California Riding Magazine • June, 2009

Why Buy Now?
There are reasons to buy
a ranch in a recession.

Horses are not the only herd animals. Human psychology is also a group phenomenon. The classic sign of an investment market’s peak is the widespread belief that it will continue to go up, while the common sentiment as the bottom of a business cycle approaches is widespread fear. Significant wealth has been created in every past downturn by those who possess the courage to look beyond the fear of the herd, the perseverance to find the opportunities that emerge when the tide goes out and the wisdom to recognize and act upon these opportunities when they appear.

Horse property values and transaction activity in Southern California peaked three years ago, in 2006. In locations “close in” to the jobs, schools and other urban amenities that govern where most of us can realistically live, horse facilities and suitable land were becoming very scarce. Top, world class trainers and competitors were concerned about having appropriate facilities from which to work, and trail riders were losing ground. Meanwhile, regulatory and environmental processes made it more costly (in time and money) to permit or build horse facilities. Prices reflected upward pressure from all directions.

Today, development is pausing to catch its breath, although some large home builders are putting their toes back into the water and beginning to purchase small increments of land for the first time in several years. Land values are down. Housing values in certain areas—particularly outlying locations or neighborhoods where homes are commodities with few individual differences—are down as much as 40 percent. Obviously, just because something is cheap, does not make it a good investment. Property values do not recover evenly. Many of these areas may take considerable time to recover and those who make real estate investment decisions by reading the newspaper headlines may miss the distinctions and the opportunities.

Rare properties that simply cannot be replaced (including very well located horse properties, beachfront homes or exceptional commercial property locations) have, true to form, held their value better than properties in general. However, prices have come down. Some properties are bargains and other truly exceptional horse properties that were not for sale at any price are now available at comparatively reasonable prices. Values for certain properties are outstanding right now. If you are interested in owning a horse property at a great value, now is the time to begin your search.

Caren Brown in 1987, tying for first in the Puissance at Monterey
by soaring over a 6’ 7.5” wall aboard Ariana Azcarraga’s Echo.
Caren also won the Susan Hutchison Sportsmanship award and both
Puissance competitions held on the West Coast that year.

Photo: Osteen, Inc.

Caren Brown Kelley of Equestrian Real Estate represents buyers and sellers of equestrian property in Southern California and also assists clients with obtaining land entitlements. She formerly rode professionally in the hunter/jumper arena (has fond memories of riding in a few Grand Prix competitions in the 1980s) and also has facilitated over $500 million worth of commercial and equestrian property transactions.

Caren recognizes a shared commitment to excellence and client service in Cathy Gilchrist-Colmar. Cathy is a lifelong, avid rider and an expert in high end residential real estate and equestrian properties in Rancho Santa Fe and surrounding areas. Caren and Cathy work together on horse properties in North San Diego County.

Article provided by Caren Brown Kelly. She can be reached at 858-775-1034 or and Cathy Gilchrist-Colmar is available at 858-775-6511 or Check our website at for many of the best horse properties in San Diego County.