Central, Eastern & Southern Hill Country '04-Present

Central, Eastern & Southern Hill Country May 2014 - Present

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country remains fairly steady due to the proximity to Austin and San Antonio, two of the hottest growth centers in the USA.  The area just west of Austin, in particular, has exploded with sales of small tracts 10 – 50 acres.  If Onion Creek was getting drier, watch out now, and to add to that, the City of Dripping Springs wants to dump more raw sewage into it!  How quickly things change.

Hays County saw several sales during the period, including the second sale of the 1,558 O Bar Ranch near Driftwood, for $8,020/acre.  This parcel traded in 11/13 for $6,482/acre, and is restricted to subdivision into nothing more than 15 – 100 acre parcels.  With one exception, there are no listings on landsoftexas.com at this time in Hays less than $10,000/acre, regardless of size.  Look for the upcoming offering of the 2,500+ acre El Rancho Cima on the Blanco River near Wimberley to be an indicator of just how marketable Blanco River frontage is after the disastrous flooding of 2015.  Note that this office maintains the largest recorded sale in the county on landsoftexas.com, having 3 of the top 15 on that site. 

Blanco County saw several sales in the period, led by the sale of the long-offered 831 portion of the Robinson Ranch on Cypress Creek, which checked in at somewhere below $11,500/acre.  This is big, cypress-lined water on pavement with solid improvements, less than 45 minutes from Austin.  The recent sale of the WKL Ranch just west of Blanco checked in at something less than $8,750/acre.  This is a nicely improved showplace, no live water, but great location on pavement minutes from town.  This county continues to slowly be absorbed into Austin and San Antonio, and prices continue to escalate accordingly.

Kendall County saw multiple sales in the period, ranging from $12,100/acre to $33,000/acre, and sizzling Boerne continues to appreciate at a rapid rate.  At this writing, there are still public offerings at under $5,000/acre in the county, but not in Boerne Schools, nor prime quality land.  This office continues to lead the pace in county-wide sales over $2.5M on landsoftexas.com, with a total of five, two more than the nearest competitor, in the all-time standings.  Keep an eye on our current juicy listing, Dunner’s Mountain Ranch, to attract attention the latter part of this year into 2017.  This 3,160 acre juggernaut is one of the last undeveloped parcels of its size within 35 miles of San Antonio, and is reasonably priced at $5,450/acre only a few miles north of enchanting Sisterdale.

Gillespie County, seemingly immune to the oil patch woes, showed 4 sales of over $2.7M during the period, ranging from $3,894/acre for Harper dryland to $18,100/acre for a highly improved, live water showplace.  This dynamic market continues to amaze, as the US 290 wine corridor is being built up beyond belief, and “the Burg” has become quite THE retail and wine destination indeed!  LANDTX continues to hold on to two of the top three sales in the history of landsoftexas.com comps for this county, and enjoyed its brief stay at the old West Live Oak Street location in Fredericksburg.

Kerr County showed a “normal” activity pattern this period, with one sale of 5,000 acres near Hunt achieving $2,418/acre after 14 months of exposure at $3,250/acre (74% of asking price).  This high fenced divide property is on the edge of the breaks to the south, and actually has a couple of canyons with seeps, along with highway frontage on 39.  This office engineered the sale of the 293 acre Spring Lake Ranch, on strong springs on Tomas Creek, with a deep, wide constant-level lake and lodge, for $9,545/acre, after 1 ½ years exposure.  Another relevant divide sale was the 1,353 acre east pasture of the Faulkner Ranch, in August, 2015.  This tract was well-configured, nicely improved with multiple cabins and manager’s home, paved interior roads, and high fenced with well-managed whitetail and axis herds, and achieved $2,793/acre, a solid benchmark for the area.  This office continues a strong presence in Kerr County, accounting for 2 of the 9 largest sales recorded on landsoftexas.com since its inception in 2007.

Llano County saw steady activity in the period, as the upper Highland Lakes continue to sizzle, and serious commercial infrastructure begins to radiate out from the 281/71 epicenter.  The two largest public sales in the history of the county occurred in the period, but both were confidential and posted information is not accurate.  An 841 acre tract on the Llano River east of Llano achieved $6,843/acre on 10/15, while a 1,363 acre parcel, also on the river nearby, checked in at $5,292/acre.  Smaller river parcels are topping $10,000/acre routinely, and the lowest asking price presently on landsoftexas.com first page is $3,350/acre for dryland. 

Bandera County showed 4 sales in the period over $2M each, ranging from $4,229 - $6,762/acre, all with either good live water and/or improvements.  At present, however, there are only two listings over $4M in the county on landsoftexas.com, that are less than $7,943/acre. . . talk about optimism.  There are a number of fancy showplaces on the market in Bandera County at this time, perhaps more than ever seen, as there are presently 30 ranches on the market in the county for $2.95M or more.

Comal County shows steady activity, but virtually all land sales are of the commercial variety at this time, many getting up around $1/square foot.   

Central, Eastern & Southern Hill Country 2013 - Present

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country saw brisk activity moving into mid-2014, including the sale of the massive, 2,274 acre Mt. Lakes Ranch in western Hays County near Henly, listed by this office, for over $7,000/acre.  This ultra-special site included live water on Onion Creek, huge private lakes up to 12 acres when full, premier road infrastructure and top-of-the-world views of the surrounding Hill Country.  The long-offered Pedernales Springs Ranch, being 1,126 acres on the river near Hye in western Blanco County, was sold after easement problems were solved, for an undisclosed sum, with list price of $9,000/acre.  An adjacent 150 acre tract with tiny sliver of river and long highway frontage fetched $5,800/acre in March, 2014, to same purchaser.  The Robinson Ranch, being 2,533 acres on Cypress Creek and RR 962 near Round Mountain, has now been offered for 3 years with recent price reduction to $7,500/acre.  The nearby Brumley Ranch, 879 acres with small creek, high fencing and nice home, checked in at around $6,500/acre for land-only in early 2014, a strong area sale, indeed!

655 Acres on White Creek in NW Blanco County was sold for a reported $6,000/acre in May, 2013.  The ranch was cleaned up and re-offered for $10,000/acre with no takers as of yet.  A 597 acre offering in far NW Blanco County sold for about $7,000/acre for the “land only,” a stunningly high price to this observer, in May, 2014.  Another stunner occurred in September, 2013, with the sale of the 788 acre portion of Brushy Top Ranch on US 281 with lakes & nice homes, encumbered with light Conservation Easement, for land-only value of $10,000/acre, reportedly.  In the western part of the county, portions of the 2,000 acre Williamson Ranch have been offered for $5,500/acre in 2014, with one sale of 326 acres with small creek topping $6,000/acre, and many showings which should soon by followed by sales.

To the west, Kendall County saw a couple of mid-range sales, including the long-offered 443 acres on the Guadalupe River (1/4 mile frontage) near Sisterdale, for a land-only price close to $12,000/acre.  Further west, south of Comfort, a poorly-accessed 500 acres with large spring fetched $4,700/acre, with asking prices presently ranging from $5,000/acre to over $10,000/acre in most parts of the county for properties over 250 acres.  This county continues to expand as a suburb of San Antonio, with large housing developments entitled and in the early stages of construction.  Fewer and fewer legitimate “ranch” properties exist here with the passage of time.

Llano County saw large offerings flounder at above-market prices, with several mid-range sales offering a decent barometer of reality in the marketplace.  These ranged in size from 788 to 925 acres, with land-only values of $2,750 - $3,500/acre.  Larger ranches on Sandy Creek are asking $4,900 with little reported activity.  Llano River properties are even pricier, with expectations never below $5,000/acre in this county for large tracts, and smaller tracts often exceeding $15,000/acre. 

The Gillespie/Kerr area saw the iconic YO Ranch, being 29,000 acres with no live water, but having good infrastructure and amenities, offered at $2,600/acre with no takers in the first 12 months of the offering.  In western Kerr, a nice, high fenced 2,408 acres checked in at $2,000/acre for “land-only.”  This ranch included a nice home, solid infrastructure and airstrip, and was located in far SW Kerr County near US 83.  Other area sales included the Owl Creek Ranch, located in NE Kerr County on US 87, being 879 acres that sold in January, 2014, for $5,300/acre after 2+ years market exposure with this listing office.  Reliable, year-round spring creeks were located on this ranch, with spectacular settings rivaling anything in the Hill Country for “wow” factor. This parcel was negatively affected by a large electric transmission line that was located inside its boundary, but near the perimeter, by perhaps 15%.  An adjacent parcel, being 285 acres with easement access, above average land, sold for $4,200/acre in November, 2013, and was affected by up to 40% by the mere presence and high visibility of the same electric transmission line, even though it was not physically located on the property.

Bandera County saw the sale of the YMCA Hamman Camp, near Tarpley, being 732 highly improved acres that fetched a total of $3,756/acre including improvements in February, 2013, which appears to be an astute purchase.  726 acres on Hwy. 16 near Pipe Creek checked in at $4,000/acre for the land only in November, 2013, and several other 2013 sales in the 300 – 600 acre range averaged close to $4,000/acre.  With excellent location and proximity to the Eagle Ford, this county should reflect overall trends and have positive outlook for sales activity and values in the foreseeable future.

Central, Eastern & Southern Hill Country 2012

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country saw interesting sales on both the high and the low side of the market. This dynamo continues to deal with the pressures of sizzling growth and resource management, and large tracts are becoming scarcer each passing year. Last year, we reported that the fabulous Sandstone Mountain Ranch, 2,528 acres in Llano County, was under contract. The deal closed with a land-only value of $5,950/acre;. This property included two large lakes and Llano River frontage, as well as frontage on Hwy. 71 between Llano and Horseshoe Bay. This is regarded as a benchmark sale on the high side by this observer, though the ranch can be classified as “trophy” for the area. Another area sale of 665 acres in far NW Blanco County on White Creek checked in at $5,750/acre for the land only. This tract included paved hwy. frontage, average improvements, live water and above average land. A couple of smaller (150 – 200 acre) sales occurred in the same area, with good live water, for about $10,000/acre. This points out the fact that some of the smaller, more affordable, high quality offerings are moving at much higher prices than they did even in irrational 2006!

We saw a couple of 1,000 acre, dryland, average ranches sell in Llano County during the period, in the range of $3,500/acre. This office was listing agency of Enchanting Springs Ranch, located on the Gillespie/Llano county line, near Enchanted Rock, which sold in June, 2013, for $5,000/acre. This ranch has hwy. frontage, nice cabin, great views of Enchanted Rock and other area outcrops. We also have seen a number of Llano dryland offerings flounder at $4,000 - $5,000/acre for a couple of years. It now appears that the “bottom” in Llano County is $3,000/acre, so if you can find it for less than that, take it down!

This office was listing agency in the sale of the 1,062 acre Oak Mesa Ranch, in Blanco County near Cypress Mill on pavement, for $3,900/acre. This was the lowest land-only sale in the area for quite some time. The property is bland and with odd shape, and is mostly void of trees, thus the marketing challenge. It was on the market with this office and owner for several years before selling. The sprawling, 3,600 acre Robinson Ranch on Cypress Creek recently lowered asking price to $7,200/acre, still with no takers as of this writing. Moving to the south and west, Gillespie County saw sales activity back off slightly in the period, with no major transactions to report. 927 acres on heavy-flowing Squaw Creek in NW Gillespie recently lowered price to $5,450/acre, and remains on the market. This office participated in the sale of 99 acres on the Pedernales River about 15 miles W of Fredericksburg, which checked in at $7,500/acre. This offering included 1,000’ of river frontage, had easement access, and was otherwise somewhat bland.

The Stonewall area saw several solid transactions in the period, including the sale of 1,386 acres out of Redstone Ranch, with large spring and other unique features, for $4,800/acre, land only. This was regarded as slightly below market value. This offering was never marketed as a “stand alone” part of the whole Redstone package. It is this observer’s opinion that, if it had, it would have fetched perhaps 10% more. Other smaller sales occurred in the immediate vicinity of Redstone/LBJ Parks, including 323 acres on the Pedernales River for land-only value of $7,750/acre. This was a manicured showplace with irrigation, but a county road separated the main body of the ranch from the river. Nearby, two smaller sales out of Redstone, being 147 & 62 acres respectively, sold for land-only values of $6,500/acre during the period. Both had paved frontage and big views, one had nice fields and a cool German compound. Moving south, this office was listing agency in the sale of the Stieler Springs Ranch, being 305 acres about 6 miles N of Comfort, for $5,250/acre. This offering featured source springs putting out about 50 gpm on site, and land that is otherwise average to above average, with a touch of oak wilt. This ranch was on the market for about 1.5 years, and was originally listed for $5,950/acre. The neighboring Water Valley (280 acres @ $4,975/acre) and Owl Creek (879 acres @ $5,950/acre) remain unsold due to negative influence of a large electric transmission line. A little to the E, the resale of 480 acres near Luckenbach checked in at $7,000/acre for the land only. This ranch is high fenced and stocked with exotics, and has a cypress lined creek (not permanent), and the sale was regarded as benchmark on the high side by this observer. The ranch had been shopped hard for two years prior to the sale.

Central, Eastern & Southern Hill Country 2011

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country saw the stunning sale of the 5,200 acre O’Quinn River Ranch with about 4 miles total Blanco River frontage just east of Wimberley. This ranch traded for approximately $9,000/acre, but is in an area where small river tracts trade for $2,500 per front foot! We saw another sale of 592 acres on the Blanco River just east of the above, for $7,500/acre. This property is being offered for resale at $9,950/acre. LANDTX was listing agency of the 424 acre Circle A Ranch, on the Blanco River west of Blanco, which sold in spring, 2012, for $8,300/acre. Blanco County also saw several other significant sales, one being the sale of the Big T Ranch, on FM 165 and the Blanco River, just east of Blanco, for a “land only” value of about $5,750/acre. Another was the sale of the Running M Ranch, the equine showplace on US 290 and Miller Creek, just east of US 281, for a “land only” value of about $9,000/acre. Yet another meaningful transaction was the sale of the Diamond X Ranch, being on the headwaters of Miller Creek just west of 281. This 3,737 acres checked in at “land only” of around $4,350/acre, which to this observer was a stunningly high sale for a property not in the “premier” category. LANDTX presently has 1,062 acres in NE Blanco County under contract for $3,900/acre, one of the lowest prices in the area, but the quality of the property is average at best.

We saw 594 acres on the Pedernales River offered for $8,500/acre unsuccessfully, but right up the river, we saw 612 acres with both sides of river plus a nice creek with awesome lake sell for $9,500/acre. A well know Texas cyclist’s improved 447 acre ranch on the Pedernales River sold for $7.25M, after being shopped for up to $12M previously. Dryland tracts of 500+ acres were offered out of Redstone Ranch for $5,950 - $6,950/acre unsuccessfully, and we saw the sale of 173 acres with nice creek in far NW Blanco County for $7,500/acre. This tract is offered for resale for $11,250/acre at this time. This office managed the enhancement project and was listing agency in the sale of the awesome Crabapple Falls Ranch, being 1,381 acres with 2 miles of unbelievable Crabapple Creek, plus National Park-type infrastructure. This listing was offered at $7,250/acre, and closed for a confidential price. The sale of the Diamond K Ranch at Sisterdale, being 4,600 highly improved acres with an Orvis hunting facility on it, was touted to be in the range of $9,000/acre. Valero Oil purchased it as a corporate hunting retreat. This office participated in the private sale of 163 acres with a small live creek and nice lake, in western Kendall County, for $7,500/acre. We also marketed a 1,063 acre showplace in same area unsuccessfully for $8,500/acre, while offering 879 acres with live creek on US 87 north of Comfort for $6,950/acre with no takers. The quarry-ravaged “Claude Kelly Ranch” in same area has been shopped at $3,480/acre with no takers, though 50% of the acreage is essentially ruined by the quarrying. Other area offerings range from $5,500/acre on up, and they simply aren’t getting much attention at that price level at this time. Over in Bandera/northern Medina County, we saw the 2,300 acre Hightower Ranch on flowing Bandera Creek offered unsuccessfully for $2,441/acre, while closer to San Antonio, the 161 acre Privilege Creek Ranch got some interest at $8,500/acre, but no takers. We believe that activity in this area is increasing at this time. Buyers have been inactive for years, and are tired of only earning 1% on their CD’s, while watching the stock market bounce around at an unsustainable level. San Antonio and Austin remain vibrant, desirable markets and destinations. Wealthy Mexicans are flocking to both cities, and they like to have ranches along with their country club digs. We are seeing marginal quality properties slowly decrease in value in this area, and the premium quality offerings hold their own or increase. We are also now seeing a resurgence of investor/developers “on the street,” looking for the right opportunities. Scary!

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2010

The Central and Eastern Hill Country, the center of our territory, followed the same trends as the previous zones, with values of average to below average land slowly declining, and the top 10 – 20% of quality land holding its own or slightly increasing in value. This office participated in the sale of a very nice 1,450 acres with fair live water in far northern Kendall County for $3,915/acre, though the tract could not be subdivided due to easement access, a huge negative. Some 200 – 500 acre tracts on the Guadalupe River were offered in the range of $15,000 - $17,500/acre with no takers. A solid 480 acres in northern Kendall County, with fair water and nice improvements, sold for "land only" value of about $6,400/acre. This tract was limited by easement access, too. The former "Schultz Ranch" of 260 acres on Miller Creek brought a staggering price of $16,003/acre, though it is truly an amazing, relatively small place with tons of live water/acre wrapped in a highly pleasing package of fields, dams, hills, canyons and OK improvements in splendid location just west of 281, at the 290 junction. A pretty nice 376 acres in same area, with small amount of Miller Creek with dam, sold for $8,234/acre. This office participated in several area transactions, including a couple of large transactions early in the year on the Pedernales River, one being 1,220 acres with other big water plus river, fetched $11,000/acre, and the other, being 612 acres with creek + river fetching $7,500/acre. 594 acres on the river in same area was offered for over $10,000/acre with little to no activity. Yet another fairly nice, clean 516 acres on Rocky Creek, which had been shopped for years at over $10,000/acre, finally sold after 36 month exposure for $6,327/acre. This gives you an idea of the new "spread" we’re dealing with between asking prices and final negotiated sale prices, which is dramatically larger than it was in 2007 or so. We saw 1,000 acres of cedar hills with poor access in far western Hays County sell for $5,500/acre during the year, while a nice, 193 acre tract on South Onion Creek was shopped for $16,500/acre with no takers. A stunning sale of 206 acres with 14 acre water ski lake on RR 12, between Dripping Springs and Wimberley, for $17,000/acre was reported. Moving to the west, Gillespie County saw sales activity fall flat for most of the year. This office participated in the sale of 500 acres on Sandy Creek (seasonal), just west of Enchanted Rock, for $5,500/acre, as well as a 192 acre tract on Crabapple Creek, for $8,300/acre. A sale of 575 acres on good creek east of Fredericksburg checked in at $6,900/acre, which included German compound. The former Fulton Ranch, 659 acres on the Pedernales River at Stonewall, sold for $4,600/acre early in the year, while the adjoining 3,000 acre Redstone Ranch was exposed for $7,950/acre with no serious offers. The Boerne/Fredericksburg/Blanco/Johnson City rectangle continues to attract serious buyer interest due to location, though the rampant speculation that once dominated the marketplace is no longer evident. As in other areas, what we’re seeing now are either impatient "players" or true end users making the offers, almost always at 75% of asking price or lower! Some sellers are still realizing that this may be the last chance to capture the unheard-of gains of 2002 – 2007, even though they might have lost 25% of their value since the peak, and are "wising up" to reality and getting their offerings sold, rather than continuing to pray for the "recovery" that ain’t gonna happen.

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2009

The Central and Eastern Hill Country, more or less the center of LANDTX’s territory, saw yet another reduction in activity, volume-wise, as well as some price weakening.  This office participated in the sale of 797 acres in far northern Kendall County, with 4 acre lake and $1M home, for $6,978/acre, with the “dirt only” value being around $5,400/acre.  Kendall County also saw two small sales on the Guadalupe River – one being 117 acres purchased as a county park for $16,750/acre, and the other being 189 acres for $13,298/acre having easement access.  Gillespie County saw very few significant transactions in 2009, perhaps the most meaningful being the purchase of 511 acres on Grape Creek near Luckenbach, with a dirt-only value of $7,900/acre.  A somewhat bland 288 acres on major-league Crabapple Creek fetched $8,484, while a 657 acre parcel on Grape Creek east of Fredericksburg checked in at about $5,300/acre.  This office shopped 3,100 and 1,126 acres on the Pedernales River for $8,000 - $9,000/acre with no takers and few lookers.  Look for price adjustments and/or different marketing approach on both of these in 2010.  We also saw the sale of 788 acres out of Brushy Top Ranch for $8,339/acre, having two lakes and nice cabin, plus was high fenced on major highway.  Fredericksburg itself continues to thrive as the “hub” of this area, and the crowds seen in town on weekends are simply amazing!  Blanco County saw several interesting sales, including this office’s sale of 940 acres near Cypress Mill for $4,850/acre, with conservation commitment by buyer.  This ranch previously sold for $6,328/acre in 2007. . . HELLO!  The sale of 443 acres in SW Blanco County was reported at $4,093/acre, out of a parent tract of 950 acres which sold for $4,511/acre in 2007.  HMMM!  Looks like some of the non live water product may be losing value here.  This is consistent in all areas, as the more featureless offerings seem to sit regardless of price unless reduced to 50% of 2007 levels, and the primo land is holding its own or slightly increasing in value.  The poorly-accessed, but beautiful Campbell Ranch, being 1,200 acres on prized Crabapple Creek, has been on the market since 2005, with a starting price of $8,950/acre at that time.  The current asking price is $5,800/acre, and it still sits.  This zone probably experienced the most dramatic price appreciation in the early 2000’s, and this will likely come back to haunt it in the near future, should things continue as is with the economy.  We did see an impressive sale of 95 acres on the Blanco River near Wimberley for $31,000/acre, while just downstream, 590 acres on the Blanco was offered for $17,500/acre with no takers.  This office participated in sale of 150 acres with Conservation Easement on Onion Creek SE of Dripping Springs for $10,667/acre, and marketed a very nice 193 acres on South Onion Creek nearby for $18,000/acre with no takers.  Conservation tracts of 100 acres near Driftwood were offered at $10,000/acre with mild interest.  There is little doubt that the severe drought of 2008-2009 had a negative effect on the marketplace, as creeks and pastures dried up, and the countryside looked its worst.  The rains of late 2009 and early 2010 will certainly spruce things up, and this office looks forward to its area listings having their Sunday Shoes on for the spring/summer selling season!  

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2008

The Central and Eastern Hill Country saw a major slowdown in sales activity in 2008, though prices seem to be holding steady into early 2009. With live water prices in the $10,000 to $15,000/acre range becoming commonplace, coupled with a looming economic crisis, buyers were not as willing to pay full price, and began to take the mindset of “hey, let’s wait for a deal.” Many sellers drew lines in the sand, and held firm on trying to achieve 2007 prices in 2008, though the needy ones were forced to retreat to generate serious activity. In Kendall County, we saw some non-live water ranches trade for around $6,000/acre, and some smaller river tracts fetch north of $20,000/acre, though the level of activity was definitely off from 2007. A Kerr County 1,500 acres on Johnson Creek near Mt. Home was offered all year long for $4,500/acre with no takers (also discussed in our previous Territory Review). Llano County slowed to a crawl in 2008, values held steady. Blanco County saw a nice 387 acres on pavement with small but nice lake trade for $5,500/acre late in the year. A nice 516 acres was shopped hard for $9,000/acre with no takers, while a nearby 450 acres was exposed for $7,500/acre with same results. This region seems to be less affected by the current doldrums than others. We believe this is due to its excellent proximity to the populated areas of Austin, SA and the Highland Lakes. There are now a couple of million people within a one hour driving distance of Blanco, coming from all sides! Fredericksburg continues to amaze. . . new shops and restaurants. . . beautiful people. . .this all bodes well for the husband who wishes to own land near that unique community! Mom will have plenty of interesting things to do while the guys do their thing out in the sticks. As Gillespie County live water prices topped the $10,000/acre mark, the economy sputtered, and sales activity tanked. A sale of $13,000/acre for 160 acres on the Pedernales River was reported, and a 1,300 acre tract west of town on strong creek traded for $5,800/acre, and is now offered for $10,000/acre on resale. A 1,200 acre tract on Crabapple Creek, which has been offered for several years now, lowered the asking price to $7,300/acre. This is an example of a seller with unrealistic expectations – who was hoping for a 2006-mindset buyer in a 2008 economy – finally reading the handwriting on the wall. Expect a sale of this tract in late 2009 for less than asking price, but well within market parameters, which will provide a benchmark for the next couple of years. Hays County has continued its run almost unabated into early 2009. The proximity to Austin, coupled with the large number of folks who have settled in communities such as Dripping Springs, Wimberley and Kyle, continues to foster a climate of desirability and optimism, causing land values to creep upward even more in 2008. Expect a leveling in 2009, and keep an eye on the 193 acre Mt. Gainor Farm offered by this firm, as we expect a benchmark sale of it during the summer sales season, particularly if creek flow comes back. Regulators and environmental groups are becoming more shrill close to Austin, and may contribute to leveling off of land values in this zone due to increased ability to regulate development. This is not a bad thing, as long as landowners are adequately compensated for any losses in property rights.

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2007

The Central and Eastern Hill Country saw five digit prices become commonplace in 2007. This company participated in a sale of 273 acres near Sisterdale on cypress-lined West Sister Creek that topped $14,000/acre, as well as facilitating a 350 acre sale just west of I-10 with raw scenic beauty, but no significant water for $7,500/acre. Kendall Country purchased a 405 acre parcel of land with live water, good improvements and I-10 frontage for a reported $14,000/acre for use as a county park. Blanco County broke loose with a $9,200/acre sale near Henly with live water, while a couple of other sales included a rough but pretty 930 acres west of Blanco for over $4,500/acre, and a nice buy neglected 380 acres in same area for $6,000/acre. The 930 was split and offered in smaller tracts for up to $8,500/acre, while the 380 acres is back on the market for $12,000/acre. Both of these resale offerings appear to be optimistic, to say the least. Conservation easement tracts on the Pedernales River east of Johnson City were shopped in the $10,000/acre range with little success during the year, while a very nice 360 acres with large lake on highway near Henly floundered at $12,500/acre, asking price. Gillespie County continued its torrid pace, as 216 acres at Enchanted Rock with no live water sold for over $10,000/acre, while other water tracts in the area sat still at $8,000 to $10,000/acre asking prices. A 420 acre tract on Hickory Creek sold for over $4,000/acre, then offered for resale at twice that with no takers. An 1,100 acre ranch on Crabapple Creek was again offered throughout the year for $8,000/acre with no action, though access issues play a prominent role in this failed offering. Llano County saw fewer sales and higher prices, and most offerings consisted of larger parcels being subdivided into 40 to 100 acre tracts. This market seemed brisk heading into 2008, as buyers with $250 - $500K remain active “on the street,” while the big dogs lie in the weeds, waiting to see what might happen next. Mason County was in high gear, as average land with no water topped $2,500/acre, and water parcels, if available, top $4,500/acre in the 250 to 500 acre range. Several 150 acre tracts with springs traded for $2,500 to $3,000/acre just west of Mason. This writer’s family now owns one of them. Working back towards Austin, Hays County saw sales of regular, cedar-choked land on pavement top $10,000/acre in tracts of 100 acres, and parcels with marginal live water, including an 800 acre tract near Henly, are selling for $8,500/acre. Groundwater issues loom for this zone, and the voice of the environmental community gets louder and louder with regard to dense development, which may ultimately limit appreciation.

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2006

The Central and Eastern Hill Country continued its torrid pace of Aspen-like prices becoming the norm. A number of live water sales in Kendall County checked in at $10,000/acre or more, with one sale on the Guadalupe River topping $15,000/acre. The cheapest land in Kendall County was priced at $4,800/acre with poor access and other major negatives. This firm participated in several major sales in Blanco County, ranging from 563 acres on the Pedernales River in January, 2006, for $6,600/acre to the benchmark Cuatro Hermanas Ranch sale of 732 acres on upper Onion Creek for almost $14,000/acre in Sept., 2006. The least expensive land in this area was a 1,050 acre parcel that sold for about $3,300/acre just north of Canyon Lake in Comal County in late 2006. This firm was involved in resales of 150 acre parcels just east of New Braunfels that averaged $8,000/acre out of a 465 acre parent tract. Gillespie County spiraled out of sight, as sizzling Fredericksburg has become a “mustown” location for out of state buyers. The Campbell Ranch of 1,200 acres sat on the market all year for $7,950/acre, though access issues proved to be burdensome to marketability. Sales in the Enchanted Rock area were brisk in the $4,500/acre range, and a 250 acre tract on the Little Llano River fetched $4,600/acre through this firm. Llano County saw prices on marginal land top $3,000/acre, and there were reports of significant sales on the Llano River approaching $10,000/acre. Mason County has become a desirable address for many “suburban” land sellers looking to escape the ever-encroaching rooftops, though land in that county topped the $2,000/acre barrier in the early part of the year. The lowest big live water sale this office is aware of was 1,200 acres on the San Saba River for $2,300/acre. This same sight was cleaned up a little and offered again for $3,800/acre. The landmark sale of the year occurred in Burnet County of the 21,000 acre Goodrich Ranch on Lake Buchanan with miles of live creeks. This site is spectacular, but marginally accessed with much rough country, and fetched about $3,300/acre according to sources. It has since been broken up into large tracts of 1,000 to 5,000 acres with asking prices in the range of $5,000/acre on average. 5,000 acre Rancho San Miguel in far northern Blanco County traded for over $3,000/acre.

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2005

The Central and Eastern Hill Country again boggled the mind with Telluride-like prices and large sales dominating the headlines. Kendall County, in particular, had some 50 to 150 acre creek sales in the Joshua Creek valley hitting the $15,000/acre mark. Surprisingly, some Guadalupe River parcels were shopped hard at $10,000/acre with no takers, though less-fashionable school districts proved to be somewhat of a stigma to the buying public. A 160 acre parcel with extraordinary water on the upper Blanco River sold for $9,400/acre, with some other area sales checking in at similar levels, though all had outstanding natural water features. Those with no water flow traded for up to the $4,000/acre range in northern Kendall and southern Gillespie Counties. Blanco County again showed sharp gains, particularly along the US 281 corridor, though remote parts of the county found some tracts with flowing water still available for less than $3,000/acre. The Pedernales River saw transactions topping $6,000/acre, and a significant transaction east of Johnson City was reported to exceed $8,500/acre. Generally, the closer to Austin, the higher the price, with the 45 minute drive time from the State Capitol showing up as a benchmark for value. Sales for 25 acre tracts were brisk, with the average price hovering around $8,000/acre. A sale of about 165 acres on a live creek in the range of $4,600/acre near Johnson City was reported. The Wimberley area continued on its torrid pace, with a value leap of about 20% for the year, though Dripping Springs slowed a little, possibly due to a moratorium on development in the immediate area. A significant sale of 800 acres on Onion Creek near Driftwood logged in at over $10,000/acre, while a 250 acre parcel on Gatlin Creek between Dripping Springs and Wimberley was reported at near $9,000/acre. Comal County spiked, with several 150 acre sales verified at $8,000+/acre. A sale of a 2,700 acre parcel between New Braunfels and Canyon Lake was reported in the $6,700/acre range. Another sale of 1,000 acre on I-35 near New Braunfels was verified at $8,500/acre, with no utilities yet committed to the site. Blackland south and east of I-35 could still be had for $2,000/acre or less, though the possibility of major highways passing thru has created a recent wave of activity spilling into 2006.

Central & Eastern Hill Country 2004

The Central and Eastern Hill Country showed the most activity, with several eye-popping sales in Kendall and Hays Counties. Most notable was the much-discussed series of sales of the 5,000+acre “Broken O” Ranch in the hills west of Boerne. This fabulous remnant of the former “Seven Eleven” Ranch features fire-hydrant springs, sizable lakes, spectacular scenery and remote accessibility. The final sale was said to exceed $7,000/acre, with the property supposedly earmarked for small tract residential development of the upscale variety found in steadily growing Cordillera Ranch to the east. Another remarkable transaction occurred just east of Wimberley, with the “Cougar Bend” Ranch of 421 acres on the Blanco River selling for a reported $22,000 per acre. This property does have a fine home which contributed about $4,000/acre to value. Blanco County saw several strong water ranches sell for $4,500 to $5,000 per acre, including the successful purchase and resale of the 2,100 acre Clear Rock Ranch near Henly by us, with resale water tracts of 400+ acres averaging $4,600/acre. Our group also closed out the 50 to 100 acre tract division of the former Nagle Brothers ranch of 800 acres near Dripping Springs, averaging $6,000/acre for the parcels, none having live water. Due to minimal regulations, Blanco County is seeing a proliferation of 25 acre tract subdivisions marketed to commuters/investors from both Austin and San Antonio, with mediocre sales success reported at $7,500 to $8,000/acre. Proximity to the US Hwy. 281/290 corridors seems to be a key to success for this type of development. 1050 acres on 281 south of Johnson City sold for $2,800, while an improved 1,000 acres closer to Blanco fetched slightly more. Guadalupe River 500 acre tract values are running in the $8,000 to $10,000/acre range, depending upon location, with the Blanco River doing about the same, though it spikes closer to Wimberley. Non-water tracts north of Canyon Lake can still be found for $3,500/acre in both Comal and Blanco Counties. Pedernales River from Fredericksburg to Lake Travis runs from $6,000 to $10,000/acre, and any live water land within 15 miles of Fredericksburg is hard to find for less than $7,500/acre. As always, cypress trees seem to add about 20% to value of water properties, as do deep swimming holes and 3+ foot high waterfalls. Large, permanent-flowing springs are at a premium as well, especially when the water flowing from them stays on the site for a significant distance. 500 acre tracts in this zone with a permanent flowing creek should fetch $4,500/acre and up, depending upon flow volume, location, topo and improvements. This number could reach as high as $10,000/acre for the most choice areas and unusual parcels.

 

 

Disclaimer:

As always, there are many exceptions to this report, and some sales have occurred which we have not reported in the article due to space limitation, plain ignorance or confidentiality agreements.  This report is not to be considered legal or financial advice, please consult professional specialists in those fields.

Prices within each area can vary substantially due to various factors, and we always welcome new factual data and your opinions.  We appreciate our many fine friends and peers who supply us with good information, and are committed to this ongoing private info project for years to come.  You are welcome at our new office in Fredericksburg, or the awesome Culver Family Farm in Mason, at any time to share a cup of coffee, talk about land conservation and property rights, and check out our unique, team-oriented operation and awesome mapping services.  We hope that you will consider any of our professional services if the need arises, and we wish you and your family a safe and bountiful 2014 and beyond.  Thanks for your consideration.  David E. Culver, Broker