Ranch Buying Tips

Ranch Buying Tips from TexasAgRealty

Texas is a beautiful state with a very diverse terrain and vegetation.  Ranch ownership opportunities can range from the high desert hills of the Jeff Davis mountains to the cypress bayous of East Texas.  With this diversity comes a variety of challenges which can turn your land buying experience a mine field of pitfalls.


The first step one should take is get to know some of the terminology used with rural land.  In that way you as a buyer can be prepared to discuss a property with a realtor.  There are a variety of sources on the internet but a good place to start would be the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.  Their web site is chocked full of real estate knowledge and market overviews.


Another issue that is often a surprise to the new owner of a rural tracts is with the lending process.  If you are a cash buyer this will likely not be an issue.  However, if you want to seek out third party financing you will want to ask questions of lenders prior to exploring the ranch market to deeply.  Often times the down payments requirements can be much greater than say with a home.  It is not uncommon for a lender to ask for 25% to 30% down on land.  A key to dealing with this issue is to speak with a lender that specializes in rural property such as Capital Farm Credit, Heritage Land Bank, Lone Star Ag Credit, and others.


Once you begin your search start out with a defined goal and parameters for the property you are looking for.  Set a budget and then list the key features such as trees, a pond, hills, deer, etc.  Also understand that with rural land ownership there comes a whole list of other issues that a new land owner may not have through of prior to making the buying decision.  One of the biggest is property maintenance.  You may need s tractor, a shredder, fence building equipment, and an atv.  However, with these items also comes the need to understand their proper and safe operation.  Also there are time requirements and if you are unable to perform certain task, one should think about hiring competent help to assist with these issues.


There are additional factors with rural land that many buyers are unaware of when acquiring rural land.  One of which is the securing and maintenance of an agricultural exemption with the local county appraisal district.  Often times there is merely a form to be completed but there are also dead-lines that must be met to secure an exemption in a timely manner.  Along this same line of topic there is also the potential to have a wildlife or a timber use exemption and these should all be explored with the local appraisal district office.


Rural land ownership has many benefits, some of which can be tax related.  Be sure to ask your accountant and attorney to assist you with some of these.  Also a competent realtor can answer some of these questions and if not can direct you to the appropriate professional who can.


The final recommendation is to ask a lot of questions.  If you are told there is a well, ask about the well.  How deep is it?  How old is it?  Is the well powered with an electric submersible pump, solar panel, or some other source.  Is there electric service and if not how far is it to the nearest service line?  Has the property ever flooded?  Is the road you drove on to the ranch a public access point or is that an easement?  Always ask if there are any restrictions on the land or lease agreements that must be assumed?  A big question in Texas is always to ask about minerals.  If a property is a surface only sale, find out what the implications of that will be to you use of the land and potential for interruptions by an oil and gas producer.  All of these, and more, are important questions and they should not be intimidating.  The key is to be knowledgeable about a property so that you can make an informed decision.  Once you buy your place be prepared to enjoy the outdoors and begin to make long-term memories with your friends and family.


Feel free to contact me, Steve Bilicek, ALC, and I will be happy to answer questions or at least guide you to the appropriate agency or person who can assist you.  Contact me at 281-497-2774 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.