Putting Ocala on the Map – OHP Interviewed by BloodHorse & Wall Street Journal
As the premier equestrian real estate brokerages in both Wellington and Ocala, Florida it is no surprise that Ocala Horse Properties and Wellington Equestrian Realty have been making headlines recently. We are honored that our brokers were interviewed for both The Wall Street Journal and Bloodhorse magazine about the Florida equestrian real estate market.
BY AMBER HEINTZBERGER
A FEATURE IN BLOODHORSE MAGAZINE focused on supply and demand in the “sizzling” 2023 farm real estate market in Florida. Broker Matt Varney discussed the effect of higher interest rates on the market, offering a reassuring comment that even though rates are higher in 2023 than they were a couple of years ago, they are still reasonable in a historical context. He noted that one of the biggest challenges currently is that there are more people looking for properties to buy than there are properties available.
In the article, Varney also emphasized the growth seen in Central Florida, commenting, “Ocala is growing and continues to grow in two interesting areas. We have a thriving local economy and local job market and extensive growth in the equestrian world. We are extremely unique when you look at those two variables.”
He also discussed the positive impact of the World Equestrian Center on the Ocala area, noting that it has drawn both amateurs and top professionals to the area, and noted that people are tending to view real estate purchases in Ocala as long-term investments thanks to the area becoming a sustainable community with good prospects for the future.
“I’m proud to live in an area where responsible and exciting growth remains consistent, no matter market conditions,” he said.
While the Wall Street Journal painted Wellington and Ocala as rivalries in equestrian real estate, Ocala Horse Properties and Wellington Equestrian Real Estate see both communities as having their own strengths and value.
Owner-broker Chris Desino said, “Wellington and Ocala are the only two horse markets, if you’re serious about buying a farm in the Southeast United States. Before they built the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, people either moved to Wellington or Ocala and there was no middle ground. Ocala was more affordable and low-key, while Wellington had the Palm Beach scene, so quite a few people from Wellington bought secondary farms in Ocala just to have a weekend place to get away. But these days, people are moving to Ocala year-round.”
“If you’re looking for more acreage and world-class soil, Ocala is the place to be,” says Matt Varney, who is the top selling Marion County Agent, with Ocala Horse Properties. “In Ocala we have more people looking for year-round living. Wellington is a beautiful area with an incredible show experience but like many places in Florida, it lends itself to more seasonal living.”
Desino told the Wall Street Journal that he recently sold a 29-acre farm in Ocala for $4.1 million, a 43% increase over what it sold for in 2020. The article states, “In Wellington, raw land goes for much more, about $2 million and up depending on how close it is to the show venue. While in Ocala we are just starting to see the growth around the World Equestrian Center. Land has historically been undervalued in Ocala and we are seeing that change quickly.”