Waco booming home, car sales, 'Fixer-Upper' drive economyWaco booming home, car sales, 'Fixer-Upper' drive economyhttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/news/newstalk-texas/?Item=113282015-12-01T06:00:00Z2015-12-01T20:00:00Z

​​WACO - Residents of Greater Waco continue to buy vehicles and homes as if they’re going out of style, pushing the Greater Waco Economic Index again into record territory in October, according to a report this week by Amarillo-based economist Karr Ingham.

Chip and Joanna Gaines continue to make waves with their hit cable show “Fixer Upper,” as well as their new Magnolia Market at the Silos at South Eighth St. and Webster Ave. that is attracting tens of thousands of visitors from around the nation.

Kevin Vander Woude, a real estate agent for the Gaines’ Magnolia Homes, said he’s fielding calls from viewers in many states, but particularly California, Nevada and Arizona, who like what they see of Waco on the show and want to move here.

Woude says California residents are lured by the prospect of spending $200,000 for a 2,000-sf home that would cost $600,000 in the Golden State.

Ingham reported that 2,362 homes have changed hands through the first ten months of the year, an 11.4 percent jump from 2014. Increased demand and diminishing supply are pushing home prices upward in Greater Waco, where the average price of a house sold this year stands at $164,601, an increase of more than 10 percent.

Inflation-adjusted spending on cars and trucks nearly hit $45 million last month, an 8.4 percent increase over October of last year, which in turn was up 10 percent from October the previous year. Sales through October were pushing $450 million, a 6 percent increase from last year.

Ingham and other observers of the local economic scene attribute the surge to the increasing number of restaurants and retail establishments opening in the Waco area, including Saltgrass Steakhouse, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings and Decor, Five Below, World Market and Haverty’s Furniture, among others.

“The number of jobs in the Greater Waco metro area economy is at an all-time high and continues to grow; the pace of that growth is at or above its average over the last 15 years or so at about 1.5 percent through October,” Ingham said in his report. “The Waco metro area unemployment rate of 4.1 percent in October ranks as 10th best among the state’s 26 metro areas, and is the lowest for the month of October over the entire history of the GWEI analysis, based in the year 2000.”

Several high-profile construction projects have wrapped up this year, including Magnolia Market; the conversion of the former Percy Medicine building downtown into a shop called The Findery; the opening of a new retail strip in Central Texas Marketplace; and creation of space for an Amish furniture store at Westview Village.

Whitney Richter, who oversees marketing and business development for the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, said the totals for home construction reflect only those in the City of Waco, not in hot spots such as China Spring, Hewitt and Woodway, whose numbers Ingham did not provide in this economic snapshot.

Waco Tribune-Herald

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