Purchasing Real Estate
July 7, 2016
Boundary County boasts some of the most beautiful and productive real estate anywhere, but there are some things to consider prior to putting your signature on that dotted line. If you're planning to make Boundary County your home, please realize that the majority of this community is rural, and life here may well be very different than what you're used to. If you're from a more urban area, please be aware that services you may have taken for granted may not be available here; many areas are served by private water associations, but there are areas that are not, and in some of these areas water must be hauled in. There is no county-maintained septic or storm-sewer system; all county septic systems must be privately installed and inspected.
Boundary County has an extensive road network, but many of the county roads are not maintained through the winter. Many parcels are accessible only by private roads granted by easement through property owned by others, so it is important that you ensure that such access is indicated on your deed; while the person who owns the property you need to cross now may be the friendly sort of neighbor most common here, the next owner may not be, and you may find that the access you thought was legally recorded wasn't. The county does not maintain private roads, nor does the county impose restrictions on easements. If access to the property you are considering is not adequate to handle emergency or utility vehicles, those services will be unavailable to you. Most people look at the property they are considering in the summer, when conditions are at their best. A road that may appear entirely adequate then may well not be when the snow comes. Winter conditions here are extremely hard on roads and the county expends a considerable amount for their maintenance each year, but even when the weather turns nice, it may take considerable time for Road and Bridge crews to bring road conditions back up to tolerable levels. Those using private roads are responsible for maintaining those roads; and if more than one family uses the road conflicts can arise.
Fire protection and emergency medical services in Boundary County are provided by trained volunteers, but because of the distances involved and because conditions are not always favorable, response times can be delayed. There may not be specific street addresses in Boundary County and postal addresses will get you your mail, but won't in every case tell emergency responders how to reach your home, which can result in even slower response times if you don't realize this.
Another thing to consider is utilities and services, which are not available in all areas of Boundary County. Unless you plan on using solar or other alternative energy sources, bringing electricity to areas not currently on the grid can entail great expense.
Prior to finalizing your purchase, it is wise to check with the Planning and Zoning Department to make sure you'll be able to use your property as you plan, as lots exist which are not open to development. There are also areas of the county which lie within the National Flood Insurance Program flood plain, meaning there will be additional costs for development, if development is possible at all.
Boundary County does NOT offer a Certificate of Occupancy. Rather, upon requesting a permit from the Planning and Zoning Department to establish a residential or commercial structure, said Residential (or Commercial) Placement Permit will be issued to confirm the applicant's compliance with placement guidelines consistent with the zone in which a parcel lies; when and if a structure is occupied is not monitored by Boundary County
While it's not required by ordinance, Boundary County recommends that anyone purchasing property ensure that a proper survey or plat map has been recorded or have the property surveyed at your own expense prior to purchase. Relying on a fence line, a rock or that tree out back is not prudent and could result in costly disputes later. If you choose not to require or obtain a record of survey and rely on a metes and bounds description, it is strongly recommended that you have a title company examine the description to ensure its accuracy and to ensure that the title to the property is clear.
Another consideration is the economy of Boundary County, which is based predominantly on timber and agriculture production. Idaho is a "right to farm" state, meaning anyone who owns property has the right to use or lease that land for agricultural production; there is nothing the county can do to prevent a neighbor from going into the hog business should they so choose, even if the breeze blows your way. Much of the county is timbered, with over 75 percent of the total land base of Boundary County owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Idaho Department of Lands and the Bureau of Land Management. If you purchase a parcel because the trees on the hillside across the road make for a beautiful view, you shouldn't be disappointed should loggers move in later to harvest that timber.
Life in Boundary County is wonderful; the people here retain a strong pioneer spirit of hard work and of helping their neighbors ... most who call this community home would agree that you'll not find a more neighborly place anywhere else. But the rugged beauty and often harsh conditions mean that many of the amenities you may be used to are not available, and if you're used to relying on strict ordinances and regulations to help you resolve neighborly disputes, you'll be disappointed. It is the belief of the county that people who buy and build here have the right to build the home that best suits them; if the roof collapses under the weight of the snow, they'll know better next time. Conversely, you may build a beautiful home that meets the most stringent building codes while your neighbor may not; the county will not intercede on your behalf to make that neighbor live up to your standards.