(KLBK) — Since 2020, a growing number of Texans have chosen to move away from the city and pick up a more rural lifestyle on a large piece of land. And despite inflation and rising interest rates, that trend is still going strong in 2022.

According to a report by the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University, while the state’s land market to start 2022 was not as hot as it was in 2021, demand was still above 2019 levels.

Broker Sam Middleton, owner of farm and ranch real estate firm Chas. S. Middleton and Son, has over 50 years of experience in the farm and ranch real estate business.

Middleton is the broker who has sold some of the largest ranches in Texas, including the legendary 6666 Ranch, which was sold to a buyer group represented by filmmaker Taylor Sheridan in 2021.

He said the ranch real estate market has seen a huge jump in the last few years.

“I’ve been doing this for over 50 years,” Middleton said. “The biggest demand I’ve ever seen for ranches hit right after COVID.”

Middleton said after the lockdowns hit in 2020, interest in ranches skyrocketed because people were eager to leave big cities.

“Our phone started ringing off the wall, people wanting to get out of the city, get out in the country, have space and breathe clean air,” he said. “It was unbelievable how the demand for ranches just took off.”

According to a 2021 report by the Texas Real Estate Research Center, rural land sales increased dramatically in the latter half of 2020.

Sales continued to increase in 2021, with a total of 9,055 sales in 2021 according to TRERC, a 17.8% increase over 2020.

“There’s a lot of romance to owning ranches,” Middleton said. “I own two small ranches myself, and I really enjoy these properties, and my family enjoys them.”

A Texas ranch (Wymen Meinzer)

Middleton said land is also a great investment, as it appreciates over time and can provide enjoyment to its owners.

“Ownership of land is a long-term investment,” he said. “[People] feel like it’s a safe place to park money, but also a place to recreate, enjoy going out on the weekends, hunting, fishing, that sort of thing.”

Middleton said it is important for anyone considering buying land to research it first.

“You have to really study what you’re going to be buying,” Middleton said.

He said people should work with someone with knowledge of the land and the surrounding area and can help guide buyers.

“You have to factor in distance to hospitals, distance to restaurants, grocery stores, doctors, all of that. So it’s a different lifestyle,” he explained.

Potential owners also need to keep in mind that ranch maintenance can get expensive, Middleton said.

“There’s always going to be a place to spend money on these ranches,” he said. “You never finish spending money, there’s always some improvement you can do to help the property.”