Appraising Horse Property

Reblogger Lenn Harley
Real Estate Agent with Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate 303829;0225082372


While the property featured in the photo below is clearly
"horse property", many in my area may
or horse properties may not be.

In the outer counties, surely the properties with acreage (over 10), fencing, barns, paddocks, stables, etc. are clearly horse properties, we hava a number of smaller lot properties on which horses may be kept that attract many 1 horse owner buyers. 

Three acres is all required in Loudoun County is 3 acres.  Of course, community covenants may restrict further, but for buyers seeking horse friendly property in Loudoun County, agents MUST perform due diligence on the horse matter for buyers.

Courtesy, Lenn Harlcy, Broker,, 800-711-7988, serving home buyers in Loudoun County VA.


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Original content by Beth Good Realtor 01833600

Appraising Horse Property




How is a horse property different from any other residential property?


In most ways, horse properties are similar to any other residential property. All the same theories and techniques still apply in your valuation. They differ in how the importance of being allowed to have horses plays out in the appraisal process. Buyers and Sellers in this market care more about the number of horses that can legally reside on the premises than anything else about the property.


The selection of the comparables often cross the boundaries and guidelines set forth by financial institutions. It is important to have comparables that are or can be horse properties. To satisfy this guideline the appraiser might have to step outside the typical financial guidelines. Perhaps they need to use comparables that have different house styles, took place further back in time, are outside distance preferences, or even in a different school district.


How can we do this, step outside typical financial institution guidelines and still appraise a horse property for its fair market value?


We need to utilize sales that meet the financial institution’s guidelines and sales that give us a true picture of the value of the property we are appraising. Most of the time this will translate into using more comparables. Horse properties are harder to appraise, take more time and effort, and should compensate the appraiser better than typical residential appraisals. Good luck with that.


So, you’ve inspected the property, checked the zoning and building codes to see if all the improvements and number of horses is legal, and pulled comparables. Townships have different regulations as to the number of horses and the type of horse related improvements that would be allowed. You need to know what these are so you can find comparables that are similar to your subject property.


Although it would be tempting to value the contribution of the farm type improvements to the value of the whole, by depreciated cost, it could under estimate the actual contribution. Often existing farm buildings predate ordinances and add more value than just the depreciated cost new. The number of horses allowed on a property may be "grand-fathered" into the deed. If this property were to be without horses for a period of time that grandfather clause may disappear.


What are the considerations when making adjustments that may be outside the normal process?


Location adjustments are a function of how far you are from riding trails, are you off a main roadway, do you have to cross a busy street to get to the park, and are the neighbors horse people. If you have to cross a main highway- to get to the park, it is not a good comparable for your property.


Having horses in a horse dominant neighborhood is like living in a golf community to golfers. The social life surrounding a common interest alone draws perspective residents. These people don’t need good neighbors to watch the kids for them, they need a supportive community to help care for each others horses. If you needed to step outside the subject’s school district, you can but will probably want to adjust for a difference.


Small increments in lot size have a big effect on value if it makes a difference to how many horses are allowed. So an adjustment for lot size would consider the number of horses allowed, more than just the amount of square footage. How do you decide the size of the adjustment? You need to be very experienced in horse properties or do a lot of research and analysis to determine this.


Once I’m sure my comparables are similar to the subject, how can I make adjustments for the farm type improvements?


Then it would be acceptable to apply depreciated cost new or the same type of adjustments you would apply to a detached garage or permanent shed or structure of similar building materials.


Land improvements will also play a role in your adjustment process. It is desirable in the barn area to have a level topography, and good drainage. Riding arenas should be level, soft yet supportive, and drain well. Trees carefully placed and spaced can add desired shade but in abundance can detract from the desired use, and become a favored chew toy to the horses. Some foliage and trees are actually poisonous to horses. Fencing is important. Placing a value on the fencing is tricky. I would not give credit for fencing that isn’t in good condition. Proper sturdy fencing in good condition adds quite a lot of value to a horse property.


Keep in mind the most important feature in a horse property is the number of horses allowed. Find similar comparables and then make adjustments similar to the ones you would make in that particular market for a typical residential property. Don’t forget to explain why you utilized any comparables that are outside the desired guidelines of your financial institution.


Janine Campeau Ewald

NYS Certified General

Real Estate Appraiser


Click Here to read the original post.


Beth Good
PO Box 891568
Temecula, CA  92589 
cell: 951-251-5263
DRE: 01833600



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Bob Ratliff
Robert Ratliff Realty - San Antonio, TX
"Sold with Bob"

Hello Lenn, your head line caught my attention since I'm a horse lover and grew up living on horse back every chance I could. I'm not around horses much anymore and sure miss the lifestyle.

Thanks for the re-blog of Beth Good... I'll jump over and comment on her's next.

Feb 10, 2013 05:30 AM #1
Conrad Allen
Re/Max Professional Associates - Webster, MA
Webster, Ma, Realtor

Hi Lenn.  It is still comparing apples to apples.  In this case similar horse apples.

Feb 10, 2013 05:44 AM #2
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Bob.  Folks with horses in their life never really get over the wonderful experience.  Beth's post is wonderful.

Conrad.  Horses love apples.

Feb 10, 2013 05:49 AM #3
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Lenn this goes to show how things differ in different parts of the country.  We have horse properties here in Connecticut, but it is hard to get comps, and anything over 10 acres becomes tough to get a loan on. 

Feb 10, 2013 08:55 AM #4
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