4 Tips for Buying Real Estate in Star Valley

By: Tim Hale
Published: February 18, 2021

Star Valley has made it through another cold, snowy winter, but spring is around the corner! Star Valley makes a pretty dramatic shift as the warmer weather starts to roll in: Snow-packed roads show signs of asphalt, evening temps only go below freezing (rather than below zero), and one of my favorite burger and shake joints opens its doors!

Another big change? The real estate market heats up (as if it's not hot already!), as potential property buyers get a glimpse of Star Valley's beauty as they pass through on their way to Yellowstone, the Tetons, or a family vacation along the Greys River.

While the thought of purchasing that dream property is exciting, there are a few things every buyer should be mindful of. Here are four tips for thinking through your Star Valley real estate buying decision.

1. Know what you're looking for

Property types in Star Valley widely vary. Are you looking for land to build on in the future? A cozy cabin nestled against national forest land? A starter home in one of Star Valley's quaint mountain towns? A larger home with substantial acreage? All of these property types will have their own subtleties and variations that you'll want to know about.

  • Your new home may be part of an HOA with its own CC&Rs to abide by. Do the CC&Rs allow you to have horses on your property? Is this a deal breaker?
  • That beautiful home in the country may share a border down-wind from a local rancher. Does that work for you--and your “smeller”?
  • Your home in town may be on a less up-to-date neighborhood. How might this impact your home's future value?
  • How long do you plan to stay in your home? Will it be a summer home only, or will you be there year round?

Starting your Star Valley property search with a clear idea of what type of property you're looking for will make your search more straightforward.

2. Assemble a “property buying team”

To avoid potential pitfalls, you should have a “property buying team” to support you and your purchase. This could potentially include any or all of the following: A realtor, an attorney, a title company, and a land surveyor.

A realtor is your guide to navigating your property purchase--he or she is the quarterback. Since the buyer doesn't typically pay realtor commissions, it's often best to opt for a realtor in your corner (they'll split the commission with the seller's agent). Among their many roles, they can help you know the in's and out's of what you're actually buying and help you negotiate a more fair purchase price as a result (more on this later).

An attorney can help you draw up any legal documents which may be required. This can be especially helpful if you've negotiated for a seller-financed purchase. Having a legal expert in your corner can save you a lot of money and heartache, ensuring that all agreements are properly drafted and executed.

A title company acts as a neutral party between the buyer and seller to help facilitate your purchase. They'll issue you a title insurance policy--something you should definitely have--which is typically paid for by the seller. Title insurance provides certain protections to you as the new owner of the property. The title company will also review public records for any liens or other issues with your property before your purchase.

A land surveyor can complete a comprehensive inspection of your property to ensure that your property boundary lines are clearly marked and easements are fully disclosed. They can also tell you the precise number of acres you're buying, as well as create a legal description of your property.

3. Consider the additional costs

We're not just talking about closing costs, title or legal fees, though those are certainly part of the whole cost picture. There are other costs that may crop up when buying property in Star Valley. What additional costs could you be facing?

Does all that extra acreage on your new property need to be fenced, or fences repaired? What other equipment will be needed to get around or maintain your property? Should you include in your offer price the owner's old 4-wheeler to help you navigate your new space? All of these costs should be considered before making the buying decision.

What about non-financial costs, like air quality? AIR QUALITY??? Sure we're in the country--without all the exhaust and other pollutants that come from urban areas--but Star Valley is still largely agricultural territory where field-born allergens abound, especially in the spring and summer. Know what to expect and what the “costs” may be.

4. Find a realtor who knows Star Valley

As mentioned earlier, your realtor can function as the quarterback for your property purchase. Besides being your liaison with your attorney, title company, and surveyor, an experienced Star Valley realtor can help navigate the other unique issues.

  • Where's my water coming from? Water rights are a big deal in any agricultural community, and Star Valley is no exception. If you plan to purchase property outside one of Star Valley's towns, you'll want to be clear on where your culinary and irrigation water come from and the potential benefits and costs associated with them. Your realtor can help here.
  • Where does the poop go? A bit crass, I know, but this is a big deal too. If your home is in town, then your home likely hooks into the town-supported sewer line. If not, then you probably have a septic system. Your realtor can help you figure out whether a property you're interested in does or doesn't, and what the maintenance and upkeep implications will be.
  • How accessible is the property in the winter? Are your property's roads owned and operated by the town, county, or are they private? Your realtor can help you know, and they'll likely know who's who in the valley to help with upkeep, like winter plowing or putting down some extra gravel in the spring.

I hope this article has been helpful as you consider your first (or next) real estate purchase in Star Valley. Do your homework, assemble your team, and work with a great realtor who knows the Star Valley market and you'll be well ahead for your real estate purchase.