Equestrian Property can vary from the specialist racing stables as seen around Newmarket, to more general equestrian property with stable ménage and riding facilities such as a covered exercise yard to a simple property with stables and land.
All require varying degrees of experience and skill in survey and valuation.
Carpenter have valued many and varied specialist properties such as racing stables and the value depends on location and the type of facilities, with many of the older yards now not ideal for the current racing scene.
Less specialist equestrian property has always had a wide appeal, although the recent recession has had a significant effect with fewer pony and horse owners reflected in decreased demand. This may change as the economic outlook changes. However, there is still a demand for equestrian property with the facilities and development potential being key factors driving value.
An understanding of this market and the many factors that can affect it is essential to providing accurate valuations.
Buying an Equestrian Property?
Whether buying your first dream property or downsizing there are a number of key requirements that you need to be aware of. When buying an equestrian property, it’s important to choose a property that will best fit the needs of both your family and your horses (maybe their one and the same!)
Whether you’re looking to make you’re first ever venture into the world of equestrian property ownership, looking for equestrian properties for sale to meet the needs of a growing stable, or have even made the decision to downsize, consider these key factors before making your final decision to buy.
You should consider factors such as transport links if you travel regularly with your horses for shows or competitions, local veterinary practices and bridle paths. If you’re planning to run a business from your equestrian property, you should also consider any planning issues and if there is a pool of potential clients and adequate accessibility at your chosen location.
Like everything in life…If you want to be close to a racing or eventing hub, you will pay a premium for acreage. Prices in Cheltenham, for example, will reflect the proximity to the annual festival and races. By looking slightly further afield, you are likely to get more land for your money and you can make cost-efficient decisions regarding how you choose to use the land – for example, growing your own crops and cutting your own hay.
What’s so special about many horse owners is that when they are looking to move their stable, they often, in fact pretty well most of the time, put the needs of the horses first and work around them. But it’s worth remembering, that if you’re buying an older property, make sure you understand whether any elements of it are listed. A listed outbuilding, for example, cannot be knocked down, which should be taken into account when considering the layout of your yard.
Ideally, you should aim for around two acres for each horse you plan to keep, with a minimum of around an acre. You also need to consider if you plan to rotate paddocks to prevent overgrazing. When viewing properties, consider factors such as the availability of shade and shelter in paddock areas. A paddock should be top of the priority list for a homeowner with horses. Paddocks give the horses the chance to graze and have a run around. Well-exercised horses are happier horses!
Make sure the property is located in an area with easy access to other suitable areas for the horses to exercise – local farmland for example. It’s always a good idea to initiate good relations with local farmers who will allow access to their land for this reason. You never know, you may be able to twist their arm into selling up some of their land to facilitate further growth of your own stable over the longer term.
It will sound strange to suggest this, but whilst the type of soil in a particular area may not be a deciding factor when deciding which equestrian property for sale is right for you, if you have the choice, please remember that free-draining land will make maintenance easier during colder months and make the ground safer for your horses. Sandy soils can lead to colic and heavy clay soils can be problematic. An area with bad drainage will be more expensive to run in the longer-term.
It’s also important to check the land for lime. Swab the topsoil to understand the composition of the soil – this will make a difference in the way the horses train on the land as well as how the mare and the foal feed on the land
Soils can be quite complex, have the grazing fields soil sample tested to ascertain the balance between the mineral content and micro-organisms. Remember…..Healthy soil = healthy grass = healthy horses!
Consider the security on offer at your chosen property or the potential and cost of bringing safety aspects up to scratch. You will need to ensure that your storage and tack rooms are properly secure in order to meet most insurers’ specifications, and you might want to consider the presence or installation of security lighting and CCTV.
Utilities and Facilities
Consider the stabling space and the availability of a workable tack room. Storage space is another essential consideration, along with factors such as the availability of electricity, ventilation and running hot and cold water. Of course, some equestrian properties will not necessarily offer every facility that you require in their current state, but it is important to consider the practicalities and cost of any changes you may wish to make in the future. Check the quality of the stables. Stables will also require good drainage but most importantly, make sure they are in good stead as they will undergo a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis.
High on the wish list of professional buyers will be a property that will provide not just a home, but also the premises from which to run their growing stable and business providing the opportunity to expand over time. It is therefore important to look at the property with planning potential in mind because difficulties with local planning departments could easily rule the property out. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the land itself may require planning permission for change of use to equestrian if it has not been used to keep horses in the past. This is different to land that is presently designated for agricultural use and often causes severe difficulties for the unwary.
Finally, there is no particular time of year that good equestrian properties may come to the market. Do your homework and narrow down an area to suit your requirements and your budget so that you can act quickly if one does. If it is good, it will not be for sale for long!
Of course this is only a brief introduction into this specialist area, but if you’re on the search for an equestrian property, or maybe you’ve found that perfect fit but need some pre-acquisition survey and valuation advice….or just perhaps looking for some impartial no obligation advice, then please do feel free to get in touch.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is a professional body that accredits professionals within the land, property, construction, and infrastructure sectors worldwide.