Sunday, April 26, 2015

Value: How much is a horse really worth? The ranting mother is horse shopping...for herself this time!

I wrote this post last night and already I have some updates so the grey italic is, I hope, worth reading. Thank you to all the generous people who give me feedback. It is of enormous value and greatly appreciated!

So some big news here . . . today my husband looked me in the eye and agreed to buy a horse for me. FOR ME!!!!!!!! I am extremely excited.

Now for a reality check. In the fall when I wanted to sell our pony, there were so many great horses on the market which meant we had to be realistic about his price. The fall is a buyer's market. Spring is a seller's market. Right now there is nothing out there, nada, kein.

My husband has given me a tight budget. It should be enough to find something but this may take awhile and compromises will be made. I have $10,000 which also needs to cover my set up costs so vet check, travel, tack. I have a saddle which I hope will fit my horse. If not I may be in deep trouble. So I feel like I can spend $8,000 on my horse. Of course in the fall I could have done it but now it looks like I need at least $15,000 to get into the market. I get it. No one wants to buy a horse in the fall and take care of it and cover its costs through the winter so prices go down. I'm just bummed that now that my husband has finally said yes, inventory is low, prices are high and it looks like it will take awhile for me to find a horse.

In a previous life I was a NASDAQ trader. I have bought and sold several homes. I totally get the idea of markets and value and the fact that they fluctuate. What I have a harder time with are the people engaged in the market who do not understand these things.

When we bought our house I had to engage with such a person. She found our first offer offensive and rudely blew us off. Fortunately my agent was quite savvy, gave her a verbal lashing and eventually got us our house.

Today I sent a very nice email to a seller. She has a lovely horse listed for $17,500.  The horse had gone Novice but not more. My daughter really liked the look of the horse and said that was the one I should be buying so I thought I may as well send an email. What did I have to lose? I was honest about my budget but also about the quality of home I will provide, the fact that I intend to be a forever home, I offered references and hoped for the best. The response was not what I had hoped. The seller could have responded that they appreciated my interest and offered to check in with the owner. She could have said they would keep my information in case anything changed. She could have thanked me for my honesty since I could have wasted her time going to look at the horse before breaking the news of my low budget. Instead, she said my budget is not an acceptable offer on a horse of this caliber. She did wish me luck.

Here's my issue: every offer should be considered. I'm the buyer, the one with the money. I'm a catch for any seller because I actually intend to buy a horse. At some point this seller may be in a real bind and my offer will begin to look spectacular. In the world I live in, BN/Novice horses do not cost nearly $20,000. I know my budget is a bit low but not THAT low. I hope the owner has done some research and made sure she is comfortable with the price she has been advised to set. Just like with the housing market, it is often better to set a realistic price and create more interest from multiple buyers than shoot high and end up with no one coming to look. From my research, a solid BN/Novice horse should cost between $10,000 and $15,000 and leaning toward the lower end of the range as they age and have less Novice experience, more BN experience.  I think $10,000 - $12,000 could be the right price and on the right day I might pay that much. Buying is an emotional experience and buyers often pay more than they initially intended. In the case of the horse I inquired about, it has been listed for nearly 2 months in a seller's market so that would imply it is overpriced though with inventory so low, they may get their price and I may be the one who is proven wrong.

I find that people often over value their own assets. Perhaps it is my experience as a trader but I am generally pretty clear that any asset I have is only worth what the buyer in the market today will pay. The woman with the horse she will not sell below $10,000 has a horse currently worth nothing because there is no buyer in the market today offering her money for her horse (well, there may have been but she missed that opportunity). Tomorrow she may have a horse worth much more or much less. It always depends on the buyers in the market. A seller can hold onto an asset or realize its value by selling to the current buyer. Holding on does not mean it is worth any amount the owner claims. It is still only worth the price the market will pay. If you can afford to hold out for your price and that is important, then I guess that is your prerogative. But every month you keep that horse costs you another $1,000.00 or more so think hard before staying stuck on price. When it came time to sell our pony I was pretty realistic. I took a 30% loss. He's for sale again at a higher price and I think his talent warrants that price if a buyer can be found. I will be happy for both sides of the transaction if it should take place.

Sorry for the economics rant. Mostly I'm just bummed my pockets aren't deeper so I can't go try that really cute horse. No matter! There will be others! And those others will not turn up their noses at my lowly budget. My horse will not be fancy but he or she will be loved. My horse will have a good life and he or she is out there waiting for me. I only hope we won't have to wait too long to find one another.

This morning I heard from a friend who has been in the market more recently. She has travelled to Florida, South Carolina and Virginia looking for horses for both herself and her daughter. The horse for her daughter will be similar to what we bought for my daughter and the horse for her will be similar to what I am looking for. She feels that a proven BN horse of ideal age (I'll say 10) costs about $15,000 so I am low in my budget. But if they have schooling show experience rather than recognized, the price is lower. Likewise as they get older. So a 15 yo will certainly be less. We won't talk about the budget for the other kind of horse!

I also heard back from another owner. This one is asking $15,000 for her horse. Her response to me was lovely. Her horse sounds wonderful. I will keep in touch with this seller. Hopefully she will call me if anything changes and I will certainly call her if I find I am able to do a little better.

I would also add that location is a big factor in the horse market just as it is in the housing market. Horses in Canada are much more reasonably priced. There are fewer people up there and the US dollar is very strong. Prices seem to be better in the midwest where more people can keep horses in their backyards. Metropolitan areas such as the one I live in are just more expensive in every single way so I will either have to pay for the convenience of buying a horse nearby or I will have to travel. I'm already booking my flight to Toronto. I'm cheating and using frequent flyer miles. Those were not mentioned in my budget and may just help me stretch it enough to make this work!

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