It might be that you live on your own farm and take care of your own horses, and maybe you have a boarder or three. But for a lot of one-horse families, the idea of farm life is a dream.
However, according to some real estate experts, another effect of the ongoing pandemic is a desire for many people to leave the city with its congested streets and high-density living. Rural property sales are on the rise, and prices along with it.
Still, there are “bargains” to be found: take this sprawling ranch south of the border that was recently featured on The Robb Report website. This California ranch sits on 4,700 acres and the owner lowered the price a jaw-dropping $20 million! Which means it can be yours for the low price of $24.5 million! Just teasing.
If that’s a wee bit out of your price range, you will still be able to find a hobby farm in the current Canadian real estate market as it adjusts to the Covid-19 factor. “The market took a few weeks off while people were figuring out what the new normal would look like in the real estate market, but since mid-April the market for hobby farms and horse properties has been very strong,” says Greg Walton, owner of BC Farm & Ranch Realty Corp. “Although the majority of buyers were existing acreage owners making the move up or down, we did notice an increase in enquiries and sales from clients looking to move out from the density of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.”
Walton adds that when the historically-low mortgage rates are factored in, he is seeing a robust market in small acreages and in spite of current world events, prices have actually been climbing.
Further east in Ontario, the same level of interest, demand and rising prices are being seen.
“During covid times I have seen a huge increase in the city coming out to the country,” says Velvet Alcorn, an agent with Bosley Realty in Toronto. “Buyers have worked from home over the last few months and see how it can work so easily with our tech of today.”
Of course, what many city folks think is viable for them can be quite different from the reality. “They think they want a secluded 100 acres and when I get them out to view that very property, I tell them to scream and they look at me dumbfounded,” explains Alcorn. “I explain that if you scream at the top of your lungs, no one will hear you ‒ is that what you want? Or when I ask if they like pizza and tell them they’re not going to get it delivered here, they seem to change their minds, especially when the last thing I say is there isn’t any high-speed WiFi.” Alcorn says the buyer either changes their mind outright or they start to look at smaller-acreage properties.
Currently, Alcorn says that farm prices have not gone up as houses have in the Toronto home market, but she thinks that’s about to change, citing properties that were on the market for 250-plus days have all of a sudden sold. “Today, a farm listing for 250 days is unusual, where three months ago it was the norm,” Alcorn says. “The inventory is depleting, too, as there are more buyers than sellers at this time. Because of the lack of listings, it will definitely increase the list price in the near future.”
Still, the dream of living life on a horse farm, close to nature and away from the stress of the city, is more appealing than ever. “As people continue to embrace the acreage lifestyle, we expect the trend of acreage ownership in BC to be one of the best financial decisions a family can make,” says Walton. “Growing your own food, raising your own animals, and raising a family on an acreage is a trend we see continuing long into the future, and we are proud to be a small part of it.”