Local

This Is Why So Many Wacoans Struggle To Celebrate Magnolia (Fixer Upper) & Their Impact On Waco

Last Updated on September 16, 2022 by Kristi Linauer

[Note: This post was updated on 7/17/2022 with a lot more information because I was clearly not getting my point across in the original post. This post expresses my own personal opinion, but hopefully my points are clearer now.]

It’s been many years now since Chip & Joanna Gaines have become household names due to their hugely successful and popular TV show Fixer Upper on HGTV. And since then, their business empire in Waco (the city where I was born, and where I’ve lived about 45 of my 49 years of life) has grown from a TV show, to a huge retail store, bakery, restaurant, bed and breakfasts, a real estate company, a media network, and now a restored “castle” that is (or will soon be) open for tours.

Their impact on Waco can’t be missed. Waco has gone from a sleepy little town that most people miss if they blink while driving through on their way up I-35 traveling from Austin to Dallas, to an actual tourist attraction, and a tourist attraction for positive reasons (unlike that decade post-1993, if you know what I mean).

But if you talk to the average Wacoan — those who just live here and live normal lives here — a large portion of them are getting a bit burned out on all things Magnolia. I hear it when I talk to people around town. I see it when I read comments on articles from the local media. Many have been feeling for a long time that it’s just enough.

In the beginning, everyone enjoyed the positive press that Waco was finally getting. But when things finally started affecting the real lives of real Wacoans, and in ways that weren’t so helpful, the feelings started to turn. And that’s where a lot of Wacoans find themselves today.

To show you what I mean, I’ll show you this example that I came across just this week.

If you’ll remember, the premise of the Fixer Upper show was, as Chip stated in the intro of every show, “We take the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn it into our client’s dream home.”

Well, many of you may remember The Gorman House, which was featured during the first season of Fixer Upper. That house is on the market right now for $1.2 million. Here are some pictures from the Zillow listing:

You can see a lot more pictures on the listing here.

It truly is a beautiful house, and they did a great job remodeling it. The problem is that price. $1.2 million…in that neighborhood.

I don’t know how property taxes work in other states. But here, property taxes are directly correlated to the assessed value of the house, which is determined largely by the value of the other houses in the neighborhood.

So if the current owner of this house managed to actually sell this house for $1.2 million, that will then affect the value of the other houses in the area, which means that those homeowners will then have their property taxes increased. All because of this house.

It’s the very same issue I have with the awful flip house next door to us (which still hasn’t sold, by the way). We bought our house almost nine years ago for $80,000, and since then, our house has gone up in assessed value every year, which means we pay more property taxes each year.

But if that house next door to us had actually sold for the original (and insane) asking price of $450,000, that would have artificially driven up the assessed value of our house right next door, which means that our property taxes (and all my our neighbors’ property taxes) would have taken a huge jump the next year all because of that one house.

So that brings us back to The Gorman House. Of course, the current owners can ask whatever they want for the house. They could ask $4 million for that house. It won’t really matter until someone actually buys it. But the very fact that someone feels like they can actually put that $1.2 million price tag on that house is directly related to the fact that Chip and Joanna’s names (and the Fixer Upper name) are attached to that house.

To be clear, Chip and Joanna don’t own the house, and they’re not the ones selling it. But the fact that it is a Fixer Upper house is being used to market the house. That info is used to market all of these Fixer Upper houses that go on the market. And so far, all of them that I’ve seen hit the market at prices that are much higher (sometimes by many multiples) than the values of the other houses in the neighborhood.

So let me show you pictures of the neighborhood, and you can decide for yourself if they remodeled the worst house in the best neighborhood. Here are some of the houses just down from The Gorman House on the same side of the street. (These are all public, so I’m not violated anyone’s privacy.)

Here’s the house directly across from The Gorman House.

And here’s one more directly across from The Gorman House.

So you can tell me if you think they remodeled the worst house (a massive 7 bedroom 7 bathroom house surrounded by modest-sized houses) in the best neighborhood. Here’s a quick look at the current home values in that area…

No. The answer is no. In no way would this qualify as a “best neighborhood”. Those estimated values are current. Years ago, when the Gorman House was remodeled for the show (which I believe was around 2016), these houses were probably more in the $80,000 range. Now the average price looks to be around $150,000, but there’s nothing even remotely close to $1.2 million in that area. So if that house sells for $1.2 million, or even a $1 million, or even $700,000, I can’t imagine what will happen to the people who live in that neighborhood. That sale will drive up the assessed values of the homes around it, which in turn will drive up the property taxes of all the houses around it.

And again, the only reason someone would think they could even ask that much for that house is because of the association with Fixer Upper. I know prices and taxes have spun out of control since the beginning of 2020, but what I’m talking about here is something very different altogether, and it’s a problem that’s been happening around Waco since around 2016.

The tax records are public, and you can see the taxes on the Gorman House over the years. In 2016, the tax assessment value of that house was $168,500, and the taxes were $3,742. Two years later, the house was assessed at $331,000, and the taxes were $9,312.

During that same time period, the house pictured below (you can see the Gorman House on the far right) went from a tax assessment value of $51,130 to $109,320, and the taxes more than doubled, going from $1,439 to $3,076.

And during that same time, the little red house with the flagpole in the front (three pictures above) went from an assessed value of $31,260 with taxes of $830, to an assessed value of $57,700 and taxes of $1,623. I don’t presume to know the financial situations of the people living in these homes, but based on the looks of the homes, I also wouldn’t presume that they have wiggle room in their budgets for their property taxes to double from one year to the next.

Again, this seems to be happening in every neighborhood where there’s a Fixer Upper house. This isn’t a new problem associated with the explosion in real estate prices over the last 2.5 years. This dates back further to 2015 and 2016.

So if the current owners do manage to sell the Gorman House for $1.2 million, or even $1 million, or even $700,000, it will just compound the current real estate and tax problem that we’ve seen spin out of control over the last 2.5 years.

The same thing happened to the Fixer Upper house in my mom’s neighborhood. Once they got their hands on that house and remodeled it, the price tag skyrocketed. The houses in that area, if I had to guess, were probably valued at around $285,000 and under at that time back in 2016. And if my memory serves me correctly, I’m pretty sure when that Fixer Upper house was listed for sale the last time, those owners put an insane $700,000 price tag on it. I remember being absolutely stunned at the asking price. I mean, I laughed at it. I scoffed. And the ONLY reason someone would think that they could get that price for that house is because they knew they could market it as a “Fixer Upper” house.

I was right, thank goodness. The house didn’t sell for that price, but it did sell for a MUCH higher price than what all of the other houses in that area were valued at. And since then, the property taxes on that house have gone from $1800/year to $7200/year, which in turn, seems to have had an effect on the assessed values and property taxes of many of the other houses in that neighborhood.

There are some neighborhoods that can handle the improvements. My mom’s neighborhood is one of them. She lives in an older, well-established neighborhood of a very sought-after suburb of Waco. It’s that kind of area where Chip and Joanna can ACTUALLY go in and remodel “the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn it into our client’s dream home” and benefit the whole neighborhood. But there are some neighborhoods that just simply can’t afford it, and, in my humble opinion, should just be left alone.

The Shotgun House is another prime example. I’ll never forget the day I found the address of the Shotgun House and decided to take a drive across town to see it myself. This was many years ago, soon after they had finished that house, and when I turned onto the street, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. In absolutely no universe could that have been called “the best neighborhood”. Honestly, I could only wonder if some of those houses had electricity and running water.

It was like I had been transported into a poverty-stricken town in the Appalachian Mountains. I thought for sure that I had made a wrong turn, but I kept on driving, and there towards the end of the street on the left hand side stood the sparkling new and beautiful Shotgun House.

Again, I was stunned. I couldn’t imagine investing so much money (or any, really) in real estate in that area. And then to sell the premise of that show as them taking “the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn[ing] it into our client’s dream home”? Again, in no universe could that describe what they had done.

So imagine my utter and complete shock when the owner tried to sell that house for $950,000, and again, the ONLY reason anyone would ever think they’d get that much for that house is because of the association with Fixer Upper. I don’t think it ever sold (at least there’s no record of it on Zillow), but the assessed value of that house is now $183,300, and the taxes are $3,895.

While that doesn’t sound too outrageous, you would have to compare it to the houses around it at the time to understand the effect. One of the houses on that street (one of them that’s still standing) was assessed at $40,940 during 2014-2016, with taxes of $1,163. And then in 2017, the assessed value of the house and the taxes both increased 115% to $88,100 and $2,504 respectively.

That same trend seems to be true for all of the other houses that are still standing on that street when you look at the records during that same time period. I haven’t been over there since then, but I have looked on Google Maps and Zillow to see what’s going on in that part of town. From what I can tell on Google Maps, a lot of those houses that I saw years ago when I drove over there don’t appear to still be standing today.

It looks like some of them were torn down so that apartments and other investment properties could be built. And again, I can’t help but wonder if that happened because those people could no longer afford to stay in their homes when their assessed value and their property taxes more than doubled from one year to the next. So in came the investors to take advantage of the situation.

Anyway, that’s the story of Waco that doesn’t get told very much. I have to admit that as a native Wacoan, I’m kind of on the “burned out” end of the spectrum. Every time Chip and Joanna buy another property and announce another business, I just want to say, “When will it be enough?”

And every time I see a Fixer Upper rerun and hear Chip say, “We take the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn it into our client’s dream home,” I wonder if the viewing audience actually believes that. While it may be true some of the time, it most assuredly is not true for every episode. And when they remodel the biggest house in a low income neighborhood, it sets off a chain reaction of events that isn’t always such a blessing for those who live there.

On a personal note, I did personally get upset when they took a Waco landmark — the Waco Elite Cafe — that has been a Waco icon for decades, and where Elvis Presley ate when he was stationed at Ft. Hood, and gutted the place, drenched it in their “farmhouse” look, and put their brand name on it. That didn’t set well with me at all. It didn’t set well with a lot of Wacoans.

And it upsets me now that they’ve redone another Waco landmark — an historic “castle” that was built in 1890 — and have remodeled it and are going to charge $50 per person for tours. I mean, I don’t know of a nicer way to say it, but that just seems greedy to me. Heck, you can buy a ticket to tour the Biltmore Estate for $89, so paying $50 for a home tour in Waco, Texas, just seems ridiculous to me. (They’ve already said they plan to sell it, so they’ll recoup their investment in the sale.) I’ll admit that I’m incredibly disappointed by their decision to charge that much to tour this Waco landmark, especially when such a price tag will be too much for a huge percentage of Wacoans to pay. Yes, tourists will pay it. But a huge portion of the very people who live here won’t be able to afford it. And I swear, if I were to walk into that Waco landmark and see shiplap on any of those walls, I’d probably lose my mind. 😀

Anyway, that’s the downside to having the Magnolia empire take over your city. To be clear, I don’t dislike Chip and Joanna. I don’t know them. I’ve met Joanna and talked with her on a few occasions (all before their Fixer Upper fame), and she was perfectly nice. I don’t have anything against them on a personal level. But when I saw that Gorman House listing a few days ago, and saw the asking price (and again, they are not the ones selling it, but that price is directly influenced by their previous involvement in it), and having just seen the local newspaper article announcing the $50-per-person tours of another Magnolia-branded Waco landmark, I did let out an exasperated sigh once again, and think to myself, “When is enough going to be enough?”

And while I won’t be watching their reboot of Fixer Upper on their new network, I do hope they’ll be more mindful when choosing the homes they remodel. If they’re selling the show as “tak[ing] the worst house in the best neighborhood and turn[ing] it into our client’s dream home,” I hope they’ll actually do that.

  • JenB
    July 14, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    100% agree. I have a similar conversation every time one of my neighbors comes to be all excited because a house in the neighborhood sold for so much more than expected. People literally lose their paid off homes because they can no longer afford the taxes because they’re retired and their budget didn’t include a 1000% tax increase. All these people moving to the midwest from the coasts are completely driving up prices in my area because they’re still “so much cheaper” than California and New York. YOu may feel you’re still getting a deal paying $150K over asking, but it’s hurting everyone else in the neighborhood.

    • Nadine
      July 14, 2022 at 12:40 pm

      JENB
      Gee I know what you are saying here about people losing their paid for homes. That is happening in my neighborhood. We are retired since 1998 and our mortgage has been paid off since 1991, but with some of the homes in our neighborhood being upgraded inside and outside and then selling for insane prices, our taxes are very hard to pay now. We have pride and try very hard to keep our home maintained and looking as nice as we can, but we have not added onto or gutted to rebuild the floor plan. Many people in our neighborhood have done this and/or doing it right now. This is hard on us elderly people.

      • Randy
        July 14, 2022 at 8:22 pm

        One house sale does not prove market value for all homes in a neighborhood. Appraisers look at other comparable sales as well to determine value.

    • Barbara
      July 14, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      Thank you for this post! It’s happening everywhere including Missouri Star quilting. So tired of all the rich changing our lives.

    • Danny
      July 14, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Not to disregard your comment completely, but please be aware of a couple of things:
      1. In Texas, property taxes can only go up a maximum of 10% on your primary residence in any given year (still not great, but definitely not 1000%) / 2. Property taxes charged by the school district (which is usually the largest chunk) freeze (are capped) when you reach 65 or become disabled. You are also offered the option to defer all or part of your property taxes until you pass away and your estate is settled (not ideal but should keep most elderly and disabled from losing their homes) / 3. There are of course the other homestead exemptions but those become less significant as property values increase.

  • Jimmy
    July 14, 2022 at 12:17 pm

    Sadly, this has been true since the dawn of history … the rich never get enough. Ever.

  • Joan Hornung
    July 14, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    UGH – I don’t even watch them anymore. I got burned out on them a very long time ago. I would hate to live close to their empire – I’m sure other people in that sweet, used to be sleepy little town are sick of it all! I do like Ben & Erin, especially when they use some of the old materials to make furniture, etc. BUT, I hope that town stays sweet and with the hometown charm it has. Not sure if that is possible??? What do you think Kristi? Will it be another Waco?

    • Leslie
      July 14, 2022 at 1:06 pm

      Ben and Erin are not buying up large properties and turning them into tourist attractions. From what I have seen, and I really have only seen what is on TV, anything they are buying is being turned into a business to benefit the town. While their fame will bring tourist to the area and the homes they renovate will probably bring a higher price tag, hopefully nothing like what is being asked for the Gorman house. Also, Ben and Erin like their little “sleepy” town. Hopefully, that will be the difference between Waco and Laurel.

    • Susie
      July 14, 2022 at 3:14 pm

      I got tired of Fixer Upper long time ago when it seemed like they have turned the name of Waco into Magnolia-land. I watch Ben and Erin because they try to salvage and reuse items for their homes. I hope fame doesn’t change them and the cute little town in Mississippi.

  • Jessica
    July 14, 2022 at 12:23 pm

    As a fellow Texan experiencing the skyrocketing property taxes, I’d say the answer lies in our state Congress to do something about how property values are assessed. It is a problem everywhere, without the Magnolia empire meddling with our values. My home is worth nearly double what I bought it for 7 years ago. And we’re in the “median” price point, not the upper end. Insanity. And each year I get another $700 a year or more added to my property tax rate (the max 10% they’re allowed to assess). If I sold and rebought something even the same value as my current home I’d have to pay even more in taxes based on that value and not my homesteaded 7 year rate. It is one of the main issues I write my congressmen about. There is no way this is sustainable for most Texans.

    • Sharon
      July 14, 2022 at 3:50 pm

      Jessica this is the correct way to deal with increases in taxes. We don’t live in Arlington Virginia any more but I recall our values increased 300%, so the tax rate was lowered. Folks really Need to be proactive about this issue. Instead of citing blame look for a corrective action.

  • Lori
    July 14, 2022 at 12:35 pm

    Not impressed…this house is not $1.2 million worth of house. An automatic paper towel dispenser in the bathroom and the sofa blocking the opening in the wall to the front room? 🙄 And I wouldn’t pay $300K for house like this one across the street from what the picture you showed in your post. I’m born and raised Texan but live in Nebraska. That is one of the problems in Texas I’ve found is there are no ordinances regulating what can be built where….for example we looked at a potential new home for sale a few years ago north of Dallas. We had to drive past some pretty awful homes/trailers/junk on the side of the oil paved road to get to this fairly new subdivision with $200K homes. The road going there completely turned us off. And I remember my husband who is originally from University Park in Dallas saying that is the problem in Texas. That street where that house sits doesn’t have similar older homes and it looks low income and not well maintained. Who would want to live there? Just a suggestion…after you finish your house, you might consider remodeling the house next door.

    • JS
      July 14, 2022 at 4:07 pm

      The problem is nationwide, not a WACO/Chip and Joanna problem. I believe that property taxation based on value is the problem. If we were all taxed based on either purchase price or acreage, this wouldn’t be an issue. I do not like it when someone begrudges others for fixing up homes. Besides raising taxes (which I agree should not happen), I do not see any other negative to neighbors. In fact, it benefits neighbors values greatly when the other houses are more desirable.

      • Linda
        July 14, 2022 at 6:17 pm

        She isn’t begrudging anyone. She’s stating a simple fact of what is happening there. And it just makes sense. This is her life, not a dang TV show!

      • Kristi Linauer
        July 14, 2022 at 6:39 pm

        I think you’ve missed the point. I’m not talking about the out-of-control property tax issue. Yes, that’s a huge issue in Texas right now. And yes, property values are increasing all over the place at rapid rates, causing the property taxes to go up. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

        I’m talking about two issues here. First, the price that keeps being placed on these houses just because they are Fixer Upper houses. I can’t think of another situation where a person can buy a home in a neighborhood filled with $120,000 homes, remodel that house, and then turn around and think they can sell it for $1.2 million. That’s not normal. The only thing that makes people think they can sell these houses for many times more than the value of the other homes in the neighborhood is that they have the “Fixer Upper” name attached to them, and they can market them as such.

        This is a COMPLETELY different issue than the ongoing property tax issue. This is compounding the ongoing property tax issue.

      • RE
        July 14, 2022 at 8:28 pm

        JS, Agreed!

  • Gail Ebeling
    July 14, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    Nice to hear about those who actually live in Waco. I never gave it much thought. Thanks for letting us see the other side

  • Kate S
    July 14, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    Just a thought, but perhaps it’s time to really look at the way property taxes are assessed in your area. It’s different in every state, but this would be a clear example as to why it needs to be looked at. Texas seems to be a pretty reasonable state… Perhaps there can be some kind of carve out for these kinds of situations.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 5:57 pm

      Believe you me, there are people all over Waco, and all over Texas, raising a ruckus over the property tax issue. What’s going on with property tax simply isn’t sustainable, and people are going to start losing their homes with increasing regularity if something isn’t done to stop the rapid increase.

  • Alexsandra Thompson
    July 14, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    It’s not just Waco. Or even the U.S. Home prices in Toronto have been INSANE for years and now nobody can afford to live there.

    So what do they do?

    A lot of people are moving east and out of the province to Atlantic Canada, where the home prices are MUCH lower and they’re banking the money for retirement, kids education or whatever.

    People are ALSO gobbling up homes in my city, just over an hour out of Toronto. Our home prices have skyrocketed (QUADRUPLED) and our taxes are insane.

    I want to move to the country where the taxes are lower and build on family acreage, most likely to a smaller home. The property taxes are the most expensive monthly bill (equal payments) I have right now.

    • Ly
      July 14, 2022 at 1:09 pm

      And all the people who are moving east are doing the exact same thing to the maritimers who already make much less than people in Ontario 😬 The house prices out here have been climbing VERY quickly in the last two years. There’s no winning.

      • Alexsandra Thompson
        July 14, 2022 at 2:42 pm

        Yes. I get that. I know three families personally who have moved down east. Onlt one family moved to be closer to family.

    • Charlotte
      July 15, 2022 at 3:12 pm

      I am one of those who live in Atlantic Canada…PEI to be exact. What is happening here…are folks in Ontario and larger provinces…selling their over priced homes…then migrating to PEI…and think paying $800,000-$900,000 for a home is a steal! Prices for homes here have skyrocketed to absolute ridiculous-ness! Houses previously sold for under $300,000…..are now selling for $650,000-$700,00. We purchased our home in 1987…for $63,500. A house…about three driveways up….sold for just under $1 million! Now…it’s nice…with an in-ground pool…and fenced in back yard…but not $1 million nice. I’ll stay put in my fully renovated split entry…with an enclosed above ground pool! Even if we sold…for a huge profit…we’d have to spend thousands more for a comparable home.

  • Tracy
    July 14, 2022 at 12:41 pm

    So sorry. I get that frustration! Anyone who buys that house for anything close to that amount either has a lot of cash and/or is a crazy fool! No way it could possibly appraise for that! You’ll have to keep us posted on what it finally sells for.
    I think people losing their homes because of property taxes is happening all over because of this crazy real estate boom. It’s great for those wanting to sell I guess, but for those of us staying put, not so much.
    If I hear the word Farmhouse, I cringe 😬 so sick of it! I was just on Zillow this morning, saw a house, and thought she watches too much fixer upper. 😕

  • Courtney
    July 14, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I agree with almost everything you are saying. I really ask when is it enough for Magnolia. However, I slightly disagree with the tax increases. TX overall is out of control. My taxes have increased X5 just in the past 5 years. My current taxes are approx $6K for a modest home in a Dallas suburb. Your standard 2 bed/3 bath home. Here it’s the lack of housing available for all the corporations moving to TX and the school taxes. Also, I don’t even know how these homes are appraising at the value they are selling.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 6:07 pm

      I totally get the property tax issue, and I understand that it’s all over Texas right now. The point I’m trying to make specifically, and what I’m not seeing all over the place, is a remodeled home in a neighborhood of $120,000 homes being put on the market for 10 times the value of the other houses in the rest of the neighborhood.

      It seems to me the only reason they think they can do that is because they can market it as a “Fixer Upper” house and use the brand name for marketing. And even though I doubt they’ll get the $1.2 million for it, I do think they’ll get an amount many times the value of the houses around it. It accelerates an already out-of-control problem that we’re seeing all over the state.

  • Kathy
    July 14, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    I totally agree with you. If I never see another barn door or ship lap it will still be too soon. In the beginning it was fine, then every Reno started looking the same. I noticed early on when there was occasional glimpse of the neighborhoods, it was often run down or commercial. Even though their end product was nice, still seemed like over spending for neighborhoods. I also refuse to buy their products at target or wherever, because it’s over priced minus their names.
    Totally over them, can’t imagine paying extra to watch them on their own network because they’re too good for HGTV. Seems like their “down home style” got bitten by the greedy bug.

  • Lorinda
    July 14, 2022 at 12:50 pm

    I heard the entrance fees for the castle tours were being donated to charity. Is that not the case?

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 6:48 pm

      20% is being donated to charity. And while that’s nice, the $50 entrance fee is way too much for the majority of Wacoans. Waco is not a wealthy city by any stretch. The median household income in Waco is about $40,000. I just think it’s sad that they’ve priced it so out of reach for a huge portion of the people who live here.

  • Lisa Johnson
    July 14, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Kristi! I live in the suburbs of Washington, DC in Alexandria, Virginia. Around here there are a lot of neighborhoods that are being “gentrified” with “McMansions”, some of this is good, but most of it isn’t. Here in Fairfax County there have been many new restrictions on building bigger homes, but most of the restorations to dilapidated homes are welcome. I agree with the $1.2 being out of line with the neighborhood, but if the home sells it will have to appraise for that price using comparable sales from the neighborhood in order for a home loan to be granted. So unless this sells to an all-cash buyer, they will need to revisit the sales price. Hope that helps! In this economy it seems that all of the assessments here have gone up a huge amount, too- I feel your pain.

  • Sally Hill
    July 14, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    While I agree this is a problem, you fail to mention that while taxes went up so did the value of their homes. I can also imagine that the people purchasing the $1.4 million home would not want that view from their front windows. Perhaps they will be fine with it – I wouldn’t be. There is a solution available to them…..sell their home for double or triple what they paid and buy in their original range, bringing the taxes back down to a manageable amount. There are no guarantees it won’t happen to them again, but that’s the unknowns of life. Life is not fair, never has been and never will be. If you buy a house thinking nothing will ever change, you’re going to be disappointed. I also live in Texas and my taxes have increased exponentially, but I knew it could happen when I purchased. I own 7 houses on one block and yes, the increased taxes cuts into my rental profit, but to be fair – I knew that was a possibility when I purchased and planned accordingly. Gentrification is happening all over the country and at a far greater pace in other places than here in Texas. You do realize your renovations will have an affect on your neighborhood as well, right? Not as marked as the home you’re showcasing, but an affect nonetheless.

    I disagree with wanting a legislative solution to the issue. Politics may well drive the issue, but it’s not about legislation – it’s about governance. Elections have consequences – even unintended ones.

    • sandy
      July 14, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      I had the exact same thoughts…..taxes going up buy so is your property value.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 6:51 pm

      I didn’t fail to mention that. I literally said, “That sale will drive up the assessed values of the homes around it, which in turn will drive up the property taxes of all the houses around it.” But the value of a home is only useful if someone is wanting to sell. For people who have been in their homes for years, and plan to stay, it’s not helpful for the value to go up, especially if it’s being driven up in this way.

    • SeaDub
      July 14, 2022 at 8:36 pm

      This a great idea in theory…but if we were to sell our house and buy a new one that is more affordable, we’d have to move miles out of town or move to a tiny house. Everything around here as increased in value. So just selling to get out from under the taxes isn’t a realistic suggestion. Our house (outskirts of Waco, basic 3 bedroom/2 bath ranch house, nothing fancy at all) has nearly tripled in value in the 10 years we’ve owned it. Our salaries haven’t even kept up close to it. Our taxes are now almost $6,000 a year.

  • Sandy L
    July 14, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    My daughter has a blog also…it oldhousedreams…and she also had posted about the castle…when I sent her the link to this post of yours she said the same as you and so did a lot of her readers….they are so afraid that Joanna will shiplack and whiten it…my daughter had shown the castle before they had actually purchased it. When we purchased out house it was a modest price because it was a TLC one….when the house next door was repaired and sold it upped our taxes also…but we expected that and also makes out worth more. But I can see how a Million dollar sale could hurt these people who live it that neighborhood…thanks for sharing this as it made me think of things which I had not considered.

    • Desi
      July 15, 2022 at 10:19 am

      I have to finally comment on the fact that when someone puts a ridiculous and exorbitant price on a property that is no way near the appraised, sellable price you have to step back and wonder how these people function in daily life and think that someone would actually consider paying that much. But when looking at the pictures of the house and use a sofa as a wall you really do know what kind of people do things like this, “brainless.”

  • Kimber
    July 14, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Thank you for this post Kristi! Even if things don’t directly affect us, it really helps to open our minds to think about how our actions might have rolling effects.

  • Nadine
    July 14, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    Kristi,
    I feel the same as you do about Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna doing this to properties in Waco. I feel it is a good thing to work hard to earn a living. But being so greedy as to turn a home located in an area where people live within their means into a big beautiful standout creation that will raise the value of the existing homes and create insane taxes so high the existing residents have to suffer is nothing but GREED. I feel that Magnolia has soared above so high in dollars, they have become greedy. I wouldn’t doubt for one second that sometime in the future Chip and Joanna will try changing the name of Waco, or erecting some type of monument of Magnolia.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 6:58 pm

      I do want to make sure people understand that Chip and Joanna do not own this house that’s on the market at $1.2 million. But these Fixer Upper houses always seem to hit the market at extravagant prices because the people feel they can get premium price if they use the Fixer Upper name in the marketing. And while I doubt they can actually get $1.2 million for it, this tactic does seem to drive up the price beyond what the neighborhoods would regularly get.

      With that being said, I do wish Chip and Joanna would stop buying up and branding stuff as “Magnolia” this and “Magnolia” that in Waco. I just think it’s enough already.

  • Jo Ann
    July 14, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Amen and amen and amen. As a Wacoan (but now have moved to China Spring) I couldn’t agree more. Yes, Joanna is a lovely person. But I am so over farmhouse, probably the second week it was dubbed that. And we all have suffered from property tax hikes. When I travel snd people gush, I roll my closed eyes and say to myself, you wanna hear a back story.
    It’s amazing that they never show the neighborhoods. Most of us would not invest that much in those neighborhoods. The values become disproportionate.
    Again, Joanna is a sweet person, kudos to her, but as you said, enjoy what you have and stop for now. We can’t afford you.

  • Cindy
    July 14, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    I always thought 1 of the “goals” of Fixer Upper was to take the worst house in the best neighborhood um… I swear I can see/hear Chip saying this. This is just BAD for everyone.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 7:05 pm

      Yes! That is what the intro to their show said. 😀 And they did do that a handful of times. But they also did their fair share of houses in some very low income areas of Waco. I’ll never forget driving over to see The Shotgun House in person and seeing that neighborhood. The LAST thing the residents in that area needed was anyone coming in and trying to gentrify that neighborhood…or literally doing ANYTHING that would raise their cost of living in any way.

  • Donna Dastic
    July 14, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    As you might imagine, we have had a similar problem in Florida where we have 1000+ people moving here per day. At one time our prices were much lower than other parts of the country and with the influx of new arrivals, flush with lots of cash from the sale of their home “up north”, we too had this dilemma. We are helped by a law passed a few years back called “Save Our Homes”. The basics are that taxes on your primary residence may not go up more than 2% per year regardless of the assessed value changes. It is also portable if you buy a new primary residence. This only applies to your primary residence, not investment properties or a vacation condo at the beach or any commercial properties. I am no expert on this but you might have your local or state representatives look into how it works here. I know for a fact that many retirees on smaller incomes are able to stay in their homes now when prior to this they were wondering if that would be possible year to year.

    • Christine Czarnecki
      July 14, 2022 at 2:55 pm

      This Florida law appears to be a version of California’s 1978 Proposition 13. Upon passage, it established the property tax basis for houses at their 1976 levels, then the annual tax payments can only go up 2% per year. When you buy a house, that sets your property tax base at whatever 1% of your purchase price is.

      This has allowed many, many people to stay in their homes as they age. Including us.

      The downside is that our property taxes fund the building and refurbishing of schools, in addition to our local fire fighters and police.

      It is a very hard question, how to pay for the local services we all need and depend upon, and balance that with the need of homeowners to stabilize their expenses to allow them to continue to live in their homes and in their neighborhoods.

      • Mary
        July 15, 2022 at 10:56 am

        I’m here in California and while Prop 13 has kept our property taxes reasonable, and allowed people to not be taxed out of their homes, an unintended side effect is having homes in neighborhoods being taxed at significantly different rates. A home purchased back in the 70s for $40K may be paying less than $1,000 a year in property taxes while the house next door that was purchased this year for $1.5 million is paying over $10,000 in property taxes. Unfortunately, commercial properties were also included in Prop 13 and because they typically do not get sold like homes, many big corporations are still paying property taxes based on rates from the 70s. There was a ballot initiative in 2020 to remove the commercial property exemption but it failed to pass.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 7:07 pm

      We definitely need something like that here. I think ours is capped at a 10% increase each year. But 10% is a lot! And when it increases year after year after year, it can still get out of control within a few short years.

      • Carol
        July 17, 2022 at 2:42 pm

        For any downside, Prop 13 is a life saver and every community should try to get it in place

        It also seems like assessments should remove the top 1-3% and the bottom 1-3% so that only the majority of the homes of a neighborhood affect the assessment values.

        I do wonder, when assessments skyrocket, how much more service you receive from the government for all that extra $$$ they pull in. My experience has not been very good.

    • Joan Hornung
      July 15, 2022 at 11:11 am

      Donna, I was just about to point out the same thing. Thank you. That Homestead break and maximum increase yearly probably helps ALL who want to stay in their homes in Florida. And thank heavens it is portable. We have a fairly new neighborhood built nearby us…two years ago someone bought one of the new houses for $460,000 and just sold it for $930,000. Things are beyond ridiculous here. Thank heavens that won’t hurt all the neighbors. Just the new buyer I guess…? Meanwhile, I think that house for 1.2 is not worth it…I actually hate the rooms, and I think it is a hard sell for that neighborhood…makes NO sense. But something needs to change for those who live amongst Chip and Joanna’s fixer-uppers! How does their theme work there – the worst house in the best neighborhood. NOT!

  • Mary
    July 14, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    Who is their right mind would even consider spending $1.2 million on a house in a neighborhood of $150k homes?!?!? That sounds like foolishness.

    And I completely agree on all the points in this post. When is enough enough?

  • Maureen A.
    July 14, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    In the listing you can see the last few tax assessments 2021 $9,338 $361,000.

    That’s the tax assessors value on the house last year. $361,000. If they just DOUBLED that assessment to sell it for $722,000 it’s still HIGH.

    Are the owners massively in debt for that rebuild? Because 1.2 million is nuts for that area.

  • Chris
    July 14, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    I totally agree about the $50 price tag on touring a house. We just got back from Savannah and toured many historical houses and nothing was over $20 – for a very historical house. I read that the proceeds of the house tours were going to a charity – but it is still ridiculous. BUT! you know they will get it from the tourists and it will be sold out everyday. It’s all a bit nuts.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 14, 2022 at 7:09 pm

      Yep. And that makes me sad. The tourists will definitely pay the $50 entrance fee, while a huge portion of the people who actually live here will never be able to afford it.

  • Michelle
    July 14, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    Completely agree with you, Kristi. I won’t even watch their new network because I am done with them—all of the houses look alike to me—tear out a wall, add shiplap, and a barn door and don’t use much color. And she has a cooking show now? Nooooo! I’m sorry it’s affecting Waco adversely. ☹️

  • Michele Latham
    July 14, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    Regrettably with those kind of people too much is never enough. I lost interest in those blood suckers when Joanna had her last baby and said they were going to take some family time and bond. Not so much. They were in the process of buying a network so they could spew their “aesthetic” to a broader audience and line their pockets much, much more. They are a personality brand and will one day be gone and forgotten, but not soon enough for most rational people.

  • edith
    July 14, 2022 at 2:20 pm

    this is sad and every eye opening.

  • lisa b kennedy
    July 14, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    There’s just something about Chip and Joanna that gives me the creeps. They’re a little ‘too’ perfect. As for the Gorman home, ha,ha, ha. What idiot thought it would be a good idea to fix up a house so that the price tag is equivalent to at least 8 houses value combined. Ridiculous! I hope the tax assessors use good sense.

  • CathyR
    July 14, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    This is the ‘behind the scenes’ story I didn’t not think of. In 2019, when we drove from Arizona to Florida I insisted my Fella stop in Waco so I could go to The Silos. And I loved it, bought lots of stuff there and had a ball. But when some of the homes began to pop up for $ale in my newsfeed I began to worry for the surrounding homes. ( I think the shotgun house was the first I remember). So I understand completely your concerns. Have there been any news articles/interviews with the Gaines’s? And I would hope the auditor of your city ( or other government agency) could freeze the taxes or not base them on an outrageous, artificial appraisal of one surrounding home. One
    1 million dollar+ house does not make a wealthy neighborhood. I remember my brother telling me about houses in Europe, especially Paris. This was in the 60s when he was stationed in Germany in the USAF. He said taxes were levied based on the EXTERIOR condition of the homes so of course they were opulent on the inside and ramshackle on the outside. I feel your pain, and I’m not as anxious now to return to the Silos in the future if ever. I mean, we ended up buying in S Arizona but it’s not like I’m going to find myself in Waco any time soon.
    Thanks for this thoughtful article/post.

    • CathyR
      July 14, 2022 at 2:37 pm

      Forgive the double negative in the first sentence. Obviously should read
      …” I didn’t think of”…
      I proofed this but this one got away from me. Sorry

  • Marilyn M Stenberg
    July 14, 2022 at 2:37 pm

    I have wondered about this very thing for a long time and thought because you folks live in Waco that you might write such an article.

    I was tired of the Magnolia look years ago. White shiplap, huge, custom made dining tables, floating shelves, etc.
    There is one template for every house.

    What is the most important thing in purchasing a home? Location, location, location. No one is going to buy the only $1.2 million house in a modest neighborhood.

    Thank you, Kristi, for your comments.

  • Chris
    July 14, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    Three years ago a friend and I took a road trip and visited the Magnolia farm in Waco. The prices were outrageous and it was a disappointment overall. We did go to what seemed to be the main street in Waco and also visited the antique shops, which were very nice. We had previously visited the Pioneer woman’s Mercantile, lodge, other shops and restaurants and had a great time. The prices are were much more reasonable.

  • JJ
    July 14, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Many of the stories here are examples of government out of control. The truth is, there is not one bit of your hard-earned prosperity from which government will not gleefully extract its bloated “cut”. It is one reason why Blackrock and other massive pro investor outfits have free rein to create artificial housing shortages via buying up properties and letting them sit empty/off the market. They will then go “short” real estate, and then they WILL crash the current absurd fake housing market by dumping all those properties -and clean up magnificently. Mark words, it is coming.
    Meanwhile, local governments have glommed onto the fake inflated housing prices produced by the fake housing shortage, and are sending property taxes to the stratosphere. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Those property taxes will of course not come back down once the pump ‘n’ dump crash occurs.

    It’s all a con, and we are the conned. #WakeUpAmerica

    • Jane
      July 14, 2022 at 5:42 pm

      Give me a blooming break buddy!! One couple’s capacity for greed is not a government out of control! What a laugh! I agree with the problem with Blackrock. But I get a great chuckle out of people who want less government and then complain when they scream that the government they elected doesn’t do enough! Know who you are voting for! Do your research! BTW I stopped watching the Gaines tribe ages ago!

      • JJ
        July 15, 2022 at 8:37 am

        Read again, Jane, as you are not making sense. The taxation issue has nothing to do with the Gaineses or any other personality(s). Just as I explained, and in the instance of the observations of many here, when one researches one sees that we absolutely DO have government working in concert with foreign entities and big investment corporations to further fleece U.S. homeowners. “You will own nothing, and you will like it”. What logical person would argue that gov’t in collusion with foreign entities and big business to steal ever more from the dirt people isn’t rotten -even corrupt- governance? It IS government out of control, and there is plenty of proof for that.

    • Trisha
      July 15, 2022 at 11:31 am

      JJ – this is spot on.

  • Susie
    July 14, 2022 at 3:04 pm

    People don’t see the flip side. We use to vacation in Rockport, Texas and loved it. We mostly went for the fishing. Then we moved there for work purposes. Lived there one year until Covid hit and work stopped. When I became the resident and not the tourist, I hated it. No, it’s not the same situation as yours, but how the town changed during the summer (winter Texans) to weekenders was unreal. Our shopping had to be during the week, never go to big box stores or restaurants on the weekends, the crowds were insane. The beaches were packed and so were the streets. To buy a simple home or rent was absurd. George Strait has a beautiful home there so I assume that’s why real estate goes up in value. Been gone 2 years, now we live only 1-1/2 hours from there, but never want to be a tourist or resident there again.

  • Crystal RN
    July 14, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    My daughter lives in Brazoria county and has a fight every year about the assessment on her house. The first year, the county tried to do her assessment based on the purchase price without taking into consideration that she bought the house fully furnished. She paid a company to come in and assess the value of all the furnishings and appliances. Said she’d rather pay that pay him than the county! She got about 10K off the assessment since the furniture and drapes were high end. The woman was a decorator and in business for herself.
    In FL, we had a similar problem but enough complaints led to an amendment to our constitution putting a limit on the percentage our assessment could increase each year and we have Homestead Exemption which makes the first 50K nontaxable. There are also other exemptions.
    In Texas, farmland is taxed very cheaply. My daughter pays about $20/yr on 10 acres that she has a farmer cut hay from. She gives him the hay if he will just cut it twice a year so she can keep her agricultural exemption.
    Guess folks in TX need to start raising hell with the state legislators about it.

  • Peg Andersen
    July 14, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    It’s certainly s huge problem. I live in western Montana and my area has been ‘discovered’. There are no homes available anymore at any reasonable price. My daughter and grandson have moved back home because her rental was sold for hundreds of thousands over its value – sight unseen and for cash. And that’s the way it is when what should be an affordable entry level home hits the market. You’ve got the popular Gaines, we’ve got Yellowstone.

  • Kathy
    July 14, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    I think that’s about 1 of the few upsides of California. Your house is never reappraised unless there’s a transfer or new construction. If neither of those 2 things occur, it can only go up in value 2% each year. And our tax rate ( not including special assessments) is only 1% of the assessed value.

    TX property taxes are scary and I can’t imagine being retired and having your home values go up substantially.

    • Barbara
      July 14, 2022 at 4:38 pm

      “”Your house is never reappraised unless there’s a transfer””

      That is not an upside and is an unfair system. Property taxes should be based on market value and re-done every year. That is how it is done in my province. Some years we will be more than the average increase, some years less. Your taxes only increase when you are higher than the average increase in value.
      But we do have a program where seniors can defer property taxes.

      • Mary
        July 15, 2022 at 11:57 am

        That’s how property taxes were appraised before Prop 13 in the 70s. The problem is that housing prices exploded in California and people, mostly the elderly on fixed incomes, were losing their homes because they could no longer afford that property taxes. A real example is my parents bought their 2500 sq ft house in 1972 for $43K. My ex and I bought our 1500 sq foot house 10 years later, just a few miles from them, for $125K. That’s 3 times the price for a house much, much smaller. When home values increase like they did, and still do, in California, the property taxes cannot increase based on appraised value every year.

  • Barbara
    July 14, 2022 at 4:24 pm

    I have never heard of Waco except for the one terrible thing it is known for. I am sure this is true of 99 percent of people in Canada. Don’t know anything about Chip etc.
    Wow, are house prices ever low there, but with such a low base property taxes are going to be quite high to the house value, they have to get the money somewhere.

    I live in a beautiful city, so there are so many tourists all seasons. I don’t like it, but get to live here. Movie stars and sports players buy property here just for fun.

    Also had someone buy the house across from us for a ridiculous amount this winter; $1.9 million. I wouldn’t have paid $250 thousand for it 20 years ago when we bought. Now our taxes will go up, too.

  • dian Iron Feather
    July 14, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    I live in Arkansas. Moved here from Mo after my husband passed away. Wasn’t a thought in my little pea brain at the time. When interest rates started going down, mine wasn’t bad but I thought it could be better, so I refinanced. Boy am I glad I did, now that the rates are climbing again. ( I’m finally getting to the point here.) When I closed, the loan officer wanted to know, since I’m basically old, and retired, why I didn’t have my taxes “frozen”. I’ve heard of that before, but guess I never thought about being old now. Went down to the courthouse and filled out papers to do just that. The older and retired people in your neighborhood should check that out. And I don’t want to sound horrid, but that house, in that neighborhood is so ridiculous I can’t believe Magnolia chose it to renovate. And to put a price tag on it 5 or 6 times what houses are selling for in that area is more ridiculous yet. Whatever are those people thinking?

  • Stephanie
    July 14, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Kristi – Though I understand what you are saying, I disagree. Having lived in the Waco area over 20 years, I think Chip and Jo are a huge blessing to our small city. Waco home prices are crazy high as are most of the home prices in Texas right now. Can’t blame them for what is happening state and even nation wide. Chip and Jo don’t have that kind of pull! As for the castle… oh my gosh that thing was falling down 10 years ago. I know someone who tried to restore it and gave up. One estimate I saw was 2.5 million to get it to code – again that was 10 years ago. Kudos to them for taking it on! They could charge $100 a per person and probably not begin to recover what it took to get that thing to where it is now. Besides, if people want to see it they will pay. If not they won’t. How does that hurt Waco?

    As for the “The Gorman house”. Chip and Jo don’t own it. The owners are the ones asking $1 million. Who knows if they will get that. It only affects taxes and area resale if someone buys it for that… which is doubtful. It’s been on the market a while. Several of the homes Chip and Jo redid have sold for over asking. Again, I don’t see how that is an awful thing. They have featured less than 100 houses on their show. There are over 100000 houses in our tax district. I don’t think their houses alone could raise taxes that much… though I would put it past our crazy tax district to try. Again, that’s not a Chip and Jo thing… that’s a tax district problem.
    Chip and Jo brought a thriving business to Waco and gave our city national attention. There are lots of growing pains that come with that. Don’t think you can blame all of Wacos growing pains on them. Agree to disagree?

    • Linda
      July 14, 2022 at 6:36 pm

      I didn’t read it as her placing all blame on them. Maybe I missed something there, but I see it differently than you do. Guess that’s why we’re all allowed opinions, eh??

    • beth
      July 15, 2022 at 8:28 am

      I agree Stephanie! Making upgrades to houses (or castles) that need improvements is always a plus for any area. Chip and Joanna have nothing to do with the tax situation (which Kristi states). They are voluntarily giving a portion of their own proceeds to charity regarding the castle. Also I’m sure Waco business owners don’t mind the proceeds that tourists have brought in.

    • Jen
      July 15, 2022 at 11:57 am

      Thanks for this – I was wondering about the condition of the castle and if it was something that the locals had pride in to begin with.

  • Marianne in Mo.
    July 14, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    I have to say I have left the Magnolia bandwagon too, when they announced the network and decided to make it a pay to watch network. I visited Waco in about their 4th season I think, when we were on our way to our daughters’ house in Wichita Falls. We stopped at Magnolia (bought a T-shirt, which was all the $$ I was willing to give them!) and with texting our daughter who had also visited a few weeks earlier, we drove around a few streets and saw a couple of the houses they had done. We also went to Clint’s shop, saw their former house next door (that they had to move from due to too many tourists peeking in the windows and just walking in their house!) We were amazed that people even chose to redo some of the houses, when you saw some of the neighboring homes. We were struck by Clint’s house, where right across the street was a shabby place with quite a bit of junk in the yard and an elderly man sitting on the porch. You could tell he was not well off, and was probably living on his social security and little else. I felt bad for him when I saw him, because as you said, I know he doesn’t need the added debt, not to mention the throngs of cars and people in his (probably) once quiet street. We left town feeling bad for the residents who did not ask for any of this, and we hoped the Gaines family was paying back in some way by providing jobs and increased income for the town. But as you said, the long term costs to most residents doesn’t balance with the towns’ increase of income. I hope the townsfolk start fighting back, start holding them accountable! They for sure don’t need any more income!!!!

  • Donna T
    July 14, 2022 at 6:41 pm

    You are staying in your house and notice the property taxes increasing. If you were moving you would be happy the value of your house increased. A home is an investment. My understanding is that the homes are picked by a buyer for a low price and Chip and Joanne then take excess cash from the buyer and fix it up for them to move into and improve the neighborhood. It is the buyer who is not grateful enough and decides to flip and make money off the house rather than live there as intended. I don’t think you can place the blame on the renovators instead of the buyers. They are appealing to starstruck individuals who will probably lose money eventually.

  • Dolores
    July 14, 2022 at 6:51 pm

    We’re having the same problem here in Asheville. Since the pandemic our little 249,000 house is worth 450.000! Its ridiculous & I recently put in a request for a new assessment because its just ridiculous!

  • Jaybird
    July 14, 2022 at 7:09 pm

    Well said!! Our taxes go up every year, and our neighborhood just gets junkier and junkier!!
    I am so sick of the Gaines’ name and the word shiplap, I dread the next commentary.
    Thank you for saying what I have been thinking!
    Blessings,
    J

  • Danny
    July 14, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    Not to disregard your comment completely, but please be aware of a couple of things:
    1. In Texas, property taxes can only go up a maximum of 10% on your primary residence in any given year (still not great, but definitely not 1000%) / 2. Property taxes charged by the school district (which is usually the largest chunk) freeze (are capped) when you reach 65 or become disabled. You are also offered the option to defer all or part of your property taxes until you pass away and your estate is settled (not ideal but should keep most elderly and disabled from losing their homes) / 3. There are of course the other homestead exemptions but those become less significant as property values increase.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 16, 2022 at 11:00 am

      As to your first point, I keep hearing people say this, but it doesn’t seem to be true.

      In 2016, our property taxes on our house were $2772. The next year, 2017, they were $3543. The next year, 2018, they were $4400. That’s WAY more than 10%, and it’s being increased as the assessed value of our house increases every year.

      Look at the public tax records for The Gorman House. In 2016, the taxes were $3,742. In 2017, they were $4,789. And in 2018, they were $9,312. That’s an increase of just under 250% in two years.

      This is happening all over Waco. I hear from other homeowners who say their taxes have doubled in the last couple of years. How is this happening if the cap is 10% per year?

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 16, 2022 at 11:26 am

      The house across the street from the Gorman House — the little 1100-square-foot red brick house with the flagpole out front– went from $830 in 2016, to $1,300 in 2017, to $1,623 in 2018. That property tax doubled in two years. How did that happen if there’s a 10% cap?

      • Meredith Brown
        July 17, 2022 at 4:53 pm

        The 10%, which is now 15% as of June 2022, only applies to those with Homestead exemption. You can find many home where people do not apply for homestead or they people living in them do not own them, instead they rent.

        I’m not necessarily disagreeing with your entire take on the situation. There is always a more positive way to see anything. We will not change what has happened and should be happy and supportive of Chip and Jojo’s success…not envious or jealous! They have both directly and indirectly shared their successes! Directly, their businesses have created employment opportunities in Waco. Indirectly…keep reading as I explain in #2 below.

        I have two comments/thoughts about the Magnolia movement in Waco.

        #1 Not all homes are a farmhouse. Taking a traditional home, painting the brick white then putting a farmhouse sink and shiplap in it, is not design (by the way, I was thrilled to see the episode when the mid-century mod actually was done right…kudos Jojo for that one)! I’m with you…I will probably fall over if there is shiplap in the castle!! Ack! No really, I would have loved to see them keep with the style of the home yet update it as so many other HGTV shows do so well. Drove me crazy each episode of Fixer Upper back in the day!!

        #2 On the flip side of all of this negative talk on the growth in Waco, there were many existing small business owners that have benefitted from the growth and tourism. And, a ton of smart people that have found other ways to do so in the aftermath. We have some of the coolest things to do now! I encourage everyone to be a tourist in our own town and check it out for once instead of complaining about what you havent even experienced! Just be eyes and hearts wide open as a tourist in our own hometown (and enjoy it)! I’ve done it many times and am always finding new things to see and do! I personally feel there is room for more! I was born and raised here 45 years ago. I have seen downtown virtually a ghost town (well, except for the Freedom Frolic on the 4th of July) and a place where everyone growing up here couldnt wait to leave!

        We have many beautiful places to visit and should be proud to share it! And, praise Jesus for the being known for something much much better than are only other national news publicity from past events tied to Waco! I encourage everyone to be creative and look for opportunities to capitalize on the tourists flocking this way to visit! We did and I will have alot easier time paying for my daughter’s college without going into loan debt!

        Best all!

  • Cyndi
    July 15, 2022 at 5:48 am

    Very well written. I live in a very small town in the mountains of NC and the same thing is happening by incoming tourists. It’s very sad to see.

  • Ann
    July 15, 2022 at 8:38 am

    Oh dear, we eat our own. The tax thing isn’t accurate. Taxes can only increase at a %rate. Inflation is alive and well in the 2020’s. Houses are being fixed up…..this is a great thing for Waco! Sofa in the front yard, anyone? Magnolia is generating a large amount of revenue in Waco. That’s a very good thing. Between RG3 and Magnolia, the town is being brought back to life. As for the Elite, I got to worked there in college, it was in forcloser. It was saved in the 80’s and now again in this decade. So thankful to the Gains for saving it. I love seeing this town get a breath of fresh air pumped into it. It’s been decades overdue.

  • HeatherB
    July 15, 2022 at 8:57 am

    Sounds like you guys need something similar to Florida’s “Save Our Homes”. Our Constitution limits increases to 3% per year. Properties worth next to nothing suddenly being priced to the millions is nothing new around here, and this alone has really saved a lot of your everyday average Joe from losing his home to taxes. That really is a bummer how the unintended consequence of Magnolia has impacted the whole town.

  • Guerrina
    July 15, 2022 at 9:19 am

    Kristi, I sympathize with you. I live in a tourist area on the southeastern coast of Connecticut. Where I grew up in a little village called Noank (home of Abbott’s Lobsters) provided the idyllic childhood where everybody knew everybody else, there were shortcuts through neighbors’ yards, and some of us had relatives on all the “main” streets – great “parental” supervision, lol! I sold the family home there in the 80s as I saw too many red flags of where things were headed. Now houses are priced in the $800,000 – over a million mark and taxes reflect that. Mostly out of staters have moved in with far different ideas of what a “neighborhood” is and the complaints about trees, views, people walking after 10 at night, and the list goes on. Most don’t know their neighbors nor care to. No one looks out for the kids – just make calls to the police with no illegalities going on. So sad. Grateful I’m now 20 minutes outside of it and I know my neighbors 🙂 Don’t see anything changing at any time in the foreseeable future.

    • Maggie
      July 15, 2022 at 7:28 pm

      I am moving back to Ct from Florida sometime this year or early next year. I’m not looking forward to the high prices or high taxes. But, family is there and I’m getting up there in years. I hated it there and still hate it. One of the most expensive area is Southeastern by the shore. I can relate to Noank. I will be living in Westbrook but I use to live in Center room/ Ivoryton area. That area is no longer a sleepy little township. Real estate everywhere is off the charts with greed.

      • Maggie
        July 15, 2022 at 7:30 pm

        Centerbrook

  • Nikki
    July 15, 2022 at 10:31 am

    I’ve worked in the property tax office here in Alabama for 14 years and for the last 17 years for a computer company that writes the software for the property tax offices, so all in all I’ve been in the property tax business for over 30 years. And yes, taxes are based on sales and appraisals. HOWEVER…. just one odd ball house going for 1.2 million does not drastically up the taxes on all the houses in the neighborhood, unless the houses are in some way comparable. That ONE house would be an outlyer and if it was truly the only one, would be thrown out, as would any houses that were on the drastically low end value wise, of the yearly studies used to determine the values (ie: taxes) of homes in the neighborhood.

    • Jen
      July 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm

      Exactly.

  • Wendy
    July 15, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    The property is listed at $1.2M, but that does not mean it will appraise for $1.2M. Typically a bank will not lend someone more funds than the appraisal value (sometimes closing costs will be included which can increase the funds by a bit more than the appraisal value). A buyer would have to pay cash for the difference between the loan appraised and listed price…..*hopefully* that difference will be LARGE and will prevent this house from selling for this price (and subsequently protect the neighbors).

  • Tenney
    July 15, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    I am also living this “dream”. Here in Hawaii, median price of a home is $1.06 million. My mortgage payment has gone up $300 per month, even with re-financing a 1.0% interest rate down, due to taxes and insurance. This is over a 10-year period. This hits my Social Security pretty hard. My sister already got a reverse mortgage. Maybe that’s the next step…

    • Tenney
      July 15, 2022 at 5:53 pm

      I mean I got it lowered from 3.875% to 2.875%. A 1% rate would be too good!

  • cathy Loftis
    July 16, 2022 at 5:42 am

    I have always been curious, When they are through with the houses and have staged them and owers work through, does the furniture come with the house. When they always show the prices of things, I dont see furnitutre included but house would not look right without it but if it isnt included I dont consider that a fixer uper. All they have done is remodel the house. I agree with you. I hate shipalp

  • Eileen
    July 16, 2022 at 1:31 pm

    Scary how the real realities of life are so different than what is conveyed. What an incredible contrast with the smaller homes compared to the Fixer Upper house. Just when you think you are somewhat secure in your nice smaller home than outside forces affect your future. Very scary!!

  • MissElaineous
    July 16, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you for your very enlightening insight regarding Magnolia’s impact on your community. I have always enjoyed watching Fixer Upper and applaud their incredibly business acumen, but I never considered what the negative consequences of their success could also have on the community. You’ve touched on some very interesting points that would be worth exploring in more detail. Anyway, you mentioned the increased property taxes that have resulted from the higher-priced home sales attributed to Magnolia/Fixer Upper. High property taxes prevented me from owning a home in a few states [I’ve lived in 5 different states] until I became disabled. Alabama offers property tax exemptions for the disabled so I do not pay property taxes. As a result, I’m happy to see houses in my neighborhood increase in value because I’m not negatively impacted. Because Matt is also disabled, you may also benefit. I did a quick search and found this article for you:
    https://wacotrib.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/waco-poised-to-expand-homeowner-tax-exemptions/article_42722dbe-e6b7-11ec-a27c-2f55a0c12a6f.html

    Thanks again for yet another fantastic article. PS: I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR LANDSCAPE MASTER PLAN :]

  • Michele
    July 17, 2022 at 1:28 am

    I’m from Qld, Australia and have indeed found my way to Waco to specifically visit the Silos. My home is worth about $1,200,000 but our rates are only about $2,000 per year and while they might go up perhaps 4% per year I can’t imagine they will ever get to the $6,000 mentioned here. We do have GST here which is similar to your state taxes. Land tax is only payable on properties that remain undeveloped 12 months after purchase (deters land banking by developers). I think the problem lies not with Chip and Joanna but with your state taxation system. It is never a good idea to limit initiative and innovation as Chip and Joanna have certainly put their money on the line to achieve what they have. Waco has benefitted enormously and I am sure the Gaines’ could just walk away and retire in style. Instead they have bought a historic castle that any one of you had the opportunity to and chosen to restore and renovate it. I honestly feel that a little bit of jealousy is at play here and am somewhat disappointed.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 17, 2022 at 8:13 am

      If you got “jealousy” from this, then I’d suggest reading it again. This isn’t about jealousy. It’s about a very real concern for many Wacoans. Read the comments from locals just on this blog post. You can see that the opinion is split. See the comment from Jaybird above? I know her personally. She lives very near me. Her comment isn’t about “jealousy.”

      The whole point of this post is that in the intro to the Fixer Upper show, they said that they go into the best neighborhoods and fix up the worst house on the street. But that’s not always what they did. They very often went into the very poor parts of town, and WAY over-improved a house in that neighborhood. The Gorman House is an example.

      Yes, houses and real estate taxes are skyrocketing all over the country, and in many other Western countries. But the fact that a person thinks they can sell this house for $1.2 MILLION in a neighborhood filled with $120,000 houses is simply not a result of normal inflation.

      And again, I’ll never forget when I drove over to The Shotgun House to see it in person. I could not believe that neighborhood, and that they had fixed up a house on that street! It was shocking. As a native Wacoan, I honestly didn’t know that part of Waco like that even existed. It was like I had been transported to the most poverty-stricken part of Appalachia, and right there amidst this area sat this amazing-looking house with the tell tale “Fixer Upper” look to it. They most assuredly had not taken the worst house in the best neighborhood. It was one of the worst neighborhoods I had ever seen.

      And what happened to the houses during that time? Well, one of the houses next door went from an assessed value of $26,780 (yes, you read that right) and taxes of $821, to an assessed value of $87,470 just the very next year, and taxes of $2486. That was in one year from 2016 to 2017. If the poorest people in the city are being priced out of the cheapest housing in the city because of massive jumps like that in the span of a year, where are they supposed to go?

      It’s not jealousy that leads me to believe very strongly that Fixer Upper should have stayed out of that neighborhood and should have left those people alone. There are plenty of houses in Woodway and other higher-income areas of town that they could have fixed up, and people with money actually DO want to live in those areas.

      I really don’t know how I could explain this any clearer. But to boil this down to “jealousy” is just not accurate.

  • Cindy
    July 17, 2022 at 10:27 pm

    Fascinating article! Great data, very thought-provoking.

  • Kim
    July 18, 2022 at 9:09 am

    I hear you, and I’ve got a request as well. Please don’t use Appalachia as your poverty image! It’s a horrible stereotype that many people have been hurt by and continue to be hurt by. Of course much of Appalachia is poor, but it doesn’t need to be reduced to shorthand. There’s much more to Appalachia than that, and I can’t help but see the irony in you ‘defending’ your home town while using Appalachian home towns as a trope. I’m a big fan of yours, but that struck a very sour note.

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 18, 2022 at 10:17 am

      What place could I have used that wouldn’t have offended someone?

      • Kim
        July 18, 2022 at 12:30 pm

        Yikes. I certainly didn’t expect a flippant defense! I’m sure there is somewhere imaginary and not a huge stereotype you could have chosen, but I suppose that would require you to want to avoid being offensive.

        • Kristi Linauer
          July 18, 2022 at 10:37 pm

          It wasn’t flippant, and it wasn’t a defense since I don’t think I said anything that needed to be defended. It was a genuine question, but your answer did prove a point, didn’t it? Based on your answer, it seems that there’s no real, actual place I could have said with which you wouldn’t have taken offense.

          The purpose of comparison as a literary device is to help paint a picture in the minds of the readers. This is done by comparing a thing that readers may not be familiar with (South 7th Street in Waco, Texas, six years ago) to something that most readers are very familiar with (poverty in portions of Appalachia). That comparison helps them to visualize. It’s a very common literary device, but it’s completely useless if I’m comparing one thing that people aren’t familiar with to another thing that is fictional. That literally makes no sense.

          And calling poverty in portions of Appalachia a “huge stereotype” is pretty misleading considering that there are many portions of the Appalachian region of Kentucky where the poverty rate is 41%, and that’s only through 2017. It’s not even including the devastating effects that the last 2.5 years have had on the whole country. Poverty in portions of Appalachia is neither a stereotype, nor a trope. It’s a very sad reality for many people, and it’s something that everyone in this country should be aware of rather than burying our heads in the sand and pretending like it doesn’t exist. Perhaps we can agree to disagree on that.

  • B.L.
    July 18, 2022 at 9:59 pm

    They have done some good things for Waco but on a personal note, my home is down the street from the farm and has doubled in price of what is was 10 years ago. I sure hope they don’t sell the farm. I will never get to retire for not being able to afford my taxes.
    And don’t get me started on all the tourist blocking our road and the wrecks!

  • Jeannette
    July 19, 2022 at 9:55 am

    I certainly understand your point, but you have a bigger problem in Waco; tax assessment. I have never lived in a neighborhood where one house determined the tax value of the other homes. Additionally, you have a heck of a mileage rate. Those are some pretty hefty taxes based on the values. Maybe Waco residents should address the issues with their tax commissioner and county assessment board. Just sayin….

    • Kristi Linauer
      July 19, 2022 at 10:07 am

      Believe me, Wacoans have been raising their voices on this issue for a while now, but so far, to no avail. I don’t know what the answer is, but I can assure you that Wacoans aren’t just sitting around doing nothing about the issue.

  • Neta Wiley
    July 19, 2022 at 11:35 am

    I 110% agree with your article. My husband and I are retired and live comfortably in a suburb of Waco in a house we worked very hard to payoff early to be able to retire and enjoy life. With that being said our taxes have skyrocketed in the last few years. We also own 4 rent houses, 3 of which are in the Waco area. We have held the rent on these houses most for over ten years and this past year unfortunately had to raise rent directly related to taxes. I have lived in the Waco area my entire life and know all of these areas well. Sadly, these areas most of the “fixer upper’s” are in have been in decline for at least 30+ years and are in no way the “best” neighborhoods but they are were people have tried to make a home for their family and are being forced out because of these outrageous prices people are trying to get on these homes made famous by Chip and Joanna. Although, what people ask for a house is not directly their fault it is their fault they are falsely advertising something that isn’t true. I am speaking specifically about the “worse house in the best neighborhood”. I also agree with you comment about the Elite made famous by Elvis and a landmark in the city of Waco that “had” a historical marker until the “officials” running the city of Waco allowed it to become another Magnolia property. Just sickening for us who grew up here and knew the real history and to see all of that destroyed by sheer greed. As for the shotgun house all I can say is “seriously” this house not only is tiny but also right behind a line of fast food restaurants just of the interstate. I can’t even begin to talk about how sick I was when I heard who bought the castle for fear of what they will/have done to it. I am so over Fixer Upper and the two that made it famous. Don’t misunderstand I am all for improving a city and keeping it vital but without destroying the history and homes that make Waco the town we all love and care about. Thanks for writing this article and saying what so many Wacoan’a feel.

  • JohnF
    July 20, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Here in Florida, we have something called a homesteader act. Home owners can designate one home as their primary residence, and it caps property tax increases at 3% per year. That is, until they sell and buy another one. Then it all starts over at the assessed value of the purchased home at the time they buy it.

    You don’t have a Chip and Joann problem, you have a backward government problem that is not addressing the same issue that happens all over this country when an area becomes popular. When I lived in Maine, this was happening to people that built their homes in the 1940s in a remote area no one wanted, but tourism turned it into a million dollar property and they were forced to move because they couldn’t afford the property taxes.

    It’s your government … Fix it. Go to council meetings. Vote for people that will modernize the tax structure.