Celebrity designer Brian Patrick Flynn worked with Portland architecture firm Briburn and Freeport-based construction company Big Country Built to remodel this home on Essex Street in Portland, seen here from its back yard, for HGTV's Urban Oasis sweepstakes. (Courtesy HGTV)
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A 31-year-old physician assistant who lives in Seattle, Washington, has won a Portland home valued at more than $650,000 in HGTV’s 2020 Urban Oasis sweepstakes.

Elise Kaiser, the winner of the refurbished, furnished, three-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home in Nason’s Corner, will also receive $50,000 from LendingTree and has the option to take a cash prize instead of the house.

She said via email on Monday she has not decided what to do. 

Elise Kaiser, 31, with her dog Lola, is a physician assistant from Seattle, Washington, and the winner of a Portland home and $50,000 in HGTV’s most recent Urban Oasis giveaway. (Courtesy HGTV)

“Fortunately, I have the time remaining to thoroughly weigh both options,” Kaiser said. “Regardless of which prize I choose, I don’t think I can go wrong; both prizes are completely life-changing and would put me in a position to pay it forward to others in the future.”

Kaiser will join a minority of past HGTV home winners if she decides to keep her new house instead of selling it.

According to a July 2020 report from digital finance magazine The Balance, every HGTV Urban Oasis or Dream Home winner so far has either sold the home they won or accepted a cash option over possession of the house. The winner of the 2019 Urban Oasis home, a $650,000 farmhouse in Minneapolis, put the home up for sale only a few months after being selected, according to The Star Tribune.

The latest Urban Oasis sweepstakes received more than 74 million entries between Oct. 5 and Nov. 25, 2020, according to HGTV. Kaiser entered the contest twice a day every day for its duration and told the network she has also entered other HGTV home giveaways every day in previous years. 

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Kaiser said she will not be able to fly to Maine to see the house in person before making a decision about whether to keep it. She said the network special about the house, photos, and a 3D walkthrough available on the HGTV website have made her feel as though she has “already been there many times.”

“I certainly would not be the first person to take a house sight unseen in the last year,” she said. 

Related story: ‘Urban Oasis’ or money pit? HGTV puts remodeled Portland home up for grabs

HGTV describes the home as nautical-themed, featuring bold colors throughout. Construction was by Freeport-based Big Country Built, and the Portland firm Briburn provided architecture.

In a video provided by the network, celebrity interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn gave Kaiser the news in a surprise Zoom call. Kaiser thought she was attending a virtual happy hour with her sister and fiance when Flynn told her she had won.

Flynn said he was happy to provide Kaiser some good news since she has been working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic since it began. Her wedding has also been postponed several times due to COVID-19.

“I think that this is crazy and I can’t believe that it’s real,” Kaiser said in the video. 

Kaiser, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has lived since 2018 in Seattle, where she works in outpatient neurosurgery at a major hospital.

Flynn designed the Portland home, which is off outer Brighton Avenue on the dead-end Essex Street, surrounded by older homes. The entrance to Essex Street is across from the Breakwater School, not far from Capisic Pond. 

According to Zillow.com, the home was purchased in December 2019 for $275,000 and the homeowner paid nearly $4,400 in taxes that year. Its most recent tax-assessed value was $188,200.

The Urban Oasis contest is an annual sweepstakes that gives anyone who enters the opportunity to win a newly renovated home in an up-and-coming city selected by the network.

HGTV also raffles off houses through its Dream Home and Smart Home contests. Its 2021 Dream Home giveaway is open for entries now through Feb. 7; the prize is a home in Newport, Rhode Island. The winner will also receive a 2021 motorhome from Camping World and $250,000 from Rocket Mortgage. 

HGTV described the Portland home as a “charming 1900s New England cottage” in a recent press release, which also said Kaiser was attracted to the mix of “old and new” design elements in the home.

Kaiser told the network she has visited Portland in the past and loves the “cute coastal vibe of the town.”

She said she is drawn to urban living, and that combined with Portland’s atmosphere attracted her to the contest.

“I’ve never owned a home before,” Kaiser said. “I feel incredibly lucky that the first home I could own is so perfectly designed and move-in ready.”

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