Here in Texas there are so many opportunities to own land. You can acquire a lot to turn into your new home or business, acreage for a farm, or even an existing ranch to call your own getaway. The possibilities are endless and we're going to discuss the differences to help you navigate what would make the best fit for you. 

Let's discuss buying into the sector on the most modest scale, purchasing a single lot. Even without a standing structure to consider, there are many other factors that should affect your decision. One of the most important to look into first and foremost is the zoning. It might be easier to determine whether it is zoned for residential or commercial, but harder to find out whether it might be in a flood zone. If it is in a flood zone, you'll have to factor in the cost of flood insurance to your overall expenses. It is also important to find out if the lot is in a community where an HOA is present. Reading carefully through their restrictions and finding out whether they have any building restrictions will save you a lot of potential hassle and may even be a deal breaker. Even seemingly minute details such as whether they permit trailers to be parked on your property is worth investigating beforehand as you could be stuck with a fine. In communities where there is no HOA present, you may compare the surrounding homes with your building plans and assess whether you would be creating a similar product, over-improved or unique. Depending on the area you are purchasing it may not matter if all the housing styles are congruent, but in others it might be more beneficial for your home value if you were to conform to the aesthetic of the established homes. 

In larger parcels of land, factors such as surface leases, mineral rights, presence of wetlands and more could be an impediment if development of the land is desired by the buyer. It's important to obtain as much information from the seller as possible as to who is leasing the property, the duration of the lease (as leases continue with the sale of the house, they do not just cease upon purchase), and their rights on ingress and egress on the property as all of this could affect the way that the buyer can enjoy the property. In cases where crops are present, the Seller usually retains the right to harvest the crops prior to possession of the Buyer unless otherwise stated in writing. If wetlands or endangered species are present on the property, this would have heavy weight in consideration of the location where buildings can be built. Some existing relationships like having a ranch hand on a large AG exempt property that is meant to be a secondary for the buyer might be worth building on and extending. 

Now that we have covered some of the possible roadblocks, let's look at the process of getting under contract and ultimately purchasing land. If you are familiar with the One to Four Family form for most residential properties in Texas, you will be pleased to know that two of the common forms used for land purchases follow in a similar suit. The main difference is the ability to go into more land related details. These forms are promulgated by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) and are approved for use by licensed real estate agents, however if the buyer prefers to have their lawyer draft up a contract they are more than welcome to do so and the agent is authorized to use that contract in its place. This holds true for most residential transactions as well, though builders will most likely not accept them in favor of their own. The option period (due diligence) along with the option fee and earnest money are in play for land and ranch similar to residential transactions and are clearly addressed in the TREC forms. In comparison to the typical residential transaction, the option period for land and ranch is usually longer if the property is larger. Time is of the essence for delivery of the checks to the appropriate parties. You do not want to be late on turning in an option fee check as you may lose the right to your option period! After the option period and negotiations are complete, the transaction moves towards closing. Possession of the property is as stated in the agreement. 

With the brief synopsis of the different types of land available to you under your belt, let's take a closer look at them in practice.

Lots in Planned Communities and New Builds

There is a growing market for custom home builds in new developments or on empty lots in existing neighborhoods. The majority of builders advertise towards real estate agents to bring in their clients with extra incentives. While it is entirely possible for Buyer to choose to work directly with the builder, working with a real estate agent is still recommended as they will help facilitate the transaction and represent the buyer's interests.

As with any purchase, buying a build to suit has its positives and negatives. If it is a specific empty lot in a planned development that you are hoping to acquire, your agent will research which builder owns the lot and if you would have the ability to choose a different builder or of they would be the ones creating your home. Becoming familiar with a builder's style and reputation is key going into the mindset or purchasing a new build. If you have a deadline in which you would need to be moved into your new home, it is important to know the builder's time frame. It's also important to think of your personal time line and how long you anticipate living in this community. As an early adopter of a community, you will inevitably be living around construction for a good amount of time. Some of the planned amenities may not even be available to you or your family yet. Resale might also be more difficult if you are moving out shortly after moving in since the same potential buyer could purchase a newly built home customized to their personal tastes as opposed to your home that was built to suit you and yours. While you can not plan for surprise big life changes that necessitate a move, you can keep this information in mind as a possible hiccup to reselling down the line and know that you will have to be extremely competitive with pricing. 

The positives are obvious! You are building a home from the ground up and will know everything about the home. The mystery behind walls or the concern about cast iron pipes you might face when purchasing an existing home will not be an issue here. Builders should have done all of the research for your new lot including the restrictions and setbacks. It is still important and highly recommended to do your own due diligence. 

If you want old historic charm but with modern conveniences, you could seek out a builder whose aesthetic aligns with your own. You can even consider flipping a home, but that's a topic for a later date.

Lots in Unplanned Communities and Remodels

One of the benefits of unplanned communities is that there typically isn't an HOA, or if there is it is likely voluntary. This allows the buyer the freedom of creating their own custom home -as long as it is in line with the Building Code. When purchasing lots with unwanted existing structures on the property, the cost of demolishing or remodeling needs to be considered when making an offer. Some cities have more stringent enforcement than others on remodels. If the standing structure is historic in nature, you may not have the ability to touch it or have very specific allowances as to what can be done to it. Working with a reputable contractor who has their pulse on the Code and regulations is critical. Permits will need to be applied for and processes to be followed precisely to avoid any hiccups. Always allow more time in your timeline than you think is necessary for building. When purchasing a lot without an existing structure on it, it's good to meet with an architect and have building plans ready for approval.

If you are "buying" a lot on the lake, your agent should notify you as to weather you are purchasing the actual land or if you will be purchasing a land lease. While most land leases on the lake are set for a large amount of years, it is still important to know that you will be improving the land that is not deeded to you. It's also important to take into account the water fluctuation of the lake to afford ample space between your home and the water no matter the tide. 

Horse Properties

Fort Worth is a mecca for horse enthusiasts with the world famous Will Rogers stadium located in the heart of the Cultural District. Stepping up in scale from a single lot are properties that have a bit more acreage and are horse permitted. There are plenty of options to own property with this permit both inside the loop and outside of it- in gated communities and otherwise. 

There are many aspects of a horse property worth knowing about; fencing and cross-fencing, barns, roads, underground septic, drainage, identifying the boundary lines to name a few. Along with the house itself, the property becomes part of the due diligence search during your option period. Remember, in the state of Texas, buyers have the unequivocal right to refuse a property during the option period (forgoing whatever ‘option fee’ was negotiated on the offer contract). 

Let's discuss some of the options available to a Buyer interested in land for horses and some of the most popular horse communities. 

Sierra La Rana properties for sale in Alpine, TX:

Ever been to Marfa, TX? If not, there's a great chance you've heard people ranting and raving about it. Marfa is an international art community with only 2,300 residents, but thousands of tourists travel there per year. 20 miles away from Marfa is Alpine, TX - home to the U.S. Border Patrol, Homeland Security, there's an FBI headquarters - needless to say, it's one of the safest places on earth. Not to mention absolutely beautiful. Our land and ranch listings in Sierra la Rana have pristine well-tested water, 5,000+ feet of elevation, 6 miles of gravel roads, underground water and electricity run to the front of each property, endless views, the community is gated and equipped with security cameras for entrances and exits, and the property is only 2 miles from downtown Alpine. These land and ranch listings are typically between 10 and 100 acres, suitable for horse enthusiasts, soon to be or current retirees, and individuals seeking a 2nd home.

Sierra la Rana is a working cattle ranch, meaning your property (excluding the 1 acre homestead you build your home on) is ag-exempt and you'll only pay 50 cents per acre in property taxes per year. This ranchette community is one of the darkest places on earth and is a certified International Dark Sky Community drawing astrology enthusiasts. The world famous McDonald Observatory can be seen from the community, it's the preeminent area to be for star gazing.

Out of the roughly 100 ranches we have listed for sale, 55 of them have been bought. About half of the ranchettes were purchased by buyers out of the Dallas Fort Worth region. With Alpine, TX being the law enforcement capital of the world - many of the other half of ranchettes were bought and are owned by defenders of the rule of law. This luxury gated community offers the security and comfort many families and retirees have come to expect.

Silverado on the Brazos:

This horse community is owned by renowned local businessman Jerry Durant. The Silverado on the Brazos ranch community offers world-class horse properties that people truly do come from all over the world to live. This is a full service and inclusive community of horse enthusiasts, boasting over 10 vets living on premises and over 100 vets within 10 miles. The gated community has a complete arena facility and is a long winding trail of high-end ranch properties. Horse enthusiasts living in the community offer boarding, training, grooming or any number of needs for your horses. Silverado on the Brazos is in between Granbury and Weatherford, both cities known for their horses. It’s about 10 minutes by car to Weatherford, 10 minutes to Granbury and 40 minutes to Will Rogers Coliseum just west of downtown Fort Worth. If you’re seeking to buy a horse property in the D/FW and you haven’t toured Silverado on the Brazos, your due diligence has been incomplete.