Want to increase the value of your home? Plant a tree — now

If you’re a homeowner who has missed the mark in the hot real estate market, selling your property for gold might be easier than you think, at least if there are trees.

It sounds silly, but real estate professionals say buyers are drawn to raised lawns for both aesthetic and economic reasons. They are so attracted to them, in fact, that they are willing to pay a premium.

The data also confirms this. Many studies show that houses with trees everywhere have 3.5% at 15% more valuable than those who have none. If you sell the house at the median price in the United States — currently $407,600 – that means between $14,000 and $61,000 more profit.

“One of the best things you can do to increase the value and quality of your home is to surround it with beautiful trees and foliage,” says Suzi Dailey, realtor at Realty ONE Group West in Laguna Niguel, Calif. . “It will definitely increase the monetary value of your home – as well as the community you live in.”

How much is a tree worth?

The exact bounty a tree can provide depends on many factors, such as where it is planted, the appearance and condition of the tree, and its maturity.

There are methods to assess the value of a particular tree, although these are generally used for insurance and legal purposes (when a tree has been damaged, for example) and not to establish the price of a particular tree. home. Called “tree ratings,” they use various formulas to assign a monetary price to each tree based on its size, condition, and species.

According to a method from Purdue University’s horticulture department, white fir, Colorado blue spruce, American beech and sugar maple are among the most popular trees. According to the Purdue formula, a sugar maple tree with a healthy 10-inch trunk diameter is valued at over $3,500.

Mark Duntemann, owner of Natural Path Forestry, says he recently evaluated a bog white oak for a local homeowners association. After considering the cost of similar trees and the current condition of the tree in question, he determined that it was worth just over $79,000.

To be clear: if that specific white oak tree was on your property, that wouldn’t mean you could sell the house for another $79,000 (if it did, I’d be at my local tree nursery right now. ) But, “If a third party were to kill the tree, the HOA could claim that number in damages,” says Duntemann.

For owners, the real value of a beautiful, well-maintained tree comes from its appeal to potential buyers.

Mark Walser, president of Incenter Appraisal Management, used his own experience as an example. When he bought his house in Charlotte, North Carolina a few years ago, its abundance of mature trees was a big factor. He was even willing to pay more than other woodless houses were going in the area.

Did he pay the exact amount these trees were “worth”? Probably not.

“Our lot contains three mature Dwarf Japanese Maples…valued at over $8,000 to $15,000 each,” he says. “If our seller had said he wanted a $25,000 premium for the Japanese maples, I wouldn’t have paid it – and it’s highly unlikely that any appraiser would have included that in their appraisal.”

Why trees attract

Treehouses are clearly in demand. But why?

Real estate professionals say it depends on the buyer. For some, it’s just aesthetic. The trees – especially mature, shady, and those with flowers and fruit – are simply beautiful.

For more environmentally conscious homebuyers, trees offer even more benefits. They improve air quality, reduce water runoff and trap carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change.

In warmer parts of the United States, they can also reduce a home’s energy output. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one healthy shade tree provides a whole-house cooling effect equal to 10 room-sized air conditioners running 20 hours a day.

This comes with huge cost savings: the Urban Forest Research Center found that a single tree planted on the west side of a house can cut energy bills by 3% in five years and 12 % at the fifteenth year.

It is more difficult to assign a monetary value to the trees on your property compared to, say, a kitchen renovation, it is clear that they make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Anecdotally, real estate agents say houses with trees sell faster (up to three times faster, according to some accounts).

“Well-placed trees and landscaping will frame the architecture and allow people to see each other using outdoor spaces,” says Casey Case, landscape architect and president of Gates + Associates in Walnut Creek, California.

Large shade trees, in particular, “pack a punch,” she says. “A presence that serves as a pleasant backdrop for… picnics, swings and recreation.”

When trees can hurt

In some cases, having a tree on your property can actually hurt its resale value. Poorly maintained trees are one such drawback, especially if they are dying, in poor health, or in danger of toppling over.

“A tree that has been improperly selected, improperly placed on the property, or improperly maintained can definitely be a negative,” says Duntemann. “Poor structure, heavy dead wood, branches touching the house and harmful fruit are some examples.”

Trees that block views or require a lot of care can also make a home less marketable. The same goes for trees with root structures that like to invade groundwater and drains (ahem, weeping willow.)

“Some smaller, well-placed trees, like a cherry tree, can look really beautiful in a yard and still be small enough to be easily managed,” says Alex Capozzolo, co-founder of Brotherly Love Real Estate in Philadelphia. “There are others, like pepper plants, that drop a lot of sap, do damage and, when they get too close to the house, can damage the foundation or the roof or both. Maintenance and damage can be a huge problem.

All of these things discourage buyers. It can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000 remove a single tree and remove a handful? This can easily run into tens of thousands.

It’s good to know that some cities also have laws regarding tree removal, which might limit your options down the road. In Aspen, Colorado, where trees are a big part of the area’s appeal, you need a special permit — and a home visit from the city forester — to legally dispose of trees. on your property. Aspen owners are also responsible for “mitigating” the loss by planting new trees of the same value as old ones or by paying the city directly.

Gary Feldman of Aspen Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty has been selling real estate in Aspen for nearly 40 years and says he’s seen bureaucracy in action.

“I’ve seen homeowners who planted saplings without realizing they would one day grow to obscure their million-dollar sights,” Feldman says. “It resulted in a bureaucracy that didn’t allow them to cut down the trees.”

The best trees for your money – and where to plant them

Whether you’ve just moved into a new home or you’ve lived in the same place for years, planting trees for profitability requires careful consideration.

To get started, find out which trees are native to your area. If you are in the Midwest, you can opt for bur oak. In the Northeast, a gray birch might be a good choice. You can check with a local arborist or landscaping company to get an idea of ​​native trees in your area. Tools like the The Arbor Day Foundation Tree Helper can also help.

Choosing native trees can extend their lifespan and make them easier to maintain. They also require fewer resources. That’s part of why Taylor Morrison, one of the nation’s largest home builders, uses 100% native plants in its community parks and green spaces.

“Native plants have evolved in your area over hundreds of thousands of years,” says Chad Eby, director of sustainability at Taylor Morrison. “These plants thrive in their local soils, rainfall levels, weather and climate conditions, so they require less maintenance and have a more positive environmental impact than non-native species.”

Once you have chosen a type of tree, choose the right location. According to Scott Maco, director of research and development at national tree-care provider The Davey Tree Expert Company, tall trees that are prominent in the front yard will likely fetch the highest bounty. Trees that provide shade on back patios or act as a privacy screen are also valuable, and energy-saving capabilities should also be considered.

“Tall deciduous trees on the east and west side of buildings will provide the most energy savings in the summer,” Maco explains, since these trees — which include oaks and maples — create a shade canopy in the spring. and drop their leaves when the weather dips. . On the other hand, “Strategically placed evergreen windbreak trees will provide the most savings in winter,” he says.

Last but not least, according to the pros, learn about the care and maintenance needed to keep your tree in good shape. At the very least, that means watering it regularly, pruning dead and diseased limbs, and mulching.

“The lure of a beautiful, tall, healthy tree is always welcome in any home,” says Kirstin McQuillan, associate broker at Century 21 Nason Realty in Winslow, Maine.

But a dead or diseased tree? It won’t do you any favors.

“A potential buyer might think, ‘Wow, look at that tree. I can see my kids building a house in that tree,’” McQuillan says. “Or, ‘Wow, look at that tree. dead. How much will it cost to dismantle?”

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