'Fixer Upper' houses can be tough to sell in Waco, real estate agents argue

Beyond the glossy shiplap and farmhouse décor is a fact about the “Fixer Upper” homes that many Waco, Texas, real estate agents – and owners – are learning the hard way: they’re not easy to sell.

Earlier this month, the listing agent representing the “Asian Ranch House” featured on Season 2 of the hit HGTV show made headlines when she admitted that the home’s $679,000 price tag was likely burdening its sale. For comparison, real estate agent Marilee Kahler of RE/MAX Centex Realtors in Waco told Fox News that the current, average price for homes sold in the area hovered around $215,000.

"I know big cities do that, but Waco’s not there yet," Kristin Clements of Waco’s Camille Johnson Realtors told Insider of the steep markup.

While Clements revealed the unit’s “Fixer Upper” connection has generated a ton of online traffic, with well over 18,000 online views on a listing page to date, the attention doesn’t necessarily equate salability.

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"In this case, it’s kind of been different because people are looking at it just because it has a 'Fixer Upper' name on it, not because they can actually afford it," she shared, adding that most of the people who are looking at the listing page don’t even live in Texas.

As of press time, the Asian Ranch House was still available for sale.

Echoing similar sentiments, the city’s chief appraiser Andrew J. Hahn told the Waco Tribune-Herald that officials mark “Fixer Upper” homes with a special neighborhood code because they’re priced to sell so much higher than others in the area.

In an extreme example, the owners of the “Shotgun House” featured on Season 3 of the show purchased the digs for $28,000 before the Gaines’ worked their magic. Post-makeover, the 700-square foot home hit the market for $950,000 – though their broker argued the hefty price tag made sense.

“I think there are a lot of reasons it’s worth it,” listing agent Jennifer Roberts told KWTX at the time, citing the home’s desirable location near Magnolia Market and potential as an Airbnb rental.

The one-bedroom, one-bathroom Shotgun House is currently available to rent on the home-sharing site for $325 per night.

Kahler agrees that there’s a market for everything in real estate, and that the hit show’s “forceful fan following” often justifies the high prices for sales and rentals of affiliated houses in a simple illustration of supply and demand.

“The Greater Waco real estate market has boomed and the 'Fixer Upper' homes related to the Magnolia brand, without question, are a factor in the equation,” Kahler said. “The growth of Baylor University and the increase in high tech industries like SpaceX have also been a driving force.”

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“I recently listed a property in Waco with features similar to a 'Fixer Upper' home on the market located just 3 doors down the road. With a proper pricing strategy and marketing campaign, including highlighting the close proximity to the Fixer Upper home down the street, we received 7 offers in 48 hours,” she continued. “Most were for cash and well over the asking price.”

Acknowledging that the typical markup on the asking price of a “Fixer Upper” house – often between 25 percent and 75 percent – is well beyond the means of many typical families on a budget for a standard home in the area, Kahler believes the “value of bragging rights” on a property personally touched by the Gaines’ cannot be quantified.

“When buying a Fixer Upper house who’s to say what the value of bragging rights are? And I see no problem with someone paying a lot if the buyer sees value,” she mused. “No one is forcing anyone to buy anything.”

In a larger sense, the industry insider reasoned that the entire Wacoan community is unquestionably indebted to the spirited husband and wife team for helping rebrand the area on a national level.

“Chip and Joanna Gaines let the world know that Waco, Texas, is an ideal place to live and raise a family. The cost of living is still low, the people are friendly and the cost of houses is reasonable,” Kahler said. “Like a lot of Texas, Waco and its surrounding area is big. If you’re looking for a new place to call home, there’s plenty of room for you.”

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But for those who aren’t ready for a country-chic home in the Lone Star State, you can still get your dose of Chip and Jo now that the power couple is coming back to television.

Discovery, Inc., and Magnolia have announced that the couple's upcoming cable network will replace Discovery's DIY Network and is slated to be unveiled in the summer of 2020.

The yet-to-be-named channel, which is currently hooked to more than 52 million homes in America, will feature long-form programming on topics including real estate, garden, food, wellness and design – and, of course, re-runs of “Fixer Upper."