A small house on South Seventh Street is carrying a big asking price that has local real estate agents shaking their heads in disbelief.
“It’s the talk of the town,” said Kathy Schroeder, who oversees residential services for Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors.
A shotgun house extensively remodeled by Chip and Joanna Gaines for an episode of “Fixer Upper” has hit the market priced at $950,000, though it is only 1,050 square feet in size and is appraised for tax purposes at $132,010, according to the McLennan County Appraisal District.
“That’s probably a typo,” said Julie Pendergraph, a residential sales specialist with Keller Williams Realty, commenting on the listing for 624 S. Seventh St. that appears on realtor.com.
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Informed that the numbers indeed are correct, she said: “You’re kidding. There is no way on God’s green earth they are going to get that kind of money. That’s $905 a square foot. It’s a nice house, with one bedroom and one bath, and it’s over there by Magnolia Market, but still.”
Houses sold in Greater Waco typically range in price from below $100 a square foot to $200 a square foot for custom homes, said Trammell Kelly, a residential specialist with Kelly Realtors.
“I saw it on Facebook. I’ve not actually driven by the place, but I’m heading there now,” Kelly said. “I’ve had two or three conversations with people who mainly are texting and sending me pictures and asking, ‘What’s the deal with this?’ I really don’t know what to say. I’m stumped for a comment. It’s like I’m speechless.”
He said the chatter will grow louder if the home, owned by Cameron and Jessica Bell, actually sells for anything close to that figure.
“I’m not going to be critical of what they’re doing by any means. People like the efficiency and minimalist aspect of some properties, and they do have their place,” Kelly said. “But I’ve never, ever seen one with that kind of price tag on it, like it’s on a beach in California. But if someone pays that, more power to them. It will be a game-changer for the local market.”
One agent listing the property is Jennifer Roberts with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty in Dallas. Roberts said the house has enhanced value because the Bells make it available as a bed-and-breakfast location.
“It’s a ‘Fixer Upper’ home within walking distance of the Silos, within walking distance of Baylor University and not far from the river and riverwalk project there,” Roberts said. “The Bells don’t live there, have never lived there and view it as investment property.”
She said the Bells charge $325 a night to stay in the home, “and there are $40,000 worth of bookings on the calendar now, and it stays about 90 percent booked. That business would be conveyed with the sale of the property.”
Roberts said she has had about a dozen inquiries.
The Bells did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Cameron Bell in 2015 moved the frame house now for sale from South 10th Street, where a developer was about to raze it to create room for a commercial venture across Interstate 35 from Baylor University.
As reported by the Tribune-Herald, Bell said he became intrigued with the long, skinny house on visits to Waco, saying it was similar to houses he had seen in southern Louisiana. The house appears to date back at least to 1899, according to old city insurance maps, and was part of a mostly black neighborhood that is disappearing as development expands.
He reportedly brushed off suggestions that he build from scratch if he wanted to live near the growing Waco downtown, saying he was attracted to the structure “because of the idea it has been there so long.”
Melissa Harrell, with the Harrell & Associates Home Team, said she and other agents couldn’t resist discussing the new listing.
“We were discombobulated by the price,” Harrell said with a laugh. “When I first looked at it, I said, ‘There are too many digits in there.’ I would be shocked if they get what they are asking. We even had some of the commercial guys in here offering their opinions.”
Schroeder, with Coldwell Banker Jim Stewart Realtors, said there are too many unknowns for her to make a definitive comment about the listing.
“I don’t know the numbers, the commercial numbers. Is it real estate or is it a business?” she said. “All I know is I’ve never been exposed to something quite like this, and neither have my agents.”