BY JESS CLAWSON
Owning a horse farm is a lifestyle, whether it houses just a few companion horses or dozens of elite equine athletes. For many people, that lifestyle is a dream, but Nichole McCaig helps make it come true for her clients.
As the owner of Visible Homes, located in Michigan, McCaig has built her career around equestrian properties. For three years running, she has been the top real estate agent for equestrian properties in the state of Michigan.
McCaig has a tendency to be successful in things she loves. Growing up showing pintos, she was the #1 youth in the nation in 1993. As an amateur showing paint horses, she was consistently on the APHA Top 20 List, reaching as high as #5 in the nation in 2004. “That was amazing,” she recalled. “Traveling the nation and seeing so many places and meeting so many people. I’m still in touch with a lot of the friends I’ve made.”
She still has horses and enjoys them, but between owning her business and having four children, she doesn’t compete these days. “My next role in the show world will be as the horse show mom. I’ll have to reinvent myself,” she laughed.
McCaig got her degree in marketing with a concentration in advertising from Eastern Michigan University. She and her husband started Visible Homes in 2009, and spent the next five years focused on luxury and residential real estate. In 2014, she decided to combine her equestrian background with her real estate prowess to support Michigan’s equestrian market.
“Once a horse person, always a horse person,” she said. “Being able to combine my love for horses and my knowledge of what makes an equestrian property special is very rewarding for me.” McCaig’s equestrian background allows her to market these special properties and communicate to potential buyers the advantages of owning your own hobby farm or equestrian facility.
“A lot of families started boarding, but wanted their kids to have the expanded lifestyle of having the horses at home. It teaches them responsibility,” she explained. “It’s part of what makes what I do so rewarding, seeing families able to make that dream come true.”
Visible Homes has its own marketing platform to better allow them to include
all of the specialized detail and specific information of equestrian properties, including different types of fencing, footing, arena size, and other things that are important to equestrians.
“Owning a horse property represents a lifestyle, and it really needs to be marketed that way. We’ve incorporated a lot of unique ideas, like lifestyle videos and barn tours. These type of videos can be very expensive but they benefit our clients tremendously. It’s wonderful to have videos of people riding and jumping in the arenas so you can see the properties in action. People interacting with the horses, feeding them carrots, walking horses down aisleways or out to the pastures brings the properties to life and shows people the lifestyle.”
For instance, she worked with a family that moved from a large subdivision of new construction. Their daughter had been taking riding lessons and loved it. The family wanted to move to a more rural area, so McCaig found them the perfect spot. “It was funny. They said it’s going to be a year or two before we get any horses. But sure enough, I bumped into them a few months later and they told me they were getting a horse,” she said. “It was great to know that their children were going to be able to grow up with the horses.”
Visible Homes has a large social media following, which helps sellers a great deal. “The reach is huge when people share the properties—one of our videos had over 30,000 views on YouTube. Social media has changed the world for realtors.” McCaig and her team know how to reach the proper audience, as her posts get shared all across the country. “You never know when a property is going to hit the right person and they fall in love with it,” she said.
Michigan is a terrific place for horse people to live. Many of the properties McCaig lists are adjacent to or very near state lands with miles of bridle paths. Ann Arbor is consistently ranked as one of the top cities in America to live in, and many of the high schools in that part of the state have equestrian teams. Michigan is also home to top riders in every discipline, some of whom winter in Florida and enjoy Michigan’s beautiful summer and fall weather.
McCaig loves selling properties and meeting people, and her passion for it is evident in her success. Other agents are taking notice. “Over the last couple years, I have received a lot of inquiries from agents all over the country who also have a background in the equine industry. They want to know how to break into the equestrian property market.” she explained. “It’s a niche market. You have to know what you’re doing to be successful at it.”
To help more people learn to combine horse backgrounds with their real estate profession, McCaig launched a company called Equine Mogul, a coaching service to help those agents break into the equestrian market in their areas. “Our goal is to help them become the top equestrian agent in their specific area, and we will be offering our services to individual agents and brokerages.” Equine Mogul launched in mid-June 2019 and will offer agents the tools to market equestrian properties with the specificity they need.
Everything gets easier for horse lovers when they find the right property. Visible Homes has broken the mold on equestrian real estate marketing, which can only help the horse industry grow. Having horses at home is both a lifestyle and a privilege, and Visible Homes is making it happen for people in Michigan and across the country.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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