Home Is Built:

HGTV's experts scour America for the right setting for each year's Dream Home. Previous year's homes have included beach getaways like the 2016 Dream Home in Merritt Island, Florida, a luxurious farmhouse in Sonoma, California, a mountain retreat in Stowe, Vermont, and many other dream locations.

After the location is chosen, construction begins. From 1997 through 2015, HGTV built a brand-new Dream Home. In 2016, they broke the mold by doing a total makeover of a pre-existing house.

Either way, HGTV's experts create a home that any family would dream of owning, and document each step of the way. They show the construction on television and by free videos on their website, inspiring viewers to make similar upgrades in their own homes.

Once the home is constructed, they bring in expert interior and exterior designers to make that year's HGTV Dream Home even more gorgeous.

In order to design each year's home in a way that respects and pays homage to its surroundings, HGTV uses locally-sourced materials, local artisans, and local vegetation in its landscaping.

And when the house is completely done, HGTV just gives it away. 

What Do Dream Home Sweepstakes Winners Receive?

Each year's HGTV Dream Home Sweepstakes winner receives the home itself, all of the artwork and furnishings inside the home, a big cash prize, and a new vehicle. Sometimes, additional prizes, like a doggie dream homefor pets or a new boat for waterfront properties, are also included.

The total prize value routinely reaches $2 million or more.

In some years, the winner is giving the option of choosing a cash prize instead of taking possession of the Dream Home itself. If the winner chooses this option, they receive the associated prizes like the vehicles, cash, and furnishings, but HGTV retains the rights to the house. Usually, they sell the home to a private bidder.

Take Note: Even If You Win the Dream Home, You Probably Won't Live In It

For many people who dream of winning the HGTV Dream Home, finding out that you probably won't be taking up residence in its luxurious halls is a disappointment.

Why don't Dream Home winners live in their homes? While the tasteful design and luxurious details make it tempting to try to move in, most Dream Homes are impractical for a family to actually live in. Many of the homes are too large for most families, with high utility and other costs. 

But more to the point for most people, the taxes on a prize worth over a million dollars can be crushing. See Could Taxes Spell the End of the Dream for HGTV Winners? for more information.

In the past, some people have criticized HGTV for giving away a home most winners can't afford to keep. However, HGTV and its parent company, the Scripps Network, gives away several homes each year, many of which are more affordable. For more information, see Why Doesn't HGTV Give Away a More Affordable Dream Home?

But even if you can't keep the home itself, it's absolutely still worth trying to win. For one example, read my interview with 2005 winner Don Cruz, who had to sell his home but had a blast in the time he owned it, and made lifelong friends. If you accept that you'll need to sell the house or take a cash option, you'll walk away with hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes, plus a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tour Previous HGTV Dream Homes:

Want to know what the big deal about the HGTV Dream Homes is and why so many people want to win one of these amazing homes? Here are photo tours of many of the beautiful homes that have been given away so far:

Take a Look at Past HGTV Dream Homes:
Dream Home Year: Location:
2009 HGTV Dream Home Sonoma, California
2010 HGTV Dream Home Sandia Park, New Mexico
2011 HGTV Dream Home Stowe, Vermont
2012 HGTV Dream Home Midway, Utah
2013 HGTV Dream Home Kiawah, South Carolina
2016 HGTV Dream Home Merritt Island, Florida


Current Sweepstakes from HGTV and Its Partners: