Facilities or Fundamentals? What are the Top Things to Consider When Buying Horse Property in Sonoma County?

Facilities or Fundamentals? What are the Top Things to Consider When Buying Horse Property in Sonoma County?

Roses line the path to this Sonoma County barn

In my post earlier today I talked about the two factors driving most horse property buyers I have met in Sonoma County. I related my own experience buying my own horse property here, and I pointed out a new listing yesterday that fit the bill on both accounts:  dialed in facilities well thought out from a horse-owner (and of course HORSE) viewpoint, plus beautiful wine country bonuses–panoramic views, one of the most popular Sebastopol locations, and a good southerly route for San Francisco Bay Area commuters.
This has sparked some conversations with other horse property clients and friends of mine.  I just spoke with one who said that her thinking evolved as she searched for property. In the beginning she thought it was about finding the right set of horse improvements, such as barn, fencing and arena.  Over time (and working with me I might add), her thinking evolved.  She began to realize that location, setting, proper soils and drainage were all paramount, not to mention adequate space for her horses.   Those were non-negotiable.  Facilities she could add.  And she has!
The further advantage of putting in your own facilities is that you can design them as you wish, for your horses’ needs.  No need to adapt to someone else’s vision.  Plus horse improvements depreciate rapidly, so the condition of the improvements should be carefully evnaluated. I have seen lots of properties advertised as having arenas which are nothing more than a rectangular fenced area. I have seen covered arenas advertised that had no footing.   Horse fencing advertised that is not safe for horses, etc.
As we further talked though we discussed some cases in which buying existing improvement can make sense. Obviously if they are in great shape and match your needs, then it is cheaper to buy them already installed.  Something which can cost several hundred thousand dollars such as a covered or indoor arena loses that value once installed and a seller will rarely recoup it these days, so you might as a buyer have a good opportunity to get a very nice arena at a good savings.
So you can make a case in either direction.  One thing to consider in buying (or selling!) a horse property is that it makes sense to work with a realtor who knows horses and horse property so you can fully explore these issues and they will understand your needs and concerns.  It will save you time, money and aggravation in the long run, and bring you that much closer to realizing your dream of a horse property in the wine country!

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