Waco fixer upper

The Shotgun House was renovated on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, and is for rent on AirBnB for $325 a night. It was featured in season 3, episode 12 of the show. Photo: AirBnb

If you’re a fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV’s Fixer Upper, then you know their renovated homes are all near Waco, Texas. It turns out several of the owners of these monuments to shiplap and style showing up on popular rental services AirBnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) as celebrity-designed spaces available by the night.

The cable television stars have made their name creating rustic chic homes in this town about 95 miles south of Dallas. And people from Dallas and around the country are flocking to these homes, according to The Waco Tribune. People come to Waco in part to see the Gaines’ Magnolia Market and take part in the celebrity culture.

As the Tribune notes, “the Gaineses themselves tapped into the potent combination of Fixer Upper popularity and the convenience of online booking when they renovated a McGregor house into a bed and breakfast named the Magnolia House. Mere hours after online reservations were made available to fans in February, the Magnolia House had booked customers throughout 2016.”

At least six of the Fixer Upper houses were for rent in the Waco area, according to the Tribune, with a seventh joining that number next month. Most were listed as renting from between $200 to $350 a night.

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This is a good way to gauge where you should buy your second home if you plan on leasing it to supplement income. As you probably know, the sluggish, morose economy continues to drag down the travel industry: one publication I know ceased their entire travel section due to lack of ads. But there is one segment of the industry that is still showing a heartbeat:  vacation home rentals.

That’s why 76% of current vacation homeowners think now is a great time to buy a second home. According to those gurus over at HomeAway.com, and the latest HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report (released today), more than two-thirds of owners who have vacation properties in areas where summer is the peak season reported occupancy rates of 76 percent or higher, with an average nightly rental rate of $240.67.

Looking at the average occupancy rate for the hotel industry between June and August, it was only 68 percent, with an average room rate of $101.90.

“While various segments of the travel industry are experiencing a general weakness, the latest HomeAway Vacation Rental Marketplace Report shows that rentals of vacation homes clearly experienced strong results this summer, with continued strength expected as we approach the year-end holiday travel period.  In particular, the Gulf Coast region extending from Florida to Alabama bounced back this summer, perhaps more quickly than anyone anticipated.  Finally, vacation rental owners are feeling confident enough about their businesses to say that now is a good time to buy a vacation home – more than three-fourths of owners polled affirmed this sentiment,” says Brian Sharples, Chief Executive Officer of HomeAway.

More than half of vacation rental owners say they spent more money on improvements to their vacation home in the past 12 months than they did on improvements to their primary residence. One-fourth of vacation rental owners say their bookings for the last four months of 2011 are higher than for the same time period last year.

Here’s the top ten markets where traveller demand is on the rise– buy here:

  1. Venice, Fla. (up 367%)
  2. Fort Morgan, Ala. (up 347%)
  3. Indio, Calif. (up 337%)
  4. Miramar Beach, Fla. (up 313%)
  5. Port Aransas, Texas (up 281%)
  6. Carillon Beach, Fla. (up 265%)
  7. Charlottesville, Va. (up 260%)
  8. Sonoma, Calif. (up 237%)
  9. Rockport, Texas (up 226%)
  10. Sunnyside, Fla. (up 223%)

These are the new markets rocking and rolling for vacation home owners, go figure:

  1. Galena, Ill.
  2. Mesquite, Nev.
  3. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  4. Charleston, S.C.
  5. San Clemente, Calif.
  6. Rockport, Texas
  7. Hollywood, Calif.
  8. Bradenton, Fla.
  9. Amelia Island, Fla.
  10. St. George, Utah