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February 6, 2017

Selling Your Ranch

This article in Land Magazine includes information on how to prepare and what to expect when selling your ranch. Information from getting the property ready to go on the market, to choosing a broker and pricing the property, all the way to the sale and beyond. Click here for article.


July 7, 2015

Homebuilders sue EPA over 'waters of the U.S.' rule

The National Association of Home Builders and six other national trade associations have sued the federal government in an effort to overturn the new "waters of the United States" rule that expanded the scope of the Clean Water Act. Click here for the rest of the article.


February 26, 2015

No Trespassing

This article discusses the purple paint method of saying No Trespassing and the rules to follow if you are going to use this method. Click here for article.


December 4, 2014

Restoring Grasslands

Many new owners of hill country ranches are restoring the land to its historic prime conditions. Some are buying several tracts for more effective resource management. Some are using more conservative stocking rates to match the weather conditions. And some owners of smaller tracts are developing their own mini-prairies and/or cooperating with like-minded neighbors to form a larger management area. Click here for article.


August 26, 2014

Benefits of Private Land Ownership

This article from the Livestock Weekly reports David Langford's message "We share the benefits of an open space resource, but we don't have a shared dream for that land." Click here for article.


August 4, 2014

Water Rights?

Who owns the groundwater? The surface water? The spring that originates on your land? The water in your pond? How big of a pond or lake can you build without needing a permit? The answer to these questions and more are found in this excellent article by Tierra Grande: http://recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/2069.pdf


May 26, 2014

Is Drought Relief On the Way?

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) now predicts a 65 percent chance of El Nino returning this year - perhaps as early as summer. However, its impact on Central Texas rain may not be felt until fall." Click here for article.


May 14, 2014

Texas continues 10-year unbeaten streak as best state for business

Texas continues its streak at the top of Chief Executive magazine's ranking of the best and worst states for business. The Lone Star State has held the top spot as the best state for business since the ranking was unveiled ten years ago. More than 500 CEOs participated in this year's survey, which took into account taxes and regulations, workforce quality and quality of life. Texas was noted for its booming 4.8 GDP growth, low unemployment, growing population and low taxes. Click here for article.


May 7, 2014

Texas Dominates Fastest Growing Cities List

Texas claims three out of five of the fastest growing cities in the country since 2010. Among large cities, Austin is at the top of the list.


April 25, 2014

Just sold!  316 acres 

That makes two ranches sold on Hwy. 183 in the past couple months (the other ranch was 600 acres).  The Austin real estate market is hot and it’s starting to trickle out to the surrounding counties.  Wealthy investors are eyeing large tracts of land close to Austin as a safe place to park money.  The recent extension of the 183A toll road all the way to Hwy. 29 has brought Austin a lot closer to Burnet and Lampasas Counties and our ranch investors are taking note. 


April 17, 2014


LCRA is proposing new water rates. The original Jan 2014 proposal has been updated, and improvements have been made, but CTWC feels these new rates are still far from what they need to be.  

These rates are intended to recover the costs of the two main components of the water system operated by LCRA. The first is river operations, which includes the cost of the dams, lakes, river, hydromet system, etc. that all water users, both firm and interruptible, share the benefit of.  The second are the interruptible customer canal systems, which are the dedicated operations used to exclusively for the benefit of the interruptible customers to deliver water from the river to the farmers of the Lakeside, Gulf Coast, and Garwood irrigation systems.  

Some facts of the new proposal:

The Good:
* LCRA is moving to finally make the interruptible customers at least pay enough to cover the cost of delivering water through the interruptible canal system to their farms.  For decades LCRA has been selling water to the interruptible customers at a loss.  The new rates move towards fixing this situation.  These new rates at least cover the loss-making part of serving interruptible customers.

* For years, the cost of maintaining and operating the river operations has been entirely born by the firm customers. The new rates propose to start requiring some of the interruptible customers to start contributing to the cost of operating the river system.  If LCRA had been charging interruptible customers a reasonable rate, like the other Texas river authorities, rather than selling water at a loss, millions and millions of dollars could have been generated to fund the development of new water supplies. These new rates will give the interruptible customers a chance to start contributing to the cost of the river system.

The Bad:

 * The proposed share of river operations costs to be born by the interruptible customers is based on the share of water they used the last five years.  However, during three of these years most interruptible customers have been curtailed.  This results in a lower share of costs being charged to interruptible customers than would be the case if a typical year were used in which interruptible customers use about 2/3 of the water.

 * Since Garwood and Pierce Ranch get their water for free, they are not contributing to the cost of managing the river system.  Their share of the cost is dumped on the firm customers, not spread evenly across all customers.

 * Because the interruptible customers have been dramatically undercharged for years, there will have to be some very sizable increases (60-165%) in order to fix their rates.  LCRA is proposing not to immediately move interruptible customers to a full cost recovery rate and to only move to an intermediate rate for the time being, and move to a full cost recovery rate at some unspecified time in the future. The logic behind this is that these customers have been so dramatically undercharged for years that it is too much of a shock to move to full cost recovery rates in one step and they should continue to be undercharged for the time being. Until LCRA moves the interruptible customers to full cost recovery, the underpayment will be born by the firm customers.  

 The Ugly:
 * The proposed rates require the firm customers to fund the cost of maintaining the interruptible canal system in years where no water is provided to the farmers.  This is about $6 million per year, or about $40,000 per farmer per year.  No other LCRA customer has the cost of their water delivery systems covered by other customers, all other customers have to cover this cost themselves.

 * The proposed $175/af firm water rate covers all the cost of running the river operations, and all the cost of running the interruptible customers canal systems.  Depending on how much water interruptible customers use and pay for, some credit may be provided back to the firm customers.  Or some of the excess money may be used for other unspecified purposes.  If firm customers paid just for their share of river operations and none of the interruptible canal system costs, the new firm water rate would be $62/af instead of $175/af.

This will be presented to the Board for a vote in JUNE. 

How do you feel about these proposed rates?  MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD NOW! 

CTWC and LCRA encourages your feedback; please provide your input to comment@lcra.org.  

CTWC's position is that Firm customers should NOT be asked to pay for water subsidies for interruptible users.

Friends of CTWC  P.O. Box 485 Spicewood, TX 78669 
or online at:  http://www.friendsofctwc.com


March 31, 2014

Thinking about building a dam or stock tank on your property?  Concerned about “trespassers”  hiking up the streams on your property?  The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are in the process of expanding their control under the “Clean Water Act”. Click on the links below for more information.







June 28, 2013

On June 17,2013, Gov. Perry extended drought proclamation which began on July 11, 2011, giving landowners relief from appraisal district’s agricultural use requirement for these years.  All that is necessary from landowners is to communicate with their appraisal district that ag use has been deferred because of the drought. Click here for article. 


February 14, 2013

Texas Hotspot for Economic Growth
(Economy : Texas, 2/8/2013)

Santa Monica, Calif. (RCLCO) - Seven Texas metros are on RCLCO's list of regional hotspots for economic growth.

Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown were included on the list of large U.S. metros, while Tyler, Longview, Midland and Texarkana were on the list of small metros.

In addition, half the cities on RCLCO's list of metros where employment is back to peak levels are in Texas: DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Corpus Christi.

RCLCO Managing Director Paige Mueller said "diversified employment bases, including energy and technology sectors, are benefiting the Texas economy as are low cost of doing business, warm climate, and proximity to trade routes." Click here for link.


January 2, 2013

Market Back to 2008 Levels

When the economy collapsed in the fall of 2008, ranch sales in the Hill Country slowed down dramatically. This slowdown was typical of the entire Highland Lakes region. Well, Jim Berry Hill Country Ranch Sales experienced a sea change of sorts in 2012. After three successive ‘down’ years, total sales for Jim Berry Hill Country Ranch Sales spiked all the way back to where they were in 2008 -- actually slightly above 2008 levels. After some research, we discovered we weren’t alone. Sales in the entire region for all types of real estate (according to the Highland Lakes Association of Realtors) also spiked, surpassing 2008 levels. Here is the regional data for total transactions by year since 2008, according to the Highland Lakes Association of Realtors since 2008 (in millions of dollars):
2008: $366m
2009: $269m
2010: $286m
2011: $292m
2012: $391m
This data doesn’t prove we are completely out of harm’s way. But it does indicate this area is once again experiencing growth and the real estate market is coming back.


March 12, 2012

State Supreme Court: Landowners own water beneath land

In a landmark decision, the Texas Supreme Court confirmed that groundwater is a vested right of the property owner. 

“In a ruling likely to have an enormous effect on how Texas regulates water use, the state Supreme Court declared Friday that landowners also own the water beneath their land and may seek compensation if government regulations limit their access to it.” See full story here.

January 20, 2012

The market is really heating up.  We finished 2011 strong and 2012 is starting out the same way.  Last week, we closed two ranch listings, 320 acres in Blanco County and 354 acres in Burnet County.  We also escrowed 4 contracts to go along with multiple other contracts we’ve escrowed in recent weeks.  As of today, we have offers pending on two other listings.  Additionally, we’ve been busy showing properties of all types.  A look at the data across the Highland Lakes region shows a similar trend.  Let’s hope it lasts!


January 10, 2012

Jim Berry, founder of Jim Berry Hill Country Ranch Sales, passed away on January 9th, 2012, at 82 years of age.  Jim will be sorely missed.  But as anyone who’s ever met him will attest, he will not be forgotten.  

Jim “retired” to the Hill Country in 1977 after selling a flourishing real estate business in Houston that included three Century 21 offices and 120 agents.  But retirement didn’t suit Jim and his wife Bette.  Shortly after locating to Burnet, Jim and Bette opened a new Century 21 office.  A few years later, Jim started Jim Berry Hill Country Ranch Sales as an independent broker.  When I came to work for Jim in 1998, he was the broker to work for in the area if you were interested in ranch brokerage.  I consider myself very lucky to have learned from Jim.  His work ethic and professionalism were second to none.  He set a very high standard -- by example. 

But Jim wasn’t all work.  He was so much fun to be around.  To this day, Jim Berry is the funniest person I’ve ever personally known.  Rarely did we have a conversation in which he didn’t crack me up at least once.  He was just naturally funny.  Even when Jim wasn’t trying to be funny he made me laugh -- and not just me, but clients, friends, waitresses -- everyone.  He just had one of those infectious personalities that could put a smile on anyone’s face.  Jim was also quite the clown.  Literally.  “Clowning” as Jim called it was one of his favorite things to do.  Jim was dear friends with Emmitt Kelley Jr., the world famous, sad faced circus clown.  Jim fashioned his own clown character after Emmett Kelley’s sad faced clown. 

When Jim wasn’t clowning, he was still finding ways to have fun.  Jim would sing at gatherings.  He hosted countless parties and charity events.  And he loved to participate in parades.  I remember one time at our Marble Falls office on Hwy. 281, there was a parade going right down the middle of the highway.  I forget the occasion, but it was one of the few parades Jim had not known about beforehand and thus did not participate in.  But that hardly mattered to Jim.  He pulled his life sized white fiberglass horse (which was a landmark in Marble Falls at the time) off the front porch towards the edge of the street, climbed up on the horse and waved at the parade as it went by.  It was silly.  It was spur of the moment.  But that was Jim -- always part of the action.  Always unpredictable.  Always having fun.

 -- Chad Calhoun

Owner / Broker, Jim Berry Hill Country Ranch Sales

December 12, 2011


When it comes to which states will add the highest percentage of jobs over the next few years, Forbes reports Texas will lead the way.  Forbes points to Texas' "low tax, business-friendly climate with a surging population that offers a nearly unlimited supply of young labor" as reasons for the growth.

This can’t help but have a positive impact on real estate in Texas.  For full story click here.


December 5, 2011


Most of us have bought farm or ranch items and been asked if it is a tax exempt purchase.  The state comptroller’s office has made this more straightforward.  See the link to a report by the Texas Wildlife Association. Click here for link.


October 20, 2011


While making presentations across Texas, Real Estate Center researchers frequently are aware of high-net worth investors in the audience. These people may live in New York City, Miami or San Diego, but they invest in Texas real estate.

Why do investors find Texas so attractive?

Let us count the reasons: (1) Texas is leading the United States in the current economic recovery, (2) Texas’ economy is big and growing, (3) Texas’ economy is profitable, (4) Texas has a growing population, (5) Texas’ economy is an international economy, (6) the tax burden is less in Texas, (7) Texas has an affordable housing sector, (8) Texans have entrepreneurial spirit, and (9) Texans are mobile. See full story here.


October 12, 2011


We closed three ranches last week, including 245 acres in Lake Victor, a highly improved 134 acre ranch in Spicewood and 100 acres in Blanco County.


August 29, 2011


An 860 acre showplace close to Austin on the Burnet / Blanco County line.  Highly improved with a classic Hill Country style main home, guest home and barn.  Game fenced and meticulously managed, this ranch offers some of the best whitetail hunting around -- huge south Texas bucks!  The topography is dramatic with incredible views throughout.  A spring-fed creek forms a 20’ deep swimming and fishing lake, complete with a dock, rope swing and suspension bridge.  This is a special turnkey ranch operation.  Click here for more details.

August 24, 2011


COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – There are seven reasons business owners do not want to hire right now, according to Real Estate Center Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour writing in today's REC blog.

  • Complete uncertainty regarding the future cost of health care for business owners
  • Two thousand pages of bank regulation that has yet to be enacted
  • Regulation of health care and health insurance
  • Regulation of off-shore oil drilling
  • Regulation of oil-shale deposits
  • Complete uncertainty about future income tax rates
  • Complete uncertainty about future capital gains tax rates

"When business owners are unsure about their future, what do they do? Nothing," writes Dotzour. "They just try to survive until the storm is over.

"They also hoard cash, like almost $2 trillion at this point. Our economy is not going to recover until businessmen and women regain confidence in the future opportunities in our country."

What would a business-friendly environment look like? Read the complete blog


June 9, 2011


NEW YORK (Real Estate Center) – What some people consider a double-dip recession, others view simply as the continuation of the recession that has gripped the nation for the past couple of years.

Take Real Estate Center Chief Economist Dr. Mark Dotzour, for example.

"We shouldn’t view this renewed softness in the economy as another downturn but just a continuation of the recession that was interrupted by a trillion dollars in federal stimulus that temporarily interrupted the cycle," Dotzour said Wednesday at the U.S. Real Estate Opportunity and Private Investing Forum in New York.

He said this is the necessary and final stage of the recession where government at federal, state and local levels is finally rightsizing by reducing spending and employment to more sustainable levels.

"Households and businesses have already done this," Dotzour said. "Once this adjustment to sustainable levels of government spending and employment is reached, then we will begin the slow process of real economic recovery." -- Real Estate Center Online News

May 27, 2011

Texas Economy Continues to Outperform the U.S. Economy

“Texas' economy continued to outperform the U.S. economy, gaining 254,000 jobs from April 2010 to April 2011, an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent. Over the same period, U.S. nonfarm employment rose 1.1 percent. The state's private sector also exceeded U.S. figures, posting an annual employment growth rate of 3 percent compared with 1.7 percent for the U.S. private sector from April 2010 to April 2011."  See full story here.

May 24, 2011

Property Rights Strengthened in Texas

Property owners in Texas can breathe a little easier.  A new law limits the government’s ability to seize private property.  The U.S. Constitution authorizes eminent domain.  Those powers are limited to seizing property for “public use.”  Historically, public use has been for things such as public roads, bridges, railroad tracks, transmission lines, etc.  Eminent domain powers were expanded in a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Kelo).  The Kelo decision determined that government could take property from one private owner for the benefit of another private owner, so long as the new owner had a higher and better use for the property.  In the case of Kelo, real property (including Mrs. Kelo’s home) was condemned and given to a developer who had proposed to build a hotel / retail / condo project.  The justification was that the new development would create jobs and increase tax revenue.  Ironically, after the condemnation, the developer was unable to attain financing for the project and the previously occupied homes sit vacant to this day.  Thanks to the new law, Texans no longer have to worry whether a politician or bureaucrat will someday decide that their property is better off in the hands of another private party.  Story here.

Posted by:Chad Calhoun


May 16, 2011

Just Listed!

We’ve listed another gorgeous LLano County Ranch.  93 acres of tree covered gently rolling terrain located just across the street from Lake Buchanan.  When the lake is near its full level, the ranch has lake access from an inlet that comes under the road. The recently built custom home has 3,900 sq. ft. and features quality craftsmanship throughout.  There is also a 3,200 sq. ft. RV barn which includes a fully functional 1,000 sq. ft. apartment.  Click here for more details.

Posted by:Dan Brady


May 5, 2011

Access Easements 101

Access easements affect many ranch owners in one way or another.  Here is an informative article in the latest Tierra Grande about access easements:

“As large Texas tracts are broken into smaller ones, landlocked properties increase. Before purchasing land, buyers should investigate whether easements exist and, if so, what type they are. One attaches to property and benefits the buyer and subsequent owners. Another attaches to the person who receives it and may stay with them even if ownership changes."  Read full Tierra Grande article here.

Posted by:Chad Calhoun


May 2, 2011

Oil and Gas...and Groundwater

Even though we don't have any producing oil or gas wells in our territory, we do have many clients who have oil & gas interests elsewhere -- and all of us are interested in water wells. I learned a great deal about the latest oil field development and how it affects groundwater from a recent article in the
Livestock Weekly:

"In Texas oil and gas is definitely still king, and nowhere is that more evident than in South Texas, where the Eagle Ford shale play is making money hand over fist for many fortunate landowners. However, as wonderful as that income may be, rarely do such treasures come without at least some give and take, and mostly it's give on the part of the landowners." Read full Livestock Weekly Article here.

Posted by: Dan Brady


May 1, 2011

Market Activity: April

April was a busy month for us.  We closed several transactions, including the top farm and ranch transaction (by dollar amount) for the month of April (per Highland Lakes Association of Realtors mls database).  We also listed several new properties, including three quality ranches: a 680 acre ranch with classic Hill Country features in western Llano County in the heart of deer country; a 297 acre ranch in eastern Llano County near Lake Buchanan; and a 278 acre ranch with a nice home in Burnet County.


April 27, 2011

Same Name, New Design

Today we bring you our newly designed website. The name stays the same, but the design has been upgraded and we hope you like it. We’ve long appreciated the impact the Internet has had in helping us market and sell our listings. Our site was originally created in 1997. This long history on the ‘net gives us tremendous presence and search engine results. Thus, a user friendly site has always been our focus. During this redesign process we have strived to make our site as easy to navigate as ever. And, of course, we will continue to update it daily.

Our goal with this section of the site is to bring you news about real estate. Most news will relate to the local market and include updates on company sales and new listings. We will also provide periodic updates on state and national trends in the world of real estate.



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