Country Properties

The 6 Best Places to Buy A Horse Farm in Ontario

The 6 Best Places to Buy A Horse Farm in Ontario

If you’ve been wondering where to best places to buy a horse farm in Ontario are, check out our list of the 6 best towns to buy a horse farm below.

Ontario has an ideal countryside for horse properties. The rolling hills and grassy meadows set against tree-lined landscapes around the Greater Golden Horse Shoe are not only stunning but perfectly suited for horses.

We’ve chosen the following locations based on a few criteria that make these 6 areas worth buying a horse property in

  • Reasonable real estate prices (for a horse farm!)
  • An active real estate market with a number of horse farms currently for sale
  • Proximity to all the horse essentials (available boarding facilities, shows, vets, farriers, etc.)
  • Location suitability (soils, topography, water supply, etc.)

If you’re starting to explore the idea of buying a horse property be sure to explore these towns.

1. Flamborough, Hamilton Region

We begin our list in the gorgeous area of Flamborough. Situated at the northernmost edge of the Hamilton Region. The Niagara Escarpment winds through a big section of Flamborough presenting truly beautiful landscapes. To get an idea of the boundary, here is a link to a map of Flamborough.

You can find a great range of real estate options here. Horse farms and hobby farms, some ready for you to move right in and others waiting for your personal touch.

Real estate prices are relatively high here, with a $2,442,629 average. We think this is still somewhat competitive when compared to regions like York and Halton. You also seem to get more property for your dollar which is nice.

2. Pelham, Niagara Region

Horse Stable in Pelham Niagara

There are so many things that make the Niagara Region a prime spot to own any type of real estate. Good real estate prices, world-class natural beauty and prime farmland. The township of Pelham offers you an ideal countryside for equestrian living with the Niagara Escarpment as your backdrop.

There are a number of picturesque private facilities but boarding can be limited depending on your discipline. There is definitely a market for a high-end boarding facility in this region and Pelham would make an ideal spot. The average horse farm price from last year to date sits at $1,197,167.

Although it can be a bit of a hike to the bigger show venues, many riders here make it work. There are a number of local show venues as well as the Fort Erie Race Track nearby. Trips to the U.S. are also a breeze from Pelham.

There are plenty of opportunities to explore in Pelham.

3. Caledon, Peel Region

It goes without saying that Caledon is a hub of all things equestrian. Home to show venues like the renowned Caledon Equestrian Park and some of the most epic horse farms in the country.  

Caledon is nestled in the Hills of Headwater, Niagara Escarpment and Oak Ridges Moraine which means the countryside offers impeccable views, trails and blissful days with your horses. Not to mentioned Caledon is situated close to everything you could need, be it racetracks, show venues, riding and boarding schools as well as excellent horse care professionals.

But views and easy access to all you need doesn’t come cheap. Horse farms in Caledon averaged a total of $2,517,643. 

4. Mono, Dufferin County

Horses in Pasture

Nestled in the heart of Headwaters Horse Country. Mono is an excellent option for those looking to buy a horse farm. It is a town that prides itself on the thriving equestrian industry here and does plenty to support the horse community.

The landscape is simply stunning – with acres of protected greenbelt, forested trails and sprawling meadows you can’t go wrong buying a horse property here.  Well designed equestrian facilities and beautiful hobby farms make up a great deal of what the horse farm real estate market has to offer.

The average list price is currently $1,403,643. Reasonable considering you can find properties here that are surrounded by incredible natural beauty. As with the other areas, you aren’t far from major show venues, race tracks and top of the line boarding facilities.

5. Guelph/Eramosa, Wellington County

Just outside the city of Guelph lies a beautiful and charming rural section of countryside known as Guelph/Eramosa. Guelph/Eramosa neighbours Erin which is home to the renowned show venue of Angelstone Tournaments. Wellington Country offers excellent horse country in general, with boarding facilities run by top-level competitors and other horse related professionals never too far away.

Guelph/Eramosa encompasses the picturesque Guelph Lake Conservation Area. Meandering streams and acres of farmland are among the few things that make this an ideal spot to buy your horse farm.

The average equestrian property to date came in at $1,524,490. Making Guelph/Eramosa an excellent option for you to explore horse farms for sale here.

6. Burlington, Halton Region

High End Horse Farm

The beautiful area of Burlington. In the heart of the Niagara Escarpment and centrally located to horse shows, race tracks and beautiful trails. Now, we know both Milton and Halton Hills also offer spectacular equestrian living but at this moment Burlington has a number of equestrian properties currently for sale but the other two do not. But you really can’t go wrong buying a horse farm anywhere in the Halton Region.

The average price comes in at $4,655,957 BUT the numbers are skewed by a couple of highly – very highly – priced horse properties. Using the median price of $2.9 Million is more realistic of what you can expect to pay for a horse farm in Burlington.

You can find high-end boarding facilities here, great hobby farms that could easily be converted into your dream horse farm. There are plenty of horse riding schools and you are never too far from luxury estates.

Winding country roads and forest sanctuaries make Burlington an excellent choice for horse home seekers.

Some of you may be wondering why we didn’t include the York Region in this list.

It meets the beautiful landscape criteria, is close to all you need and offers top-class equestrian properties. The trouble is, real estate prices here are high and you don’t often get a lot for your money. Unless you are looking at horse properties over $4 Million, barns are run down and the homes often need work. That is not to say that you can’t find your perfect property here, it just might mean you have to wait longer and JUMP as soon as you see it.

All of the above locations offer classic horse country living options. Beautiful views, ideal typography and perfect proximity to all horsey essentials. Whether you have Olympic aspirations or just a desire to keep your horses at home, these places are worth exploring!

If you have any questions, you know you can always get in touch – we’re here to help.

* Average prices are based on the equestrian real estate market, current and sold listings from January 2019 to 20th January 2020.

5 Important Factors for Financing A Rural Home or Acreage

5 Important Factors for Financing A Rural Home or Acreage

Financing a country or rural home doesn’t have to be complicated. Sure, there are many varying factors that go into getting approved by a lender. But we’ve got you covered. Here are the 5 main things you should get a grasp on when it comes to financing your dream acreage.

Lenders and Risk Analysis

If you’ve purchased a home before, or taken out a loan, you will know that lenders are major risk assessors. Combing through every bit of information they can get from you to assess you and your ability to pay the loan back. They then take a close look at the value of the property you’re hoping to buy. They want to make sure that if you were to default on a payment, they won’t have a tough time offloading the property. 

The more risk the lender feels there is with a property, the tougher it will be to get an approval.   

TD Bank - Financing

Image Courtesy of Mike Mozart.

When it comes to country and rural homes, these 5 factors can impact whether a lender is willing to lend (“risk”) on a subject property:

  • Zoning
  • Size of the Property
  • The condition of the property and residential improvements
  • Property value and down payment requirements
  • How far away it forms any major town or urban area

Let’s dive into these 5 factors in a bit more detail.

 

1. Zoning

Zoning, in short, tells you what you can do with the property. i.e.: what its permitted uses are.

Rural Residential or Country Residential zoning should be relatively easy to finance if the property meets the bank’s specifications on the criteria listed above.

A property with agricultural zoning can be a bit tougher.

Farm House Wainfleet

If there is only a single residence on the property and there have been no prior farming operations, agri-business or commercial operations carried out you should have an easier time getting financing.

However, the caveat to this is the size of the property. Sizing requirements or restrictions can play a significant part in the financing approval process with agriculturally zoned properties. More on this below!

Since the zoning of these types of properties can allow for some form of agricultural operation the bank will want assurances. They will want to ensure you don’t have plans to run a farm on the property with the intention of earning the majority of your income from this operation.  This is one of the main reasons why sizing can be a big factor in the lender’s decision.

You may also be required to give a higher down payment on a property with agricultural zoning.

If you wanted to buy an actual farm or hope to buy a property on which to start up a farm, you will need a farm loan. This is a whole other kettle of fish with much tougher and more specific lending criteria.

 

2. Size of The Property

Typically a property under 10 acres can be financed similarly to any other residential property. The larger the property though, the tougher it can be to find a lender willing to lend on it.

Although it is not always the case, for properties over 10 acres, financing usually works as follows:

  • Lenders often agree to lend on the residence plus 10 acres. Typically requiring a 5-20% downpayment depending on their perceived level of risk (i.e. your ability to pay the loan back, current debt, the state and location of the property and so on).
  • The lender then values the excess acreage which they may require you to put down an additional down payment on (~ 50-70% of the appraised value on the balance of the acreage). Or they may simply require you to pay for the balance in cash.
Here is an example:

Let’s say you’re looking at putting 20% down on a 25-acre property priced at $1,000,000 with agricultural zoning.  There are 10-acres of trees where the house and garage are located, and 15-acres of cleared pasture with an equipment shed.  With a traditional residential mortgage, the lender will place most of the value on the first 10-acres with the house and garage. The remaining 15-acres and shed will have little value to a lender that is lending on the basis that the property is going to be a residential property.  If once the lender appraises the property and they feel the value of the 10-treed acres with the house and garage are only worth $850,000, then you may be forced to come up with the balance in cash.

 10-Acres: $850,000 x 20% = $170,000
Remaining 15-Acres: $150,000
This could mean a total of $320,000 in cash that you need to put down on the property.

This equals 32% downpayment. That is 12% more than the 20% you had initially planned for.  You can see how the lender’s risk tolerance is starting to take shape!

It is important to note that this is VERY property and case dependant. There will be properties that are over 10 acres where the bank will be willing to offer regular financing options.

As mentioned earlier, zoning in conjunction with the size of the property will play a factor in lending approval here.

 

3. Condition of The Property

The bank isn’t going to lend on a dilapidated house that isn’t fit for habitation unless you have spoken to them about a plan for renovations and they are involved in lending on the construction. This, of course, does add another layer of complexity but it is of course achievable.

Dilapidated Rural Home

The value of the property as it currently exists is going to play a big factor in the bank’s decision to give you a mortgage and for how much.

A home needing cosmetic updates is not an issue, provided the systems, and structural integrity of the home is intact.

You often find utility systems like a well and septic system on the property.  The bank is going to want to see certification and proof that these systems are in good working order. For instance:

  • Water Portability Certificate / Well Water Certificate – After a sample of the water has been tested as safe for human consumption, this certificate will be issued.
  • Septic Certificate – will need to be provided for newly installed systems. For existing septic systems, the bank may ask to see a completed septic inspection report and this is something you will want to have for yourself regardless.

Replacing any part of a septic system or well can be extremely costly so doing thorough inspections during your due diligence period is very important!

Don’t Miss Out On Our Country Home Real Estate Guide: A FREE Guide for everything you need to know about buying a country home

 

4. Property Value and Down Payment Requirements

Less than 20% Down Payment

It is possible to buy a home with acreage using a 5% – 10 % down payment. Provided the property meets certain requirements. This is made possible through the residential CMHC insured lending program. Of course, with some restrictions which include (but are not limited to):

  • The property being valued under $1,000,000.
  • The property and house being in good (habitable) condition.
  • The value of the property will be placed on the home, garage and put to 10 acres. No value is given to outbuildings (e.g. heated sheds, shops, barns, paddocks, etc.).
  • The minimum downpayment starts at 5% for a purchase price of $500,000 or less. When the purchase price is above $500,000, the minimum down payment is 5% for the first $500,000 and 10% for the remaining portion.
  • Acreages or rural properties in very remote locations are going to be harder to finance at less than 20% down.

More on rural downpayment financing can be found here.

20% or More Down Payment

As mentioned multiple times, you should have an easier time obtaining financing with a down payment of 20% or more.   The other lending requirements will still apply here including zoning, property size and condition. 

Acreages with a purchase price in excess of $1,000,000 will need a down payment of at least 20% – 25% or more.

 

5. How Far Away The Property is from a Major Town or Urban Area

Very remote properties could be challenging to finance. 

Just like the rest of the parameters of a traditional lenders risk analysis, a remote location that is far away from a town or urban area could be seen as an extra layer of risk. 

Every property and location will need to be analyzed on a case by case basis. From the lender’s perspective, they are always going to want to measure their appetite for a property that may take a long time to sell if you happened to default on your mortgage. 

Your best bet for lending on very remote properties is to go to a local credit union.  One that is in the same county or region as the property.  Alternatively, finding a specialised lender that is in the business and more comfortable lending on these types of properties is a good idea too. 

 

Getting Started

Speak with a mortgage broker or your bank before looking at any rural homes. This way you can see what price range or property you are approved for.

Happy Home Hunting!!!

 

The 8 Most Popular Areas to Own a Country Home in Ontario

The 8 Most Popular Areas to Own a Country Home in Ontario

 

Ontario offers some truly spectacular countryside and rural living options.

Today we have put together a list of 8 of the most popular country living options around the Greater Golden Horse Shoe Area. Let’s get started!

 

Pelham, Niagara Region

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $850,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 30 – 2 hrs
  • Natural Features: Shorthills Provincial Park. Comfort Maple Conservation

The entire town of Pelham offers excellent country living options. The community of Fonthill is where you will find most of your necessities.  It has a country-chic downtown area that offers fine dining, artesian galleries, antique stores, and cozy cafes. The areas of Effingham / North Pelham, Ridgeville and Fenwick are your best bet for country and rural living. Carolinian forests and sprawling meadows are a staple in Pelham. The natural beauty provides a refuge from city life. With gorgeous estates on winding country roads, modest hobby farms and equestrian facilities – you can’t go wrong with buying a rural home in Pelham.

Read more about Pelham, Ontario here.


Campbellville, Halton Region

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,200,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr – 1hr 10
  • Natural Features: Nassagaweya Canyon, Mountsberg Conservation

Campbellville is another community we just adore. Located in the major town of Milton, this community is both quaint and charming.  If you’re driving down Guelph Line towards this little village the scenery is sure to inspire. The community offers a wonderful countryside where you are never too far from equestrian facilities and horse farms. Not too far from the big cities of Toronto and Mississauga, Campbellville is a popular destination for tourists and well-off commuters. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, Campbellville offers homes with scenic views, upscale country estates, and forested retreats.

Campbellville Halton Region

Campbellville | Halton | Courtesy of Campbellville.net

Read more about Campbellville, Ontario here.


Paris, Brant County

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $740,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 10 – 1hr 20
  • Natural Features: Grand Valley River

A picture-perfect town nestled right where the Grand Valley River and Nith River meet. Historic architecture meets modern delights in the romantic downtown area of Paris. Enjoy fine dining, cafes, delectable bakeries and world-class architecture. Possibly one of the most enchanting little towns in the country, you will feel at ease living in the countryside here with spectacular scenery and picturesque natural landscapes. This riverside town offers many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as well. You are sure to find yourself a charming century home or classic country paradise in Paris, Ontario.

 

Paris Brant County

Paris | Brant | Courtesy of Brant County

 

Read more about Paris, Ontario here.


Carlisle, Hamilton Region

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,150,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 
  • Natural Features: Carlisle Conservation Area. Bronte Creek

I adore the quaint community of Carlise. We used to keep our horses at a gorgeous barn here and driving through the little community always made you feel at peace. This is somewhat of an exclusive community because of its size and higher-end real estate prices. Carlisle is the classic small town with only a handle full of stores; two corner stores, a restaurant and a mechanics shop making up the downtown. We highly recommend the sweet treats at Carlise Bakery and the Cider from West Avenue Cider on Concession 8. For gorgeous country homes, ranch-style farmhouses and upscale rural living be sure to check out the community of Carlisle.

Read more about Carlile, Ontario here.



Elora, Wellington County

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,020,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 20 – 1hr 30
  • Natural Features: Elora Gorge. Elora Quarry.

Elora is a delightful community with rolling hills, acres of farmland and historic charm. As picturesque as picturesque gets, this spectacular little village is perched at the edge of Elora Gorge. The site of limestone cliffs that descend gracefully into the Grand and Irvine Rivers are truly a natural beauty to behold. If you love nature and adventure, Elora could just be the countryside spot you’ve been yearning for. Modern marvels, Character homes and stunning country retreats can all be found in Elora.

Elora Ontario, Wellington County

Elora | Wellington County | © Mark Stephenson at Flickr

Read more about Elora, Ontario here.



Mono  –  Dufferin County

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,060,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr  – 1hr 15
  • Natural Features: Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Island Lake Provincial Park.

Mono is a rural haven of impeccable scenery, meandering streams, and majestic forests. As is to be expected from any small town traced by the Niagara Escarpment. Offering a large section of protected land it is no wonder Mono makes up a large section of “horse country”. From close-knit communities to secluded living, Mono offers many options for the country home and rural life seeker. Buyers looking for picturesque farms, a quaint country home surrounded by trees or large rural estates would find the ideal property here.

 

Mono, Dufferin County

Mono | Dufferin County | Courtesy of Emily Mills at Flickr

Read more about Mono, Ontario here.



Creemore, Simcoe County

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,050,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 40 – 1hr 20 
  • Natural Features: Noisy River Provincial Park.

Creemore is a small community located in the larger township of Clearview. Being nestled within the Niagara Escarpment means you can expect world-class natural beauty at every turn. Welcoming neighbours, an inviting, red brick massed building downtown and weekly farmers markets make for a perfect country community. Here, you can find rejuvenated log homes, classic country homes, and private escapes when you are looking for a home in Creemore.

Read more about Creemore, Ontario here.


Jordan, Niagara Region

  • Average Sale Price (2019): ~ $1,037,000
  • Proximity to Toronto: 1hr 5 – 1hr 20
  • Natural Features: Balls Falls Conservation. Twenty Mile Creek

OK yes, we are back in the Niagra Region for a second time but we could not leave this gorgeous community off of the list. Jordan provides quintessential country living at its finest!  With a chic downtown area offering spectacular stores, restaurants and galleries. Jordan is a village surrounded by wineries, orchards and the beautiful Niagara Escarpment to the North. The unique micro-climate here allows for excellent fruit and wine production so be sure to visit some of the Twenty Valley Wineries and Pick-Your-Own Fruit stands. From modern country mansions to modest country escapes, be sure to visit Jordan for your country home purchase.

Jordan Niagara

Jordan Village | Niagara | Courtesy of Jordan Village.ca

Read more about Jordan, Ontario here.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Essential Things to Consider Before Buying a Rural Home

7 Essential Things to Consider Before Buying a Rural Home

The benefits of living in the countryside seem endless. Peace and quiet, less light, air and noise pollution. Stunning views, wildlife and a chance to do more with your property.

We were recently visiting friends the other night who’s home sits atop the Niagara Escarpment in Pelham. During an early evening stroll through their property, we saw a family of whitetail deer run through the wooded section of their property – just lovely!

Here are 7 things you should consider before making the move to a rural home.

1.  Your Plans For The Property.

Do you hope to raise animals on the property? Build a small barn or large storage facility? Make sure to check with your municipality that you can go ahead with these plans BEFORE you buy the home.

The two most common restricting forces you could run into when wanting to make changes have to do with zoning and conservation.

a) Zoning by-laws

Existing zoning and zoning by-laws place by municipalities can have an impact on:

  • How you use your land
  • What type of structures you can have on the property
  • Where structures are placed on the property
  • Specific use restrictions (e.g. size of your property and the number of livestock animals you can keep there)

b) Conservation Authorities, or the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry

These authorities can also have an impact on what you do with and on your property. Especially as country homes are oftentimes located in protected areas (like the GreenBelt). Restrictions might be anything from what you build on your property, the animals you keep to restrictions on cutting down or altering trees.

2.  How Far Away is Too Far?

You’ll definitely want to consider how far away from your current home is too far! Having to make a 10+ minute drive back into town because you forgot to buy milk might not sound too bad but after it happens a few times, it can get frustrating.

Being that much further away from friends may mean you don’t see them as often as you did before. And going out for dinner can feel like a task when you have a 20-minute drive back home.

If the school bus doesn’t have a route passed your new home you may have to drive your kids to a spot that the bus does come to or drive them into school altogether.

Although, in our opinion, the benefits of living in a rural home completely outweigh the concerns of being too far.

Nowadays it is also possible to buy a country home that is not too far away from all the amenities you might love about city life. It all just depends on you and the lifestyle you prefer.

3.  Types of Utility Systems

Septic System

You can find country homes on the outskirts of town that are connected to local municipalities – making the transition from city to country living a breeze.

However, the majority of countryside or rural homes on the market today have some sort of utility system that you don’t see in town.

In short, drinking water systems often come from wells or cisterns. Your sewer system is often a septic system with some sort of absorption or leaching bed. Heat can be produced by propane, occasionally electric or an oil type system as well.

For more information on these types of systems, you can read this article here.

4.  Living Next To Operating Farms

Farm Operations Hay Field

Often times living in the countryside is glamorized by large manicured lots with grand estates, where the neighbouring farm has cows dotting the hillside, an adorable little farmhouse and red barn that tie it all together. Don’t get me wrong, with the right budget we can probably find this for you but sometimes living near operating farms can take some getting used to if you have always lived in the city.

A few years ago we kept our horses at a barn in Wainfleet and right next door was a farmer’s field. Every summer the farmer would fertilize his field with a very (VERY!) pungent-smelling fertilizer. It was chicken manure fertilizer.  I spent a lot of time on a dairy farm with my best friend growing up, I can handle animals smells of all kinds but this would definitely take some getting used to.

You might be changing the sounds of traffic and fire trucks for machinery operating in the early hours of the morning and more dust. Most people are fine with this but occasionally some are not.

I only bring this up as a point because we have heard a few stories of people being unhappy living beside a farm and have tried to make complaints against the farmer (silly I know). Farmers are an integral part of our community and we always want to make sure our clients know what they are getting into before we make an offer.

5.  Road Accessibility

It is a good idea to look into how accessible the road getting your property is year-round. 

This typically won’t be a problem if you live close enough to town but it is not uncommon to find that rural roads may not be plowed in the winter by the municipality or if they are, they are plowed last.

In more rural settings, sometimes private companies are contracted out to plow these roads for you, with the neighbours who live on the same road often sharing this cost.   Sometimes the road can remain unplowed for days depending on the amount of snowfall and getting down your road could be a real challenge.  

If you can’t get down your road the school bus can’t either which means kids may have more snow days in the year; I am sure they won’t mind this, but it is something you will have to plan for.

6.  Having the Right Maintenance Equipment

For those winter months you may need a snowblower if you’re on a big lot with a relatively normal-sized driveway, but if your driveway is two hundred feet long or more, having a tractor with a plow might be an essential piece of equipment to purchase. 

For the spring, summer and fall months you may need a riding lawnmower, or possibly a tractor with a bush hog to cut the grass.

Hiring someone to plow your drive or mow your lawn is also an option.  

Snow Driveway Country Living

7. Is the Country Lifestyle For You and Your Family?

For some people buying a country home means more space and a chance to use the land by either keeping a few animals like chickens, goats, more dogs and so on. Others have the idea of growing their own fruits and vegetables in an aim to become more self-sufficient. Others simply want a bigger house, a bigger property and more privacy.

We like to make sure that, no matter what reasons our clients have for wanting a more rural lifestyle, they know what they are getting into.

Definitely consider why you think this lifestyle is for you. If you enjoy the nightlife or dining out every night and the buzz of a busy city then no, rural or country living may not be your thing.

Living on a large acreage will be work on some days, and the reality of living the countryside dream might not be as romantic as once thought.  All of this said, most people considering this lifestyle are not going to mind the extra work and are likely to find it gratifying and worth it.

If you are considering buying a country home, we, and many others, recommend downloading our FREE Country Home Real Estate Guide.

Rural Home Utilities in Ontario

Rural Home Utilities in Ontario

Moving to the countryside can be a big leap for people who have been used to a small home in the suburbs or a condo apartment in a big city.

One of those hurdles to get used to are often the utility systems that can come with country or rural living. 

We have put together a little list of the utilities you might expect to find in a country home in Ontario.  These are by no means extensively detailed explanations of how these systems work but rather a basic overview.

You can click on the links below to jump to your utility of interest.

HEATING

There are a variety of heating types found in country properties, from old electric systems to propane and oil systems as well.  If you are not too far out of town you may even be lucky enough to be connected to a natural gas line but of course, that depends on where the nearest gas line is located.  Some older properties may even rely on wood stoves and fireplaces for a portion of the heating but those are relatively rare (and also quite self-explanatory) so we won’t be covering those today. 

Propane

Propane has a pretty good reputation when it comes to heating homes. It is typically a cleaner alternative to oil and quite an efficient way to heat your home when compared to natural gas or electricity. Propane is stored as a liquid in a tank outside of the home (either in an above or underground tank). These furnaces work very similarly to any other forced air furnace. Propane typically needs to be delivered to your home by a licensed company which is the only real “inconvenience”. You can also use this propane for items such as gas stoves, fireplaces, and even hot water heaters. If you’d like to get into the nitty-gritty about propane you can read more here. 

Propane Tank

Oil

Typically you’ll either find a furnace or boiler system when it comes to oil heat. In short, there is a combustion chamber where the oil is ignited and then an exchanger that warmers the gases. 1. Furnaces use a fan or flower and vents to send the warm air throughout the home. With a 2. boiler you’ll likely see a pump pushes heat through pipes to radiators. Here’s smart touch energy again with more in-depth information on how oil heat works.

Electric

Typically found in older homes. Electric heaters or furnaces aren’t very cost-effective at least here in Ontario where our hydro costs are very expensive. You’ll need to be hooked up to the grid to have this type of heat (similar to natural gas). Typically no ductwork is found if the home was originally built with the intent of heating the home via electricity. So, in homes like this, you often find that they also don’t have A/C. It is, of course, possible to remove and install a natural gas or propane furnace but ductwork will need to be added which can be costly.

GeoThermal

There are several types of geothermal heating and cooling systems available. We won’t be going into each and every one. Here is a great guide if you’d like more in-depth details. In brief, pipes are buried into the ground below the freezing line. Both an ethanol-based fluid in the pipes and the heat from the earth are extracted and transported through these pipes into the home. The heat is then distributed throughout the home either by ducts or radiant heat.

geothermal heating

Credit: Geothermal Heating EPA

 
 
Natural Gas

Most of you know what these are all about so we won’t go into great detail here. If you live in a relatively modern home in an urban area you could find a house that is heated via a natural gas furnace.

When it comes to heating, we sometimes see a combination of some of the above in rural and country homes. For example, you might have an electric and propane combination. We often see a lot of homes in the country with electric or wood-burning fireplaces as well which help to heat your home.

WATER

Well

Depending on where your property is located and if there is adequate and safe groundwater, your country home will likely have a well. In short, a well is dug and a pump inserted that brings up the water from the ground and into your home. Having a useful well is great because you don’t have to pay for water. However, before you purchase a property it is essential that you have an inspector inspect the well and get well tests done to ensure it is safe for drinking and not contaminated. For more details click here.

Cistern

When your property does not have adequate or safe drinking water you’ll likely have a cistern. Essentially there is a holding tank that either collects rainwater or you can purchase the water yourself and have it trucked into your property.  If you have ever seen the trucks with tanks on the back that say something like “Ed’s Water Haulage”, “Ed” is trucking water to someone who has a cistern that needs filling.

Municipal

There are country homes that, if not located too far outside of town, are or can be connected to the local water system. This makes things simple for those moving from the city to the countryside.

SEWER

Septic System

In the countryside, it is common to have what is called a septic sewer system.  There are quite a few different types of septic sewer systems, but the most common one in Ontario is the septic holding tank combined with some type of absorption system such as a leaching bed, where liquids are filtered through and then absorbed back in the ground.  The solids and sludge in the tank will require an outside service company to visit the property from time to time to suck out all the contents with what is basically a giant vacuum on the back of a big truck.   There will be a cost for this service so it is something to budget for.  As the property owner, the condition of this system will be your responsibility, so being careful with what you flush or dump down the drain will be something you will want to educate yourself on. You can read more here

Septic System

Municipal Sewer

Again, if the property is located close to city limits you might be lucky enough to be connected to the local sewer system meaning you don’t have to worry about maintaining or keeping an eye on your septic system. However, you are then connected to the grid.

HYDRO

Electricity

This system is pretty straight forward.  Unless you are building a house that you have to fly in a bush plane to get to, you will most likely be connected to the electrical grid.  One potential opportunity though would be to supplement your electricity by creating your own!  This will be site and location dependent.  But if your plot is right, you may want to explore, solar and wind as possible systems to create some of your own power.   If your property and systems are large enough you might even be able to obtain a contract with the Ontario government to sell electricity back to the grid.  This would require a real cost to benefit analysis, as large scale systems are expensive and you are required to pay for the system yourself.  Speaking to an expert will give you clarification on whether this is a viable option worth entertaining.

If you have any questions, reach out.

Ideal Horse Farm Layout For Every Acreage

Ideal Horse Farm Layout For Every Acreage

The feeling of driving down a tree-lined driveway to arrive at a gorgeous, and well planned out equestrian facility is something special. Prim paddocks, organized buildings, and space that works best for both horse and rider is what most of us equestrians dream envision for our horse properties. 

If you are thinking of building an equestrian facility from scratch then this is a must-read article!  Here are the best Horse Farm Layout Examples we have found for smaller sized equestrian properties.

Can you ever have enough land when you own horses?

Technically, the more land you have, the more horses you could have… And potentially, the more land you have the more options you have for bigger barn space, more arenas (who doesn’t want a large sand ring, a large derby grass ring AND two indoors?), and possibly even a conditioning track?

If only it were that easy.

Land and money are both finite resources (for some of us), and so often times this means we have to work with what we have.

Here are a few great examples of various sized horse properties. They show great ways to be creative and make the most of the land you have.

 

5-Acre Horse Farm Layout

In today’s world (and real estate market), we see more and more people owning a modest equestrian facility and utilizing the land as best as they can.

If you’re looking for a cozy 5-acres for yourself and your horses, here is an excellent example.

These images were taken from a horse farm in Wellington, Florida. You’ll notice the lack of indoor arena but you’ll also notice that there is more than enough space to put one in.

You have space enough for 6 individual paddocks and 2 group turnout paddocks. Where they currently have the home, I would instead have a 10-stall barn. The Indoor arena would then attach to the barn in the back. A modest home would fit neatly onto the green space to the left where you could overlook your paddocks.

 

10-Acre Horse Farm Layout

You might be able to tell from this example that we are back in Florida. 🙂 This luxurious facility houses 14 horses, offering two beautiful, big outdoor arenas, a big home, large paddocks and a hot walker. There is also staff housing located on the property.

There is no indoor arena on this property either but with a little bit of re-configuration, you could easily put in an indoor arena. Besides, the house is a little grand for my taste and with a smaller home, you would have a little more land to play with.

The thing I truly LOVE about this layout is the track that traces around the property – perfect for cooling out the horses after a hard workout.

 

20-Acre Horse Farm Layout

With 20 acres of land, you have space enough for a large and grand equestrian facility.

The property example below is currently for sale in the Hamptons, curtesy of Saunders Realty. You can marvel at the entire property here. This is definitely a grand estate with a hefty price tag to boot.

Here you have a very neatly laid out property. An indoor arena and three outdoor arenas (2 sand, 1 grass). There are two residences on the property. One for the owner and the other is staff housing. 14 paddocks (if well managed) offer more than enough space for the 27 horses that the barn accommodates.

With this size of property, I would probably turn one of those sand rings into a grass ring and use the front two fields to produce my own hay.

 

50-Acre Horse Farm

With 50 Acres there isn’t much you can’t do in terms of layout.

I am using the boarding facility Shenandoah Equestrian in Burlington as an excellent example of a well-utilized and well laid out 50-acre horse farm.

This property houses up to 30 horses, offers tons of paddock space and more than enough riding arenas – with 2 indoors and a large outdoor sand ring. There is also a large home on the property as well as a hay field and still a lot of room to spare.

We hope these examples of smaller equestrian properties will help you on your journey to designing your own layout for your equestrian property.

Buying A Country Home in Niagara

Buying A Country Home in Niagara

 What are the best locations for buying a country home in the Niagara Region?

If you are looking for a country home in the Niagara Region, look no further than our TOP 5 favorite countryside areas in Niagara.

Living in the Niagara Region is wonderful. If you like welcoming communities, rich natural landscapes and the odd glass of wine, this is the place for you.

To help you get your bearings on the countryside and rural areas in Niagara, have a look at this map:

 

Niagara Region Countryside & Rural Areas

 

1. Effingham, Pelham

I know I’ve said this before but I adore the Pelham area. And truthfully, anywhere in the Pelham area makes for ideal country living.

Effingham is the most northern part of Pelham and encompasses a portion of both the scenic Short Hills and Saint John’s Conservation area.

Almost daily I drive along Effingham Street and get to marvel at the private estates and modest country homes tucked away on treed lots. Any road you take off of this road is sure to impress with charming properties and country retreats.

Effingham is also a horsey community.

If you decide to explore Effingham you will find picturesque paddocks and little barns along many roads in this community.

You won’t feel secluded living in the Effingham countryside but you are sure to experience a chic country lifestyle.

Fonthill would be your closest community for shopping, restaurants and other amenities.

 

 

 Perhaps currently the most sought after area in the Niagara Region, this community sits atop the wonderful Niagara Escarpment.

Located within the GreenBelt, this is a community surrounded by beauty and natural landscapes. Ideal for those of you that enjoy an active lifestyle as the Bruce Trail winds along the north side of Ridge Road.

You can find a range of home styles here. Century homes, sprawling bungalows, grand and private estates, private farms and quaint country style homes set on large lots.

There aren’t many properties currently listed, making this an exclusive spot for country living.

 

 

3. Saint David’s, Niagara On The Lake

A number of the communities in Niagara-On-The-Lake are seeing a creeping up of residential development in their core areas. It is unfortunate but a reality facing many areas in Ontario.

And Saint David’s is no exception.

But along the outskirts of this historic community, you can find some of the best rural living in the region.

You might be lucky enough to get your hands on a heritage home but if not, there are a number of other country properties to choose from.

Quintessential bed and breakfasts, endearing country escapes and stylish estates are just a few types of homes you can expect to see.

With historic reverence, a rich culture and located just a stone throw away from renowned wineries, St David’s is an ideal community to enjoy country living.

 

 

House Near Winery

 

4. Jordan, Lincoln

A quaint and charming community bordered between Beamsville to the west and the Louth area of St. Catharines to the east.

Jordan is surrounded by beautiful farms, orchards, vineyards and country homes.

At the village core, you will find a voguish setting; boutique stores, art galleries and excellent restaurants.

If you are just visiting, be sure to check out the cozy and chic accommodations on offer in the Jordan Village or enjoy a day at the spa before heading out on a picturesque hike.

Although there are many beautiful country homes here, Jordan village is a small community and not many properties come up for sale here.

Making this another exclusive countryside community in Niagara. 

 

 

If you truly want to live the rural lifestyle, where you aren’t too close to your neighbours and the nearest grocery store is in the next town over then Wainfleet might be the spot for you.

Waintfleet is unique in that it is home to both large stretches of agricultural land and, to the south, lovely lake beaches.

Waintfleet is not connected to municipal sewer or water services – developed properties typically have a septic system and private well or cistern. You can read more about rural living on the Waintfleet website here.

In terms of housing, you can find newer homes as well as older farmhouses.

If you are ready for a life of quiet contemplation and peaceful surroundings – and understand the hard work that can come with living in a rural community – then Wainfleet might be just the place for you.

Parts of this article were adapted from our Niagara website here.

 

Starting a Successful Horse Boarding Business

Starting a Successful Horse Boarding Business

Horses have always been a part of our lives.

JP and I have both worked at, boarded at and ridden at many different barns over the years. Picking up ideas about what seems to work and what doesn’t.

1. The Type of Barn

Small but high-end barns. A niche product. 

Typically this is a private facility of just 12-20 stalls. Focusing primarily on a state of the art facility and providing top quality care. For this premier facility, one would be asking a high monthly board fee of between $1,500 and $2,000/ month.

All depending, of course, on what type of facility you have and what services you offer. Typically these barns are highly individualized to horses and owner needs. The more expensive barns will usually offer training as part of that board. 

The Facility –

The barn usually sets itself apart from every other barn. A truly top-notch haven for horses and their owners.

Training & Lessons –

Whether you include these in your board is entirely up to you and the numbers you need to make the venture work. At this level of board generally, some type of training is included.

It will also depend on whether you have an outside trainer coming in whom you might have to pay and so on.

A very popular option is to allow in outside coaches to train their client/s that may board at your facility.  A tough one for most barn owners that are also trainers but it provides variety to clients and opens up the doors to more boarders.

Staff 

We cannot stress how important it is to have qualified and educated staff. If you are asking top-tier board, you must offer a high standard of care.  At higher rates, these barns often provide full groom services as well.

On top of the normal booting, blanketing and picking feet, services can include bathing, clipping, worming, grooming, laundry, lunging, grazing and tack cleaning. 

A select few, full-service barns will have a boarders horse tacked and ready to go when they arrive.

Turn-Out 

Safe, consistent and carefully managed.

Many people recommend 1 acre per horse for grazing, but this is not always feasible. You can have smaller sized paddocks but they will need to be managed well. Most of the high-end barns will offer individual turnout for all horses.

Arenas

Typically, high-end barns have at least one good-sized indoor arena – 80 x 200 or 220. Most have two decent sized outdoor arenas as well. The sand footing in these arenas should be top quality (ideally a sand and fiber mix).

Check out Footing First for excellent footing options.

Value Added Services

These may include:
• A small fitness track
• Hacking opportunities
• On-site laundry facilities
• Lunging arena
• Security and surveillance (including in-stall wed-cams)
• On-site live in management
• Sprinkler systems
• One site showers
• Heating lamps
• Hand Walking and Grazing
• Tack Cleaning

It is important to create an atmosphere of luxury and high-quality care if you are asking this level of board.


2. Owning The Right Investment

It goes without saying that you need the right property to run a successful boarding facility.

But more than that it is essential to look at your property as a real estate investment. One that can “work” for you outside of the boarding facility.

Put very simply, over time your property should appreciate – giving you access to equity that can be used towards improving your current facility or put towards other investments.

Buying the Property

Whether you buy a facility or buy and build, the following three must be in place.

A property in a prime (or at least good) location with the right zoning to allow for a horse boarding operation.

Secondly, land quality must be good, with good soil.

And thirdly, buy a property that has been well cared for by its current owners.

It is difficult and costly to run a horse boarding facility. Owning a property with additional income options (like a secondary residence to rent out or excess fields that can be leased to a farmer) would be a bonus.

This article goes into greater detail about how to make the most of equestrian property real estate investment.

If you own the property

Take care of your investment. Look after and maintain buildings, homes and the land. Over-grazed fields and rundown buildings don’t help appreciation. Nor do they attract good boarders.


3. Making Sure The Numbers Work

People get into this business and don’t truly realize how costly it can be.

If you’ve never run a boarding facility before, you may not know exactly what things are going to cost.

Our recommendation is to get extremely detail oriented here. Find out what expenses are going to be on a monthly basis. Get all of your financial ducks in a row.

The Expenses –

If you have been in the horse business for some time, you’ll know there is a long list of expenses that come with owning a horse, let alone a barn with multiple horses.

Monthly Expenses –
These will include (and definitely not be limited to):
• Mortgage or lease payments
• Feed
• Hay (ideally your property can be hayed, but costs for the tractor and bailing equipment will need to be accounted for).
• Shavings
• Utilities
• Salaries / Wages for staff
• Regular maintenance of the facility and machinery
• Insurance (if running a facility it will be commercial insurance)
• Taxes (income and property)
• Waste removal required
• Security

And of course, there are the expenses required for your own horse/s as well.

Start-Up Expenses –
• Down payment
• Any updates or renovations
• Improving the footing
• Machinery and equipment
• Seeding any paddocks that need new grass
• Fencing
• Security Installations
• Advertising (if you don’t have current clients to fill up the stalls).

Contingency Fund –
You will want to have some sort of back up ‘cash’ for big fixes, emergencies and general upkeep of the property. You may also need this if you have a high turnover of clients to carry empty stalls (which ideally you shouldn’t have).

The Income –

Although boarding may be your primary source of income, you may need or want to offer other services.

In addition to board, you may offer training, lessons, horse sales, clinics and off-property schooling for guests. It will depend on your preference, your discipline and what numbers you need to make to cover, and ideally exceed your expenses.

If you are lucky enough to own a property that has a second home, consider renting it out for additional income.

 Here are six creative ideas to generate a little extra income on your horse farm.

 

4. Having The Right Contacts

Good and trustworthy connections can be hard to come by.

If you are starting an equestrian business, you should already have a ton of experience in the horse industry and have made many connections along the way.

Connecting the right people to your new clients could go a long way with building lasting relationships and add value to their time at your barn.

Farriers, Massage Therapists, Vets, Chiropractors, Saddle Fitters and the like. These experts all help in maintaining the health and happiness of the horses.

 

Final Thoughts

Taking care of other people’s horse is a large responsibility. One that cannot be underestimated. You may love horses and people but owning a boarding or training barn will test this love.

You can’t please everyone, but if you do right by the horses you’ll keep on the right path and hopefully make a success out of your passion for the equestrian sport.

 

 

Wealth Preservation with Canadian Farmland

Wealth Preservation with Canadian Farmland

The possibility of wealth preservation with Canadian Farmland.

Most seasoned investors are familiar with Commercial real estate as a way to preserve capital after they have already made it in business or have experienced years of growth with smaller real estate investments. Perhaps the time comes to consolidate equity into fewer but larger properties.

Commercial real estate is still a fairly active investment, where you have to think about improving management, improving the tenant profile, upgrading the buildings and so on. There is nothing wrong with this…but some investors out there might be wondering if there is a tangible real estate asset that will preserve capital in a similar way but that requires less active involvement.

Canadian Farmland could be an attractive alternative. Ok let’s jump in…boots first! 🙂

 

The “Dirt” on the Dirt

We might as well get this out of the way right off the bat…..nothing is perfect.

As you may or may not know, financing on Commercial real estate can be brutal, but Farm Land financing might be worse. For instance, if it is just farmland without a house on it, and you yourself are not a farmer…..well, there aren’t really any financing options. So this would then literally be a place to park cash. You will need to look at this type of investment as you would a stock, bond or some offer paper asset instrument, except of course, that this is real and tangible. The draw to farmland is that, like any other forms of real estate, it doesn’t vanish into thin air with the click of a button!

This is not a cash flow play, income on farmland is low.

So if you are expecting it to cash flow like a student rental, it won’t! This is a Steady Eddy form of investment that has extremely low volatility.

There are ways to increase cash flow of course. For example, by buying a piece of farmland with a house and out-buildings on the property that you can rent out for additional income. In this scenario, you should be able to finance the house and a limited number of acres to increase your ROI, paying the balance of the land purchased in cash. Or you could enter into higher risk/return rental agreements that include a crop share arrangement. This allows you to share in the fruits of the farmers’ labour, but you’ll also share in the down years as well. Having said that though, most rented farmland is just a straight cash rental amount – just like a house – and that is what we will be basing our overview on in this article.

Here is another perspective to consider. With commercial real estate, there can be booms and busts, vacancies, oversupply in the market and so on, just like rental housing. With farmland, what is out there is out there, they aren’t making any more of it! In fact, we are losing farmland to development as our population grows and cities continue to expand.

 

Building a Case for Buying Farmland

Canada has 70 Million Hectares of Agricultural land and punches well above its weight in net cereal crops and meat exports compared to other producing countries due to our relatively small population. Now take note, the amount of Canadian farmland has not changed since the 1950’s, but the average Canadian Farm size has. There has been a lot more consolidation of farms, giving us a larger average farm size compared to the U.S.

With larger farms comes an increase in net investment into the farms. In fact, net investment has gone up over 162% in the last 20-30 years. This means Canadian farms are running more advanced, higher tech operations and practices which is fuelling higher profits and revenues compared to other producing countries.

Just like in our commercial and residential markets, Canada Farmland is certainly appealing to foreign investors. Here are some reasons why:

  • Canada has a global reputation for being a safe place to invest. Even with the correction in 2008, Canada survived very well compared to other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
  • Canada is also considered a safe place and has none of the sovereign risks when compared to other countries. Corruption perceptions are very low with our strong courts and property rights systems.
  • We have a well-established infrastructure network for roads and rail, with access to the U.S and also coastal ports on either side of the country.
  • Because of our soil types and climate, only about 2% of our arable land requires irrigation, compared to 15 – 17% in the US and 40% in China. And we also have ample supplies of water if we need it! Because Canadian farmland requires less irrigation, we have much fewer problems with soil degradation, and while this is awkward to write, Canada stands to become even more wet with climate change. Nature (scientific journal) is already predicting that Canadian Agricultural yields stand to increase with climate change in parts of the country and is one of the only counties to do so

The Numbers / Risk Return

You can look back at 60 years of history on Canadian Farmland returns and find equity-like returns, similar to those of stocks but with much less volatility.

You will find 7-8% average return on appreciation with 2-3% (of land value) net lease income for an average of about 10% total return per year – all with a standard deviation of only 8%. Compare that with Canadian bonds….8% return and 10% standard deviation over the same period of time. On average, Canadian stocks returned about 11% but had a standard deviation of 16-17%! Remember how I said Canadian Farm Land was a “Steady Eddy” investment?

Farmland has also been a great hedge against inflation. Farmland values have increased as food prices have increased, and as a general rule in times of inflation food prices have increased more than the rest of the economy. And interestingly during inflationary periods farmland returns have increased almost at the same rate as treasury bills.

Even in times of deflationary pressure in other parts of the economy food prices remain high – and with food shortages and population growth – the price of food will likely continue to rise and so it seems, will the price of the land that grows it!

 

Opportunity

The average price per acre of US farmland is $3140 for 2018, compared to the average Canadian price of $3111 in 2018.

Coupled with all the positives in our farming industry, Canadian Farmland is a very attractive investment and stands to increase in the decades to come.

Certainly, with these types fundamentals foreign interest and investment will be strong….so get while the getting is good!

“Wherever your day takes you and however it ends, chances are it began with a farmer” 🙂

* Statistics and other information adapted from Bonnefield. For more in-depth information on farmland investing, please visit them here

6 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Equestrian Property Investment

6 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Equestrian Property Investment

No matter what you are planning to use your equestrian property for – be it a private facility, a training barn or a modest property for a couple of retired horses – equestrian properties don’t come cheap.

It is essential to look at any equestrian property as a long-term investment.

Buy a good property, in a good location, that has been well maintained by its current owners. You can always replace or rebuild infrastructure but improving the location and quality of the land is next to impossible.

1. Land Quality

This is probably the most important aspect of the equestrian property.

Changing the soil, for instance, is not feasible. Clay, for example, is fine but not necessarily ideal for equestrian properties.

Weedy paddocks that have been overgrazed can take some time and money to get back to a suitable condition. It is important to buy a property where turn-out has been managed correctly, and even more so that you manage the paddocks correctly once you become the owner.

 

2. Build Up Equity

Ideally, You want a property that will, on some level, appreciate. Hopefully then, giving you access to built-up equity that you can use towards other investments or improving current ones.

To build up equity, it is important to purchase a property in a good location where the land has been well cared for.

From this foundation, you can add value to the land with new buildings and/or updates.

 

3. Future Sale

Look at the potential future use of the property.

Think about what other income possibilities the property may have for you down the road – could you one day host shows on the property, is there room and/or allowances for a second residence on the property and so forth.

Think also about how future investors might look at the property 10 – 20 years down the road if you ever decided to sell.  You and your realtor should talk to the municipality and get an understanding of what is happening in surrounding areas that could affect your property value in the future (positively or negatively).

 

4. Land Severance Possibilities 

Severing the land could be an option as well under the right circumstances. However, if you are in the Greenbelt (which most equestrian properties are) you might be out of luck on this one.

On the rare occasion, we have found properties that were originally two or three separate lots, which made it possible to sever them into separate lots.  This can be costly, however, and so it would need to make sense to do financially for you.


5. Cash Flow

If you are hoping to run a boarding or training facility, you’ll want to have all your numbers figured out before diving in.

Expenses, Incomes, and Contingency Funds all need to be accounted for so you stay out of the red. Be creative when coming up with other cash flow opportunities for your property. For instance, renting out a secondary residence for extra income.

Owning a property that allows you to make your own hay is ideal. Even if you can only support it for a portion of the year. It goes a long way with future sales.

Here’s a great article to get you started on the financials and planning of your horse boarding venture.

6. Take Care of Your Property

I have mentioned this many times because it is essential to equestrian property success.

Look after your land and your buildings. Maintain the property and the buildings as much as possible. If the time comes where you want or need to sell, a well cared for property is going to fetch top-value.

Did we miss anything? Let us know how you look at your equestrian property as an investment.

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