Business

Pandemic Drives Rural Land Sales In Texas

Sales of properties outside cities rose by 29% in the fourth quarter of last year.

The pandemic has driven a spike in rural land sales in Texas beginning in the second half of 2020.

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Rural land sales in Texas saw a big jump in the second half of last year — and the increase continues, new data shows.

There were 7,684 rural property sales in the fourth quarter of 2020, an increase of nearly 29% compared to a year prior, according to data from the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University.

Land prices went up more than 3% to $3,064 per acre.

Texas A&M research economist Charles Gilliland credited the pandemic for the growth.

"A lot of those things that made urban living attractive to people were not possible in the COVID situation where everyone was in lockdown and businesses were closed," he said. "And not only that, social distancing is a lot more easy to accomplish if you're in a remote, rural situation."

Gilliland also believes social unrest in big cities after the killing of Houston native George Floyd by Minneapolis police last May led some urban dwellers to buy land in the countryside.

Land sales went up all across the state, except in the Far West Texas region, where low oil prices led to declining sales.

In the region that includes Houston, Gulf Coast-Brazos Bottom, sales went up by a third and land prices increased more than 8%, even though the overall acreage sold went down somewhat.

"The properties that were selling were smaller than they were from the year before, so there was more of a concentration on the smaller end of the market," Gilliland said.

The growth didn't start right away. Gilliland said the first and second quarters of 2020 saw lower than usual rural land sales in Texas.

"When COVID hit and they began to shut down the economy, there was a lot of uncertainty in people's minds about what was going to happen," he said.

 

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is the News 88.7 business reporter and also covers criminal justice, guns and shootings.Florian's stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of...

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