Purchasing A Horse Property Can Be An Exciting Time

Purchasing A Horse Property Can Be An Exciting Time

Purchasing a horse property can be an exciting time.  It is something all horse lovers dream of – having a ranch of their own, with their beloved equines right outside their back door. Whether you are bringing your horses home for the first time from the boarding stables, or you have had your horses at home and are simply relocating, you probably already have an idea of what you are looking for in a horse property.  There are many factors to consider, as you are not only trying to find your next home, but also the perfect living space for your four legged friends.   

Location, Location, Location

 Location is key, as the saying goes, and it rings true for horse property. But what really makes for a “prime location”? As horse properties go, the perfect location must be based upon several criteria. First, one must look at the current and future needs of the humans and animals who will reside on the property.  If you have children, it is a good idea to check out the schools, parks, and other activities in the area. Also, consider how close the property will be to work, schools, and important amenities such as grocery stores and other shopping, feed and pet supply stores, and entertainment.   The proximity to horse-related activities, such as shows, riding clubs, and recreational trails may also be available in the area is also something to look into before committing to a property. 

It is also important to think about how the location of the property will affect you and your loved ones in an emergency situation. As all equestrians know, with horses come injuries – both equine and human, and sometimes other animals. Given that fact, it is important to determine the proximity of the local hospital emergency room, equine veterinarian, small animal veterinarian, and farrier to the property you are considering. Look at the routes to the property, and consider how quickly you could evacuate your family and animals in the event of a catastrophe.

Geographical features of the area should also have some bearing upon choosing a property which will be most practical and cost-effective in the long-term. Many geographical features can make or break a horse property, with water flow and the resulting drainage and erosion issues being at the top of the list. Many people who currently own horse property will tell you that it is best to visit a potential property during or shortly after a rain storm to observe the behavior of the water.  You can also look at potential properties on Google Earth to try to determine water flow and erosion patterns, and also find out about other geographical features surrounding your prospective new home. 

Additional geographical features that should be taken into consideration include learning about the common poisonous plants, trees, snakes, and insects that may affect your animals, as well as what other wildlife may be found in the area. Identifying and eradicating toxic plants in the areas your horses will frequent is the first step toward providing a safe environment for them. Learning about the wildlife and the potential hazards they pose can help you formulate a plan to protect your horses from dangerous diseases such as rabies, and equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM).

Home, Sweet Home
The house should certainly be a major deciding factor in whether you make an offer or not.  Unless you have plenty of excess funds designated to property improvements, the last thing you want to do is buy a mediocre house that has stellar horse facilities, as you may eventually find yourself spending money fixing the house instead of funding your next horse show or paying off that last vet bill. Be sure to have all of the structures on the property inspected by a licensed home inspector, including any sheds, barns, and other outbuildings. Some homes in the country were built by individuals who may not have been licensed contractors, and you may not be able to see what hazards lay beneath the sheetrock. The inspector may also notice buildings that are too close to a setback or easement, which future owners can be held responsible for even if they did not build the structures in question.  Ask your agent to obtain a full property profile from the title company, and request a color-coded map showing setbacks and easements.

If the property is on a septic system, have it pumped and fully inspected, including testing the leech lines. Most rural properties are on a well, and it is advisable to have the well tested for water quality and gallons per minute (GPM) output. This is particularly important if you are using the well water to irrigate landscaping and pasture. You can visit your local water district to find out about your water rights, and it is recommended to have a perk test done as well.

Some homes with horse property are located within communities that have a home owner’s association (HOA), and thus there may be specific requirements for how you maintain your property. It is essential to find out about these requirements prior to moving in, as HOA rules generally tend to be more stringent than local zoning regulations or laws. It is equally important to be aware of the zoning restrictions for the property you may be considering, and pay particularly close heed to the maximum number of horses allowed per acre. 

It is also a wise decision to take some time to check out your potential neighbors to get an idea of what it might be like to live near them. If you see that many of them own livestock or horses themselves, you might be looking at good neighbors!  Some potential red flags may include dirt bike tracks, shooting targets, or unkempt animals which may be harboring disease or parasites. Look at the condition of any common fence lines shared with neighbors for signs of poor maintenance or other things which could prove hazardous for your horses, such as toxic plants allowed to grow over into grazing areas.  Shared fences should be a shared responsibility, and signs of disrepair may be an indication that fence maintenance may be left to you as the new home owner. This can be costly, particularly if the neighbor owns animals with destructive vices.

The Facilities
Minimum requirements by humane standards mandate that horses have access to adequate shelter from the elements, food, and clean water. By these standards, it is perfectly acceptable to purchase a horse property which merely has an enclosed paddock with a three-sided shelter with a roof. Of course, most horse people want more in a horse property than just the bare minimum, and safety and proper containment methods are also important.  Any future plans for the use of the property and what those plans entail in terms of facility requirements should all be taken into account.  You should ensure that you have adequate space to accommodate the number of horses you plan to have on the property, and the ability to properly dispose of manure.

It can be easy to overlook the maintenance costs of owning a large piece of property, particularly if you have never owned acreage before.  If there is a lot of landscaping on the property, you will either have to maintain it yourself, or hire a gardening service to do it for you.  Then, of course, there is the maintenance of the horse facilities. If the property you purchase has primarily wooden fencing, you can expect to spend a fair amount each year on fencing repairs and maintenance, especially if you have any horses that like to chew wood in their spare time. The same goes for wooden barns, shelters, and any sheds the horses may have access to.

In addition to having safe and secure facilities for your horses, it is also a good idea to have a secure place to store equipment such as tractors and tack, as well as a clean, dry area to store feed where it will be safe from vermin such as mice and insects. Many barns choose to have locking doors on these facilities to deter the theft of valuable tack, and now sadly feed supplies as well, in some areas. Locking doors may be particularly valuable to those seeking to run a boarding, training stable or riding school, or any other type of facility which may be accessible to the public.

Work with the Pros
Having a realtor who specializes in horse properties is probably the most important tool you can have in your repertoire. Finding an agent you can rely upon to understand the specific needs a horse owner will have can mean the difference between finding a property you love and settling for less than you’d hoped for.  There is nothing more frustrating to horse owners than being shown properties with “a beautiful barn” that turns out to be a 30 x 30 metal workshop full of junk in which the old owner kept a downtrodden pony for a few years.

Finding the right lender is equally important, due to the fact that in some areas, the size of the property may have an effect on what type of loan you can get.  It is best to find a lender who has years of experience in the industry and is familiar with all different types of financing programs which are available at the time you start looking for your new home.  Your lender can also help you identify your spending limits so you know how much property you can afford. It is a good idea to have money set aside after closing for any unforeseen expenses that may arise after you move in.

After you have found your dream property, be sure to set up an appointment with your insurance agent to go over the changes you will need to make to your coverage after closing. Horses are considered livestock, and are excluded from a typical homeowner’s policy, and barns also have to be scheduled in as they are not appurtenant structures. If you plan on running an equine business on your new property, it is important for your insurance agent to be knowledgeable enough to set up a commercial package such as a Farm Owner’s or special multi-perils policy, including worker’s comp insurance to keep your facility from being shut down for inadequate insurance.
There is a lot to consider when you begin looking for a horse property to purchase, but think of how rewarding it will be to step through your back door and see your equine friends looking back at you!

To help you find a perfect property for your horses you can use these quick links for the counties listed. You can also use the “options” tab when using the search box on homeboom.com

Placer County Horse Property Search

El Dorado County Horse Property Search

Sacramento County Horse Property Search
Yolo County Horse Property Search

Renée Hunt, Guest Blogger

Sean Safholm BRE#01270334 Headshot
Phone: 916-920-7000
Dated: June 19th 2014
Views: 582
About Sean: Sean Safholm started his career in real estate in 1999 when he was going to college to study real es...

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