‘A more relaxed mode of living’: Texas buyers head to the hills to escape pandemic

Written by MLHA Team

May 12, 2021

The rush to rural properties that began during the pandemic gained steam in the early months of 2021.

Texas rural land purchases hit a record $1.69 billion last year as buyers headed to the hills to escape COVID-19.

In the first three months of this year, the buying binge in the boonies continued with record purchases, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.

“In the aftermath of the COVID-induced economic lockdown, 2021 Texas rural land markets have exploded in a burst of activity,” Real Estate Research Center economist Charles Gilliland said in his new report. “First quarter 2021 sales of large acreage rural properties grew more than 50% in West Texas and 37% statewide compared with 2020.

“First-quarter activity exceeded the remarkable levels seen in the third and fourth quarter of 2020 in most areas.”

Statewide, median rural land prices rose by 9.5% from a year ago to a record $3,251 per acre in the first quarter.

North Texas sales went up 31.6% to 2,503 transactions in the first quarter. North Texas median rural property prices increased 12.11% to $5,423 per acre.

The Dallas-area rural land market had a 10% increase to 134 sales. Median prices increased 45% to $8,593 per acre. The median size purchase was 79 acres.

Fort Worth area rural land purchases soared by 51% with a median size of 75 acres. Median prices rose 35% to $9,537 per acre.

“This unprecedented sales volume confirms reports of buyers flocking to rural environments during these uncertain times,” Gilliland said. “Anecdotal reports from market participants have pointed to a desire to escape the problems faced by cities mired in political and social unrest. In addition, some buyers seem to be concerned about governments’ ability to sustain its debt burdens.”

First-quarter rural land sales across the state hit an annualized volume of $1.999 billion, with 612,699 acres changing hands.

Sales in the Austin-Waco-Hill Country region rose 39.8% year-over-year with prices up 7.07% to a median of $4,424 per acre. Gulf Coast region transactions increased 48.34% with prices rising 11.22% to $7,069 per acre.

“These developments mark one of the most active times in the history of Texas land markets as urban-based buyers seek out rural retreats,” said Gilliland. “The pandemic-inspired lockdown prompted a growing number of individuals to review their lives and seek out a more relaxed mode of living.”

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