Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Regional Perspective: Finding A Fantastic Farm

While sales of equestrian properties have slowed across the country, changes in local markets mean savvy shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for.

Despite the ongoing barrage of negative news from the residential sector, the story for those looking for a home for their horses isn’t quite as straightforward.

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While sales of equestrian properties have slowed across the country, changes in local markets mean savvy shoppers can find exactly what they’re looking for.

Despite the ongoing barrage of negative news from the residential sector, the story for those looking for a home for their horses isn’t quite as straightforward.

Horsemen continue to place a premium on factors like the open space, quality land, proximity to training facilities and a strong network of equestrian professionals, and properties with these amenities continue to hold their value.

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Click here to view the full version of this article and a comparison of equine properties across the country.

While sales of farms have slowed across the board (and ground to a halt in some areas like Southern California and Virginia after inflated values there collapsed), the outlook in other regions remains bright.
   
“I think it’s a remarkable time for buyers to find terrific properties at great prices,” said Ruth Kennedy Suddoth of LandVest, based in New England. “With horse properties, it comes down to the buyer’s perspective of value and a seller’s perspective that the buyer is being fair and reasonable.”
   
Dismal financial news has prompted those looking to buy to scour the market for great deals, but their availability varies widely by region and by price point.

According to Carla Lord of Homes To Ranches, while there are plenty of good farms available at good prices in Ocala, Fla., the nightly news reports have created unrealistic expectations for many bargain hunters.
   
“People are hearing on the news that Florida is a declining market, but Ocala is a separate entity than Fort Lauderdale,” she explained. “We’re not seeing many foreclosures on farms. People come in from out of state thinking they’re going to buy at $.50 on the dollar, and they can’t do it.”
   
And while the volume of sales has fallen as much as 50 percent in traditional horse havens like Lexington, Ky., Ocala, Fla., and Tryon, N.C., farm prices haven’t, as potential sellers opt to wait out the slump.
   
“If you look at the number of sales, they’re down in 2008 versus 2007, and lower in 2007 than they were in 2006 when we were at the height,” said Hill Parker of Turf Town Properties in Lexington, Ky. “Amazingly, our average farm price is actually up. We didn’t have the same huge run-up in prices like they did in Maryland, Virginia and California. Our market’s been steadier.”
   
But steady prices in long-time equestrian strongholds have some customers looking to newer locations. Realtors in less-traditionally horsey areas such as Maine and Northern California report that their farm sales have held strong as collapsing markets in nearby areas drive buyers their way. Dutch Wiermeyer of Keller Williams Realty said that difficulties in areas like Arizona, Southern California and Canada have helped keep farm sales in the Dallas, Texas, area strong.
       
“We’re a big relocation market, and we’ve traditionally been internationally known for Western horses,” said Wiermeyer. “We’re starting to see a lot more warmbloods, Arabs and English riders coming in. It’s ideal because of the prices and sandy loam soil, plus there’s already a tremendous line of farriers, vets and suppliers for them.”
   
With so many changes afoot, we asked equestrian realtors nationwide to select their favorite properties currently for sale to give savvy shoppers a better idea of what to expect when they start hunting for their horse’s next home.

Mollie Bailey

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