This Land Is Your Land, for the Right Price—And More Than Expected Are Buying

Land sales in North Texas have been less impacted by 2020’s crises than some expected. And the big deals keep coming, shaping our region for the future, says veteran land broker Robert Grunnah.

They’re not making more of it. Maybe that’s why land sales have held up, for the most part, in North Texas this year. With single-family sizzling and large, zoned industrial rocking, it’s all about demand. Still, many big-pocket investors are waiting—and hoping—for values to shift sharply downward. Robert Grunnah, a veteran land broker at Younger Partners, thinks they may be wasting their time. 

Grunnah is among the commercial real estate experts in our feature, “21 On 2021.” He shares his outlook on what’s next in a Q&A.

Dallas Innovates Q+A (Images: Istockphoto)What’s ahead for land sales in 2021?

The most active demand land product in order: large, zoned industrial; any size zoned single-family (or can be reasonably zoned) square footage with utilities almost in any direction; any infill high-density multifamily; and attractive, market-priced large vacant investment tracts north. The least active: peripheral office sites; any retail land except smaller infill and or in Uptown; mixed-use dominated by non-residential.

Has the pandemic impacted the value of land?

It’s all been relative to demand for product as set out above. The in-demand tract values are up, the non-demand down, but prices have been less affected than anticipated.

Are buyers’ priorities changing in terms of sites?

Again, there seems to be no apprehension about paying top price for in-demand product, and little interest in product not in demand. There exists an enormous amount of investment cash stalking the market for a pending, serious “readjustment.” I think they’ll be disappointed, get bored, and start buying—thus stabilizing the land market. Texas should be greatly pleased by the issues that make this state a wonderful place to live, work, and invest.

What recent big deals could shape the future of the region?

PGA (headquarters moving to Frisco), JEN Partners’ McKinney development (1,100 acres north of Highway 380), high-speed rail (Dallas to Houston route), Amazon (building new shipping hub in South Dallas), and Hillwood in North Fort Worth.

The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. A version of this story first published in the Fall 2020 edition of the Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate Review.

Sandra Engelland contributed to this report.

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