The 10 Best Cities to Purchase a Fixer Upper

New data reveals the top places where home buyers can get the most bang for their buck.

If you’re like me, you've probably thought about moving to Waco, Texas on more than one occasion while watching Fixer Upper (and not just because Chip and Joanna Gaines are miracle workers when it comes to home renovations). According to Zillow, the median listing price for a house in Waco is $169,900, which is an extremely reasonable amount considering I’ve spent most of my adult life living in major cities where home prices typically start at $500k. (And let’s not even talk about how little space that amount gets you, either.)

HFXUP 110H

HFXUP 110H

Fixer Upper Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines gave the front exterior of Margie and John Bowman’s house a facelift by cleaning the brick mailbox, adding decorative wood shutters, touching up the landscaping and adding potted plants, and installing new outdoor sconces, as seen on HGTV's Fixer Upper. (After 18) Front exterior.

Photo by: Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

Sarah Wilson/Getty Images

With many first-time homebuyers looking to save money and personalize to their liking, fixer-upper properties are more popular than ever. But they do come with some drawbacks. A recent study by Zillow Digs analyzed nearly 70,000 fixer-upper listings to see how their list prices compared to their estimated values. They found that the average fixer upper lists for only 8-percent less than market value. That translates to a savings of $11,000 for the median fixer upper.

“While an 8-percent discount in upfront savings on a fixer upper is certainly a good chunk of change, it likely won’t be enough to cover a kitchen remodel, let alone structural updates like a new roof or plumbing, which many of these properties may require,” said Svenja Gudell, Zillow chief economist, in a statement.

One of the factors you should consider if you're looking to purchase a home that needs significant work is a fixer-upper discount, which is how much a property is listed for below what it would be worth if it didn't need renovations. The difference between the discount and list price is your renovation breakeven, or the actual dollars you'll save that you can put back into the home for renovations.

Fixer Upper Makeover:
Old-World Charm for Newlyweds

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Chip and Joanna Gaines help a newly married couple create their ideal first home.

Quintessentially Home

Chip and Joanna renovated an ordinary looking brick house in the Mountainview neighborhood of Waco to create this beautiful first home for a young couple moving back to Texas after a stint in Tennessee.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Transitional Themes

Blended Styles, Merged Spaces

A newly configured foyer with dark columns and wood paneling opens onto the living room to create a visually striking formal entry to the home.

New and Old

Though the renovation was a thorough update, Joanna incorporated older furnishings and antiques to deliberately avoid the appearance of a new build or simple remodel.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

We'll Take Romance

The new master bedroom is done in soft gray with warming wood tones, ornamental sconces and a few colorful accents. 

Keeping Up With the Joneses

Homeowners Jeff and Sara Jones were Baylor sweethearts who moved to Tennessee after college but then decided to return to the Waco area. They were looking for a home where they could one day raise a family, and their wish list included three bedrooms, an open living space and a large backyard. Their budget, including renovations, was $235,000.  

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

European Flair

Sara's tastes run toward a nouveau classical look with an affinity for ornate furnishings and French antiques. The combination presented a decorating challenge for Joanna who frequently leans more in the direction of farmhouse country and rustic themes. This new foyer – highlighted by black and white marble floors, rich textures and dark gray paneling – offers a mix of contemporary elements and old world touches making for a carefully integrated look that marries comfort and style.

Living Room, AFTER

The biggest construction challenge in the renovation was the removal of several walls to merge the first floor spaces. Lam beams were added to provide structural support for the new large space with a bright and open feel.

Living Room, Detail

A close up of the side table and sitting area in the living room of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Living Room, Detail

A close up of the metal side tables in the living room of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Living Room, Detail

A close up of the side table and wall art in the dining room of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room, AFTER

The formerly tiny and closed off dining room is now spacious and inviting. Worn wall-to-wall carpeting is replaced with a new wood-look tile floor.

Dining Room, Detail

The existing brick fireplace was retained but updated with black interior, new trim in dark gray and a reclaimed wood mantel.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room, Detail

This antique style fixture was used as a unifying theme in several of the renovated spaces including the dining room, foyer and master suite.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room, Detail

A close up of the succulents on top of the piano in the dining room of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room, Detail

A close up of the succulents on top of the piano in the dining room of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room, AFTER

Dark gray paneling around the fireplace provides visual contrast with the light walls. Limitations in the renovation budget precluded adding larger windows, but the existing windows were updated with new trim also painted in gray. 

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Dining Room and Kitchen

The dining room in the newly renovated Jones home was at the front of the home with the living room in its place, but a wall was removed between the living room and dining room creating an open concept. Some key elements are the restored fireplace, piano, dining table, and chandelier, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, AFTER

The new kitchen is almost doubled in size from its original footprint. 

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, AFTER

New additions in the kitchen include a farmhouse sink, marble countertops, new cabinets, recessed lighting and a custom island with waterfall edge. The doors on the newly added pantry have antiqued glass inserts emulating the look of a vintage mirror.

Kitchen, Detail

Other new kitchen enhancements include subway tile backsplash and lots of open shelving.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the light fixture in the kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the farm sink in the kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the metal side table in the kitchen area of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the counter top and shelving in the kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the counter top and shelving in the kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, Detail

A close up of the cutting board on the island in the kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Kitchen, AFTER

The marble of the kitchen island creates the focal point for this Fixer Upper kitchen. After Chip and Joanna removed walls and opened up the kitchen space, they had room to add this large kitchen island with extra seating. To accent the gray cabinets, Joanna chose a gray and white marbled tile that provided a durable solution for the family and really made her rustic industrial design pop.

Kitchen, AFTER

The kitchen of the newly renovated Jones home has been completely transformed. A wall was removed to increase the size of the kitchen and to add to the open feel of the home. Some key elements are the stainless steel appliances, farm sink, pantry, and subway inspired tile on the backsplash, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Double Duty

This space serves a dual purpose as a home office and a mudroom The newly partitioned space, which was originally part of the living room, includes new French doors with access to the backyard.

Home Office, Detail

A close up of the hanging wooden pots in the office of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Home Office, Detail

The office includes a special housewarming gift from Sara's father: an original wall-art piece with the text of a prayer read at Jeff and Sara's wedding.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Home Office and Mudroom

This multi-use space also inlcudes additional storage, hooks and modern sliding doors opening onto the living room.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Office and Mudroom, Detail

A close up of the potted plants and books on top of the storage cabinet in the office of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Master Bedroom, AFTER

A statement piece in the remodeled bedroom is a French antique mantel, dating to the turn of the last century, used as a decorative wall feature.

Master Bedroom, AFTER

Another defining element in the bedroom is the pair of antique-look wall sconces in the same style as fixtures used in the dining room and foyer.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Master Bedroom, AFTER

The master bedroom of the Jones home has new accent pieces, light fixtures, and paint giving the room new life, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Master Bedroom, Detail

A close up of the light fixture and side table in the master bedroom of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Master Bedroom, Detail

A close up of the mantle in the master bedroom in the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Master Bedroom, Detail

A close up of the sitting area in the master bedroom of the newly renovated Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (after)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

We briefly interrupt this slideshow for a romantic interlude.

...courtesy of Mr. Gaines.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

We briefly interrupt this slideshow for a romantic interlude.

...courtesy of Mr. Gaines.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Girls do like flowers.

We now return you to the regularly scheduled photo gallery.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Jeff and Sara Jones get ready to see their newly completed fixer upper for the first time.

The Reveal

Are you ready to see this Fixer Upper?

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Host Chip Gaines prepares to pull back the before image of the Jones home to reveal their renovation, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Host Joanna Gaines prepares to pull back the before image of the Jones home to reveal their renovation, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines pulling back the before image of the Jones home, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Homeowners Jeff and Sara Jones see their newly renovated home for the first time, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Homeowners Jeff and Sara Jones see their newly renovated home for the first time, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

The Reveal

Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines congratulate homeowners Jeff and Sara Jones as they see their newly renovated home for the first time, as seen on Fixer Upper. (action)

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

AFTER

The new exterior has new double doors at the front entrance, reworked columns, new landscaping and an updated color scheme.

AFTER

Prior to the renovation, the home exterior was plain brown brick. The distinctive whitewashing effect was achieved through a technique known as German mortar smear.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

Behind the Scenes: At the Silos

Whenever Chip finds some time between Fixer Upper projects for clients, he's likely hard at work at Magnolia Silos, Chip and Joanna's new HQ.

Behind the Scenes: At the Silos

Concurrent with the Jones project, work was underway on rebuilding and shoring up the roof on the grain silo. Here Chip does some welding on special i-beams that will help support the additional weight in renovated structure.

Behind the Scenes: At the Silos

Chip and Jo get the call from Jeff and Sara Jones with the news of which of the three Fixer Upper houses they selected. 

Behind the Scenes: Meet the Parents

Chip and Joanna meet Sara Jones' parents Max and and Denalyn Lucado. Max Lucado is a well known author and a minister in San Antonio. The prayer he authored and delivered at Jeff and Sara's wedding became the inscription on the original art piece that was a housewarming gift for Sara and Jeff.

Finis

If you liked this Fixer Upper makeover, we bet you'd also enjoy this one from Season 2: 

Mid-Century "Asian Ranch" Goes French Country.

And keep checking back at Fixer Upper Central for the latest makeovers.

Photo By: Rachel Whyte

So, let's pretend you can move to any city in the country and you're in the market for a fixer upper. Here's where you should look:

1: Cleveland, Ohio

Fixer-Upper Discount: 31.9 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $22,000

2: Cincinnati, Ohio

Fixer-Upper Discount: 25.3 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $23,000

3: Pittsburgh, Pa.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 21.2 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $15,000

4: Columbus, Ohio

Fixer-Upper Discount: 18.0 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $19,000

5: St. Louis, Mo.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 16.9 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $16,000

6: Baltimore, Md.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 16.6 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $23,000

7: Chicago, Ill.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 13.8 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $19,000

8: Philadelphia, Pa.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 13.7 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $17,000

9: Virginia Beach, Va.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 13.1 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $19,000

10: San Francisco, Calif.

Fixer-Upper Discount: 9.5 percent

Renovation Breakeven: $54,000

The most surprising city on this list is San Francisco, which is notorious for its astonomical housing market. With the median home value at a whopping $1,106,400, even with a 9.5-percent discount, most will find it difficult to enter this housing market.

Another data point that's important to look at is how many fixer-upper listings are available in a particular city. What good is a discount if there are no homes available? Of the locations listed above, only Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Francisco are in the top 10 for highest percentage of fixer-upper listings. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif. tied with Philadelphia with the most fixer uppers available with 2.7 percent.

For those who might be curious as to what city offers the lowest discount — well, that would be Phoenix, Ariz., which offers a 0.4-percent discount and a $1,000 renovation breakeven. Other cities in the top five for lowest discount include Riverside, Calif., Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., San Diego, Calif. and Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

While Chip and Jo may not be bringing their talents to Cleveland, Cincinnati or any of the other top cities any time soon, you can still find a great property that will give you the most financial flexibility to design your dream home.

Our Favorite Fixer Upper Kitchen Makeovers

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Grab ideas from Chip and Jo's best designs.

Kitchen Design, Fixer Upper Style

From cramped layouts to outdated fixtures, a crumbling kitchen is no match for Chip and Joanna Gaines.

Photo By: Larsen & Talbert Photography

The Suburban Bungalow

Newlyweds and coffeeshop owners Blake and Kimberly were delighted to find a home with a short commute to work. The exisiting kitchen, however, needed a little more pep in its step.

The Makeover

Chip and Joanna cut a wide archway to open up the kitchen and dining room, letting light flow throughout the space. They also created industrial-style open shelves made from plumbing pipes and reclaimed wood. 

The Kitchen Island

The duo also gave the couple a completely custom kitchen island also fashioned from reclaimed wood and plumbing pipes to fit the rustic industrial-style theme of the rest of the kitchen. The best part? The island also has casters, making it mobile. 

The Details

To keep the space bright, Chip and Joanna chose white subway tile for the backsplash, white cabinetry and an undermount sink, plus quartztite counterops that practically sparkle. See more from this episode.

The Shingle Shack

We love an all-white kitchen, but this family of four's space lacked personality, leaving it feeling cold.

The Makeover

Now that's more like it — new appliances, industrial pendants and updated cabinets give a distinctive look to this space. A brand-new island and bartop, plus a stunning marble tile backsplash, add a hint of color.

The Layout

Chip and Joanna removed a row of cabinets to open up the kitchen to the den. They also added a bar to make hosting family gatherings easy. See more from this episode.

The Unstately Manor

Homeowners Norris and Denitia Blount may have had very different styles in mind for their fixer upper, but they both did agreed on one thing: This kitchen had to go.

The Makeover

A fresh coat of paint throughout the space, white subway tile backsplash and updated fixtures brighten up the formerly dreary kitchen.

The New Bar

Chip and Jo made clever use of otherwise wasted space by extending the kitchen's new bar seating into the living room. We're big fans of the floating shelves, too. See more from this episode.

The Drab Ranch House

Jonathan and Amy Gulley were thrilled to see their newly updated Woodway, Texas, home. The old kitchen was cramped and dated, leaving barely enough room to cook. 

The Makeover

Walls were removed to open up the kitchen, effectively tripling its size. New recessed lighting and pendants were added as well as new cabinets and wood flooring.

The Details

Other new features in the kitchen include white cabinets extending to the ceiling, concrete countertops, subway tile and an antique copper vent hood.

The Details

Modern accents, like the cement countertops and subway tile backsplash with a dark grout, contrast beautifully with the space's vintage look. See more from this episode.

The '80s Rancher

With a second baby on the way, this couple needed a kitchen to match their growing family.

The Makeover

Widening the entryway and taking the cabinets up to the ceiling worked wonders for this kitchen, making it feel much larger.

The Details

The New Breakfast Bar

The kitchen's new pass-through gives the impression the kitchen, living room and foyer are one contiguous space while also making room for a breakfast bar. The wooden barstools were custom made by craftsman Clint Harp who specializes in using vintage and reclaimed woods for his unique furniture creations.

The Sink

The new island features variegated granite countertops with a large farm sink — a welcome luxury for the expecting family. See more from this episode.

The Riverside Home

Though Allen and Gail Holt's eight children have mostly fled the nest, these two still wanted a home that could accomdate the whole family.

The Makeover

Outdated wood cabinets and laminate countertops were removed to make way for this more open, practical kitchen design.

The Details

A wood-wrapped vent hood tops off a new high-end gas range and stone tile backsplash.

The Built-In Storage

The kitchen island features built-in, adjustable shelves to give the space a little extra storage.

The Magazine Rack

One of the lower cabinets also comes with a built-in rack for cookbooks and magazines. See more from this episode.

The 1940s Vintage Home

A laundry room in the kitchen? Efficient? Perhaps. Practical? Definitely not.

The Makeover

Chip and Joanna got rid of the washer/dryer combo to make way for more counterspace and new appliances. Light gray walls and a subway tile backsplash replace what was once peeling floral wallpaper and pink walls.

The Dining Space

The new layout opens the kitchen to the dining area, allowing natural light to spill into the entire room via windows and newly-installed French doors.  

But What About the Laundry?

Don't worry — Chip and Joanna gave the homeowners a brand new laundry room outside the kitchen. See more from this episode.

The Overgrown Ranch

Tired of city life, Paul and Deanne king wanted to turn this old ranch home into a country getaway.

The Makeover

Joanna and Chip completely transformed the dated, dark space. The gorgeous new kitchen features brick walls througout, black granite countertops, industrial pendants and a custom-built island.

The Hidden Charm

Furniture artisan Clint Harp fashioned the island's surface out of shiplap salvaged from one of the home's original walls. See more from this episode.

The New Beginning

After a difficult divorce, Karla settled on a fixer upper right next door to her best friend. With dark burgundy walls, dated cabinetry and a cramped layout, the kitchen was anything but ideal for this single mom and her young son, Preston.

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images © 2013, HGTV/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Makeover

How's that for a fresh start? Chip and Jo took down walls, added brand new cabinetry and gave everything a coat of white paint to brighten up the space. The new island creates the perfect spot for Preston to hang out while Mom cooks. 

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images © 2013, HGTV/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Details

A Moroccan tile backsplash, Carrara marble countertops and a farmhouse sink add charming character to the white space. See more from this episode.

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images © 2013, HGTV/ Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Hunt for French Country

Jeff and Michelle Sanders made the decision to leave the home they raised their children in to be closer to friends and family. Chip and Jo convinced the couple they could infuse French country-style into the Texas home. 

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

The Makeover

Chip and Joanna reconfigured the kitchen's layout, removing a formal dining room in the process, to take advantage of a large picture window and create space for a long kitchen island. The old tile floors were replaced with wood and the cabinetry was also updated. The new light fixtures also give the space the French flair the couple were looking for. See more from this episode.

From: Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines

Photo By: Sarah Wilson/ Getty Images

The Messy Mid-Century Modern

Jill and Josh Barrett were on the search for a unique home, and found it in this 1959 modern home. With its box-like enclosure and awkward placement, the kitchen was a visual intrusion within the larger living space.

The Makeover

Knocking down walls made room to give the kitchen the sleek, open layout it deserved. The new flow of natural light throughout the space allowed Joanna to make a bold choice of black cabinetry with brass hardware. A marble backsplash, countertops and and a waterfall edge island keep things nice and bright.

The Kitchen Island

The island also features bench seating topped with plush white rugs to soften up all the hard lines in this modern kitchen.

The Coffee Nook

Another perk to opening up the kitchen? Chip and Joanna were able to create this stunning coffee nook with a view. New windows and glass doors were added to this corner space adjacent to the kitchen. The floating bar top with bar stool seating is the perfect spot for morning coffee and savoring the view.  See more from this episode.

The Faceless Bunker

Teresa and Steve Fuchs spent years living on an island in the Pacific, and wanted a home that matched the beach vibe they were used to. The original kitchen had a tight layout that didn't fit the rest of the home's open design. 

The Makeover

Joanna recommending taking the kitchen to the next level, literally: The kitchen was moved to the upper floor, giving it an open, central location in the home.

The Design

Wood-wrapped support beams provide a welcome contrast with the kitchen's white cabinets and light granite countertops

The Backsplash

Mosaic tile in shades of turquoise and green fit the bill for the coastal theme the couple was looking for.

The Butler's Pantry

Back downstairs, the couple was also given a sleek addition to their space—a former mudroom was converted into this butler's pantry with barn doors painted in a beachy blue. See more from this episode.

The Mid-Century Ranch

Justin and Isabella Reed also wanted to go the French country route. They saw the potential in this Waco, Texas, ranch home and had room in their budget to give the large but dated kitchen an overhaul. 

The Makeover

The duo brightened up the kitchen with new white and gray custom cabinetry, twin chandeliers, white stone countertops and a subway tile backsplash. They also added a butler's pantry that hides behind an antique wooden door. See more from this episode.

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