wide open spaces

Texas named top U.S. market for land sales with record-setting 2021

Texas named top U.S. market for land sales with record-setting 2021

2256 county road 453 midfield Houston ranch
A record-setting 846,347 acres of Texas land changed hands in 2021. Photo by Josh Gremillion

Due in part to its cowboy heritage, Texas boasts lots of wide open spaces. So much so, in fact, that the Lone Star State led all of the states in land sales last year.

According to a new report from the National Association of Realtors and the Realtors Land Institute, the five states with the largest shares of land sales in 2021 were Texas (14.6 percent), Florida (12.8 percent), California (6.2 percent), Georgia (5.3 percent), and Arizona (5.2 percent).

“Even with rising interest rates, I expect sustained growth in land sales and prices this year, driven particularly by the demand for multifamily and single-family housing needs,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

Last year, Texas recorded 9,055 land sales, according to the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University. A record-setting 846,347 acres of Texas land changed hands in 2021, up 53 percent from the previous year. That property fetched a record-breaking $3.4 billion, up 97.6 percent compared with 2020.

“It has been a strong seller’s market for ranches and land: Demand has been greater than supply, fueled in part by the pandemic and the urge to be away from urban areas,” according to Dallas-based Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, whose ranch and land business posted sales of $371 million last year.

The Realtors’ report shows sales of residential land around the country were up 6.6 percent in 2021 compared with the previous year, and sales of ranchland were up 3.5 percent.

“This continues to be the most active period in Texas land-market history,” says Charles Gilliland, an economist with the Texas Real Estate Research Center.

Underscoring Gilliland’s observation, Douglas Elliman Realty recently launched Elliman Farm and Ranch, which represents buyers and sellers of land, ranch, and farm properties in Texas and five other states.

The firm says shows like Yellowstone1883, and “other romantic depictions of life on the range” have helped spur interest in ranch and farm properties.

“Given the challenges of the past two years, many of our buyers are looking for more than just a second home — they want the sense of freedom and a deeper connection with the land that farm and ranch properties offer,” says Scott Durkin, CEO of Douglas Elliman Realty.