Four-Legged Checklist for Successful Horse Farm Buyers in North Carolina
You’ve finally done it. You’ve decided to trade in your high heels or wing tips for muck boots and four-wheelers in pursuit of buying your long-time dream horse farm. You kinda know what you want, but finding the best place to start is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. The process of deciding on a winning solution for your horse farm real estate will stand on the following four essential legs.
1) Make a list of your TRUE needs, then your Four-Legged Checklist for Successful Horse Farm Buyers in North Carolina wants, and then nice-to-haves. Write them down and label them this way. There are many things to consider when investing in any horse farm, and any one of them could become a roadblock to happiness if not objectively measured against your reality. Some amenities you’d like to have for your home, like a pool or four-car garage, just aren’t likely to be standard with most horse farms. On the other hand, some horse barns are better heated and cooled than their accompanying human residences. It’s pretty nice that a riding rink is a quick walk from your front door, but do you really want it in your front yard? Amenities can span a pretty wide continuum, so create your list of must-haves if you and your horses will be living together on the same property.
2) Truly understand what you can – or are willing to – afford. Are you considering a 1031 Exchange? Consider researching all your tax implications first through consultation with a tax professional. Are you trying to secure a mortgage for what will become your personal residential property? Many horse farms, due to size, municipal zoning, or number of boarders often catapult your deal out of the bounds of routine mortgage lending. (See North Carolina’s Ag site regarding tax and other pertinent information.) Is this your retirement business? Consult many of the resources available for creating a realistic business plan for a horse farm, including all the tertiary expenses like general liability insurance, future facility needs, on-going maintenance – and that’s just for the horses. Knowing exactly what you’re able to pay without angst creates consistency in your search criteria, making it easier for you to find the right property for you.
3) Start looking for the ZIP Code. People who move to North Carolina may wish to move here in order for their spouse to continue pursuing a profession or career which may dictate that all-important location-location-location decision. Others may have a great deal more flexibility, but knowing where you need to pin the center of your own map is vital in choosing a property with which you and your horses will be happy. Because North Carolina has such a beautiful variation in its topography, it is entirely possible to have both a beach house with a view and a horse farm at the same time. Maybe your cup of tea in a horse farm is more of a mountain-top experience, another viable choice North Carolina can offer. Get busy looking at maps online. One of the greatest resources with insider information will be your professional real estate broker. Look for someone who lives in the general area you’re considering, has sold many similar properties to one you’re seeking, such Gardner Reynolds of Fonville Morisey.
4) Begin with the end in mind. Estate planning takes a pivotal turn when you purchase a property that is your retirement dream or your bread-winning business. With the painful-but-slow recovery of the farm and land real estate market, values that look like they will increase significantly during the time you own your farm will affect how you plan your transfer of assets to heirs. Whatever property you choose, consider the long-term effects such an investment will have on your estate plans. Consult a family business counselor, such as Jim Lea in Raleigh, and a trusted estate planner, such as Hervey & Hervey in Cary.
When it comes to equestrian real estate selection, buyers are a breed all our own. Analyzing carefully your options when contemplating buying your horse farm will stand you in good stead among any type of investor. Remember to list your needs/wants/interests, count the costs, find a narrowed down list of ZIP codes or counties to consider, and don’t forget the legacy you’ll be creating with your investment. With this four-legged checklist to guide you, your decision will make plenty of horse sense.
—Beth Reynolds, Legacy Farms and Ranches of North Carolina is a writer and marketing consultant, writing articles that cover a variety of subjects. This article originally appeared Carolina Hoofbeats magazine.