Territory Review 2015

Southwest Texas saw a burst of activity in the early part of the reporting period, with things simmering down a bit now that sub $65 oil has been in place for a while.Being on the fringe of the Eagle Ford has benefitted this area greatly. . . now we will see what happens with the oil patch suffering.Prices rose steadily in the early part of the period, but have now stagnated, with lower quality offerings beginning to see loss in value.A commercial boom along US 90 has stagnated as well, definitely tied to the oil patch woes.

Val Verde County saw things remain fairly slow, with several mid-sized dryland hunting ranch sales in the Comstock/Panhandle area in the range of $375 - $400/acre, but no major sales to report or discuss.At present, one can refer to the first couple of pages of Val Verde County listings in landsoftexas.com and see that asking prices range from $600/acre to $1,950/acre, with the upper end being lake or river property.This includes the 6,600 acre “Diablo” property on Lake Amistad that has traded for $685 - $1,450/acre in the past decade, currently on the market for $1,951/acre, listed for sale since 2010!Other large river ranches in the western portion of the county continue to languish for $700 - $800/acre, expect to see price reductions from “investors” in the coming year as oil stays down.

Edwards County saw the sale of an extra-nice, 3,200 high fenced acres for $1,414/acre, as well as two sales of 1,508 and 1,574 acres, for $1,220/acre and $1,000/acre, respectively.These were average hunting tracts with no special features.The 6,378 acre portion of Cedar Creek Ranch, west of Camp Wood, remains unsold for $2,495/acre, and has been on the market since 2008!This place is pretty rough, but has a decent amount of good live water in Cedar Creek, a major tributary of the Nueces River.We also saw the 2,000 acres on the Nueces, just outside of Camp Wood, remain unsold for $5,000/acre, and has been offered since 2007.At present, we are seeing sizable offerings on landsoftexas.com in the range of $1,200 - $2,000/acre for dryland, more for live water depending upon size and improvements.We remain bullish on Edwards County because of its diversity and best live water value “bang for the buck” that we see in the Texas Hill Country, as well as its scenic beauty and proximity to San Antonio.

Medina County saw a decent level of activity in the period, no doubt directly related to its proximity to the Eagle Ford, with several sales in the range of $3,000 - $6,000/acre for improved ranches of 500 – 1,000 acres.A sale of 2,415 improved acres on the Frio River was reported at a stout $4,000/acre!The lowest asking price on the first page of landsoftexas.com at present is a staggering $3,272/acre!What’s up with that!!!!I’ll tell you what. . . commercial usage dreams that are rapidly fading with the oil patch blues, and optimistic sellers offering improved, turn-key properties to oil patch barons who are now quaking at the knees.It is a fairly well-known fact in this business that one cannot realistically expect to turn a profit on investment in structural improvements on a ranch, which is a phenomenon that only occurs in windfall environments, such as $100+ oil.

Sutton County was slow in the reporting period, with a solid sale of 3,748 acres of hunting ground fetching $595/acre, with 1/8 minerals included.This appears to have been a very astute purchase, as we are presently seeing asking prices in the county in the range of $850 - $1,500/acre on the first couple of pages of landsoftexas.com.As goes the Permian Basin, so goes Sutton County, they say.

Uvalde County saw several significant transactions in the period, including the blockbuster sale of the 4,543 acre Sabino Grande Ranch, featuring 4.5 miles of both sides of a very nice stretch of Sabinal River, for a price of $6,383/acre!This illustrates the true value of the larger, unique private water ranches, to select clientele. Another solid sale was the 4,661 acre Falling Waters Ranch, on the headwaters of strong-flowing Montell Creek, for $2,000/acre.This ranch included one of the largest springs in the area, plus a very nice lodge nearby.Yet another solid sale was the 2,309 “Anchor” ranch on the Sabinal River, which fetched $3,334/acre, and included nice improvements and dam on the river.The 4,223 acre Leona River ranch continues to languish at $2,811/acre, while present asking prices of dryland on landsoftexas.com range from $1,695 - $2,000/acre.

Kinney County was steady in the period, with a live water sale of 1,800 acres for $2,500/acre, and a dryland hunter of 1,657 acres for $1,350/acre.The 17,000+ acre 4 Aces Ranch has been placed back on the market for $3,300/acre after selling in the past few years.Current offerings on landsoftexas.com range from $1,150 to $1,950/acre for dryland, with several of the Brackettville-area large creek ranches in the high end of that.

Northwestern Hill Country & Rolling Plains saw steady activity throughout the period, with the Mason/Brady/Menard area leading the charge.This zone attracts interest from D/FW as well as the Permian Basin, Austin and San Antonio, and is known for excellent all-around hunting, solid agriculture and spotty oil & gas activity.Quail and dove hunting are definitely more predominant in this region, though deer remain viable targets.

Mason continues to be an address of distinction for many, and Mason County saw a healthy flow of medium to large sales in the period.Two large sections of the historic Cedar Springs Ranch were sold by this office in the period.2,247 acres with a 250 gpm spring plus several miles of both sides of two heavy-flowing rivers checked in at $3,697/acre.This tract was unimproved, with miles of county road frontage, and decent minerals conveyed.Soon after, the 1,663 acre “Rock Springs” portion was sold for $2,075/acre, featuring about 1/3 mile of ever-flowing James River, highway frontage but no improvements.A decent mineral position was conveyed on this one, too.Nearby, an improved 292 acres brought $8,561/acre, and offered ½ mile of James River frontage.This was regarded as a benchmark type of sale for the area, and illustrates that people aren’t afraid to pay high prices for what they want!

At present (June, 2015), we see that Mason dryland is offered in the range of $2,450 - $3,500/acre on landsoftexas.com, with live water offerings up to $10,000/acre.The 447 acre River Canyon Ranch has received marginal interest, even after lowering asking price to $4,500/acre.It includes 1/3 mile frontage on the Llano River.The 609 acre Lazy H Retreat on the Llano River has been offered, but not sold, for $5,800/acre for about a year now.This offering suffers from dated improvements and damaged water features, but remains an interesting one to observe.

Kimble County saw a lull in activity during the period, with this office engineering the sale of the 3,432 acre portion of Cedar Springs Ranch for $1,511/acre, after a six month exposure period and multiple showings.At present, Kimble dryland offerings on landsoftexas.com range from $2,095 - $2,500/acre, and we are seeing smaller, improved ranches now offered in the $4,000/acre range with a couple of 2014 sales to back that up.As with the other areas, we believe that a slowdown is under way here, and it will continue as long as oil stays at or below $60/bbl.

McCulloch County has seen more significant transactions in the period, with the sale of the 11,000 acre Brady Creek Ranch leading the charge at a reported $2,700/acre.This legacy ranch includes miles of both sides of the gorgeous creek, and was a neighbor purchase never publicly marketed.A 1,280 acre dryland parcel with good improvements checked in at $2,700/acre as well, though a high fenced 3,279 acres has sat on the market since 2007 at $3,050/acre.San Saba River ranches are offered presently at $3,500/acre and up with marginal activity, though a stunning sale in the SE portion of the county will be discussed with the San Saba period data.

Speaking of which, the 6,428 acre River Crossing Ranch located mostly in San Saba County, was marketed by this office thru a sealed bid process which ended on May 29, for the solid price of $3,030/acre.This legacy ranch included over six miles of San Saba River frontage, about 1.5 miles of that being ownership of both sides.This stretch of river features the stunning, 150’ limestone cliffs pocked with caves throughout, and is excellent for fly fishing.However, in recent years, it has begun to stop flowing in late summer due to heavy pumping of upstream irrigators.A group has been formed to protect this river, and I am advised that action has been taken in the Menard area to reduce the pumping from “river gravel wells,” and also to better seal the Menard Ditch, a major source for several local pumpers.

1,218 acres adjoining the above-named ranch brought $2,300/acre this spring, and included an artesian well/spring water feature.An 890 acre rough hunter fetched $2,025/acre in the period, which was generally pretty slow outside of the sealed bid sale.San Saba continues to be an attractive alternative to the slightly pricier Mason, and we regard it as a “sleeper” for investors, particularly if unique natural features or water are present.

Concho County saw steady activity early in the period, and offerings on landsoftexas.com range from $1,295/acre and up.Oak trees add a premium in this zone, as does live water, paved frontage and big hills.A rough, high fenced 1,716 acres on US 83 near Eden fetched $1,375/acre in the period, while a 2,335 acre hunting parcel achieved $1,150/acre, including some minerals.A 582 acre high fenced showplace checked in at $2,800/acre, while this office has unsuccessfully marketed a 651 acre potential showplace on the Concho River in the range of $2,750 - $2,950/acre with some minerals.

Runnels County was extremely active in the period, with over 10 sales of $500K plus, and prices ranging from $1,350/acre to $3,600/acre for a small, improved showplace.Coleman County shows the lowest priced land being $1,085/acre for a remote hunter, and a couple of mid-sized showplaces checked in at $2,142/acre and $3,681/acre.Lampasas was exceptionally slow, with only 3 transactions over $1M, and dryland averaging around $2,800/acre.The lowest price seen on landsoftexas.com at this writing is $1,850/acre for remote, mostly open dryland.Burnet County was semi-slow, with 3 transactions over $1.5M in the period, and prices all over the place depending upon improvements and live water.At present, the lowest offering price for Burnet dryland on landsoftexas.com was $2,650/acre.

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country saw steady activity in the period, though there were no blockbuster sales as has been the case in recent years.Proximity to the Austin – San Antonio corridor and now the SA – Boerne corridor adds value to land offerings in this zone, with land on I-10 and I-35 selling by the square foot.Hays County has experienced solid value increases in recent years, with smaller tracts of 25 – 50 acres often fetching $20,000/acre or more.At present, the lowest priced Hays offering on landsoftexas.com was $8,480/acre, but there are many at over $20,000/acre.

A 682 acre, future development parcel on US 290 just west of Dripping Springs checked in at $20,000/acre, while a 675 acre tract on Ranch Road 12 near Wimberley fetched $8,250/acre, which appears to be a decent buy.An improved 382 acres with live water and lake, west of Wimberley, checked in at $14,400/acre.Several offerings languished as a result of overpricing, however most Hays listings on first page of landsoftexas.com are 2013 or newer.

To the west, Blanco County saw a leisurely pace on sales activity during the period, with a 1,701 acre portion of the long-offered Robinson Ranch being taken down for $4,703/acre.This ranch, located between Cypress Mill and Round Mountain, still has 831 acres with the best live water remaining, for $11,500/acre.A 516 acre, oddly shaped ranch on the Blanco River just outside of Blanco, checked in at $9,600/acre, while 502 acres on the headwaters of Miller Creek, with easement access, achieved $5,995/acre.At present, the lowest asking price we see on landsoftexas.com for Blanco offerings is $4,983/acre.

Kendall County saw steady activity, with several meaningful sales to discuss, but no blockbusters.A 600 acre tract on North Creek and US 87, between Comfort and Fredericksburg, checked in at $6,750/acre.This office successfully completed the liquidation of a portion of the Williamson Ranch on the Kendall/Blanco line, with the sale of 635 rough but gorgeous acres, for $5,300/acre.A 224 acre showplace in the Sisterdale area checked in at $12,700/acre, while the lowest dryland offerings we see on landsoftexas.com for Kendall are $4,995/acre.

Gillespie County continued the boring area trend, with no blockbusters, but several sales of note.An 835 acre tract near Stonewall, featuring two large flood control lakes, brought $5,500/acre.The lakes are shared with several neighbors, but are impressive when full, nonetheless.An 890 acre, improved hunting ranch near Harper checked in at a robust $3,700/acre.This was a pretty nice, turn-key type offering.The Tin Star Ranch, which operated as a combo dude ranch/event venue, brought a very modest $14,400/acre, when one considers the value of the numerous improvements and Crabapple Creek frontage.The lowest asking price of Gillespie dryland currently on landsoftexas.com is $5,150/acre, and the oldest listing on the first page is from 2012.

Nearby Kerr County reported several sales of note in the period, but the sprawling YO Ranch, 27,000 acres, remained unsold at $2,770/acre.A 1,006 acre live water showplace in the prized Camp Verde area checked in at a staggering $13,000/acre, while the 4,608 acre Shin Oak Ranch, located on the Divide west of Kerrville, achieved $2,795/acre.A 351 acre recreational ranch parcel between Pipe Creek and Comfort checked in at $6,600/acre.The lowest asking price in the county at present is $2,300/acre for Divide country, and the exposure times for sales on the first page of landsoftexas.com ranges from 19 to 1166 days!What on earth????This illustrates the totally subjective nature of this process.

Llano County bucked the area trend with several significant transactions during the period, including this office’s sale of the 2,200 acre Bowie Mt. Ranch, on Crabapple and Sandy Creeks, in the southern portion of the county.This sale checked in at $3,621/acre, and the property was totally unimproved, and was on the market for 284 days, with initial asking price of $4,500/acre.

The 940 acre Thunderhill Ranch sold again for $7,234/acre, which was 75% of original asking price.This improved ranch includes Llano River frontage, but was hindered somewhat by an easement thru near the river portion.The 1,940 acre Hickory Mt. Ranch sold in the period for $3,400/acre.This is an above average ranch with no live water and highway frontage, between Llano and Enchanted Rock.We also saw a 1,022 acre parcel with large lake fetch $3,913/acre in the NW portion of the county near Valley Spring.

Finally, Bandera County saw a real slowdown during the period, with only two small sales of note worth discussing.A 308 acre parcel with live creek/dam near Pipe Creek fetched $7,500/acre, while a 130 acre improved stock farm at Vanderpool checked in at $12,300/acre.The lowest offering price presently seen on landsoftexas.com in this county is $3,645/acre.

In the period, we saw values of above average to premium land hold value or increase, on average, in our territory, as last year.Marginal properties are now losing value, in most if not all areas of our territory, however, due to low oil.We are also beginning to see a definite slowdown in overall sales activity.Look for this trend to continue as long as oil stays below $65/bbl.

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 Mason, or the awesome Culver Family Farm south of 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 2015 and beyond.Thanks for your consideration.David E. Culver, Broker