All about horse properties in Orange County and outlying areas
I created this article to help my clients
understand local horse properties and what they can realistically expect to find in
Orange County and in outlying areas like Ortega Highway, Murrieta,
Temecula, Riverside, Fallbrook, etc. There are many great areas in
Orange County to buy a horse property. Often though, my clients are
looking for properties with multiple acres. When I first speak with clients about their requirements for a horse
property, it often goes something like this:
First, understand that Orange County is very
built out. Many decades ago the south County consisted largely of
orange groves and rural ranches, but that has changed completely.
Civilization has encroached on nearly every corner of the County and
there are few wide open spaces left. I do understand my client's
to find a horse property within Orange County. Most people want to
live close to work and do not like the idea of a long commute or
moving to an area that is 5 or 10 degrees hotter than OC. But, they also
have to realize that buying in Orange County will come with certain
restrictions. When I direct them to areas outside of Orange County that have wide open spaces and horse properties on several acres,
they often come back
with “Well, I’ll keep looking”. My
(polite) response to that is, you may look all you want, but there are
only a few areas in Orange County that are equestrian zoned and
regrettably, you are unlikely to find a 2+ acre, serene and private
horse property in OC for $ 1M or less. Sorry,
just not going to happen!
So, my task as your buyer's agent is to help you review all of the pluses and minuses of horse properties in Orange County and neighboring areas. Also, to help you understand any of the limitations, including lot size, price, etc. There are many great areas in Orange County to buy a top-quality horse property but with few exceptions, you will not find a horse property in Orange County that is larger than 1 acre and costing less than $ 1.2M. If you want a larger property or if you are on more of a budget, we will need to look for a horse property outside of Orange County.
The top Orange County horse property areas
Orange County has several equestrian communities, so let’s take a good look at these areas and also at some alternate places.
Orange Park Acres - Probably the top equestrian area in OC. The majority of horse properties are on very flat lots with a one story ranch-style home on 1 acre. The prices range from $ 1.2M to well over $2M for homes that are quiet luxurious. There are also homes that come up for under $1M, but they will not be on 1 acre lots. OPA has the least restrictive guidelines for the number of horses you can keep on your property, which is up 8 per acre. With a special permit, you can keep up to 12 horses on an acre! This unincorporated community is 100% equestrian, so there are miles of trails and loads of like-minded residents. If you love horses and are looking for a single story ranch home on 1 acre, this is the best place in OC.
The average house sold over the past 3 years
in OPA went for about
$1,300,000 on a full acre lot.
Yorba Linda - Also a great equestrian area, with most horse properties being in the west end of town. The homes are generally on smaller lots than in OPA, with most on ˝ acre lots. On the plus side, the city has plenty of trails totaling over 100 miles, so it is a great place to ride. You may also keep up to 8 horses per acre in Yorba Linda. I would rate Yorba Linda and Orange Park Acres as the best two places in North Orange County to buy an equestrian property.
The average horse
property sold in Yorba Linda over the past 3 years went for about $ 1,150,000 on a ˝
Laguna Hills - Nellie Gail Ranch in Laguna Hills is the most notable equestrian community in south Orange County. The area has many estate homes and lots do go up to 1 acre. Generally though, most of the lots are about a ˝ acre in size. It is also very hilly terrain with few lots that are total flat, so most likely your horses will reside on the side of a hill. Nellie Gail Ranch does have an extensive trail system throughout and that is a plus. It also has a top-quality boarding facility - Nellie Gail Equestrian Center. If you are looking for an estate-level equestrian home in South Orange County that has miles of riding trails, this would be the place.
horse property sold over the past three years in Laguna Hills closed for $1,700,000 on a
1/2 acre lot. The high sale was $3,1M on a 2.5 acre lot.
Here is an article that covers the history of this community: History of Nellie Gail Ranch
San Juan Capistrano – This south OC city used to have miles of wide-open spaces, but gated communities and a crush of home builders have changed the picture here. San Juan Horse properties can be found scattered around the city in places like Spotted Bull, The Acreage, Hidden Hills, Stoneridge, and the gated and exclusive Hunt Club community. San Juan also has a few good boarding facilities. It does have a good trail system, but it is not the quality of the trail system in Nellie Gail Ranch. Generally speaking, San Juan horse properties will cost more than comparable properties in Laguna Hills. If you are looking for a very elegant home that is equestrian zoned, San Juan Capistrano may be one of your best bets.
The average horse property sold over the past three years in San Juan went for $ 2,300,000 on a 2 acre lot. The high sale was $8.5M
Coto de Caza – This gated community represents the extreme luxury end of horse properties; that is, for the buyer that can afford it. The community does include many miles of riding trails within the fences that surround the community. It also has a polo field and a top-quality equestrian center, although a new home development may be encroaching on part of the this center. Equestrian-zoned homes are primarily in the Los Ranchos Estates custom home area. These homes are often immense, ranging from 5,000 to over 10,000 sq ft, and are on 2 to 5 acre lots. These properties are also very expensive, as you might expect.
Only 14 horse properties were sold in Coto de Caza over the past 3 years, with the average sale being $ 3,300,000 on lots ranging from 2 to 5 acres. The high sale was a home that closed for over $ 7M.
The Canyons – The Santiago Canyons in central Orange County consist of three major canyons - Silverado, Modjeska, and Trabuco Canyons. This is a very woodsy, rural area, with many homes dating back to the 1930s. There are few rules here and no HOAs, so every home is potentially a horse property. Many residents simply construct a pipe corral in the front yard, even on very modest properties. There are also many vacant lots for sale, but building in the canyons is quite restrictive. If you are on a tight budget, the canyons may be the best place in OC to buy a property where you can have horses. The main issue in the canyons is the lack of good riding trails. The canyon roads are very narrow and many former riding trails are now off limits.
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) has bought much of the land in the canyons as “compensatory” land, which you can read about here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/octa-663507-public-karg.html . While it is great that they have preserved these areas, they have also made them off limits to the public. For example, many residents of Trabuco Canyon are now forced to ride their horses almost exclusively in O’Neil Regional Park. There are a few canyon areas notable for small to medium horse properties - Rose Canyon, Mountain View, Windy Ridge, Modjeska Canyon, etc. But in my opinion, the top equestrian canyon area is Hamilton Oaks, which is a gated community in Trabuco Canyon. Homes here only come on the market occasionally. If one does come up for sale, it usually will consist of a home with a 2 Acre lot and a price in excess of $1M.
Over the past three years, 41 horse properties were sold in the canyons with an average price of $830.000. This includes several very small homes that sold from $400K to $500K, and many larger homes, with the high being $1.8M on 4 acres.
Other Orange County horse property areas
These communities do have horse properties, but they are smaller in number and these areas lack quality riding tails
There are a few horse properties scattered around Fullerton in places like Richman Knoll and
Sunny Hills Estates along Valencia Mesa road. There are also homes
along Page Ave, which is close to the 91 Freeway. It is an older
street with homes on very large lots that are equestrian zoned (though
really have to trailer out to ride). Fullerton is not a huge
equestrian area. I would rate Fullerton as the best equestrian city in
this group though, as you can get a property on decent acreage and
there are 28 miles of trails. Coyote
Hills Ranch is a boarding facility in Fullerton with direct
access to these trails.
- There are a few horse properties scattered around Fullerton in places like Richman Knoll and Sunny Hills Estates along Valencia Mesa road. There are also homes along Page Ave, which is close to the 91 Freeway. It is an older street with homes on very large lots that are equestrian zoned (though you really have to trailer out to ride). Fullerton is not a huge equestrian area. I would rate Fullerton as the best equestrian city in this group though, as you can get a property on decent acreage and there are 28 miles of trails. Coyote Hills Ranch is a boarding facility in Fullerton with direct access to these trails.
There were only 18
horse properties sold in Fullerton over the past 3 years, with an
average sale of $ 1.260,000 on 1 acre. The high was $2.7M for a 5,500
sq ft custom home on less than 1 acre.
There were only 18 horse properties sold in Fullerton over the past 3 years, with an average sale of $ 1.260,000 on 1 acre. The high was $2.7M for a 5,500 sq ft custom home on less than 1 acre.
Anaheim Hills - This hilly community does have homes with beautiful views and a few properties that are equestrian zoned. If you prefer to board, Anaheim Hills Saddle Club is a full service facility offering horse boarding, riding lessons and training. Not many places to ride in Anaheim Hills though, so I really recommend buying in neighboring Yorba Linda if you are a serious rider.
Only 9 horse properties were sold in Anaheim Hills in the past three years. The average sale was $1.5M on 1 acre. The high sale was $4M on 1 acre.
North Tustin - This is an unincorporated area of Orange County that includes Lemon Heights and Cowan Heights. The area is very hilly with many beautiful custom homes. Some of the homes are equestrian zoned, but riding trails are few and far between. It may also be dangerous to ride here with many narrow, winding roads full of blind spots.
11 horse properties closed in the past three years in North Tustin at an average price of $1.2M on a 1/2 acre. The high sale was $1.6M on 1 acre.
Brea - The Carbon Canyon area of Brea has a few large ranches, which may come up for sale. These consist of a home and property of up to 10 acres. These properties are rarely on the market though, and if one does come up, I suggest you jump on it immediately! Not much in the way of riding tails here, but it is rare to find a horse property in OC with this much acreage.
There were no recent sales of horse properties in the Brea area.
Newport Beach - This beach town has a small equestrian area called Santa Ana Heights along the back bay. This area was annexed by the city of Newport Beach in the early 2000s. Homes range from older "fixer" properties to elaborate estates on Mesa drive, costing many millions. Over the years, many of these horse properties have been demolished to build extravagant custom homes on the generous lots. You can still ride a horse and buy a property here, but it is expensive and your ride will be accompanied by the sound of jets leaving John Wayne airport every few minutes.
8 horse properties were sold over the past 3 years in Newport Beach, with an average price of over $2.7M. The high sale was $8.4M on 2.5 acres on Mesa drive. Read more about Newport Beach horse property here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/horses-733730-homes-newport.html
Horse properties outside of Orange County
Do you want a horse ranch on multiple acres? Also at prices that are far lower than Orange County? These are the places to go, and some are not that far from Orange County!
Rancho Carrillo - Just outside of San Juan Capistrano is the equestrian community of Rancho Carrillo, which is a few miles up the Ortega highway. Drive past Caspers Wilderness Park and you will see a red metal gate on the right side of the road. This leads to a 5 mile, very windy road to the top of the plateau. Once you reach the top, you are in another world. The area seems greener because of the higher elevation. There are over 70 horse ranches, with most being 2 1/2 acres in size. Nearly every home has horses and there are miles of wide open, pristine riding trails. You can easily ride out into the adjoining Cleveland National Forest and go all the way to Fallbrook. Many people are not in love with the long, windy road to get to Rancho Carrillo, but you are still very close to Orange County and several residents commute to OC on a daily basis. Prices have risen dramatically here because of the close proximity to OC. Nothing sells for under $1M now, with many luxury homes even hitting the $2M mark.
Rancho Capistrano - This community is also off of the Ortega highway, but closer to the Lake Elsinore side. Just past the fire station in El Cariso Village, a 2 mile road leads to a gated community with 133 equestrian-zoned properties on a minimum of 2 1/2 acres. Few homes come on the market here, but when they do, the prices are far lower than Rancho Carrillo. A good sized 3,000 sq ft home on 2 acres usually sells in the $700K range. If you are OK driving a long distance down the Ortega highway, Rancho Capistrano is a hidden gem with great home prices.
Note on Rancho Carrillo and Rancho Capistrano property showings: My apologies, but I will no longer be showing homes in either of these two communities unless 1) You are a serious and committed buyer, and 2) you have already visited the community and understand the drive, the road, and the location. I am making this change because I have had too many people asking me to show a property in one of these communities, then reneging on buying because they didn't like the long, winding road or the location far down the Ortega Highway. If you wish to visit one of the communities first, call me and I will advise you on how to visit them. To be clear, I am happy to show you homes in either community, but only to potentially buy a home, not to check out the community, the drive, or the location. Thanks for your understanding!
Ortega Highway - In between the gated communities of Rancho Carrillo and Rancho Capistrano is the vast stretch of the Ortega highway. This one-lane highway starts in south Orange County and continues for many miles, until it ends with a spectacular view and winding decent into Lake Elsinore, in Riverside County. Although horse properties along this route are rare, they do come on the market occasionally. These are mostly one-off properties located off of some of the many long (often dirt) roads that branch off of the main highway. These ranches are well hidden and on private property, so unless one comes up for sale, you will likely be completely unaware of these properties. They are not easy to find. Searching for these properties through the Multiple Listing Service usually involves looking in Riverside County and checking for properties in Lake Elsinore or Ortega Mountain.
Murrieta - If you are willing to travel down the I-15, the city of Murrieta has horse properties on multiple acres with beautiful ranch homes. The most notable area is La Cresta on the Santa Rosa plateau, which is the home to many Thoroughbred stables. Drive west off of the I-15 and into the hills and you will discover amazing ranches on large acreage. Horse properties start in the $600K range for a 2,000 sq ft home on 5 acres. You can buy an immense luxury ranch home in La Cresta of over 5,000 sq ft on 5 or more acres for about $1.2M.
Temecula - The city of Temecula, which is further down the I-15, is rapidly becoming a major alternative place to live for many Orange County residents. There is much to do here, including over 30 wineries, "Old Town" Temecula, Pechanga resort and casino, and the huge Promenade mall. And yes, they have horse properties. De Portola road is home to many thoroughbred breeders and stables. You can easily buy a starter property on 5 or more acres in Temecula for $600,000. There are many luxury properties for sale with huge homes and lots. If you push into the $1M price range, you can purchase an estate home in wine country on 5 to 10 acres. There are also dozens of vacant lots for sale averaging 2 to 5 acres, where you can build your own dream horse property.
Riverside - Within the city of Riverside are many small ranches at great prices. These properties are located primarily in the Mockingbird Canyon area of Riverside. You can buy a starter horse property on a 1/2 acre lot in the $300K to $400K price range. Properties with 1 to 4 acres are available for under $600K. The main attraction of this area over neighboring Norco is the larger lot size of most of the horse properties.
Norco - This small city in Riverside County is a great alternative for buyers looking for an affordable horse property that is a reasonable distance from Orange County. You can buy a starter horse property on a large lot in the $300K range! A luxury home with a pool is under $1M. The lots are not huge here, with the average being a half-acre, but the prices are great compared to OC. A house with 4 bedrooms, 2,000 sq ft, on a half-acre lot averages $500K. You can also find dozens of horse properties for sale in the $400K range. If you are on a tight budget and can live with the commute to OC, Norco may be your best bet.
Fallbrook - Fallbrook in San Diego County is a scenic and woodsy area with many horse properties. Prices are great here, with an average equestrian home selling in the $600K range for a 2,000 sq ft house on 2 to 4 acres. It is easy to find a luxury-level home on 4 acres for under $1M. Outside of the charming down town, the area has miles of remote ranches in the hills - Great if your priority is privacy. Fairbrook Farms is a top quality boarding and training facility in Fallbrook and there are many others if you prefer to board your horse. If you are looking for a lush, semi-rural area with a small town feel, a horse property in Fallbrook may be a good choice.
Bonsall - A neighboring community to Fallbrook and closer to the ocean, Bonsall attracts many buyers because of the tranquil, rural atmosphere and cool ocean breezes. Horse property sales are modest here, with only a few homes available for sale at any time. The average sale is around $1.2M for a 3,000 sq ft home on 2 to 4 acres. Hidden Hills Equestrian Ranch is a top quality boarding and training facility in Bonsall. The area also holds the San Luis Rey Training Center, which is a California Horse Racing Board approved auxiliary training track. Both Bonsall and Fallbrook in San Diego County will have cooler temperatures than Temecula, Norco, or Riverside.
Horse properties for lease in Orange County
I get several requests to lease a horse property each month. Unfortunately, there are very few properties that come up for lease, and if they do, they are usually very expensive. It seems that OC horse property owners rarely lease out their properties. I have seen (and have leased) the occasional property that comes up for lease in areas like Orange Park Acres, but these properties usually lease for over $4,000 per month and there are dozens of applicants. I wish I had better news for you, so don't count too heavily on leasing a horse property in Orange County. Outside of OC? Not a whole lot better. Maybe the occasional property in Norco or Temecula, but the pickings are also slim. You are far better off leasing a conventional home and just boarding your horse at a nearby facility. To check properties that are for lease, use my link here: Horse properties for lease in Orange County, CA
I hope this article has helped you understand the characteristics and prices of many popular equestrian areas of Orange County and neighboring communities. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at any time at (949) 290-3263. I am always available to discuss properties with you and help you in your search for the perfect horse property!