Equestrian communities often run their facilities at a loss, which is recouped in luxury home sales.

Gated equestrian communities, such as Brays Island Plantation in South Carolina and Cordillera Ranch near San Antonio, appeal to only 11% of all new home shoppers, according to principal Mollie Carmichael of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. However, that 11% is willing to pay well for the opportunity, both in amenity fees and in home sale premiums.

In order to run an equestrian community, a developer must set aside plenty of land for grazing and trails, hire a staff, maintain equestrian land, and pay the high costs of keeping horses fed and healthy.

Shane Reynolds, Cordillera’s recreation director, said the equestrian club is a loss leader that is well worth the cost. “We are projecting a loss of about $40,000 this year—but it really helps us sell the lifestyle of the club,” he said. “It’s worth it to a developer to have a loss on that amenity, but sell dirt out here.”

Homes at Brays Island Plantation are listed between $725,000 and $3.5 million, with a high premium on home sites adjacent to the horse pastures. About 80 horses live at Brays Island during the ‘high season’ from October to May, including 10 property-owned horses available for residents to borrow.
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