Recreational Buyers Drive Land Markets
News Release No.
56, May 2004
College Station – Folks in West Texas know all about hot, but
now the word refers to more than just the climate. They are
looking at a hot land market as well.
region posted one of the hottest Texas land markets through the
first three quarters of 2003, the Real Estate Center at Texas
AandM University reports.
“While farming and ranching
remain important influences, recreation is emerging as the
highest and best use of rangeland on the Texas Rolling Plains
and in the Panhandle,” says Dr. Charles E. Gilliland, research
economist at the Center.
Nonagricultural buyers have
discovered these parts of Texas and in recent months have been
the dominant buyers. Encouraged by low interest rates and meager
returns on other forms of investment, these new land barons are
putting money into rural properties.
“High prices in the Hill
Country and South Texas have pushed recreational buyers westward
in their search of hunting areas,” Gilliland says. “Properties
ignored by hunters in the past are receiving a second look, and
buyers like what they see.”
Real estate brokers in the
region face a rising volume of inquiries from both quail and
deer hunters, especially from potential buyers who live in Texas
In the Texas Rolling Plains and
the Texas Panhandle, recreational buyers can still find land in
the $250- to $350-per-acre range; whereas prices range from $850
to more than $3,000 per acre in South Texas, Central Texas and
the Hill Country.
Many buyers are from the
Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and they are willing to drive
several extra hours to take advantage of substantial cost
savings. Typically, they want to spend from $1 million to $1.5
The substantial increase in
white-tailed and mule deer populations in these areas during the
past 25 years has added to the upswing in rural land sales.
Plus, quail have always found good habitat there, Gilliland
Recreational buyers seem
uninterested in livestock, as increasing numbers of new
landowners are not running cattle. Buyers’ contracts now
commonly include a 30-day due diligence period to allow
biologists to survey the game situation.
“Few ranches in this area have
had game management plans in the past, but that is beginning to
change,” he says. “For example, a Dallas man who recently bought
a 65,000-acre ranch is running no cattle and has placed more
than 1,600 quail feeders on the property. The quail population
appears to be exploding.”