HOUSTON – (By Dale King, Realty News Report) – Texans by the score are responding to the COVID-driven call to set down new residential roots in wide-open spaces.
Spurred by pandemic fears and urban woes, city-dwelling Lone Star State buyers descended on rural locations in the latter part of 2020, said the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University. By year’s end, TAMU found that 552,707 acres had been purchased for a record $1.6 billion in Texas during the year.
A continuing swell of interest and five recent closings recorded by early April have left only six residential farms available at Wolff Companies’ Gates Ranch. That development is a 1,500-acre community of family farms in historic Washington County, near the town of Brenham.
Gates Ranch is situated at the intersection of FM 1155 and FM 2726 — about 65 miles from Houston and 94 miles from Austin, along the shore of the Brazos River.
In just the past three months, the last two community estates in Phase II at Gates Ranch were sold, in addition to three estates in the final Phase III.
“The Washington County area has been gaining steady interest over the past few years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated that trend,” said Brad Bevers, a local Realtor and founder of Legend Texas Properties which represents Gates Ranch.
“Thanks to its protective covenants, carefully restored land and proximity to Chappell Hill, Brenham and College Station, Gates Ranch is a unique concept that appeals to those who seek privacy yet want to live in an established community of like-minded neighbors,” he added. “We anticipate continued strong activity throughout 2021.”
Recent developments at Gates Ranch reflect a broader trend of growing interest in rural land in Texas. The TAMU study shows a 33.57 percent increase in the number of 2020 land sales in the Gulf Coast-Brazos Bottom area, which includes Washington County. The activity was particularly strong inthe third and fourth quarters, with 45.4 percent and 78 percent increases in sales, respectively.
“Fourth quarter 2020 produced a remarkable increase in rural property transactions across most of Texas,” said Dr. Charles Gilliland, research economist for the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M. “Statewide, the 7,684 sales were up 28.9 percent from last year.”
Gates Ranch land buyer Kevin Morley, market president at Frost Bank, seized the opportunity to fulfill a family dream. “What initially attracted us to the area was its location, which is central to our children in Austin, Dallas and Houston, yet close enough to all the necessary amenities while offering a wonderful country feel,” he said.
“Once we walked the property and saw the rolling hills, the long views and beautiful pastures, we understood what Gates Ranch was about and made the decision to make it our new home the same day.”
Current residents and recent buyers come from all walks of life, from former elected officials, professional athletes and senior executives in the finance and energy industries to physicians and teachers. All share a dream of living on a farm.
Some grew up in similar suburban environs while others are looking to escape busy city life after having led successful careers. Another commonality: None consider Gates Ranch to be solely an investment property but see it as an ideal family home for years to come.
“We’ve spent several years looking for the ideal location,” said another recent buyer, who moved 13 times around the globe owing to his busy career in the energy industry. “In that time, we have seen many beautiful properties in Hill Country and Washington County where we could build our dream retirement home and enjoy gardening, but we did not want to be isolated.”
“The vision of Gates Ranch, which offers full privacy while still being part of a community, really appealed to us,” the buyer said. “We love the bucolic setting and were thoroughly impressed by the meticulous job Wolff Companies did to restore the land and make each property unique.”
The remaining six parcels range from 19 to 113 acres, allowing buyers to build custom homes to the scale and style of their liking, from traditional farmhouses to modern ranch homes. Many have chosen to combine parcels to create larger family estates or use the restored pastures for horse breeding, cattle grazing, bee keeping or hay production to be eligible for agricultural tax exemptions.
For 50 years, Wolff Companies has been developing master-planned, mixed-use business communities in the Houston area. The firm’s commercial developments include: Beltway; Park 10; Interwood; Westway Park; First Crossing; Ten Oaks at the Texas Medical Center – West Campus; Central Park and Beacon Hill.
April 17, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
File: Gates Ranch Draws Buyers To Country Living
Photo courtesy Wolff Cos.
For more about Texas real estate, check out the book Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up by Ralph Bivins. Available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/4a2g6y