To credit the rumours in the property business, equestrian buyers choose a property to suit their horse’s needs rather than their own. Riders are content with just about any hovel so long as it comes with good stables, paddocks and arena – or are they?
Last month, the most popular property for sale among visitors to the Horse & Hound website was a large farmhouse in Warwickshire with a pretty main residence, a staff cottage and views as superb as its equestrian facilities and the current favourite is a charming country house with access to excellent outriding but no equestrian facilities to speak of. So what do riders really want?
According to the Horse & Hound Online property index, which tracks the email response to property advertisements placed on Horse & Hound, the majority look for a farmhouse priced between £750,000 and £1.1 million, preferably situated in Warwickshire or East Sussex.
The most sought-after homes come with an average 24 acres of paddocks, stables with some 8 boxes and some form of staff accommodation. About 34% of the enquiries ask for a manège, although an indoor arena is an optional that only a 1% of die-hard professionals hanker for.
So far, so equestrian. But 29% of the buyers also want five bedrooms, a swimming pool and sweeping views over the countryside and are prepared to pay in the region of £1.3 million for the privilege.
“If the buyer is an out and out equestrian person who is looking for a commercial property – say a livery yard – then the facilities are crucial and the house is not very important,’ says Karl Rogers of specialist agents Rural Scene. ‘For recreational riders, on the other hand, the house is critical and the quality of the outriding is equally fundamental.”
Demand, however, vastly outstrips supply for equestrian properties with residential appeal. Only 23% of the houses advertised on Horse & Hound in March have five bedrooms and even fewer (5.5%) have a swimming pool.
The gap between what riders look for and what is really available for sale becomes wider in popular areas. Warwickshire and East Sussex, which respectively attracted 52% and 30% of all the enquiries, only accounted for 5% of properties for sale in March.
Compromises of some sort are therefore in order for residential buyers and this is where they show the colours that gained them their infamous reputation, as cosmetic requirements are often the first to fly out of the window.
“They certainly won’t compromise on location, because it depends on access to work; on land, because they either want it or they don’t; and on price, because it dictates what they can afford,’ says Rowell. ‘But it always surprises me how many people will buy a modern house after they had sworn they wanted period only.”