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Land Rush Of 2021 Shows Rural Texas Areas Gaining Value

With more people looking to escape urban core neighborhoods since the coronavirus pandemic began, farm and ranch land in North Texas is getting harder to find and pricier to buy. 

Rural land prices across Texas rose 9.5% in the first quarter of 2021 when compared to last year, according to the Texas A&M Texas Real Estate Research Center. 


Increased sales of rural land sent statewide prices soaring to roughly $3,251 per acre, the research center added.

The report says the Texas rural land industry recorded an annualized total volume of $1.99B in transactions, up 38% from a year ago, with 612,699 rural acres changing owners. 

"It is unprecedented, the level of activity," said Charles Gilliland, a research economist and rural land expert with the research institute. "I would say [land sales] are everywhere except out in the desert country in far West Texas."

What's causing this massive land grab?

In part, it's developers scooping up land for master-planned communities, but also individual ranch owners wanting acreage for their own homesteads. Gilliland said A&M's research center doesn't know all of the motivations of the buyers, but anecdotal reports say some of the sales are from investors buying up large chunks, splitting them into 20-acre tracts and selling them back out. But most of the transactions appear to be people buying land to own or use personally.

In the DFW area, land grabs are popular west past Fort Worth and north toward cities like Whitewright in Grayson County, which is close to the Oklahoma border. Areas between Interstate 35 and U.S. Highway 75 are particularly attractive, said Frank Cole, vice president in the Retail Division of Henry S. Miller Brokerage.

Pilot Point in Denton County also is seeing explosive land grab activity, Cole said.

In the small town of Pilot Point, which sits northeast of Denton, the population was just over 3,000 people 10 years ago. Today, land in the town is selling like crazy as rural acreage becomes more in demand and harder to find between North Texas and Southern Oklahoma, according to Cole. 

Prices are rising with all of this new demand. One hundred acre-plus transactions for development in areas like Pilot Point are now priced at roughly $30K per acre, up about 20% or 30% from just two years ago, Cole said. Even in distant Whitewright, he has seen transactions at $15K per acre.

Cole said land in southern Oklahoma ― an area where he is currently hunting for acreage for wealthier clients ― is almost impossible to find. 

There is an exception to the rush in the DFW area — the areas south of Dallas, where reasonable land prices can still be found for ranches and larger swaths of rural land for development, Cole added. 

"The activity down there isn't as great and the prices show it," he said. "If you are looking for a bargain, go south, young man."