How to Buy and Sell Central Texas Farm and Ranch Properties
Farm and ranch real estate is a niche market, especially in the Hill Country when demand and interest is so high. Whether you’re looking to invest in agricultural land — or sell your property in this popular region — it helps to understand the complexity of the market. Here are some insights and tips to help you.
Farm vs. ranch: Understanding the difference
To understand the market, it’s essential to understand the difference between a farm and a ranch. While both involve rural land and agriculture, farms and ranches each serve distinct purposes.
Primarily used for agriculture, a farm is a piece of land dedicated to cultivating crops and raising livestock for dairy and other products. A farm focuses on maintaining fertile soil to grow healthy crops, such as fruits, vegetables, grains or nuts.
A ranch is a piece of land dedicated to raising herding livestock such as sheep, cattle and horses. Ranches feature grazing pastures — essential for the well-being of livestock animals — and typically include larger expanses of land and a focus on animal husbandry rather than growing crops.
However, not all Central Texas ranches are dedicated to raising livestock. Some owners choose to utilize ranches to build a home big enough for a growing family, an investment property to rent out to vacationers seeking peaceful scenery or even transform their land into a wedding venue. Ranches with quality wildlife habitation allow opportunity to lease access to sportsmen and women for hunting and fishing.
Tips for buyers interested in Central Texas rural properties
If you are in the market to buy a farm or ranch, you may want to keep these considerations in mind so you can approach the purchase confidently.
1. Identify your goals
Before searching for your farm or ranch purchase, clarify your goals. Are you looking for a property for personal use, investment or a combination of both? Understanding your objectives will help narrow down your search.
2. Set a budget
Determine your budget and financing options. Consider both the property’s purchase price and ongoing expenses — maintenance, taxes and utilities. Explore financing options for agricultural real estate, including agricultural loans and government programs, to secure funding, like the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Loan Guarantee Program.1
3. Look in the right area
Location matters — not all land is the same, especially not in an area as large and varied as Central Texas. The region includes diverse landscapes and microclimates that can impact agriculture. Research different areas in the region to understand the land and find options that align with your agricultural interests and needs.
4. Identify the size and type of property you want
Whether it’s a small hobby farm where you plan to grow flowers, a sprawling cattle ranch or a productive crop farm, narrow in on the size and type of property that fits your goals. Consider things like soil quality, water availability and infrastructure (e.g., barns, fencing or irrigation systems). Ensure the property’s water resources meet your needs — both in quality and quantity. In Texas, water rights2 depend on whether the water is groundwater or surface water.
If your purchase is sizeable, you may want to hire professionals — including a real estate agent and an attorney who understand the particulars of rural land transactions — to inspect the property’s condition and to understand water rights, mineral rights, environmental issues, land surveys, easements, building liability and more. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension offers a handbook3 that outlines laws Texas landowners should know.
» Tip: You can also reach out to RBFCU’s preferred real estate partner, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty to match you with a knowledgeable agent experienced in Central Texas farm and ranch properties.
Tips for sellers looking to part with Central Texas rural properties
If you are thinking of selling a farm or ranch property, understanding the nuances of this unique market is crucial to ensure a successful sale.
1. Prepare your property
When selling a home, first impressions matter. Enhance your property’s “curb appeal” by tidying up, repairing infrastructure and showcasing its unique features. Creating a visually appealing entrance can significantly impact a buyer’s perception. Document any farm improvements and recent land management practices that add value.
2. Document value
Gather documents that detail the property’s value. If the farm is operated by someone other than the owner, prospective buyers will want to know about any lease or tenancy agreements.4 If you have farmers renting the crop land or hunters with deer lease rights, ensure written lease agreements are in place. Not only will having such contracts in tip-top shape protect all parties, but also they’ll allow you to showcase potential additional income opportunities to buyers.
3. Set an appropriate price
A knowledgeable real estate agent can help you determine an accurate and competitive listing price. Consider recent comparable sales, property conditions and market trends. Having the farm or ranch appraised by a professional is in your best interest — and will help buyers know your price is fair.
4. Market your property
An experienced real estate agent will also be ready to outline a marketing strategy that includes online listings, high-quality photographs and targeted outreach to showcase your property to potential buyers. The agent can highlight your property’s strengths — such as productive land, scenic beauty or recreational opportunities.
Imagine a life of luxury on your Central Texas ranch or farm?
For buyers who appreciate the natural beauty and limitless possibilities of wide-open spaces, a luxury ranch or farm represents the ultimate reward for your hard work — freedom and privacy in a beautiful location.
Whether you desire indoor/outdoor pools, flowing water, expansive land for crops or grazing pastures, tennis courts, movie theaters, oversized garages, inviting hot tubs — or even helicopter landing pads — luxury properties in Central Texas boasts a range of amenities. What doesn’t yet exist can easily be constructed. As you consider how you’ll make the most of your luxury ranch or farm life, it can be helpful to turn to a real estate agent well-versed in what’s possible in the area’s high-end market.
Central Texas offers many opportunities for those interested in buying or selling farms and ranches. However, navigating this complex market requires expertise and careful consideration of legal, financial and environmental factors.
If you’re ready to buy or sell a farm or ranch in Central Texas, reach out to a trusted agent with RBFCU’s preferred real estate partner, Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty. Their local knowledge and industry experience in both the luxury and general realty markets will help you move beyond your expectations toward an extraordinary real estate experience.
Information in this article is general in nature and for your consideration, not as financial advice. Please contact your own financial professionals regarding your specific needs before taking any action based upon this information.
Last updated January 2024.
Kuper Realty Holding Company, LLC dba Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty is a subsidiary of RBFCU Services LLC. RBFCU Services LLC is affiliated with Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union (RBFCU).
The following sources were last accessed in November 2023.
1“Agricultural Loan Guarantee Program.” Texasagriculture.gov, https://www.texasagriculture.gov/Grants-Services/Rural-Economic-Development/Texas-Agricultural-Finance-Authority/Agricultural-Loan-Guarantee-Program.
3Dowell, Tiffany. “It’s Here! Owning Your Piece of Texas Ag Law Handbook Is Available.” Texas Agriculture Law, 13 May 2019, https://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/2019/05/13/its-here-owning-your-piece-of-texas-ag-law-handbook-is-available/.
4“Ranchers’ Agricultural Leasing Handbook.” Agrilife.org, https://agrilife.org/texasaglaw/files/2021/01/Ranchers-Agricultural-Leasing-Handbook.pdf.