It's a fact today's rural land buyers are more likely to have hunting and fishing on their minds than cows or cotton. Recreation is the primary motive fueling the rural Texas land market." This statement by Judon Fambrough, Senior Lecturer in Real Estate Law of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University (REC), shouldn't be a surprise to observers of the Texas land market.
In fact, there isn't anything close to recreation, particularly hunting and fishing, as a motive for buyers of Texas land. The following chart from Charles E. Gilliland, Research Economist of the REC, shows the buyer motives rated as "very important" in the REC fall 2002 survey of Texas real estate appraisers, brokers, lenders and government officials.
The survey question recorded the groups' opinion of all factors that were "very important" in land purchase decisions; most buyers incorporate several factors in their decision, and thus the categories add to more than 100%. Figure 1 shows that those surveyed believe 80% of buyers rate hunting and fishing quality as very important in their land purchase decision, up from 67% in the fall 2001 survey. Gilliland says that according to their surveys, recreation has been the dominant motive of Texas land buyers since spring 1995. These observations may have relevance to south central Oklahoma land values, where many Metroplex buyers are seeking less expensive retreats than the going prices in Texas.
These trends should be taken into consideration when making land management decisions. Game animals are a product of native vegetation. They are not generally abundant in landscapes dominated by introduced vegetation, whether it is forage or crops.
Knowledgeable land buyers understand this. The REC produces a report which divides Texas into 33 Land Market Areas (LMA). The most recent data available is their Fall 2001 report. Their report on LMA 22, containing Montague, Cooke, Grayson and Fannin counties of the NF Agricultural Division's Texas service area, includes Table 1. Statewide values are listed for comparison.
Gilliland points out that "rangeland generally attracts the recreational buyers prevalent in today's market." Prudent land managers should consider conversion costs, management costs, opportunity costs of alternate enterprises and impacts on future land values before converting native vegetation to other land uses.