Check out our December Cover Julie Breedlove with Breedlove Farms Estates & Land!
Who better to sell you a farm than a former rodeo queen? Charlotte Real Producers took a trip to Julie Breedlove’s farm to unplug and discover why she is so content with farm life – for herself and her clients.
“Shake the bucket! They’ll perk their ears up. They look best when their ears are up.” Julie Breedlove, founder of Breedlove Farms Estates and Land, is being photographed for our December cover with two of her horses, Red and Azul. I shake the bucket of food, and Red’s ears go up, as predicted.
Once the cameras are gone, we sit in the sun to talk about farms and real estate. With a hint of chill in the air, and one of her gorgeous Bernese mountain dogs at our side, I learn the details of Julie’s business as well as her life.
Growing up in Washington state, Julie and her two brothers sold raspberries from her grandmother’s farm. With her first $100 earned, she bought a horse.
At 12 years old Julie started a paper route – delivering newspapers on horseback. “Everything I made I contributed to caring for horses,” says Julie. Her father was a welder and worked as a custodian, and her mother worked in the kitchen for the local school system. This upbringing, combined with the paper route and caretaking responsibilities, was fertile ground for a solid work ethic and deepening love for animals.
Julie reminisces of the freedom she had to explore the land around her family’s property with her brothers. “We’d get up, and there’d be a chore for us,” says Julie. “Once that was done, we were gone all day on our horses.”
But farm life and caring for animals was no easy task. “When I went to my first horse show at 8 years old,” remembers Julie, “I ran my pony into the back of a car and broke my leg.” That year she broke six bones, from sledding, roller skating, and just being a kid. “I grew up a tomboy,” she shrugs.
Julie went on to become a member of the 4H club, and from age 15-18
participated in the rodeo. It was during this time she was crowned Rodeo Queen. “It’s like being crowned Prom Queen, but for the rodeo,” she explains. As an adult, Julie competed in hunter/jumpers.
Eventually, Julie left the farm and went to school to become a Registered Nurse. After working in surgery for one year – “I was always in the OR,” she says – she moved to Northern California and became an organ procurement coordinator. Although she found great meaning in her work, she eventually left the position. “After a while, it became difficult working with families under these circumstances,” she says.
Next, Julie was hired with a medical equipment company specifically seeking RN’s to be a sales rep, relocating to Toronto to run operations. “I loved
living in Toronto!” she remembers. After that came a move to Chicago and then Cleveland, where she became a marketing manager and met her husband, Lloyd. A North Carolina native, Lloyd eventually retired, which is when the two moved to NC.
The couple temporarily lived on Lake Norman while searching for a farm when Julie made an interesting discovery: “I couldn’t find agents who really knew about farms, and couldn’t find one willing to go outside of their area,” says Julie. “But I had a really good time looking for farms.” The real estate seed was planted.
Sometimes in life, it takes a kick in the face to get into gear – quite literally. One day Julie was walking her horse, Red, out to pasture, and he
accidentally kicked her, breaking her jaw and collarbone. “I decided, since
I couldn’t ride, I’d study and get my real estate license.”
Right away, Julie determined that she’d sell only farm properties. “I was fortunate that I could afford to drive all over the Carolinas and put money into marketing and branding.” Although it was 2008, the market crash hardly affected business. “Several of my clients are retiring, moving here for the weather, or simply seeking privacy and a bit of solace.” Julie also helps many looking for ‘hobby farms,’ who have dogs and other animals.
Selling homes on farmland, with acreage and barns and other infrastructure, is much different than selling traditional real estate. This even applies to advertising, with additional dollars spent on non-traditional websites specializing in equestrian properties and land. This is why, although it can be
tempting to follow other opportunities, Julie stays the course. “The minute you step outside of what you specialize in, you attract different buyers, and it takes you out of your focus,” says Julie. “We are known in the marketplace for selling farms. And at the end of the day, we’re not selling horse farms; we’re selling lifestyles.”
To understand this, look no further than a typical brochure for one of Breedlove’s listings – which spans 15-20 pages. Julie’s expertise is invaluable in helping her clients navigate this information. “We help our clients understand they will have to compromise somewhere, be it on the house, amount of acreage, or horse facilities. Nobody ever finds a perfect farm.
“Standard questions for our buyers are: ‘How many horses do you have? How much land do you need?’ The house is usually an afterthought,” explains Julie, who expedites searches by helping clients narrow down choices on what would suit them best.
Although grateful for modern technology – “Locating farm properties across North and South Carolina with clients in tow was not easy before GPS!” – Julie’s properties encourage you to unplug, a nod to her free-range upbringing. As we walk her property, with the gorgeous breeze, endless land, and reprieve from noise pollution, it’s easy to see why business is thriving.
Breedlove Farms Estates and Land operates under eXp Realty, listing and selling properties all over North and South Carolina. “Since 2012 we’ve sold 20 million-plus annually,” she shares.
Julie credits her growth in business to her fabulous support team. Lloyd, enticed from retirement, now helps to publish listings and design brochures. “It helps that both of us came from marketing and sales,” says Julie. In 2012 the couple brought on another agent: Jo Zarnoch. “Jo had 25 years in real estate, but more importantly, I liked her persistence. She is also a cancer survivor, animal rescuer, and animal advocate. She’s our ‘energizer bunny.’”
Other members also include agents Scott Donaldson and Sheena Lylery; office manager, closing coordinator and licensed agent Nancy Warriner; and licensed agent Wendy Simpson, who also handles social media, marketing, and promotions.
“We keep our sellers educated and are constantly in front of social media tying articles to properties.” It makes Julie happy that several of her clients have started therapeutic programs. “There is one with a program for veterans, and another with a 70-acre farm providing therapy for children with autism and Rett syndrome,” says Julie. “It makes me feel good when we help people find farms to continue those programs.”
So, how did Julie find her farm? “We found it in 1999 when we first moved here,” says Julie. “But it was in Troutman – a.k.a. ‘middle of nowhere’ – so we didn’t consider it.” The couple moved to The Point in Mooresville (currently Trump), but soon needed a place to board her horse. “I remembered this property, so we came back, and I couldn’t believe it – it was for sale again.” Needless to say, the couple purchased the farm.
Unfortunately, at first, things didn’t go as planned. The day they bought
the farm, her horse, Madonna, died suddenly from an internal bleed.
Although tragic, they remained at the farm and continued to grow their family of animals.
Each animal has a story, starting with the horses. All rescued and retired,
there is Azul (“He was supposed to be replacement for Madonna”), Red (“He’s our handsome ‘bad investment’”), Bill (“At 35 years old, Bill hit the big time here”), Lucy (“So ugly, no one wanted her!”), Libra (“A former Grand Prix Champion, and motherly-type who takes care of Lucy”), and Captain (“He came for the storm, but he’s still here”). There’s Max and Sophie, the couple’s two beautiful Bernese mountain dogs, and finally, the countless rescued barn cats, of which there are too many to name.
Julie feels fortunate she doesn’t have many competitors. “There’s a lot of good real estate agents out there. And we work with many of them – especially once they have a client looking for farmland or they have a farm listing.” Breedlove can save a lot of time, hours behind the windshield, and marketing dollars for agents when they refer these clients, which they often choose to do. “It’s not unusual for me to go out on a listing and have two or three buyers already.”
It’s no surprise that in her spare time Julie loves to camp, kayak, and spend time in the mountains. “We take the dogs each year to the Outer Banks,” she says. It’s clear she is in her element living an unplugged lifestyle, and it’s no wonder she’s attracting buyers who yearn for the same.
Julie is an example of what can happen when you combine dedication, grit, a taste of the city life, and a heart for farm life. “I had a great downtown lifestyle in Toronto and Chicago, but the country is where I belong.”
You can reach Julie Breedlove by
phone at (704) 528-5575 or by email