Their Dollar's Worth
Metroplex sprawl making rural land a hot commodity
Choate/Times Record News
Editor's note: This is the
third in a series on population growth in Archer, Clay, Jack and
Maybe Metroplex residents think
there's gold in the hills and on the shores of Silver Lakes
The new development set a
record for the fastest-selling community in national developer
Bluegreen Corp., Kristy Robinson, marketing coordinator, said.
The 2,300-acre planned community in Montague and Wise counties
is two years ahead of its sales schedule.
"A lot of people are getting
tired of the traffic and the noise in the city," Robinson said.
In about an hour, they can be
away from all that, sitting on the back porch watching wildlife.
Silver Lakes is the wave of the
future, real estate experts said. The development is cashing in
on the trend to settle in rural areas within commuting distance
of cities. and that trend is pumping up real-estate values and
fattening tax rolls in Archer, Clay, Jack and Montague.
Based at Sunset, Silver Lakes
sells 2- to 5-acre tracts. What it offers can be had for much
less than in the Metroplex.
The development's 2-acre lots
go for $25,000 plus, Dr. John Baen, a University of North Texas
real estate professor, said. Two acres is the size of two
football fields. In the Metroplex, single-family home lots are
$40,000 to $50,000. They are one-fourth of an acre.
Jimmy Jones of Jones Real
Estate in Bowie credits Silver Lakes' advertising with improving
The price per acre for Montague
real estate has doubled in some locations, Jones said. Much of
it is selling for $3,000 to $5,000 an acre. Jones recently sold
land near Amon Carter Lake for $19,000 an acre.
Rod Heltzel, a former Metroplex
resident, bought 240 acres in the mid-1980s in Jack County.
"I bought at the peak of the
market when it was in the $500 range," Heltzel, who moved to his
land in 1994, said. "and my property right now is probably
$1,000 an acre."
The going rate for prime Jack
County property is $1,500 to $2,000 an acre, Kevin Wolf, a
Jacksboro real estate agent, said. Drive 30 miles or so down the
road to Bridgeport, Texas, and buyers can expect to pay $25,000
In the last four years, Archer,
Clay, Jack and Montague have registered an average 33 percent
increase in the value of their certified tax rolls, according to
officials. Part of that jump is likely from rising oil and gas
A fatter tax base can ease the
burden for all, officials said. But the help might not come soon
Neighboring Wise County - for
instance - is weathering explosive growth, officials said. Its
population has more than doubled in 13 years. That new
population demands services.
"We're always in a tight
squeeze to meet these requirements," Wise County Judge Dick
Taxes lag a year behind growth,
and a ballooning tax base won't
funnel more tax dollars into school districts for maintenance
and operation, officials said. The state cuts its share of
maintenance-and-operation funding when property values rise. and
the state caps districts' maintenance-and-operation tax rate at
But a separate tax rate pays
off bond debt, officials said. A growing tax base can give a
district financial leverage for a bond issue. The district can
raise more dollars with a lower tax rate.
One of the good things about
Silver Lakes is that it will contribute to the tax base in Bowie
Independent School District, said Susan Campbell, Bowie economic
Bowie ISD has struggled to win
approval from voters for bonds to improve its infrastructure.
Even Decatur Independent School
District officials - at a district with a growing tax base - had
to try more than once to convince taxpayers to approve a bond
issue, Dr. Gary Gindt, DISD superintendent, said.
The district's taxpayers will
see an 11-cent increase in taxes to pay off a $32 million bond
issue approved last year, Gindt said. But since its tax base is
growing, each taxpayer's share will fall as the district pays
off the debt to improve schools.
Burgeoning tax bases and
real-estate values all add up to one thing for anyone interested
in country acres.
"Cheap land is just about gone
now," Baen said. "I think if somebody wants 100 acres of land to
retire on in 10 years, they better buy it now."