It’s been a long time since I was focused on buying horses. Right now, I’m anxiously awaiting the vet check on a colt Blake (my real estate partner) and I are hoping to buy for next year’s NRHA futurity. At the same time, I am packing to fly to Fort Worth to look at colts with my husband, Lee, for next year’s NRCHA futurity. Suddenly, it struck me how similar the process is for horse and house purchases. The following is a list of the ways shopping for horses and houses are the same.
Professional Representation: Even though I was a horse trainer for over 15 years, we are using our trainers to direct us through the process on both purchases we are hoping to make. We obviously have preferences, but current trends and nuances are what the professionals are paid to know, along with their professional opinion on the future potential and longevity of the youngsters. As a Realtor, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of working with a trusted Realtor. Equine and real estate professionals alike require industry specific knowledge and relationships with other professionals, and both offer guidance and assistance in decision making.
Preparation: In this unique, rapid marketplace, it’s crucial to have a solid game plan before starting to shop for either a horse or a house. A good professional will make sure the process is well understood, but I don’t suggest shopping until there is a solid budget, a needs/wants list, and a plan for transitioning with either a horse or house. Without these things the process can be clunky and inefficient, and ultimately less successful than it could be.
Shopping: The last few years have seen highly competitive market conditions in both the real estate and equine industries. Prices are at an all-time high, and there is an abundance of buyers. This can put pressure on buyers to make decisions quickly when the right horse or house presents itself. Where real estate is usually offered for sale on a local Multiple Listing Service, lack of inventory has caused Realtors to seek out potential sellers who are not actively offering to sell their properties. In the performance horse industry, many sales happen at or around some of the larger year-end horse shows, either through an associated horse sale, or privately sold in the barns.
Both industries offer ample opportunity to flip through houses and horses online. Technology has had a positive impact on these industries, allowing buyers to gather information and start the process from the comfort of their home. I have watched many horse sale videos in preparation for attending the upcoming sale. This has allowed me to narrow the potential horses, saving me time when I get to the sale.
Budget: Many buyers are experiencing sticker shock in both industries. I know I sure am, but I also know that it’s all relative to the rest of the market. Just like houses, not all horses are created equal. Bloodlines, performance of parents, conformation, disposition, and athletic ability are just a few of the factors that impact sale price. But unlike buying houses, there is not typically an appraisal or financing on a horse to protect a buyer from overspending.
When buying a home, the buyer is usually considering a purchase price based on down payment and monthly payments against their income, and a lender will help determine a tops sales price using the buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. Performance horse purchases are often the same. Purchase price is like the down payment; training, maintenance, and insurance compare to monthly payments. Can these long-term expenses be supported as well?
Inspection Periods and Pre-Purchase Exams: There has been an increasing trend in both industries to provide pre-inspections. With such fast markets, it’s helpful to have information such as a home inspection, or radiographs and a vet exam available to buyers to review prior to making an offer or a purchase. It cuts down on the wait time and provides more information for the buyer trying to decide quickly. In both cases it is important that the inspections were recently completed, and that any imperfections revealed are acceptable to the buyer.
X-factor: When purchasing a property or a horse, there’s an emotional component to the decision. Buyers often say their decision was made the moment they stepped onto a property and it just felt like home. For some of the best horses I’ve owned, I just knew when I saw them standing in a stall or the first time I threw a leg over them. It just felt right.
Even though there can be budget constraints, don’t be afraid to wait until the right property or horse presents itself. These are big purchases and for most people, close to the heart.
I know the process can be overwhelming, but with proper planning and the right professional, buying horses and houses can be extremely rewarding!
Allison Trimble is a Realtor® specializing in equestrian properties, farm and ranch properties, and residential real estate. As a former horse trainer, and a current owner, breeder and non-pro competitor in cow horse and reining events, she combines her experience in the horse industry with her lifelong real estate expertise to guide her clients through the real estate process.
Learn more at www.coastalrealtywa.com