Here’s What the Experts Recommend
When Susan Kahn first settled in “Horse Country,” the last thing on her mind was owning a horse farm. But, it didn’t take long for her to get the bug. Now she’s the owner of Sugar Knoll Farm, an 80-acre horse farm with five brood mares and a miniature teaser pony. Susan claims she didn’t know much at the beginning but has learned a lot along the way, especially after watching other horse farms go under.
“It’s a difficult business to begin with,” Susan said. “Many things have made it harder, besides the economy. You need to have a plan, just like any other business. You need to find out about the horse market. And, you need top advisers. Learn everything you can, follow sales, and speak to sales agents and people in the business.”
Ocala Attorney Fred Roberts Jr., general counsel for Roberts Real Estate, says location is the key factor in the Ocala/Marion County area of Central Florida.
“Pricing is certainly a factor, in many respects,” says Roberts. “For example, farms with specific features in and around the HITS area can be highly competitive and priced accordingly. Meanwhile, properties in more remote locations, or in areas not historically known as active equine areas, can be more cost effective and still provide the tremendous advantages that Ocala and Marion County can offer to horsemen and property owners.”
Jennifer Goddard, president of Massachusetts-based Equine Business Solutions, recommends the following pre-purchase homework.
Check the zoning and mortgaging capability. If there is a residence on the property but the farm would be used for breeding or boarding, it’s not qualified for a typical residential mortgage. Conversely, if the property has too many acres or the barn has too many stalls, it may be disqualified by residential mortgage lenders, Goddard says.
Decide in advance if you want horses for pleasure or for show. For example, will you need a wash stall? How about a show barn, a turnout, or an exercise pen? Do you need extra stalls for boarding? Don’t waste your time viewing properties that don’t have your “must haves,” says Goddard.
Talk to other horse owners in the same target market. Know your potential customers. Consider doing some market research and add that data to your initial business plan.
Evaluate your financial situation. Banks are going to want a good credit history before sinking that much money into such a large piece of real estate. Just like in any mortgage transaction, find out what costs to expect at closing. Make a list of all expenses you will incur after the purchase, such as electricity, feed, and bedding materials.
Francis Vanlangendonck, bloodstock agent and co-owner of Summerfield Sales with his wife, Barbara, offers these tips:
- Don’t overbuy. “If you’re going to have a couple horses, you don’t need more than 15 or 20 acres,” says Francis.
- Consider the emotional cost. After you’re the owner of a horse farm for a couple of years, you’ll find it’s a seven-day commitment. You don’t want it to be something that’s taken over your life so you can’t go somewhere unless you line up somebody to feed your animals.
- Be realistic. Be sure it’s something you can enjoy down the road. “You’ll have to keep it to a size you can handle,” Francis says. “If you have a lot of money, it’s easy to go and buy a hundred-acre farm, but you could end up paying for more people and equipment to keep it up.”
- Check out local services. You’ll want to settle in the proximity of a good vet clinic and blacksmith, says Francis. “You don’t want to get too far out of the Ocala area, and then start losing that availability.”
Buying or selling a horse farm in Ocala, Florida? Roberts Real Estate specializes in personal service backed by a deep knowledge of the local community. We have professional, knowledgeable, and dedicated agents who specialize in horse farms. Call (352) 351-0011 to speak with one of our agents today.