by Laura Mueller
Texas has always been a great place to buy land. The Lone Star State has a lot to offer land buyers, from acres upon acres of bountiful agricultural space to burgeoning cities with fast-growing industrial growth. But it has also been experiencing a rapid population increase in the past few decades that has had a marked effect on land values, ownership sizes, and more.
So what does land buying in the state really look like? If you’re looking to buy land in Texas—or if you’re just interested in potential future land purchase opportunities in the state—the following trends, courtesy of data from txlandtrends.org, should definitely factor in to your considerations.
- There’s a big difference in land values as you travel around the state
Texas has experienced a massive population increase, rising from 19 million residents in 1997 to more than 29 million residents today. And overwhelmingly, these new residents are situated in distinct high-growth areas. In fact, 87% of Texas’s population growth has occurred in just 25 counties.
The effect on land value is what you might expect: the price for land around those 25 high-growth counties has risen sharply, even as land prices in other areas of the state have leveled off. As of 2012, land in those counties averaged $5,266 per acre, compared to the state-wide average of $1,573 per acre.
- Fragmentation is changing the investor landscape
The rise in Texas’s population hasn’t just had an effect on land value—it’s also changed how land is divided up and sold. As more people pour into the state and more houses and recreational facilities get built, large parcels of land have been fragmented into smaller parcels. This fragmentation has meant smaller plot sizes for agricultural investors, with farm land being encroached on by residential developments. That’s not to say you can’t still make a good return on Texas agricultural land, but expect that in most of the state, particularly around those high-population areas, land sizes have gone down at the same time prices have gone up.
- Texas agriculture still isn’t slowing down
From 1997 to 2012, Texas saw a 9% increase in farming and ranching operations. That this has happened concurrently with both the population rise and the fragmentation of rural land suggests that there is still much to be gained from investing in agricultural property in the state, despite the noted effects of those factors on profitability. Texas continues to stand strong as a mainstay of the U.S. agricultural land market, and though the demographics of Texas are in a state of flux, it’s definitely too early to give up on the Lonestar State.
If you’d like to dig further into the data, check out the Texas Land Trends report from txlandtrends.org, courtesy of the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, which allows you to easily view land trend data for select counties, regions, and river basins. Find something interesting in there that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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