News25 Investigates


Waco looks to study for answers to statewide housing shortage

We look at the three most popular types of housing in Texas
Posted at 8:47 AM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-28 01:35:34-04

CENTRAL TEXAS — 25 Investigates recently reported on a proliferation of AirBnB-type rentals that began changing a downtown Waco neighborhood.

City leaders call the short-term rentals, just a part of what has changed that neighborhood, and that many of the other things also impact every neighborhood in town.

Toni and Lynn Wagle went to buy their first house in 1978 with interest rates approaching 10%.

"We went to a real estate agent and she told us if we don't have $20,000 to put down on a house, that she would not even let us look at a house," recalled Toni.

Remember that's 1978 money. $20,000 in today's money equals $83,342.33.

So, the Wagle's certainly appreciate what's going on in the Texas housing market these days.

Herds of people pouring into Texas keep driving prices up as they compete for homes with the rest of us.

According to this year's Texas Relocation report, top estimates show 582,000 newcomers last year, roughly 1,594 newcomers a day.

"The average house is on the market six to seven days in Waco right now, it's scary," said Hector Sabido, Waco City Council District 3.

It's scary because that doesn't just create competition for houses, it also causes a shortage of available homes which drives up prices.

"I know people right now that there is an asking price and they are putting in $5,000 to $10,000 more of the asking price and still losing out on the home," said Sabido.

How do you fill that need? Usually, you build but since the pandemic, have you priced building supplies?

Even builders have begun going back to their customers demanding more money when they get their bill for supplies.

Waco leaders have noticed and have started looking for solutions.

"We have a housing study coming out this fall. I think as a part of that my hope is that we'll have some data we collect that will show the impact," said Waco Mayor, Dillon Meek.

We learned about that study, going on right now, as we investigated how short-term rentals, so-called AirBnB's have systematically gobbled up almost an entire Waco neighborhood.

By the way, those AirBnB's also take up housing that's needed by people already here.

"Part of our housing study is that we want to take this initiative to see how we can combat and come up with a strategic plan of how to address that issue in our city," said Sabido.

Because homeownership doesn't just make up the cornerstone of city finances. It's the foundation of our own financial lives.

The Federal Reserve reports in 2016, the average homeowner had an average household wealth of $231,400, compared to the average renter having a household wealth of just $5,200.

Through careful management of their finances, the Wagles have owned a few homes. The first was down in Houston and now a new home in a highly desirable neighborhood in Waco.

"From our first house to the third house, we paid cash for this one," Lynn explained.

They bought the home repossessed during the mortgage crisis as a fixer-upper, putting plenty of their hard-earned money into it.

Lynn says the best way to keep your investment in good shape is to hire only the best contractors.

"If you do anything, like if you're gonna buy plumbing, go to the plumbing place and ask who gets the most plumbing," said Lynn.

"We had this house a year and a half before we had to replace the air conditioner," said Toni.

And always keep some money aside for unexpected repairs as they'll happen with regularity.

"We went through a financial management program at our church and they recommended get debt-free so we did," Toni went on.

The Wagles can afford to ride out the Texas real estate storm while cities like Waco, work to keep it from getting much worse.