An HGTV Dream Home Giveaway Winner Reveals Why She Never Moved In

Her family took the cash prize alternative.

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YouTube / HGTV

Each year, HGTV gives people a chance to win the prize of a lifetime: an actual dream home designed by HGTV. Fans have the opportunity to enter the sweepstakes once a day at HGTV.com, and once a day at diynetwork.com. The grand prize this year is a package valued at more than $2.3 million, which includes a furnished four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom mountain retreat in Whitefish, Montana, a cash prize, and a 2019 Honda Pilot Elite.

Winning the HGTV Dream Home sweepstakes truly would be a dream, but believe it or not, some winners never actually move into the home. Emily Muniz won last year's grand prize: a custom-built home in Gig Harbor, Washington, $250,000 in cash to go toward property and income taxes, and a Honda Accord. Muniz told People that she and her husband entered the contest twice a day every day in 2018, but she never thought she'd actually win the $1.8 million prize.

Emily's name got randomly drawn from 123 million entries. "It was completely surreal," she said. She said she's been a longtime fan of watching the Dream Home building process. "It's not just that the homes are beautiful and in great locations, but it's the design and craftsmanship that goes into each one that's impressive."

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YouTube / HGTV

After consulting a financial adviser, Muniz and her husband (who have a three-year-old daughter) decided to take the cash prize alternative over the grand prize that included the Gig Harbor home.

Emily told People that the offer wasn't easy to turn down—after all, she and her husband had honeymooned in the Pacific Northwest and fell in love with the area. "While we would have loved to have moved in, it just wasn't the right time to uproot our daughter from school and change jobs while also trying to tackle the finances that come along with such an expensive property," she said.

The cash prize, according to People, typically carries a $500,000 tax liability. Emily said she and her husband "are still responsible for carrying the taxes on the cash prize option." The cash prize has allowed for great opportunities for her and her family, though: They've established a college fund for their daughter, they own a new Honda, and they are able to donate to charities close to their hearts. "No, it's not the Dream Home, but this prize has helped us achieve other dreams of ours," she said.

According to Country Living, only about 28 percent of the people who have won Dream Homes over the years (since the first in 1997) have actually lived in the home for more than a year. The majority of the winners either take the cash alternative, like Emily did, or sell the house back to the developer within a year, largely based on the tax burden that comes with the extravagant homes.

There's still time to enter this year's Dream Home giveaway. You can enter to win the grand prize until February 18. Good luck!

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