OnlyFans Offers a Lesson for Protesting Historically High Home Appraisals

Today I’m going to kick off my discussion of historically high home appraisals with an unlikely topic—OnlyFans.

Many of you are probably already familiar with OnlyFans, but for those who are not, it’s an online platform that allows content creators to reach audiences directly through monthly memberships, similar to Patreon and Cameo. Unlike those other sites, however, OnlyFans permits adult content to be shared, and that’s made all the difference.

Launched in 2016, the London-based company saw its revenues explode during the pandemic as the number of users jumped sixfold from 20 million at the beginning of 2020 to 120 million by the end of the year.

Today, the top OnlyFans creators can make over $100,000 every month. Celebrities like rapper Cardi B can make tens of millions.

Not everyone has been thrilled with the company’s cavalier attitude toward smut. If you recall, OnlyFans—which is currently seeking to go public—surprised the world last August when it announced it would ban all explicit content following objections from its “banking partners and payout providers,” including Visa and Mastercard.

Public outrage was loud and swift, and within days, the company made a sharp U-turn. In a tweet dated August 25, OnlyFans thanked its supporters for “making your voices heard,” adding that it had “secured assurances [from payment services] to support our diverse creator community.”

And that, believe it or not, brings me to home appraisals.

Texas Home Valuations at All-Time Highs

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners in Texas appear ready to make their own voices heard after receiving their 2022 home appraisals. In Bexar County, where U.S. Global Investors is headquartered, home values have risen 23.2% from last year. Austin homeowners recently got notice that their residences skyrocketed a jaw-dropping 56% in value.

So, what’s going on? You might say “inflation,” and certainly that’s part of the story. There’s a housing boom in major Texas metro areas, with median home prices in Austin, the next big American tech hub, surging above half a million dollars for the first time ever. (Back in 2015, a Texas Monthly article asked, “Can You Afford to Live Here?” Since then, homes have doubled in some cases.)

Median Home Prices in Austin Have Surged Above Half a Million Dollars

This appreciation is in line with home prices nationwide, which have climbed at their fastest annual rate on record. In December, houses were selling for 23% more than they were just a year earlier, topping the previous all-time rate of 19% set way back in 1973.

Average Home Prioces Have Appreciated at the Fastest Annual Rate on Record

But inflation isn’t the full story. Texas famously has no income taxes, but it still has school, hospitals, highways and more for which it must raise funds. It’s for this reason that the Lone Star State has among the highest property taxes in the U.S.—the sixth highest of any state, in fact, according to the Tax Foundation.

When local officials and lawmakers need a bump in revenue, then, homes are appraised at higher values. If you’re planning to sell your home, this is exactly what you want to see; if not, then receiving your inflated property assessment was probably a rude awakening.

The same goes for mark-to-market accounting. Unrealized gains and losses on corporate investments are recorded on the income statement, meaning revenue can go up or down on paper quarter-to-quarter. The difference with home appraisals is that, for tax purposes, valuations only go up for the most part.