Territory Review 2020

Territory Review 9/2/19 – 9/19/20

Southwest Texas remained steady during the COVID – influenced period of 9/2/19 – 9/19/20, with 28 ranch sales over $1M during the period in this 7 county zone. This is down from 30 sales last year, and included only two sales over $5M, down from six last year, with the topper being a $10M deal in the Kinney/Edwards transition zone.

The lowest per acre price seen in the zone this period was $623/acre for a Pandale hunter of 1,600 acres, and several others under $1,000/acre showed up in that Val Verde/Edwards/Kinney area, but for the most part, sales were less than 1,000 acres, and prices were well over $1,000/acre, particularly in Medina/Uvalde/Real Counties. This is a reversal of the trend established last several years with the larger sales tied to the failed, investor-backed wind enterprise that has been covered in past issues of this post.

There is quite a bit of inventory available in this zone, at this time, including the LANDTX listing of the fabulous Pecos River Canyon Ranch at Langtry, featuring some 13+ miles of frontage on the deep, teal river, being 18,500 acres @ $675/acre. Val Verde County is showing 6 ranches over 10,000 acres presently on the market, with lowest asking price being $375/acre for Langtry dryland, and asking prices on the river and Lake Amistad ranging from $650/acre on up. There is little talk of a border wall in this region these days, and the danger/uncertainty associated with this zone will forever burden it.

Edwards County checked in with 6 sales over $1M, down somewhat from last year. Sales of hunters under $1M were steady, averaging around $1,400/acre, and there really wasn’t anything that jumped off the page on this review, just one large sale ($10M) with an off-market sale ($3.9M) near Barksdale coming in second.

We see a low on-market in Edwards of $1,195/acre at present, and the inventory is solid with numerous hunters in the $1,500/acre range for 1,000 acres or more. This county is mostly rough/rugged country, but has become one of the most economical choices for hunters seeking to hunt free range big game and not be in West Texas.

Medina County checked in with 10 sales over $1m during the period, led by a high fenced, improved hunter near D’Hanis for close to $7,000/acre. Prices in this county continue to escalate, as the proximity to San Antonio combined with some of the best dove hunting in the region have proven irresistible to buyers over the years. The lowest sale during the period was $1,600/acre for a D’Hanis hunter, and the median seems to be lurking in that $3,000/acre range.

Sutton County fell flat on its face in the period, with only one sale exceeding $1M, down from six last year, and that sale was for $1.36M! How can this be? Talk about a flighty market indeed! This is what happens when there are no clear flowing rivers, upscale resorts or unique natural areas (outside of the N. Llano headwaters). Few seek Sutton County outside of the Permian Basin, and this results in a mighty unusual mini-marketplace for sure! The lowest sale during the period checked in at $1,695/acre, while the median is just above that number.

Uvalde County also went flat during the period, with no sales over $4M as opposed to 3 last year, and just two sales overall over $1M. The only notable sale was that of the improved Live Oak Ranch on 90 west of Uvalde, which checked in at $3,167/acre. The lowest offering at present is $1,995/acre, and the median listing price is mostly in the range of $3,500/acre.

Real County steps up somewhat from previous years with 3 sales over $1M, led by this office’s sale of the 880 acre Dos Rios Ranch, on the East Nueces River, for $2,700/acre. This ranch was hindered by a public road passing near the river, typical of this area. We are seeing some gaudy live water prices here on the smaller tracts, but that hasn’t reached the larger parcels yet. The lowest listing price we see presently is $2,295/acre, and asking prices for dryland average about $2,750/acre.

Kinney County saw 3 sales over $2M during the period, and we are seeing small tract sales in the county on the rise, with a new 15-20 acre tract subdivision being heavily marketed near Brackettville. There is a lot of inventory available at this time, including 15 listings over $1M, with a low asking price of $1,054/acre for 5,675 acres near Del Rio. Median price is in the range of $1,500/acre for dryland, slightly more if “wet.”

The Northwestern Hill Country and Rolling Plains slid backwards a tad in the period, checking in with 19 sales over $2.5M, down from a three year high of 24 last period. This is the zone closest to exploding NW Austin, and appears to be a prime spot to “land bank” money. Groundwater is spotty, however.

A 1031-fueled sale of about $17M in Schleicher County led the charge, and this was funded by a significant, off-radar sale on the San Saba River in SW San Saba County, details of which are unavailable to this writer at this time. Another sale of an odd-shaped portion of the Jackson Ranch on the Colorado River in Lampasas County finally occurred after years of exposure, checking in at $10M or $3,150/acre.

Mason County stepped up with 4 sales over $2M this period, double that of last year, and saw another 4 sales over $1M to conclude an active period. LANDTX may have set a price record for non-river, unimproved land with easement access in the sale of 168-acre Blue Hole for over $5,800/acre! This place had been cleared, and possessed Grade A live water.

The lowest public asking price in Mason County presently is $2,995/acre, and we are starting to see plenty of offerings in the 50 – 100 acre range at around $6,000/acre. Local investors are licking their chops over the prospect of a “flight” of semi-wealthy suburbanites to nearby rural towns, and are preparing accordingly.

Menard County held steady with 3 sales over $1.8M, very similar to last year, but showed a strong increase in sales of $45,000 – $200,000, from two small tract developers that have invaded the area, with over 32 of those in the period. Hope you’re not next door to those folks! This is not what Menard County needs to rise in prestige. Current asking prices range from $1,600/acre to $2,500/acre for average dryland. A large (7,800 acre) river parcel previously marketed by this office now appears on market at $2,538/acre.

McCulloch County was very active, showing 6 sales over $1M during the period, one of which was at $1,489/acre. There were yet another 8 sales over $500K for this impressive period performance, which occurred in spite of the completed wind farm development west of Brady, which is fairly visible over perhaps 20% of the county. The 821 acre Bluff Creek Ranch, on the Colorado River, checked in at $3,150/acre. With only a couple of offerings listed below $2,000/acre, McCulloch County remains in a slow climb due to proximity to both Austin and DFW, and the portions with liveoak are about 50% more valuable than those portions with mesquite only.

Kimble County saw 5 sales over $1M during the period, highlighted by the sale of 1,587 acres N of Junction on US 83, for $1,478/acre, one of the lower prices seen in this county recently. We are generally seeing dryland tracts of a few hundred acres marketed successfully in the range of $2,500 – $3,500/acre here, and some smaller live water sales at very fancy price levels north of $15,000/acre.

San Saba County checked in with 5 sales over $1M, nothing extraordinary, with a range of $2,250 – $5,487/acre, pretty much across the board. Rough, secluded parcels comprise the bottom end, and improved tracts with good soil and paved frontage command premiums.

Concho County held steady, showing 5 sales over $1.5M, just down from last year’s tally. Not much variance here, with the lowest sale an astounding $1,275/acre, and the top end around $1,900/acre for dryland. The absence of oaks and overall sparseness are negatives here.

Schleicher County treaded water, checking in with 4 sales over $1M, and median sales price around $1,800/acre. Here, liveoaks and no petro are king. Sadly, there is very little of that remaining in the area. At present, there are only 12 public offerings of land for sale here, with the lowest asking price $1,577/acre.

Runnels County picked up somewhat from last year, showing 2 sales over $1M, and a general value range of $1,500 – $2,000/acre. Presently, most asking prices lurk in the $2,000/acre range, with the occasional fancy price tied to something highly improved or on the Colorado River.

Lampasas County slowed down a bit during the period, coming in with 4 sales over $2.5M as opposed to 8 last year. This active county had 30 sales over $390K during the period! It’s been a long wait, but Lampasas’s time has come as an Austin satellite, with a prime time football program and upscale trend, this is the place to be! We see sale prices range from $2,500/acre to $5,000/acre, depending upon assets and water, and there is no end in sight to the sizzling activity in this county!

Burnet County leaped forward this period, with 7 sales over $2.4M, as opposed to only 2 last year! This is totally in line with the “Austin flight” reaction to COVID-19 and other urban problems. Don’t expect this to slow down soon. The lowest sales price seen during the period was $3,750/acre, and median prices are floating around $5,000/acre.

The Central, Eastern and Southern Hill Country, one of the most robust real estate areas in the USA, checked in with 37 sales over $2M, up from 30 same period last year. We are seeing smaller acreage sizes coupled with higher $/acre prices driving this phenomenon, and there was only one sale over 700 acres in size during the period in this zone.

Hays County led the way with 90 sales over $125,000 during the period, including 12 over $1M, to continue its trend as one of the hottest real estate areas in the State. Out of all sales over $500K, the lowest $/acre price was $11,809/acre for 199 dryland acres near Dripping Springs, and the lowest current asking price on public offerings is $12,000/acre for 275 acres near Driftwood.

Blanco County shows no signs of slowing down, after a period in which there were 15 sales over $1M, with LANDTX chipping in with sales of $3.25M and $1.96M, both in the period prior to COVID. $6,400/acre is the lowest sale seen during the period, and $6,600/acre is the lowest current asking price that we see on public sites.

Kendall County checked in with 9 sales over $2M, up from 5 last year, with the lowest $/acre sales price in that elite group being $11,094/acre. We are seeing sales of improved parcels with large homes on the increase, as out-of-area buyers seem to want to avoid the pitfalls of new construction in a new area. At present, the lowest asking price in the county is $3,995/acre, for 1,100 highly remote acres near Comfort. All other asking prices these days top $10,000/acre.

Gillespie County impressed, with 22 sales over $1M in the period, the cheapest of which was $6,013/acre in the Harper area. 5 out of the top 15 sales were under $10,000/acre, and the county had half (2) of the sales over $2.5M as it did in the previous period. The lowest current asking price we see on public sites is $4,100/acre for secluded dryland, and live water always tops $10,000/acre in this area.

Kerr County retreated a tad this period, checking in with 6 sales over $2M as opposed to 9 last period. The sale of the Faulkner Ranch on the Divide was the period highlight, with 4,540 acres fetching around $3,500/acre. This is a highly improved, dryland ranch with long highway frontage and paved roads all through the interior. Divide land still ranges around $2,500/acre for the most part, and live water is north of $10,000/acre, for the most part.

Llano County shot through the roof this period, with 13 sales over $1M as opposed to only 5 last period! Most of these were improved and in the range of $6,500 to $8,500/acre, for 100 to 300 acres, and included a couple of gaudy Horseshoe Bay residential sales. We see Llano County on the rise, even though the community holds it back, due to its location and scenic beauty. $4,692/acre is the lowest asking price seen on public sites at this time, and markets appear strong for $1M pieces of land with paved access and scenic beauty.

Bandera County held steady during the period, posting 5 sales over $1M, as opposed to 6 last period. As this community fights to establish itself as a legitimate San Antonio satellite, we see gentrification on the rise, and junk on the way out. As this process continues, look for Bandera County to reinvent itself, and become a high end haven for San Antonio “escapees,” and take advantage of its incredible natural beauty and location.

At days end, this year of COVID has given us much to contemplate. We saw handfuls of big deals fall off in March and April, only to see many of them re-engage during the summer. This election year will be one of the most pivotal, as we all know, and we pray that our leaders act wisely and carefully in their management of our great country during these difficult and stressful times.

Texas land will continue to be an excellent investment, as social failures and natural disasters befall other parts of the country, there will be a steady stream of newcomers looking for safety and security in our great State. If we steward our resources carefully, we will have plenty to offer them, as we see Austin becoming a tech hub for the region, and many affluent, smart folks are drawn to it, and its surrounding lands.

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/consult with. Please consider LANDTX for your professional real estate services, and stop by our office on US 87S in Mason any time. We are launching a new service, MAINSTREETTX, which will specialize in area small town residential, commercial and acreage, and our new agent, Kendra Chamberlain, is now available to assist you with those needs. We wish you and your family a safe and bountiful 2020 and beyond, and thanks for your kind consideration. David E. Culver, Broker.

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