So, You Want To Buy A Horse Ranch
Maybe you were what they called a “horse girl” in middle school who has finally realized her aspirations. Maybe you’re an old hand at horse property and are looking to add to your holdings. Whoever you are, you find yourself looking for a horse ranch for sale. A luxury ranch is a hefty, complicated investment, so you’re going to want to learn a few things first:
1. How is the property zoned?
Old pros will know exactly what we mean by this question. The problem with your typical horse ranch for sale is that it’s often somewhere in between a residential property and a commercial property. It might have a house, a couple of silos, more than six stalls, a certain amount of acreage, etc., that makes it difficult to categorize by appraisers. Before you do any sort of negotiating, make sure you know darn well how the property is zoned so that you understand what kind of loan you’ll need to apply for in order to swing the financing. You might get a different maximum for a residential loan versus a commercial loan, for example, and this bottom line amount of short term capital is most likely extremely important to your marginal decision making process.
2. What’s the business landscape like in the area?
This is just a fancy way of asking, is the horse ranch for sale you’re looking at in a position to do well? This might depend on what you plan on doing with the ranch in question. Are you going to deal primarily in horses, or are you going to do some farming as well? If the latter, then you’re probably going to want something around the average 435 acreage mark. You should start filling a little notebook with relevant facts, such as which state leads the nation in farmland value (Texas) and which state brings in the most agricultural cash receipts (California). Tax law and the subsidy tradition of your state is also extremely important to your buying decisions, so get a CPA or financial planner involved if you can, preferably one with direct experience managing rural land.
3. What is most important to you about your ranch?
You’re not going to have any luck finding a good horse ranch for sale if you can’t intimately define “good” for yourself. Once you’ve figured out your finances and know vaguely the location you’d like to buy in, make a list of personal priorities for the ranch itself. Are your horses show horses or pleasure animals, for example? If they’re show horses, then you’re going to want to spend the extra money on a washing stall. If your horses are rough riding, hearty animals who’ve had fewer baths than birthdays, well, that’s fine too, and the washing stall is less important. Once you have your list of priorities, try to think of what boarders and visitors are going to want. One way to successfully predict this is to research similar horse ranches in the area that have done well and observe their best practices. Do they give guided tours? Is there a farm-to-table eatery? How many horses do they own? This process will almost certainly force you to make trade-offs, as horse ranches that offer all the pieces and parts start to price people out. So find out what people want most, and eschew what people aren’t so thrilled about.
Most importantly, enjoy this process. It took you a long time to get here, and you deserve to savor the moment.