Land for Sale in Texas
Texas Land Market Information
The saying goes, “everything’s bigger in Texas.” For many, it’s an enduring truism. Aside from the expansive horns on the trademark longhorn cattle and the ten-gallon hats, Texas retains its monopoly on massive size in the minds of nearly all Americans. The largest of the lower 48 states, Texas covers 268,581 square miles, making it the second largest in the United States. The gargantuan size of the state is no more impressive than the hodgepodge of history and culture it claims, changing and blending over hundreds of years.
The slogan “six flags over Texas” alludes to the number of nations that have held dominion over the territory: Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America. As a result, a state as big as Texas is bound to have collected a number of cultures during the occupations of so many nations. The stereotypical Texan — big cowpoke wearing an even bigger hat — isn’t the reality (although you will find them out there), as the state is more than just a big scrub desert over which big cattle in big herds roam. Cultures developed from the fusion of Native American, Mexican, Spanish and other influences, to create a unique culture and identity all its own.
Texas is also bigger-than-life in the real estate market. The Lone Star State ranks 45th in the total acreage of government held public lands. Tied with Ohio, public lands in Texas make up only 4.8 percent of the entire state by area. This means that more than 95 percent of Texas land is privately held. What this means for the investor or individual buyer is that there is a lot of land all over the state of Texas available for sale at any given time.
The vast expanse of Texas has a surprising variety of climatic, geographic and ecological regions. From West Texas, the Panhandle, North Texas, East Texas, Central Texas and South Texas — each region contains different topography, soils, rainfall, flora and fauna. Often the changes as you move through the state are so gradual, you don’t realize that you have driven from sparse and arid to green and lush and are still be in the same state. The land values of tracts in Texas vary as much as the terrain. From below $200 per acre in the Trans Pecos region to well over $10,000 in the prime hunting lands of South Texas, the range of prices per acre is as wide as the Texas sky.
Four major regions fall within the borders of Texas: the Trans-Pecos, the Interior Lowlands, the Great Plains and the Gulf Coastal Plains. Rather than North, South, East and West Texas, which are “imaginary” borders, these geological regions are more accurate and make more sense when evaluating land types. They are described in some detail, which will give you an idea of where the kind of Texas land you’re looking for is located.
This is West Texas. The Texas of popular imagination—vast scrublands, stark, arid landscapes and tumbleweeds—West Texas played a large part in the stories of the Old West. Referred to by some as the Basin and Range province, it averages less than 12 inches of rainfall each year, yet contains the most varied topography of the state. Bordered by the Rio Grande to the west and south, and the Pecos River to the east, the arid lands of the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert make up a large part of this area. However, it’s not all flat, arid desert. There are plenty of mountainous areas, with seven named peaks higher than 8,000 feet. Plateaus, grasslands, sand hills and forests can be found, with some breathtaking views. National parks abound in this area of diverse geography: The Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Big Bend National Park, Amistad National Recreation Area, Chamizal National Memorial, Guadalupe Mountains National Park and the Fort Davis National Historic Site.
As the name implies, much of the land is “basin,” which can be had comparatively cheap, especially as you move south toward the Chihuahuan Desert. However, competition for prime ranch land is stiff when it does become available.
This is what many refer to as North Texas. A veritable paradise of beautiful rolling hills, networks of rivers and streams and land perfect for agriculture. It boasts a farming-friendly rainfall of between 30 to 50 inches annually. The North Central Plains make up about two-thirds of the Interior Lowlands and provide the gentle rolling hills that the area is known for. The Grand Prairie also resides within the boundaries of the Interior Lowlands, as well as the Eastern and Western Cross Timbers.
Just a few hours’ drive north of Dallas-Fort Worth – and encompassing Abilene and Wichita Falls – this is prime land, due to expansive cattle ranches, farms of wheat and cotton and its proximity to the active exploration of one of the United States’ largest natural gas reservoirs, the Barnett Shale.
Even with the generous rainfall and labyrinth of rivers, conservation regulations in the area can be strict, as ranching and farming put pressure on water reserves. As a result, several reservoirs have been built to meet irrigation needs.
The Great Plains region goes far beyond the boundaries of Texas, but it covers an important part of the state. Encompassing the famous Panhandle, it borders the Trans-Pecos region, extending south into Odessa and southeast through Central Texas and the Hill Country beyond Austin, ending at the Edwards Plateau.
The Panhandle has cooler winter weather than any other part of Texas. Separated from Colorado by the thin panhandle of Oklahoma, this part of the state sees less rainfall than the Interior Lowlands. Snow is rare, but sub-freezing temperatures are common on winter nights.
A large portion of the Edwards Plateau is savannah. This area has poor soil quality and is too shallow for farming. However, it has sufficient grasses for grazing cattle, sheep and angora goats. Sparsely populated by mesquite, bull thorn acacia and juniper trees, this rugged landscape grows more lush near the springs and rivers that run through the plateau.
Part of the Great Plains, the High Plains of Texas borders the Trans-Pecos and offers plenty of agricultural variety. Corn, wheat, sorghum and cornfields abound. Some of the area has soils with the right composition for winemaking, and several wineries thrive there. This area is also home to the XIT Ranch — the largest cattle ranch in American history. From 1895 to 1912, XIT ranch land spread out over eight million acres.
This area runs the gamut in land prices and availability depending on proximity to populated areas or prime agricultural land. The largest tracts may be found in the less densely populated areas of the High Plains and Panhandle.
Gulf Coastal Plains
The southernmost area of Texas is also its largest—comprising nearly one third of the state. The Gulf coastal Plains include the entire Texas coastline, extending inland to the Eastern Cross Timbers and the Balcones Fault, which lies just south of San Antonio. Home to several high-profile ranches, this area not only offers prime real estate for development, huge tracts of land are reserved for some of the best hunting for blue quail and white tail deer in Texas.
The southern coastline of Texas that runs along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville to Port Arthur is called the Coastal Prairies. This area consists of a variety of habitats, from wet marshlands and floodplains to sand dunes and grasslands. Much of this land is privately owned, some of which is leased to companies that host coastal fishing and hunting of duck, goose and other waterfowl.
The Rio Grande Plain, at the state’s southernmost tip, extends south from San Antonio into Mexico. Home to some of the biggest ranches in the country including the famous Armstrong, King and Kennedy ranches, the area is dominated by various cacti, mesquite trees and cattle as far as the eye can see.
The Lower Rio Grande Valley lies within the Rio Grande Plain and is home to rich agricultural land and a number of prime hunting spots, where white tail deer, wild turkey, javelina (collared peccary) and feral pigs are in abundance. Some properties have mineral rights, which will affect the price, as well as proximity to the San Antonio area.
The eastern part of the Gulf Coastal Plains is called the Pine Belt, which runs along the Louisiana border. Called the “Piney Woods” by residents, this area is home to temperate forests of Longleaf, Shortleaf and Loblolly Pines, as well as hickory, oak and other deciduous hardwoods. The majority of wood processed in Texas comes from the Pine Belt, which contains approximately 12 million acres of commercial forest. The area is also known for several Bigfoot (Sasquatch) sightings, but you’re more likely to see American alligator or water moccasin in the sloughs and bayous of the area. Four National Forests and 17 state parks are found within the Pine Belt. Two major oil fields are part of this area: the East Texas Oilfield, which covers 140,000 acres and Spindletop, near Beaumont. Just west of the Pine Belt, the Blackland and Post Oak Belts are prime agricultural areas, with rolling prairies of fertile soil. Cotton is the major crop.
Since Texas is so big, it has plenty of room for a variety of industries. It should be no surprise that energy production is a huge economic force in the state, which is dotted with drilling rigs and seemingly endless farms of pumps, rhythmically pulling oil out of established wells. What may be surprising, however, is that Texas is one of the leaders in renewable energy. For example, the Roscoe Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in the world. With 627 wind turbines that generate 781.5 megawatts, Roscoe Wind Farm produces enough electricity to power more than 250,000 average homes.
Agriculture is another of Texas’s famous industries. The diversity of geology, rainfall and soil composition throughout the state encourages the production of a variety of crops. Cattle are the biggest agricultural product in the state, which leads the nation in livestock production. Texas is also number one in the production of sheep and goat products. Cotton production is also the highest in the nation. Cereal grains and produce are big in Texas, as is the commercial fishing industry. Texas is also number one in mineral resource production of cement, sand, gravel, salt, crushed stone and lime.
Hunting and fishing is big business in the big state of Texas, flushing out billions of dollars in revenue. The state boasts some of the best hunting habitats in nearly all areas of the state. White tailed deer are the biggest crop, but the Trans-Pecos is rife with pronghorn antelope and mule deer. The Gulf Coastal Plains offer up some prime spots for waterfowl, as the area is a natural flyway for ducks and geese. Fishing is another favorite pastime for Texans. From north to south, east and most of the way west, rivers, lakes and streams can be found in all but the driest regions.
The diversity of land types, climates, industries and cultures in Texas are unique in the nation. Not even Alaska can offer the size and variety of private land that is found in the Lone Star State. If you’re looking for tracts of land, you can’t get any bigger than Texas.