Not all lottery houses are rotted-out shells--and not all sell for $250.

Back in 1988, in the first D.C. housing lottery, Sara Holloway won the right to pay $48,000 for this two-story town house at 242 Savannah St. SE.

The four-bedroom, two-bath town house in Congress Heights was in good structural shape, though boarded up and visited by "hobos." Removing the furniture--and mounds of trash--of the former owners took a month. Renovations to bring the house up to code and to her cosmetic standards (such as new appliances) cost about $25,000. The city provided an interest-free loan of $10,000. Holloway said the house would probably sell now from $95,000 to $105,000.

Holloway had high praise for the lottery program, particularly the 12 weeks of classes on home ownership. Her advice to lottery winners? "Sometimes you might try to go the least expensive way [in renovations], with friends and relatives. . . . I found that it is better to get a reputable [contractor] who has a business, who you know has a track record."

CAPTION: The first D.C. housing lottery winner, Sara Holloway, paid $48,000 for this house in 1988.