Apples and Bananas: Shopping for the right horse farm

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Lancaster

 In today’s real estate market, agents frequently compare the merits of one house to another, often in terms of their similar qualities. This is a popular game known as ‘apples to apples’. In this fashion, a buyer is able to focus on the differences during the decision making process. Number of bedrooms, baths, fireplaces, or garage parking, all become factors that can potentially be widdled down to a single ‘deal-breaker’ – and the buyer can let the entire decision rest on “Do I want to pay $X more for this house because it has a Y?”

What about a horse farm? In 2009, I toured 134 farms in Lancaster County with buyers and sellers. Apples to apples, just like their residential counterparts, horse farm shoppers ask “What’s this farm worth?” and “Is this the right farm for me?” . The differences split sharply when you consider what is at the top of their ‘deal breaker’ features list.

Topping everyone’s list is no surprise – Acreage! Give me the land for my horses to run and gallop. Buyers want the most bang for their buck. While townships and boroughs may vary on the horses per acre rules, the state of Pennsylvania clearly recommends at least 2 acres per horse. That’s useable acres folks; if the house and drive take up 2 acres on a 6 acre farmette, then those 2 acres don’t count.

In second place is existing condition of horse pastures. An easy deal breaker is poor fencing or no fencing. Two farms that say “bring your horses” may have similar acreage; however the one with the 4 plank runs, level gates, and maximum pasture coverage gets the gold star. Repairs to older wire fencing can be an even larger deterrent if time to mend includes a tear down. Even a single paddock can allow a horse shopper to say “I’ll put my horse here, while I install the fencing I need.”

The third largest concern when shopping for a horse farm is the condition of the barn. I too ask myself, “What would it take for me to walk my horse in here, today?” In many cases, a good broom will go a long ways towards clearing cobwebs and clearing aisles. At the edge of “bring your horses” are farms where the stalls all need stripped, de-cluttered, floors re-leveled, mats brought in, and fresh bedding. Farm shoppers will walk through and mentally count how many stalls x widgets needed to be removed/installed. Those farm hours add up quick!

After touring your farm, all horse amenities will be surmised – some tours end here. It will simply not suit for the horses, and we need not go further. If it does seem passable for our equine companions, then there is consideration of a house. ‘Is there one?’ Apples to bananas, the homes that follow are the most extreme motley of unlike homes. The needs of the horse come first. Be it a mobile, rancher, or a grand maison, they will not be weighed on the number of baths and beds, so much as, ‘Is there one?’

Food for thought.

Comments (5)

David Obbee - Agoura Hills, CA

Chandra: A very informative post, thank you for sharing.  My dad lives in Virginia and he has a couple horses.  Based on his experience, I would definitely agree with point # 2- He had to make a lot of fence repairs at his latest home, and it wasn't fun!

Feb 25, 2010 01:04 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Great post - gives us good insight on the primary needs(wants) of the horse farm buyer !!!I'm shocked we don't YET have a Horse Lovers GROUP on AR !!! Also I'm going to send you a group invite for Chester Co.(Unionville ). You might want to hit the edit button, add the group and resubmit the article. Great work !!!!!!!!

Mar 02, 2010 10:34 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Chandra , great job in setting up the new AR Group - Equestrian Property Specialists !!!!! Do a blog post announcing the Group to AR and attach it to geographical groups also !!! WTG !!!!!!

Mar 06, 2010 12:58 AM
Brigita McKelvie, Associate Broker
Cindy Stys Equestrian and Country Properties, Ltd. - Lehigh Valley, PA
The Broker with horse sense and no horsing around


This is a great post and it says it all.  I am re-blogging this one. 


Mar 06, 2010 01:23 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Hi, Chandra

   We invite you back to ActiveRain in the year 2017!

Jul 30, 2017 07:16 PM