Surging interest rates and elevated prices have not stopped buyers from seeking rural properties in the state. Since 2020, Texans have been moving out of the city, increasingly to remotely located ranches.
While demand has softened this year compared to last, it remains at levels higher than in 2019, according to a report by the Texas Real Estate Research Center (TRERC).
Sam Middleton, a broker who owns the farm and ranch real estate firm Chas. S. Middleton and Son, told KLBK that he is witnessing some of the highest activity in his 50-year career. “The biggest demand I’ve ever seen for ranches hit right after COVID.”
Middleton has brokered some of the largest property deals in the state. In 2021, he sold the 6666 Ranch (“the four sixes”) to a buyer group represented by actor and filmmaker Taylor Sheridan. The famous ranch was popularized in the Emmy-nominated series Yellowstone, created by Sheridan.
When the lockdowns began in 2020, people were clamoring to leave big cities, driving up demand for ranches located in less populated regions of the state. “Our phone started ringing off the wall, people wanting to get out of the city, get out in the country, have space and breathe clean air … It was unbelievable how the demand for ranches just took off,” Middleton said.
The TRERC reported last year that rural land sales surged during the second half of 2020 and continued to rise into 2021, when 9,055 rural properties were sold in the state, representing a 17.8% jump compared to 2020.
While the sudden demand for ranches may have taken Middleton by surprise, he explained that owning land can be a sound financial investment. Its value often appreciates over time in addition to providing families with a rural property that they can enjoy.
“There’s a lot of romance to owning ranches … I own two small ranches myself, and I really enjoy these properties, and my family enjoys them.” It is not just a “long-term investment,” he noted, it is “also a place to recreate, enjoy going out on the weekends, hunting, fishing, that sort of thing.”
Of course, research is critical when entering the market for a rural property. Middleton emphasized that potential buyers need to consider some of the unique factors that come with living more remotely. “You have to really study what you’re going to be buying … You have to factor in distance to hospitals, distance to restaurants, grocery stores, doctors, all of that. So, it’s a different lifestyle,” he said.
For all the benefits, Middleton cautioned prospective buyers to also consider the often high maintenance costs that can come with rural living. “There’s always going to be a place to spend money on these ranches … You never finish spending money, there’s always some improvement you can do to help the property,” he said.