Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Of Real Estate Trends And Conservation

I must admit that I’m one of a fortunate few whose commute to work each morning is devoid of traffic and full of beauty. I travel 18 miles from my home in Clarke County, Virginia, to Middleburg in western Loudoun County, the home of the Chronicle.

Unless I have the unfortunate timing to come upon a tractor moving a round bale or a wayward tourist enjoying the views of Ashby Gap on a sunny weekday morning, I generally cruise to work each day with nary a tap on the brake pedal.
   

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I must admit that I’m one of a fortunate few whose commute to work each morning is devoid of traffic and full of beauty. I travel 18 miles from my home in Clarke County, Virginia, to Middleburg in western Loudoun County, the home of the Chronicle.

Unless I have the unfortunate timing to come upon a tractor moving a round bale or a wayward tourist enjoying the views of Ashby Gap on a sunny weekday morning, I generally cruise to work each day with nary a tap on the brake pedal.
   
Many of the farms and homes I pass on my commute are well protected, under conservation easements or in jurisdictions allowing limited growth. Horsemen tend to congregate in these areas and other similar locales throughout the country, where land is readily available and preserved for equestrian activities. We’re fortunate that conscientious landowners in our area have taken that important step to protect their land for future generations.
   
I don’t pass many for sale signs on my route, but when one does appear I’ll often check it out online for more details and to see what amenities the farm or home offers. And sometimes when I’m traveling I’ll pick up a local newspaper or real estate magazine to check out the equestrian properties in the area.
   
So, if you’re like me, curious as to what your money may buy in your own or another market, check out the lead article in this week’s inaugural Real Estate Showcase Issue, “Location, Location, Location, Regional Perspective: Finding A Fantastic Farm” (p. 8). Editorial staff member Mollie Bailey spent hours cruising around on the Internet, interviewing realtors and exploring the many types and price points equestrian properties take throughout this vast country.
   
If you’ve considered a move or are thinking about selling your existing equestrian property, Assistant Editor Molly Sorge offers some helpful hints in her article “A Splash Of Paint And Some Elbow Grease Go A Long Way” (p. 20). There’s much you can do to improve the appeal of your property without spending a lot of money. And, in this economic climate, we all know how important it is to save a few dollars.
   
As catastrophic as the real estate slump has been, there may be an upside.

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The Christian Science Monitor reported on Jan. 6 that this just might be the end of the McMansion era. “With housing prices off by 18 percent in 20 U.S. cities in the last year and new home starts at a 26-year low, bulldozers have slowed their march across American cities and towns.”
   
This is good news for horsemen and preservationists, because much of the land lost to foxhunters, eventers and trail riders in the past decade has been paved over by people moving their subdivision lifestyles out to the country in 8,000-square-foot homes on 2- to 5-acre lots. Perhaps this recession will inspire people to reconsider the established neighborhoods closer to their workplaces and leave the country to the “countryfolk.”
   
For us in the horse world, though, our ongoing challenge will always be to save enough land for riding. And while we do have this moment to catch our breath and enjoy the scenery, it’s important not to forget that the loss of open land is the greatest threat to the future of all equestrian sports.
   
Tricia Booker, Editor

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