Grow your Portland Home Value with Trees

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Portland may be the City of Roses, but its taller, leafier residents number in the millions and give Portland its characteristic green glow. Everyone loves trees because they offer shade as well as beauty, but did you know that trees can also improve your home value? Here’s your Portland Real Estate Guide to Trees, tree care and how to get money back for planting a tree!

Trees and Home Value: A Growth Relationship

It makes logical sense that a tree-lined street will have better curb appeal than one that has no trees, but the finding is actually scientifically backed! In 2010, a study published in the journal of Landscape and Urban Planning found that, on average, Portland’s on-street trees add 3% to the median sale price of a house and reduce its time on market by 1.7 days.

What makes trees so appealing, both for real estate agents and homeowners?

  • Trees tend to make people feel safe, sheltered and like they have a little chunk of nature in their backyard — because they do!
  • Trees can screen a bad view and help absorb traffic noises and other urban sounds.
  • A great tree can become a neighborhood landmark, support a swing or a tree house, and invite beneficial wildlife.
  • Trees clean the air by replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen and filtering out other pollutants. They even catch particulates like dust and soot!
  • Trees clean the water and help prevent flooding. According to the US Forest Service, a mature tree can store 50 to 100 gallons of storm water! When the water is released, any pollutants are stored in the tree, instead of being washed into surrounding rivers and streams.
  • Shade from trees decreases summertime temperatures in urban areas that would otherwise be concrete hot spots.

Harvesting the benefits of trees requires good planning and a commitment to stewardship if the tree is on your property for the long term. City trees and those owned by your neighbors have their own benefits and guidelines as well.

Trees on Your Property

“Treed property” is a hot real estate search term and the phrase immediately paints a lovely picture in buyers’ eyes: A great place to live and play.
Unfortunately, some homeowners are stuck with a problem tree, which can be frustrating especially if it’s time to sell your home.
When there is deferred maintenance on a tree, or it is simply the wrong tree for the site, there’s a potential for the tree to actually decrease your home’s value. Although this is a rare case, as a real estate agent, I have advised consultation with an arborist to remove or severely prune a tree before listing it for sale. There are two major potential issues with trees, no matter how beautiful they are:

  1. Branches that hang over the roof, which can fall and cause major damage, become a conduit for home invaders like ants and spiders, or wear away roofing shingles as branches touching the roof move in the wind.
  2. Roots that encroach on the foundation or major water or septic lines. If you’ve ever seen an urban tree that buckles a sidewalk, you know how strong roots can be!

If there are many trees on your property, or even just one bigger tree, it may be worth it to have an arborist inspect your home’s trees before you list it for sale. They can perform pruning and other tree maintenance, or give you advice if you would rather do it yourself. An arborist can also give the stamp of approval that buyers will find valuable — they won’t have to worry about whether a branch is soon to fall or if the root system is encroaching on unseen structures.

If your home is on the market, “stage” your tree as you would any other part of the property! Remove old nails or birdhouses that are more shabby than chic. Prune away dead branches. Don’t lean or store anything near the trunk of the tree — let it be seen! Rake up any leaves, needles, chunks of bark, and other tree debris (and definitely clean them out of your gutters!) Be sure to have a good layer of mulch around the base of the tree, especially in the spring and summer.

Trees Touching Your Property

Home buyers may be concerned about neighboring trees as well, with good reason. Even if a tree’s trunk is on the other side of the property line, any branches that hang onto your property are yours to maintain (cut back when needed). If branches on the neighbor’s side seem to pose a problem or are blocking a critical view, you can always ask them to cut them back, keeping in mind that they can say no unless those branches truly do threaten your property.

If trees near your home but not on your property belong to the city of Portland, you can follow this link to report problems.

Tips on Planting Trees

The average person owns a home for seven years, which is plenty of time to enjoy the benefits of a tree. Depending on the species, your tree could gain up to two feet of height per year!

Not every tree is approved! Please check with the City of Portland before planting.
You can see their approved street tree planting list here.

Planting the right tree for your space is extremely important. Everything from soil condition to sunlight matters for the long-term health of that tree. As Charlie Brown can tell you, there’s nothing sadder than an unhappy looking tree!

Another factor to consider in tree choice are the physical constraints of the space. We’ve already mentioned the potential of tree limbs and roots growing to where they’re not wanted, so map out the tree’s dimensions ten and fifty years down the road to see whether it will actually work. An arborist can be helpful in this process.

Finally, consider the maintenance involved in a tree, a little like you would think about adopting a new pet. Are you able to pick up fruit from the ground every fall? Would you rather deal with leaves or pine needles? Does the tree require a lot of pruning or can you leave it alone for several years at a time?

The Arbor Day Foundation has a handy step-by-step guide to picking residential trees.

Finally, winter is a great time of year to plant a tree in Portland. In fact, the City offers a rebate on certain trees if you plant them before April! Contact our Portland real estate sales team to find out if planting a tree could help your property value.

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