Western & Northern Hill Country '04-Present

Western Hill Country May 2014 - Present

The Northwestern Hill Country and Rolling Plains saw reduced activity during the period, no doubt directly related to the Permian and Eagle Ford slowdowns. Smaller, higher quality parcels continue to trade steadily, seemingly without regard for what’s going on around them. How long this trend might continue with sub-$50 oil is anyone’s guess.

Mason County, recently sizzling with multiple $3M+ transactions in a given year, checked in with one really significant sale during the period, that being the sale of the 1,300 acre Granite Springs Ranch, on the McCulloch County line. This tract was attractive, with scattered cover of oaks and a few nice fields, combined with granite outcrop country boasting several live springs with minor pecan bottoms. This tract ended up selling for $2,634/acre, and was somewhat adversely affected by a nearby proposed frac sand plant. Mason County citizens are pleased to announce the withdrawal of the proposed ENEL wind farm in the NW part of the county. This was a major victory by a well-organized and financed local opposition group, the THCHA, and is the third anti-industry initiative in the region successfully championed by them.

There is little question that the presence of wind turbines, large electric transmission lines and other visible industrial-related nuisances devalue nearby lands, particularly in the pristine areas of the Texas Hill Country. This office continues to work diligently in the direction of gathering factual data to support this conclusion, and hopes to achieve success in courtrooms near you through our expert witness and consultation services. We are always open to new data and ideas.

This office remains the all-time leader in significant Mason County closed ranch sales by a wide margin, having 7 of the 9 largest sales ever recorded since the inception of the landsoftexas.com comp program in 2007, including the largest ever of $14.8M when we represented the seller of the present McHale Ranch, west of Mason.

Menard County is another that slowed considerably from recent success, with this office being responsible for the only two sales over $2M during the period, both on the San Saba River, both with an easement thru cutting off the river frontage. These were slightly above average quality tracts of land with permanent river frontage, that checked in at $2,145/acre and $1,965/acre, for 1,030 acres and 2,100 acres, respectively. Sales over $2M since 2007 have fallen in the range of $1,157/acre to $2,428/acre for ranches with non-extraordinary improvements, and the cautious trend seems to be holding steady into the latter part of 2016. It’s a long, hot summer, but early rains should keep the rivers and big creeks going into fall.

Kimble County saw a couple of small to mid-sized hunters check in at $2,696 - $3,650/acre, both improved/above-average kinda places. Presently on Landsoftexas.com, asking prices range from $1,950/acre to $4,750/acre for native rangeland to improved live water property, with this office putting out a particularly nice 744 acres to lead the high side. Kimble remains a viable, affordable alternative for those who can handle the extra hour’s drive past Kerrville, especially with the recent 80 mph speed limit on I-10.

McCulloch County saw 3 sales in the period of improved, mid-sized ranches, with prices ranging from $3,100 - $4,000/acre. There have been recent large sales in the $20M range, and now the massive Ford Ranch is being offered for sale, being 31,778 acres @ $1,887/acre = $60M. This bruiser is burdened by a groundwater agreement with the City of San Angelo, so it will be curious to see how marketable it actually is in the present economic climate. McCulloch sellers seem unreasonably optimistic, with no asking price less than $2,995/acre on present offerings over $3.2M other than the Ford, and somewhat insane or asleep at the switch as well, as the proposed Rattlesnake wind farm project in the Brady Mountains is said to be eminent by local sources. YIKES!!!

San Saba County held steady in the period, with the slightly closer proximity to sizzling Austin being a factor in that steadiness as opposed to its neighbors to the west. A benchmark sale of the 574 “Eagle Eye” Ranch, west of Cherokee, checked in at almost $13,000/acre with dazzling and extensive improvements in an exquisite, private setting. Another solid sale of a 1,000 acre, high fenced hunter on the McCulloch line checked in at $2,643/acre, not bad for “slow” times. San Saba remains an intriguing location, with much scenery and little development, and solid folks. 

Concho County only saw one sale in the period, being a nice 454 acres near the Menard line, checking in at $2,087/acre. This is a slowdown from previous years, in which there were 2-3 sales/year checking in at over $1M. The lowest sizable recent sale we see is $1,150/acre in this county, though one checked in at $896/acre in 2009.

Runnels County saw a meaningful sale of 1,115 acres on Mustang Creek and the Colorado River for something less than $1,895/acre, with other smaller sales checking in at $1,250 - $1,600/acre, which seems to be the legitimate area value range. Liveoak trees are important here, mesquite takes you down to the low end of the range at best. A muddy river lined by mesquite, elm and a few oaks just ain’t enough to excite the Austin or Ft. Worth crowd.

Burnet and Lampasas Counties are old haunts that are now being brought back in to our territory. We saw an odd-shaped 518 acres with commercial potential near the 281/71 intersection trade for $8,000/acre on 5/27/16 , and the same parcel traded for $6,335/acre on 8/17/15. This, folks, is what you call a flip. Only around 281/71 does this happen consistently these days. Lampasas County, on the other hand, showed 5 sales over $1.3M during the period, impressive indeed, with the sale of the 852 acre Little Bear Ranch on the Lampasas River leading the way at $3,400/acre on 7/01/16.

Western Hill Country July 2013 - Present

The Western and Northern Hill Country showed an increase in activity, with a number of prominent ranches changing hands during the reporting period. In southern Mason County, the iconic Premier Ranch, a 1,634 acre showplace on US 87 south of Mason, sold for about $3,850/acre for the “land only” component of the sale. Also included were awesome improvements, accessories and valuable whitetail deer herd. Another major feature is the high volume, shallow groundwater in this area, with 6 irrigation wells on site. This transaction closed in May, 2014, with this office representing the Sellers. The ranch had been offered previously with another office at a slightly higher price with limited success. 

Mason offerings continue in the range of $2,500 - $4,500/acre, depending upon property quality. A 447 acre tract on the Llano River has had some light traffic at $5,500/acre. This office has offered the 7,850 acre “River Cliffs Ranch,” with 3+ miles of San Saba River frontage in Menard County, for $3,450/acre with no interest. Recently, the offering was changed to 6,248 acres with ¼ mile of San Saba River, high fenced showplace, for $2,250/acre with mild interest. Another extra-fine river ranch, the Preston, being 6,500 acres near the headwaters of the spring-fed river, remains active at $2,950/acre. We feel that, at these prices, there is excellent value in this area for both the long and short term, and we expect to see renewed activity in Mason/Menard in 2014-2015.

The major sale of the 10,823 acre Little Paint Creek ranch, in Kimble County, occurred in November, 2013, at an approximate “land-only” value of $2,400/acre. This ranch features several spring creeks, lakes and a couple of miles of frontage on the South Llano River, as well as impressive infrastructure and dwellings, and is generally regarded as one of the true “trophy” ranches in the area. Oddly, this transaction was owner financed with about 20% down, and a note retained by Seller for the balance. We normally see transactions of this size either bank financed or cash paid by an elite buyer.

Another Kimble County water sale, of 1,377 acres near the headwaters of heavy flowing Bear Creek, checked in at about $2,600/acre for the “land only.” This tract has good improvements and infrastructure, and the water is regarded as Grade A. Other Kimble water offerings remain active with live water asking prices ranging from $3,500/acre all the way up to the $8,500/acre for the venerable 970 acres on the Llano River that has been for sale for a number of years, now. We can see the better Llano River tracts topping $5,000/acre easily, but pushing $10,000/acre is a tad too much for 300+ acre tracts. We see live water values holding steady or increasing slightly in this area, with the bar pretty firmly set at $2,500/acre for creek “land-only,” and $5,000/acre for quality Llano River parcels in the 500 acre size range.

Dryland in Kimble sits for $2,500/acre and moves for $1,750 - $2,000/acre at this time, with steady demand from urban hunters and the oil patch. We have learned that folks in the Permian Basin are willing to pay for a few trees and grey rocks, and make the drive to Sutton/Kimble/Menard to accomplish that program. They are some of the primary consumers of the hunting tracts from 250 – 500 acres that continue to move in this area. The lowest asking price on the first page of landsoftexas.com Kimble County listings on 6/21/14 was $2,329/acre for a good quality strong seasonal creek ranch in good condition, near Junction, comprising 1,930 acres.

McCulloch saw a slow 2013, but things have skyrocketed in spring, 2014, with the stunning June sale of the plush, 8,062 acre Z Bar Ranch in the NE part of the county for a price purported to be in the range of $3,000/acre. This highly improved showplace includes a multi-million $ home on large, Hickory well-fed lake, and is regarded as a truly premier-level property. The long-offered D Bar Ranch, on the Concho County line west of Brady, checked in at a reported $1,995/acre for 3,429 acres, also in June. This reported price could be fudging to the high side. Some smaller, high-end San Saba River tracts in the 300 acre range have moved for up to $5,000/acre, in the SE portion of the county.

Concho County saw no major movement, with asking prices pushing $2,000/acre, and recent sales prices lagging below $1,500/acre. Close proximity to the Permian Basin remains an advantage for this zone, which has a lowest-price offering on the first page of landsoftexas.com of $1,275/acre, up to $3,000/acre for creek/river property. Sellers pay a penalty for being in mesquite country as opposed to oak, though most hunters realize that wildlife thrives in all types of country if managed properly, though oak trees are usually prettier to look at!

This zone, like most others in the State, should see continued spotty activity with an upward trend in sales volume and land values in the coming months, precipitated by the continued success of the nearby oil patches, and the continued onslaught of people into Central Texas in general. Getting mineral rights with the land is becoming far more difficult to achieve in this zone, which may prove to be a long term limiting factor much like areas around the Eagle Ford Shale to the south.

Drought has long affected these counties, and loss of hardwoods is significant in some areas. It will be interesting to see if groundwater conditions improve in areas suffering heavy cedar loss, though the fire hazard is of paramount concern to all. You will see prices range from $1,000/acre for the most marginal of land in this area up to $5,000/acre for smaller river ranches, with the median around $1,750/acre.

Western Hill Country 2012 - June 2013

The Western and Northern Hill Country showed much the same patterns as SW Texas in late 2012 – early 2013, and this office participated in a number of meaningful transactions worth discussing. The Oak Knoll Ranch, offered by this office for several years, in western Kerr County “Divide” country, was sold in two parcels. The 806 acre western pasture fetched $1,900/acre, and featured high fencing, hwy. frontage, interior paved road and exquisite, manicured country. The eastern pasture sold as 2,107 acres, with similar features to the western, and fetched $1,975/acre in late 2012. Both tracts are regarded as above average for the area. Other area offerings continue to linger at $1,800/acre - $2,300/acre. Quality is a driver here, and there is much marginal country available at the low end of the price scale, and it’s not moving unless deeply discounted. This area is getting some Eagle Ford lookers and closers, but draws much more from the Permian Basin area due to proximity, and even gets some of the Barnett Shale money from up north from time to time.

Kimble County slowed down from recent hot run, with most larger listings either sold prior to 2012 or overpriced, but Mason County saw the largest known ranch transaction ever, the sale of the fabulous and highly improved 3,308 acre Cliff Lakes Ranch, for a land-only value of about $3,700/acre, further solidifying Mason’s mystique and desirability. This office was listing agency of the transaction, which occurred in late summer of 2012. The Mason area continues to sizzle, with numerous smaller and mid-range transactions during this reporting period. For average to good quality land on pavement, we see continued appreciation in Mason County for the short term. Dryland is selling in the $3,500/acre range, and small river tracts consistently top $10,000/acre. There are isolated offerings under $2,500/acre on occasion. This oasis of spring water, good soils, abundant groundwater, unreal scenery and geology, coupled with excellent quality of life, will serve as a magnet for visionaries seeking a better life, out of the reach of Austin and San Antonio. The Culver family was drawn by that magnet, and now lives happily in rural Mason County with twin sons going into 3rd grade next year. Go Punchers!

To the north, McCulloch County saw several significant transactions in the period, including ones orchestrated by this office. The 1,354 acre Pecan Creek Ranch, being an above average parcel on pavement near Brady, sold for $1,843/acre in late 2012. The 1,505 acre Acorn Valley Ranch fetched $1,420/acre after being shopped hard for 18 months by this office at $1,750/acre. This ranch has some nice views of the nearby Brady Mts., lots of liveoaks all over, and excellent all-around hunting. The buyer was a family looking for “bang for the buck” hunting, and they found it, in perhaps the most astute area purchase we know of during the reporting period. The above PCR sale was a neighbor purchase, and the offering received little attention when shopped at $2,350/acre. This office was listing agency of the 332 acres in N McCulloch County, offered at $2,750/acre, sold in fall of 2012 for $2,350/acre. It included ½ mile of mostly deep Colorado River frontage, along with a new 5 acre lake.

In Menard County, we are seeing a trend of retreating values in average to below average properties. A sale of 4,700 acres on US 83 just N of Menard, of an above average working ranch, checked in at $1,350/acre. Several years ago, there would have been an expectation of over $1,500/acre for a similar offering. Another sale in the eastern portion of the county checked in with 1,382 acres fetching $1,375/acre, and was on the market for about 2 years, though it was encumbered with a troublesome water rights contract with the City of San Angelo. Both of these sales included some mineral rights to buyers. Larger tracts on the San Saba River have been shopped for $3,000 - $3,750/acre with little success. Troubled river parcels have recently lowered asking prices to less than $3,000/acre. These often have poor access, or neighbor easements thru, or outages, resulting in difficulty in attracting prospects capable of spending in the millions of $. Again, this speaks to the overall matter of buyers becoming more discriminating, and refusing to pay premium price for non-premium offerings with issues.

The western and northern portion of this region suffers from terrible, long term drought, and the result has been the loss of many desirable hardwood trees, including oaks, elm and pecans. These conditions put financial stress on land-poor ranchers, some of whom are forced to sell. The attempted auction of the 34,000 acre Door Key Ranch, near San Angelo, only attracted bids on the large parcels in the range of $800/acre with some minerals, a major disappointment to sellers, but this place has been mostly cleared for grazing. This is not the “look” the current crop of recreational ranch buyers is looking for, and the cagey old ranchers are certainly not going to pay recreational prices at a land auction!

Western Hill Country 2011

The Western and Northern Hill Country saw some significant transactions, including several involving this office. LANDTX was listing agency of the sale of the 2,317 acre Brambletye Ranch, on Bear Creek west of Junction, for $2,350/acre, in which a backup contract offer was tendered. This ranch had about 3.5 miles of strong live water, decent improvements and highway frontage. The ranch was exposed to the public for one year, for $2,975/acre. This office was also listing agency of two large ranches on the James River, in Mason and Kimble Counties. Corn Springs River Ranch, being 2,282 acres with 1.5 miles of both sides of the fabulous James River, sold for $2,550/acre in spring, 2011, and Red Hill River Ranch, 4,104 acres with seasonal James River, sold for $1,625/acre also in spring, 2011. These sales all occurred after ample public market exposure. The Corn Springs River Ranch was resold in Spring, 2012, for about $3,400/acre, after being cleaned up and enhanced. This was considered an anomaly by this office. The Divide Country, in western Kerr County, saw offerings in the range of $2,000/acre - $3,000/acre, with sales occurring in the $2,000/acre range. This office participated in sale of 500 high fenced acres on US 83 that checked in at $1,950/acre. Unimproved land to the north is currently offered at $1,950/acre, while the immaculate Oak Knoll to the south, listed by this office, is getting a fair amount of attention (spring 2012) at $2,150/acre. Again, quality and perceived value are the two primary drivers – if the buyer thinks they are making a below market purchase, they are happy. If they think they are making a premium quality purchase at fair market value, they’re even happier! Big Oil Money is becoming a factor in this market, and should the current hot plays in both (Eagle Ford and Permian Basin) of those zones continue to develop positively, this would be a good thing for landowners considering making a sale! Mason County continues to be a desirable address, and values in it continue to hold their own, for the most part. Good quality land on pavement is averaging $3,000 - $3,500/acre, while just to the north in McCulloch County, arguably the edge of the Hill Country, the same product averages $2,000/acre. This office sold 609 acres in NE McCulloch County for land-only value of $2,000/acre for superior land on pavement, in May, 2012. 332 acres on the Colorado River has been offered at $2,750/acre with no takers, puzzlingly. A meaningful sale of 1,168 acres with one mile of San Saba River frontage, high fenced with fancy deer and solid improvements, brought $3,500/acre. This was located in southern McCulloch County, and should be regarded as a “top 10%-er.” Another solid sale of 561 acres in eastern Kimble County occurred in early 2012, checking in at $2,750/acre. This property had live water and decent improvements, and is considered an “arms length” transaction. An above average 1,644 acres with live water was offered in far SW San Saba/McCulloch for $2,850/acre. This price was recently reduced to $2,450/acre. We have seen Sandstone Mountain Ranch in Llano County go under contract in spring 2012, but many of the overpriced offerings in Llano are starting to head south, so to speak, as competition amongst sellers is keen. Again, if it’s not an exceptional quality offering, be prepared to be priced competitively if you want action early in the game. Again, if you’re buying in this area, shop carefully and you will be rewarded with solid long term value and amenities.

Western Hill Country 2010

The Western Hill Country saw a notable increase in activity in the last quarter of 2010, which has carried over into early 2011. Here we saw sales that raised eyebrows, both on the low and high sides. Most notably, the 2,900 acre Eagle Ridge Ranch on the James and Llano Rivers (plus Mill Creek) closed and funded with a dirt-only value of about $3,800/acre. This sale was a benchmark for the area, though the property possessed extraordinary water and very nice improvements, and sold to classic retail buyers looking for a one-time purchase. We saw other Llano River (smaller tracts) shopped for around $5,000/acre without action, while the well known, 2,317 acre Brambletye Ranch on Bear Creek just west of Junction was shopped hard for $2,975/acre, and sold for $2,350/acre early in 2011 by this outfit. A larger ranch nearby, 6,000 acres on the headwaters of Bear Creek, failed to generate much activity at $3,000/acre asking price. To the south, the well known Chulagua Ranch, 2,108 acres on Camp Wood Creek with fabulous creek and springs, was well exposed for $4,250/acre without being sold. Right across the highway, 321 acres on Camp Wood Creek sold for about $6,200/acre. It was nicely improved, with high fencing and highway frontage to boot. The Divide Country of Western Kerr, northern Real Counties saw some interesting activity throughout the year, demonstrating its appeal to those seeking deer havens with oaks within 2 hours of San Antonio. A 2,230 acre sale closed for $2,400/acre, dirt only, high quality offering. A smaller tract nearby (320 acres) was sold by this office for $2,200/acre WITH HIGHWAY FRONTAGE. We are seeing Mason County continue to hold value, as there were several dirt only sales of over $3,000/acre, and few asking prices under that level. McCulloch County is seeing a decline, as the mesquite country and farmland is plummeting in value, while the liveoak country with views and/or water is faring much better. Average prices of McCulloch County mesquite country have dropped below $1,500/acre, with one sale of less than $1,000/acre reported (dry farm land). Colorado River in San Saba County has fallen from record high of $3,500/acre by about 20%, while nonwater tracts are down about 35% from peak. A nice high fenced tract of 1,960 acres on the Colorado River in far southern Coleman County was shopped for $2,250/acre at year’s end with no takers. Across the river, in McCulloch, a 332 acre tract on the river was offered by this office for $3,500/acre with little to no activity. Price was reduced to $2,950/acre, and activity increased significantly. Again, we saw a mixed bag of high and low sales, but the overall trend in this zone is negative for land values, though inquiries and showings have picked up across the board in local real estate offices in the past two quarters. Presence of Live Oaks is critical to marketing success in this area, as is direct access from pavement. This area will remain desirable in the years to come, as it comprises the first layer of "ranching" country to the west of the Austin/San Antonio corridor that is reasonably accessible (two hours) by vehicle.

Western Hill Country 2009

The Western Hill Country remained fairly slow, with the Divide Country of western Kerr and Real Counties checking in with a couple of 500 – 1000 acre sales in the range of $2,000/acre. Those asking over $2,500/acre in this area are not getting any activity, and we are beginning to see increased signs of price competition amongst needy sellers. As in SW Texas, many sellers refuse to blink, longing for the irrational climate of 2002 – 2007 to return. It is unlikely that their wish will be granted in the foreseeable future. Northern Medina County saw a sale of 950 acres for $1,840acre. This is a secluded, unimproved ranch. This office participated in sale of 500 acres on the Colorado River north of Brady for $2,900/acre. An October sale of 574 acres near Harper was reported at $2,900/acre. Mason/Llano/San Saba checked in with several sales ranging from 300 to 1,350 acres in the range of $3,400 - $4,700/acre. 490 acres near the Gillespie/Mason line finally sold for $2,150/acre, after being exposed for over two years. A sale of 246 acres on the South Llano River outside of Junction was reported at $6,077/acre, after receiving 3 years of exposure. Others on the Llano River were shopped at around $5,000/acre with no takers. Mason County continued its solid performance, with no evidence of value loss in this highly desirable location, bucking the trend as it did last year. This area continues to be dogged by the specter of electric transmission lines crossing it in various locations. Some buyers are reluctant to even consider the area due to this, and others will simply not consider a property that MAY be affected by a transmission line route. Grassroots opposition has become well-organized and funded, and it is hoped that this will contribute to the proposed CREZ projects being located on the most sensible, low-impact routes, using the single monopoles as opposed to the giant lattice towers. All in all, however (with exception of Mason), this zone has leveled off, showing a tiny bit of value loss in 2009, with the outlook being similar to last year’s. Stubborn sellers will continue to wonder why they aren’t getting any lookers, while those who get aggressive with their pricing are the ones making the deals, for the most part, though there are still a few true retail buyers who are prepared to throw down on just the right place, regardless of price.

Western Hill Country 2008

The Western Hill Country also continued to slow down in activity, with signs of weakening prices clearly evident in early 2009. As in other areas, tracts with large volume or exotic-type water seem to continue to increase in value at a steady pace, while the average to below average land tracts owned by needy sellers have begun to retreat, with price competition beginning to become commonplace. Many sellers refuse to bend, and they are learning that most buyers are expecting “deals,” not willing to pay fair market value (except for premier properties). We saw a sale in southern Real County of a marginal water property of 1,300 acres for $1,900/acre (near Reagan Wells). A more improved 1,250 acres near Leakey traded for $3,175/acre, though I think it was an aberration left over from the waning giddiness of 2007. We saw some of that residual in most areas across the board in 2008, but it seems to have pretty much disappeared in mid-2009. Kimble County seems to have hit the wall with cedar-covered hills topping out at $2,000/acre, and retreating slightly in early 2009. This office participated in two live water ranch sales – one in eastern Kimble County, for $3,500/acre for 775 acres – another in western Gillespie County near Harper, for $4,050/acre for 663 acres. This area is now plagued by the prospect of large electric transmission lines passing thru pristine areas, contributing to loss of wilderness, and possibly devaluing the land. Mason County continued to gain momentum and buck trends, with prices continuing to rise into early 2009, as this highly desirable part of the Hill Country begins to get the attention it deserves (which may actually be its undoing). Menard saw a non-live water sale of 2,100 acres for $2,000/acre, which is a new benchmark (the ranch is above average caliber and in excellent condition). Again, as with others, this area is seeing continued appreciation in the top 25% of quality ranches, weakening in the bottom 25%, and the mid-range is holding pretty steady. The distance from Austin & SA is daunting to many, who simply don’t care to drive 2 hours to and back from a recreational ranch in this age of precious time. Those of us who care to (present company included) reap the rewards of solitude, clean water, uncluttered views and financial value.

Western Hill Country 2007

The Western Hill Country saw a decrease in activity, but a steady rise in prices of closed transactions, as well as smaller average tract sizes. Tracts with big, flowing water or outstanding natural attributes continued to be most desirable, and the City of San Antonio contributed to activity as well with its $90 million budget to protect the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. A 1,200+ acre parcel near Pipe Creek was split into tracts of about 300 acres each and shopped hard at $4,000/acre with no sales. The Sabinal Canyon saw some medium sized river tracts sell for over $5,000/acre, and divide country to the north with no live water traded for over $2,000/acre. Medina County soared, price-wise, with asking prices north of Hondo along 173 topping $3,000/acre, and a sale of an improved 1,120 acres closer to Bandera clocking in at $4,900/acre. A significant transaction occurred between Leakey & Camp Wood, with a live water ranch of 2,300+ acres closing for almost $4,000/acre. Asking prices of smaller water tracts on Camp Wood Creek topped $7,500/acre during the year. The Frio Canyon saw river tracts topping $150,000/acre in one acre parcels, and rough land off of the river with marginal water topped the $2,500/acre mark, including 1,750 acres that sold for $2,776/acre. The divide country of western Kerr, Real, etc., witnessed a sale of over $2,000/acre for a 2,700 acre tract, while a 1,500 acre parcel on Johnson Creek near Mt. Home was shopped hard for $4,500/acre with no takers. It appears that oak trees, access and condition of the land are the primary value drivers of the divide country, while water strength and flow volume dictate price of water ranches, as always. With proximity to San Antonio, as well as the growth areas of Kerrville and Fredericksburg, the Western Hill Country looms as an undervalued zone for folks willing to drive an extra 30 minutes to an hour for rural peace and quiet.

Western Hill Country 2006

The Western Hill Country of Kerr, Bandera, Real and Medina Counties surged ahead as typical of the region, with Medina showing an overall appreciation of over 25% for the year. This number is slightly lower for the rest of this zone, but, on the overall, this area remains highly desirable for recreational buyers from the San Antonio area as well as Mexican Nationals. Bandera and Medina Counties are seeing many ranchette-type subdivisions of varying tract sizes, and a sale near Pipe Creek of 1,240 acres in the $2,000/acre range is currently being offered in 300 acre parcels at around $4,000/acre. Live water tracts continued to escalate, and a significant sale of 1,800 acres on the Medina River near Pipe Creek checked in at around $8,500/acre and is currently being developed into smaller residential plots. As the outer reaches of San Antonio expand, higher density developments prevail, and the ranchers who have managed to hold on and put up with the headaches of surrounding development are cashing in their chips, and rightly so. It is the funds from this group of sellers that fuels land markets further out from the major population centers, and it just goes on and on and on. The further reaches of this region saw marginal properties top the $2,000/acre mark, and the larger tracts with big flowing creeks and strong springs are pushing $10,000/acre in the right locations.

Western Hill Country 2005

The Western Hill Country of Kerr, Real, Bandera and Medina Counties plowed forward with appreciation rates ranging from 15% to 25%. There were several sales in Bandera County of 2,000+ acre creek/spring ranches topping $2,000/acre, with asking prices now approaching $4,000/acre on heavy water places with substantial size. We participated in the sale of the 1,000 acre Greystone Ranch on Turtle Creek south of Kerrville for $5,000/acre. We saw non-water tracts in Medina County top $1,000/acre for the most part, with asking prices on Hondo and Seco Creeks moving over $2,000/acre. A 1,200 acre tract near Pipe Creek languished on the market for $2,100/acre, though its configuration challenges the development market. At the same time, several 100 to 300 acre tracts on strong creeks in the same area sold for over $5,000/acre. We began to see some real separation between ranches with trickling springs and creeks, and those with high-volume flow with unique features such as waterfalls, swimming holes, cypress trees and rock formations. The former showed definite price limitations, while the latter category showed few or none. Guadalupe River tracts above Kerrville have topped $10,000/acre or more, and those near Comfort approached that level. The Sabinal Canyon showed a good surge, with smaller river properties hitting the magical $10K mark, though larger parcels downstream of Utopia still hung in the $2,000/acre zone.

Western Hill Country 2004

The Western Hill Country showed considerable activity and appreciation, with live water properties leading the way, as always. Eastern Real, Bandera, Medina and Kerr Counties had live water sales of 500+ acre tracts in the $2,500/acre+ range, with cypresslined creeks and rivers pushing $5,000/acre in some cases. Oddly, there were reports of non-water properties selling for less than $1,000/acre in these same counties. Poor access was often a factor in these lower-priced tracts, as was western location (away from San Antonio). Proximity to San Antonio is a major factor, with price breaks occurring at one hour and two hour drive distances. Bandera and Kerr Counties in particular featured riverfront sales of over $5,000/acre, and country subdivisions proliferated in the Medina Lake area. Markets are strong for easily dividable ranchland, as a ready supply of urban buyers looking to commute and/or invest blooms. Spectacular natural water features remain the most sought-after attribute, driving prices into the stratosphere for those rare properties processing them.


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