June 23, 2017 — Austin
Texas small land sales volume experienced strong gains in 2016, while the average price per acre declined slightly statewide, according to the Texas Small Land Sales Report released today by the Texas Association of REALTORS®.
“As our state’s population continues to grow and the footprints of Texas cities expand, the demand for rural land will only increase,” said Vicki Fullerton, chairman of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. “At the same time, after consecutive years of rapid growth in real estate land prices, prices in many regions have leveled off.”
Texas small land sales volume jumped 14.2 percent annually to 6,992 small land tracts sold in 2016. During the same time frame, the average price per acre dipped 0.3 percent year-over-year to $5,647 an acre. The definition of a “small” land sale varies from region to region but generally is considered to be a land purchase of 200 acres or less. The exception is Far West Texas, where 500 to 8,000 acres qualifies as a small land sale.
Strong small land sales growth was evident throughout most regions, with small land purchases in Far West Texas, Northeast Texas and the Austin-Waco-Hill Country experiencing annual gains of more than 20 percent. Conversely, small land sales in West Texas declined 20.6 percent from 2015.
As demand for small land tracts continued to rise, the average tract size of Texas land purchased declined. In 2016, the average tract size for Texas small land purchases declined three acres from 2015 to 36 acres. Far West Texas and South Texas were the only regions that experienced declines in average price per acre, falling 64.9 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.
Charles Gilliland, economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, commented: “While the Texas land market remains strong, multiple factors are impacting land sales activity throughout the state. Rising prices of irrigated farmland and a sluggish agricultural sector are driving up land costs in the Panhandle, and residual effects of the oil and gas downturn have slowed small land sales activity in West and South Texas. Statewide, shortages in prime land are stifling land price growth as developers consider less desirable land tracts.”
Fullerton concluded: “The wise utilization of Texas land is the bedrock of our state’s economy and quality of life. As Texas continues to experience rapid population growth, it’s important that leaders across our state and within our communities take care to ensure that ongoing land segmentation and development preserves the unique culture of our state’s regions and does not harm essential industries.”