Finding Your Dream Home

What to Expect When Shopping for a Horse Property

by Allison Trimble


Karen’s dream property would feature a Barn Pros style home. The company offers many beautiful and functional living options for both horses and people. Pictured here is the Denali apartment barn (barnpros.com).

The two things I enjoy most about being a horse trainer are the focus on relationships and problem solving. It is no surprise that these are also two of my favorite things about real estate. As a real estate broker, I am helping people make huge life decisions. This process, while rewarding, rarely moves forward without some bumps in the road.

Horse property sales and purchases often pose additional challenges because of the variety of considerations set against current market conditions. It is very rarely as simple as meeting all the client’s needs, within budget, in a timely manner. My job is to facilitate and guide clients through the process and I have been fortunate to help my longtime friend, client and owner of the NW Horse Source, Karen Pickering with her life changes. True to form, there are many factors to consider with selling her current property and buying a new one.

At this point in the process we have discussed budget, market conditions both for selling current property and buying a new location and we have looked at a number of both residential and vacant land listings. One of the difficulties is making the decision between buying an existing property, or buying raw land and building (see buying vs. building article in the January 2016 issue.) I thought it would be helpful to share with you Karen’s thoughts on the journey so far.


What is your history at your current property?

We purchased a little over 6 acres from my parents in 1985. It was raw land so we brought in all the services and moved in a manufactured home. There was an existing barn and we eventually built a 3 car garage. This past year we’ve done quite a few improvements including secure fencing, dog run, horse shelters and removal of dangerous trees.


List your top 3 priorities in a new property.

  1. 10 acres (min 5 acres)
  2. High speed internet
  3. Suitable for horses


What has surprised you most about the process?

How quickly things sell. If you find the property you want to be ready to buy it. There are very few horse properties out there so when a place becomes available it goes quick.


Is there anything you thought you understood, but found was different once you got into the process?

Financing. I was sure I would qualify for more of a bank loan given that our current property is nearly paid off and we have a great credit score. Self-employment can pose some unexpected hurdles. It is very important to have financing figured out ahead of time. It’s difficult to own property and have to depend on selling it to get cash to buy something else, particularly in a fast market.


What do you see as the top advantages to both buying and building?

Buying something built: I can move in right away, no delays.

Building: Get it exactly how I want. My biggest challenge is making the decision, and there is so much to consider.


What is your biggest fear in the process?

That things will cost more than planned.


If everything worked out perfectly, what would your dream property look like in 5 years?

That’s easy! A circular driveway with covered parking for trailers, tractors and equipment; boundary “no-climb” fencing with cross fencing; a small farm plan completed by WCD; O2 composting system; outdoor riding arena and a round pen. I’d love a Barn Pros type building for horses with runs off the stalls and living quarters above the barn with office space on lower level. Also, low maintenance landscaping and a location somewhat close to Bellingham.


Anything else you think is important for our readers to know?

A good real estate agent is a must. They need to be knowledgeable, ambitious and have your best interest at heart. You will be spending a lot of time with them. Honestly, I cannot image going through this process with a realtor that does not understand the needs of a horse person. Lastly, be patient and wait for the right piece of property. There will always be new listings!


Stay tuned for updates on Karen’s journey.

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