Tips for Selling the Farm


Getting a traditional home ready to sell is one thing, but getting a ranch property ready to sell is another thing all together.

Farm, Ranch and Equestrian properties appeal to a special buyer and that buyer is usually not in the same financial situation as a first time buyer, having more cash to bring to the table and successfully close a real estate transaction.  This buyer is less affected by the swings of the current housing market, but yours will still need to stand out as the best buy on the market.

Price is important.  Remember that the buyers are not only looking at your property, but comparing it with others on the market.  What you may think is the item that should command a higher price than your competitor may be of little value to the buyer i.e., swimming pool, hot walker, auto feeders, etc., because they might not have use for those items.   Price it right to start with.  Traditionally in the Nevada County area homes sell for about 4 to 6% off of list price.  If your property is on the market for an extended time the buyers will wonder what is wrong with it. 

You will still need to “stage” your farm to sell.  Staging in the real estate business means that your facility should look as well kept and well maintained as possible.  Get out the paint and touch up the barns and fences, repair all the gates, etc.  Repair all repairs, go to the Waste Center faithfully and regularly and take all those things that “I will need this someday”.  And don’t stop on the outside at the barn, your home and landscaping is just as important.  The rule is “de-clutter” and take down your personal items.  You need to look through the buyers eyes.  The buyer will need to be able to put themselves into your home and that is hard to do if your personality is too strong.

In the current buyers market, there is competition with numerous other properties.  A seller cannot afford to miss one potential buyer, due to lack of preparation. 

How to choose a Realtor.  Take your time and get referrals from others you know that have horse properties, check out equestrian and ranch web sites and ads in related magazines.  An agent with a ranch specialization will know how to best market your property to get it in front of the buyers who will need and appreciate your improvements, barns, arenas, etc. and be willing to pay for them.  Sometimes it is a determent to over build your facility because nine stalls are overwhelming for a person with only 2 horses.  The more specialized your property, the narrower and more specialized the marketing the marketing must be.  An appraiser that is not familiar with the cost of things like Manufactured Barns, Pipe Corrals, the difference in cost between barbed wire and 2x4 horse fencing, the value of irrigated pastures, the cost to install an arena, can cost you a sale.  A realtor familiar with the costs of improvements can make the appraiser aware of the value of those improvements so they are reflected in your appraisal.

A Realtor with knowledge of properties can assist with the appraisal process and supply appraisers with information as to the cost for barn, fencing, etc., so that they are given the highest value. 

It has been my experience that people that are looking to buy country property are as much concerned about the accommodations that their animals will live in, as their own homes.  Very often a buyer wants to see the barns and facilities before looking at the home.  This does not mean that the home can be in disrepair and ill kept.  The standard things that must be done to get a home ready are needed also. Be sure to advise your realtor when listing your property what 'farm/ranch" items go with the ranch and which do not.  Consider horse amenities such as stall maps, feeders, water troughs, saddle and bridle racks, pipe corral fencing.

 What is listed in the Multiple Listing and Advertising are considered as part of the property being sold.  In a recent survey of Baby Boomers approximately 39% are looking to retire to rural property.

The Barns and Grounds

Clean and tidy and weed free is the look you want to create. This is a great time to clean out the tack room and donate it to a handicap riding club, Pony Club or 4-H, or sell it at a Tack Swap. Many tack stores will take tack on consignment. Have your tack room organized and tidy so people can imagine their own tack sitting on the clean saddle rack.

Neatly park your horse trailer, extra vehicles and heave equipment, facing the same direction in a contained area. Rakes, shovels, feed carts should be out of site. Make sure any repairs needed on your barn and stalls have been done. Safety is the first concern for buyers. CLEAN is the word, barn and feed room, isle ways raked and stalls cleaned and freshly bedded. A mixture of Bleach and Water in a spray bottle and sprayed on the isle way and stall fronts will give your barn a nice fresh smell. Fences should be in good repair and painted.

Now to the House

Again CLEAN and TIDY are the words of the day. Walls should be freshly painted in a neutral color.This is a great time to start packing away your nick nacks and personal things. Be sure to put jewelry, money and expensive objects out of site. Sort through your mail, file those stacks of papers you were going to get to, clear off anything stuck on the refrigerator. Give the Buyer’s an opportunity to imagine their own belongings into the house, instead of looking at yours.


Open the windows and let the fresh air in. Turn on the lights in every room when the property is being shows. Make sure your windows and window sills are clean.

Bonus Items

A candle with a vanilla or cinnamon scent is a nice touch. Soft music creates a peaceful environment.

Buyers look at untidy and deferred maintenance items and they imagine that “if they didn’t take care of this, what else did not get repaired.” There are now professionals who will come in and help you stage your home for a minimal hourly fee and offer suggestions on how to arrange what you have to make the most of your space. Some have furnishing they will bring into the home on loan during the marketing process.

You have only one chance to “Make the first impression.”

“Let me help you find your dream property.” “Country Property is a Speciality.”

Laura Berman, Broker with United Country - Great West Real Estate
has specialized in the marketing and selling of ranch property
in the Grass Valley, California area since 1986.
Visit her online at



Google Analytics Alternative