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Not sure if the lipstick was Glittering Catwalk or Pastel Pink Silver Shimmer, but you could see it from a mile away. Hair all well to do. Her man with workout muscles all decked in an iridescent purple ripple vest and designer Terlingua ball cap. And somehow not even a speck of brown dirt from the desert basin. They were not the only ones. Lots of toddlers inserted into trendy backpack hiking carriers atop these folks were everywhere.
Email me if you’ve been to Terlingua. My guess is less than a dozen of you have heard of it or been there. If you haven’t, I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about it. I was just there after attending a Zillow conference. Big Bend National Park is a six-hour drive from San Antonio and nearby Austin. Both are growing like mad. No doubt that the Glampers we encountered on the Grapevine Trail originated from there.
Everyone from Austin told us there were no buildings there 15 years ago. Now, it’s one tech building after another and cranes fill the skies………
Terlingua is a small desert town. The National Park, which is an amazing landscape of desert flora, hot springs, trails, wildlife, and dark sky community where you can see the milky way, is a major draw. The Starlight Express has really been the only restaurant, a holdover from the lost mining days and it has served the few visitors the park received over the years. Little vans selling art and taco trucks dominate the landscape. There is a dated lodge at the park, but the wait time can be up to two years. So, when I went to look for reservations, what I saw was one weirdo place after another. Hexagon shaped glass domes, bubble homes, teepees, caves and 60’s retro vans. All of these have popped up over the last few years. Along with that, a few restaurants with James Beard chefs. The Vegna is a breakfast and lunch spot that is basically a giant designer Starbucks on steroids along with a local homage to Willie Nelson that just opened. IT WAS PACKED WITH THE GLAMPERS. The local hippy scene and art colony which dominates is at the beginning stages of gentrification. The Glampers want to feel they are off the grid so long as they have their WIFI, latte, and can bring their designer dog with them.
Coming from the feeder markets of Austin and San Antoinio and all that activity, I understood that Terlinqa could be the new Jackson Hole or Aspen. It doesn’t take Paul Revere to see that, The Glampers are Coming! The Glampers are Coming! Along with all their wealth. After seeing the fantastic appreciation in South Florida real estate over the years it brought me to… is this a good place to invest in for real estate?
Being a broker owner, you’d think I could figure out how to purchase a property, all by myself. Not so fast. I called a local Realtor. In half an hour we went over the beginnings of understanding pricing. Then we went over historical pricing. You can get a 1-acre parcel for $40,000 in town. Was $12,000 pre-pandemic. $1,000 an acre if go 25-30 miles out of town!!! Sounds like a no brainer just sitting on it. However, there are carrying costs that you need to be aware of. Then some spots have plumbing, and others don’t. Then certain areas can flood where you get stuck in the mud. She told me everyone comes here thinking you can do an Airbnb but you really can’t if you are not present. Some areas have POA costs. Understanding how taxes work and how they will go up was an education. Contracts in Texas are different than Florida and throughout Texas itself it’s different. Understanding what commercially is coming down the pipeline affects whether it’s a good purchase. Will the area limit how much traffic is coming in (right now there isn’t much in regulation) to protect the number of lights as part of the draw is the dark sky? How do you build a bubble house? What happens if power fails? Should I buy a lot on a mountain? All of this is even before her taking the time to set up possibilities, showings, negotiations, contracts, inspections, insurance, legal help, vendor connections, walk throughs, title work, and closing. Like a good attorney, therapist, doctor, or any other professional, Realtors bring an invaluable amount of knowledge and expertise to a situation. Sometimes, we all think or take for granted a job in our industry and think it’s easy. Being an outsider for a minute reminded me of our value. Although, being lost and skedaddling is probably something the local off the grid, hippie folks, wouldn’t like to see occur. To them, they wouldn’t mind seeing us Realtors do as Willie Nelson says and “Get on the Road Again“, and keep prices low again.
Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet. Some publications he has been quoted in.
Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World – The Amazing Success of the PB&J Strategy – Available to Buy Now!
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