In my opinion winter is the best time to buy horse property in Western Washington. Believe me, I hate trudging through mud and wet pastures during the cold winter as much as the next guy, but there are so many reasons that it makes the most sense to buy this time of year that ultimately the discomfort is worth it. Following are the reasons why, so gear up and get out there!
Sellers are more negotiable. In all my years of selling real estate I find that most people that have property on the market during the holidays and winter months have to sell. No one wants to be inconvenienced with showing their property and keeping it clean during the holidays, and historically prices are seasonally the lowest from November through February. Plus, property that has lingered on the market through the summer and fall is probably priced too high. By the end of the year with the holidays bearing down, sellers are usually frustrated and more likely to sell at a much lower price than they might have in the spring and summer. Winter is bargain hunting time!
Is the drainage around barns, arenas, and pastures sufficient? Winter rain brings the perfect opportunity to discover just how good the drainage is surrounding barns, arenas, and pastures. Horses standing knee deep in mud in their runs equals little to no drainage. It's bad for horses and bad for you as a buyer.
Consider the roads leading to the property. I've seen lots of properties on poorly maintained dirt or gravel roads that are lined by trees. Wind and rain are constant issues in Washington State so be sure that you can get a truck and trailer in and out during a storm and that emergency vehicles can get to you. Otherwise, tree fall could leave you trapped at your property for days. Also, if your vehicle is up to the axles in mud and landing in huge potholes on the way to the property, my advice would be to walk away.
Is the hay storage sufficient? The last thing you want to coordinate is a monthly shipment of hay. In Washington State, having a dry storage spot for hay is critical. Fog and moisture in the air can easily mold perfectly dry hay. Having a heated tack room is also important to help prevent molding of leather tack. Winter is the perfect time to inspect the hay on the property and search tack rooms and barns for mold.
Is the property impacted by wetlands? Most counties in Washington State prohibit grazing animals on, building on or clearing of wetlands. The presence of wetlands can also be an indicator of potential flooding. If you're searching for a home during the summer months, wetlands may not be readily apparent, but during the torrential rains we’ve been having lately wetlands are impossible to miss.
Are roofs leaking? This is so obvious, but barns, arenas and sheds many times have leaky roofs. Homeowners usually make sure the roof on their house is good, but barns and outbuildings… not so much. When it’s raining you’ll know right away if there is a problem before you get to the point of an official inspection.
Jeff Williams has been riding and showing American Quarter Horses since childhood and is a top producing Realtor with Windermere in Tacoma, Washington. If you have questions about this information please contact Jeff at 253-303-1135 or email him at JeffWilliams@Windermere.com.