Territory Review 2017

Southwest Texas once again showed sparse activity over the period, with a small burst of closings shortly after the election, then, after January 1, the faucet was turned off for the most part.Again, petro woes are to blame, and until that very significant segment of the Texas economy has $75/barrel product, things will remain sluggish in rural real estate.We have always viewed this area as a favorable long term investment.Where else can you find land in large parcels with liveoaks within about 3 hours of San Antonio, for less than $500/acre?

Val Verde County stood virtually still throughout the period, with no sales reported over $1M.We are seeing asking prices on the Pecos and Rio Grande creep down, while the Devil’s seems to keep creeping up.We have received a report of a 7,800 acre Pecos River parcel under contract for around $650/acre, but no closing as of yet.This office is bringing to market a solid, 26,656 acre parcel N of Comstock for $425/acre this summer, directly across the highway from a 22,618 acre offering priced at $495/acre, so we should have a good feel for this area by this time next year.

The lowest priced offering on landsoftexas.com in Val Verde presently is at $399/acre for dryland, and we are still watching the 6,600 acres on Lake Amistad, which is presently priced at $1,895/acre, down from an original asking price of $3,500/acre a number of years ago.

Edwards County saw 4 sales in the $1.2M range, with a couple of above-average unimproved 500+ acre parcels near Barksdale checking in at $2,200/acre.A well-improved 710 acres in the South Central area of the county checked in at $1,764/acre.This was interesting, as the improvements here were substantial, thus a possible astute purchase was made.

Proximity to San Antonio, spectacular scenery and water, and little to no industry make this an extremely attractive area for investor/users.We are seeing asking prices as low as $1,200/acre here for dryland, but expect to see that move downward for the lesser quality properties if oil remains at present price levels.

Medina County saw the record sale of the highly improved Yolo Ranch, which also included oil production, for a reported price of $6,583.33/acre, which we believe is somewhat inflated due to confidentiality.Nonetheless, a stout sale of a super-highly improved ranch with significant oil production bodes well for the region, and will doubtlessly be a beacon for area appraisers as they practice their trade.

We saw a nicely improved 971 acres in the northern part of the county fetch $2,500/acre.This looks like a good buy, as improvements were substantial, and 600 acres were high fenced with fancy animals.Presently, we see asking prices of large ranches no lower than $2,650/acre on landsoftexas.com in this county, and good, irrigated farms are known to fetch in the range of $4,000 to $6,000/acre.The increasing presence of Chronic Wasting Disease in Medina remains a cautionary signal for investor/users.Use cutting edge techniques when evaluating land in this county, and beware of offerings near or adjoining known CWD-infected sites.

Sutton County saw a decent rush of activity during the period, with several nice sales to report after the lackluster previous period.The sale of the Wade Ranch in March, 2017, led the way, being 5,242 well-improved acres and about 30% of the minerals including production for $1,075/acre, after 14 months exposure.This appears to be a real barometer for the area, an above-average ranch with minerals over $1,000/acre. . . nice!We saw another average-quality 4,375 acres with highway frontage between Juno and Sonora check in at $914/acre, while an unimproved 1,1124 acres in the SE part of the county fetch $1,200/acre.These are encouraging numbers, to be sure, but we are still not sold on this county with little surface water and lots of petro intrusion, at those price levels. . . sorry. . . plus, there is the specter of possible wind farm development.

Uvalde County perked up a bit from the doldrums of 2015 to show several meaningful transactions, including the sale of the 431 acre Shut-In Creek Ranch near Concan.This tract, which borders development, is in more of the “investment” rather than “ranch” category, but checked in at $5,104/acre after only 91 days of exposure.Another tract of 1,055 acres on the West and Main Nueces Rivers checked in at something less than $2,150/acre.The sale of 2,894 acres 7 miles NW of Uvalde checked in at $2,100/acre after a year’s worth of exposure.This place was mostly high fenced with above average infrastructure.Among 1,180+ acre offerings in Uvalde, the current low asking price on landsoftexas.com is $1,595/acre for the venerable Lake Creek Ranch up to $10,000/acre+ for the over the top places. . . good luck with that!

Real County saw a spike in activity during the period, including a nice, high fenced Divide hunter 4 miles W of Garven Store that checked in at $2,242/acre, plus an average 640 acres with a small creek near Leakey fetch $2,300/acre.The sale of El Rancho Del Molino finally occurred after going to market in 2014.The 828 acres featured a fine old lodge plus big creek and spring water on site, and realized $3,925/acre, a benchmark for the area.$1,925/acre is the lowest asking price on landsoftexas.com for 615+ acres at present, and $3,000 - $4,500/acre is looking reasonable now for big water here on tracts under 1,000 acres.

Kinney County had no sales over $1.4M during the period, and currently on landsoftexas.com, the lowest asking price of875+ acres is $899/acre.

The Northwestern Hill Country and Rolling Plains saw spotty activity during the period, with fairly-priced offerings leading the charge as always.This area faces intense pressure from wind farm developers, who have so far been kept out of Mason, Kimble, Gillespie, etc., but they now have a footprint in McCulloch with a large project on line in the Brady Mountains NW of Brady. . . yick!

Mason County saw several nice sales during the period, including the sale of the 1,711 acre El Oso River Ranch by this office last March for $3,713/acre.This ranch included a fantastic spring creek, plus 1/3 mile of Llano River, in the “bluffs” west of Mason.This office also generated the sale of 447 riverfront acres adjoining the above parcel, for $3,657/acre.This land was rough and unimproved.We saw the sale of a mostly featureless 511 acres with ½ mile of Llano River, east of 87 toward Castell, for $5,100/acre, while an improved grass place of 889 acres east of Mason fetched $3,818/acre.Offerings of high quality Llano River frontage now approach $20,000/acre and there seems to be no end in sight.At present, the lowest price offering of 124+ acres on landsoftexas.com in the county is $3,500/acre.This office is about to post one for $3,250/acre. . . stay tuned!

Menard County finally saw the 5,700 acre Preston Ranch get taken down for $2,236/acre last February.This fine ranch featured fine homes, infrastructure, 2.5 miles of river front and was high fenced.Another meaningful sale of 1,700 acres in the southern part of the county checked in at $1,849/acre.This was an above average quality ranch in exceptional condition.Presently on landsoftexas.com, the lowest priced listing of 320+ acres is $1,795/acre, and a major value factor for dryland is the presence or lack of liveoak cover.

Kimble County saw a couple of sales worth reporting, including the 700 acre La Sendera Ranch just off of I-10, on the Llano River.The high fenced showplace, with a stunning 3,800 sf home, checked in at $4,000/acre. . . impressive indeed.We also saw a Divide sale of 1,150 acres in the SW part of the county check in at under $2,350/acre.

There is presently much inventory of land shown for sale on landsoftexas.com in Kimble County, and the lowest asking price we see for 800+ acres is $2,075/acre.

McCulloch County saw a couple of meaningful deals close in the period, but the big news is the beginning of construction of the Rattlesnake Wind Farm project, NW of Brady, in the Brady Mountains.This is an ecological disaster for the region, that will surely devalue lands within eyeshot of it.

2,250 well managed acres in the eastern part of the county checked in at $2,400/acre after only 145 days exposure, while a very nice 479 acres with 1 mile of San Saba River brought $4,801.$5,000/acre range now seems to be the standard for this improving river, and the lowest asking price for 744+ acres on landsoftexas.com at present is $1,750/acre.

San Saba County was extremely slow during the period, with no sales reported over $2M.We still have strong affection for this county due to location and natural features, and find it intriguing that the present lowest asking price on landsoftexas.com in the county is $2,282/acre.Look for this county to heat up as Burnet and Lampasas reach higher price levels, and force recreational ranch buyers from Austin further out.

Concho County, predictably, so no sales over $750,000 during the period, and this office tried in vain to market 651 acres on the Concho River for $2,625/acre. . .we live and learn.At present, $1,485/acre for dryland is the lowest asking price on landoftexas.com for over 450 acres, and again, the presence of oaks is critical in this region.

Schleicher County saw a couple of sales of note, one being an extra nice, 925 acre liveoak ranch with 5,000 sf custom home and pool for $1,891/acre, with some minerals included.A 4,191 acre ranch with 400 acres of cropland and some minerals near Eldorado checked in at $826/acre.Presently, the lowest 640+ acre dryland offering on landsoftexas.com in the county is $1,125/acre.

Runnels County and surrounds is experiencing a quail revival, and a nice quail place sold in February of this year for $1,395/acre, a decent buy with highway frontage and fair infrastructure.$1,305/acre for dryland is the lowest asking price presently on landsoftexas.com for 270+ acres in the county, and we see prices holding steady here unless far inferior quality land is the subject.

Burnet/Lampasas Counties remain desirable due to proximity to NW Austin and Round Rock, and offer classic Hill Country scenery at a fraction of counties S of Lake Travis.Burnet saw the takedown of 2,143 acres of average quality country at $2,721/acre, while Lampasas had a single transaction during the period of 353 acres at $3,470/acre.The lowest price for dryland presently on landsoftexas.com in Burnet is $2,650/acre, while Lampasas checks in with a low of $2,638/acre.Riverfront property is pushing $5,000/acre in this zone, which seems like a deal when compared to Blanco River at $40,000/acre.

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country continue to explode with pressure from the Austin/SA corridor derived from tech wealth.This area is widely recognized as one of the hottest growth centers in the country, and sales of smaller acreage tracts in Hays County are sizzling with no end in sight.

Oddly, Hays County did not record any sales in excess of $5M during the period, and this office still maintains the largest public sale ever recorded in the county in landsoftexas.com.Presently, the lowest priced offering of 318+ acres in the county on landsoftexas.com is $5,263/acre, with all but 3 of the top 14 sized offerings being over $10,000/acre.It has been rumored that the 2,382 acre El Rancho Cima on the Blanco River is under contract. . . more details on this as they become available.

Blanco County was oddly quiet during the period, though presently this office is in the process of moving out three 100 – 150 acre parcels out of the Josey Ranch, just outside of Blanco, to neighbors for an average of $7,450/acre, leaving a pretty choice 650 acres which will be marketed for $7,950/acre.A highly improved ranch near Hye on Rocky Creek fetched $12,893/acre, though some improvements were dated.This office generated the sale of 94 acres on the Pedernales River W of Johnson City for $14,900/acre, an area benchmark, while a nearby river parcel checked in at $12,500/acre.A search of landsoftexas.com reveals the lowest Blanco dryland offering over 330 acres checks in at $6,750/acre, and it’s looking like little old Blanco County is rapidly heading towards a norm of $10,000+/acre.

Kendall County only saw one significant transaction in the period, being the sale of the 1,158 acre Kenmore Farm on TX 46 east of Boerne.This was an old Thoroughbred breeding farm, with parklike grounds and spring water, with old improvements gracefully restored, that fetched $11,315/acre this past April 26.Kendall County, like Hays, is being absorbed into the San Antonio metropolitan area, and large sales are fewer and farther between these days.This office has had light traffic on the offering of the 3,160 acre Dunner’s Mountain Ranch, much to our chagrin, and the price has been recently lowered to $4,950/acre, lowest in the county.Like Blanco, this county is headed to a norm of $10,000/acre for average land in 100 acre tracts, if it’s not there already.

Gillespie County stayed steady throughout the period, with a couple of sales over $3M reported during the period.We saw an average 1,000 acres W of town on Tivydale Road with a large, fluctuating lake, close for $5,291/acre after only 100 days of market exposure.An interesting sale of 426 acres on the Pedernales River and Cave Creek occurred after one year’s market exposure at $9,031/acre, after starting out at $11,761/acre.This ranch featured two irrigation wells and included a couple of pivots.Presently on landsoftexas.com the lowest dryland listing over 410 acres in Gillespie checks in at $4,750/acre, with the normal range being $5,000 - $10,000/acre.

Kerr County literally snoozed through the period, with only one sale over $2.9M shown on the landsoftexas.com board.The 170 acres on Second Creek is only minutes from town, has nice 4,000 sf home built in 2011, and fetched $17,000/acre.Kerr County is picking up lots of small tract subdivisions near the edge of town these days, and the city of Kerrville is growing rapidly.Hunt prices on the Guadalupe River have gone clean out of sight, while the Divide still gins along at $2,000 - $2,500/acre.

Llano County has finally cooled off a bit from a sizzling 24 month run, with only two meaningful sales to discuss this period.The 520 acre Magill Creek Ranch, in the NW sector of the county near Valley Spring, checked in at a stout $5,384/acre.This ranch included a very nice, 3,100 sf home of 3BR/3.5BA, and the entire property was in immaculate condition.Another sale of 230 improved acres with live water, S of Llano, checked in at close to $10,000/acre, and the lowest dryland price for over 180 acres presently shown on landsoftexas.com is $4,500/acre.

Bandera County had a couple of notable sales in the period, including 1,330 acres near Tarpley with a spring fed creek and decent improvements checked in at something S of $4,500/acre.Another sale of note occurred this past April 13, with the closing of 552 acres on the Medina River near Medina for $9,900/acre.This offering featured a 6,500 sf over the top log home overlooking a huge private lake in a magnificent private setting.Presently on landsoftexas.com, the lowest priced dryland listing in the county checks in at $3,250/acre, but it wasn’t that long ago that $1,500/acre was the norm.

The early part of this period remained slow, but things picked up after the elections, before the end of the year, but fizzled again on January 1.This office is on a normal sales pace for 2017 at this time, and continues to pick up quality listings from our many good friends who have kept the faith.Obviously, our leadership and government are on shaky ground at this time, and no one call tell which way we’re ultimately headed.In the beginning, I wanted to believe this guy could get it done, but that opinion has changed and I fear for our nation now.The only upside I see from him at this time is that the price of oil goes up from war or boycotts. . . and Texas is temporarily healed. . . but this is not what we’re looking for long term. . . we need sustainability.

Prices within each area can vary substantially due to various factors, and we always welcome new factual data and your opinions.This study is not intended to replace the financial advice of a professional, whom we are always glad to hear from.Please consider LANDTX for your professional real estate and mapping services, and you are welcome to come visit us at our new, state-of-the-art offices on US 87S in Mason, which we now happily occupy.We wish you and your family a safe and bountiful 2017 and beyond, and thanks for your kind consideration.David E. Culver, Broker