Saddle up, would-be ranchers — an untouched tract spanning 738 acres just west of Austin has hit the market.
The Geyser Group listed the Hamilton Pool Ranch in Spicewood asking just under $17 million. The property is entirely undeveloped and protected by a 2018 easement signed with the Nature Conservancy, but it has three carve outs that would allow for up to 40 acres of development.
As the outskirts of Austin transform from rural expanses to suburban sprawl, ranches like Hamilton Pool have seen “unprecedented demand” in the last three years, according to Lindsey Holubec, an agent with Republic Commercial Land & Brokerage who is handling the listing. Activity has cooled across the residential and land markets amid rising rates, but listings like Hamilton Pool suggest demand still exists.
“I would say in the last 9 months we’ve reached a slower place in the market,” Holubec said, “but we’re still moving and grooving every day.”
The easement on the land makes it impossible to build the kind of master-planned community or high-rise development that many builders might envision for such an untouched tract within a 30-minute drive from downtown Austin. But the Texas Hill Country, with its rolling vistas and easy access to Austin proper, has become a popular destination for “glamping” vacation spots.
Geyser acquired the ranch in 2021 with the intention of building a boutique hotel, but soon decided that was out of its area of expertise, Holubec said. The firm has more experience building multifamily residential projects in East Austin.
Hamilton Pool listed last year with Dave Murray of DMTX Realty Group asking just under $19 million, or divided up into two ranches asking $5 million and $15 million each, according to a digital brochure. If a new owner decides against the hospitality route, the property could also work as a livestock ranch, hunting ground or personal residence under the easement terms.
Just east of the property lies Preservation Ranch, a gated community of 20-plus-acre “ranchettes.”
The end of 2020 and the first three quarters of 2021 marked “perhaps the most remarkable period Texas’ land market has ever experienced,” according to a study analyzing a representative sample of land sales by the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center. Prices increased 26 percent to $4,426 per square foot by the third quarter of 2022, a 50 percent increase in just two and a half years. By the end of last year, dealmaking had slowed so significantly that researchers recorded the lowest number of quarterly sales since 2014.