‘Can’t hardly afford to stay in it.’ Ranchers pushed out as tech companies boost need for homes

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — As Central Texans watch the influx of large tech companies coming into town, property developers are preparing to build more homes.

All of that development is pushing out one group of Central Texans who have been here the longest: ranchers.

“It’s difficult to let something go like this that’s been in your family for many many years,” said Glenn Patterson, a Coldwell Banker commercial real estate agent.

Patterson works in Central Texas, but he also just sold off his family ranch that sat on the outskirts of Georgetown. In the 1980s, aerial view photos show nothing but grazing lands for cattle.

Image of the ranch land from 2021 compared to the 1980s (Courtesy Glenn Patterson)

Now, you’ll find a Georgetown Elementary school and a nearby subdivision. Pretty soon, what used to be Patterson’s 109 acres of land will also have houses on it.

“Approximately 400 homes will be built on this property,” Patterson said.

The property was purchased in January 2021, but it hasn’t been a matter of just turning the dirt, Patterson said.

“Utilities is a big component, and understanding where you can connect into it,” said Nick McIntyre, Vice President of Perry Homes.

The tract of land is set for Perry home builds. Homebuilders like McIntyre constantly weigh the off-site costs, what infrastructure will look like and what resources are available from the city.

“The growth has just expanded so much that they haven’t been able to keep up with it. They didn’t anticipate it,” McIntyre said.

Longhorn Realty, another real estate firm, told KXAN land has doubled in price over the last 18-24 months. Another trend this group has seen is an uptick in the number of buyers coming from outside the U.S. to parts of Williamson County to invest in Texas land.

There’s also a whole other component to this Central Texas shift.

“You can’t hardly afford to stay in it,” said Craig Daniel, a Burnet County rancher.

Ranching industry costs have become so high that selling off land that’s increasing in value is tempting, but it’s a tough call for those who have cultivated our state’s supply of beef and grain.

“My biggest concern is, I don’t know where we are going to get all of our food from,” Daniel said. “If you look at the packaging, it’s not coming from the U.S.”

Written by Kaitlyn Karmout

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