If so, you’ll want to make sure the county will allow you to do that. Regulations for tree removal can differ from county to county.
If not, the county can force you to remove them. Make sure everything was built with permits, especially covered arenas.
Only a few counties in western Washington will allow the construction of a large free-span covered arena in an area that’s zoned primarily as residential. Check local codes before buying a property with the intent to expand.
4. Is the property zoned to accommodate the number of animals you plan to maintain? If you want to board horses for other people and/or or run a tack shop, are those commercial activities allowed by the county?
Make sure you find out.
Most counties in Washington State have rules against clearing, developing or grazing animals on wetlands, which can significantly impact usage. Wetlands can also be a sign of flooding risk. Of note, wetlands may not be readily apparent if you’re touring a horse property in the summer months.
In my experience, potential buyers don’t want the barn too close to the house or too far away.
7. If you plan to have additional homes for farm workers on the property, is it zoned for that and can the existing septic system(s) legally accommodate those extra dwellings?
I’ve seen quite a few properties with illegal septic systems, which often have to be permitted after the fact or removed.
8. If the property is served by a well, does the well produce enough water to accommodate a horse facility?
An adequate year round supply of clean water is critical so it’s also important to make sure the water supply isn’t contaminated.
Losing power supply for your well pump and heating your house during or after a major storm can be dangerous for you and your horses. If the property is dependent on an external electrical supply, you’ll want a propane-fueled backup generator.
You don’t want to leave your tractors, trailers and tools outside or uncovered in the elements, especially in Washington State.
Having a dry storage space for hay is critical in Washington State, where fog and moisture in the air can easily mold perfectly dry hay. Heated tack rooms are also critical to prevent molding of leather tack.
Many counties regulate manure storage and disposal, which can be an added expense for property owners. Make sure to identify those costs before purchasing.
We all love wood fencing for its appearance and for safety, but it can be crazy expensive to maintain. Make sure it’s in good shape.
Poorly maintained structures with improper wood to earth contact are susceptible to rot. You don’t want to buy a pole barn sitting on rotted posts.
It’s important to be able to get a truck and trailer in and out, even during a storm. There’s a lot of wind and rain in Washington State so you’ll want to avoid properties on poorly maintained dirt or gravel roads lined with overgrown trees. Fallen trees and poor road conditions could leave you trapped on your property for days and/or make it difficult for emergency vehicles to reach you.
Ag status can offer a significant savings on your property taxes, but it comes with strings attached. Make sure you understand what’s required to maintain an agricultural designation and what the implications can be at the time of sale. If you’re selling an ag-designated property and your buyer doesn’t plan to continue that usage, you may be responsible for back taxes at closing.
It takes a special skill set and knowledge base to represent clients effectively in the purchase or sale of an equestrian property. Working with a broker without those skills and knowledge will put you at a very real disadvantage. Don’t do it.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when buying or selling a horse property, which is why expert guidance and representation are critical. Without them, you could find yourself dealing with some unwanted, costly surprises. If you have any questions about buying or selling an equestrian home, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Jeff Williams has been riding and showing American Quarter Horses since childhood and is a top-producing Realtor with Windermere Chambers Bay, specializing in equestrian property sales in King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston counties.
Jeff Williams: (253) 303-1135