Monday, January 23, 2017

Improving property values: money grows on trees in W.Va.

Trees at Ritter Park, courtesy
Money may grow on trees when it comes to property value in West Virginia.

Though their beauty may be immeasurable, the impact of trees on property is quantifiable: yards that are landscaped with large trees and yards located in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets may be valued as much as 15 percent higher than comparable properties, according to one study.

That's good news for West Virginia landowners who live where trees flourish, though an urban-forestry professional says mountaineers may have additional reasons to plant and maintain large trees.

"Tree cover will make a house more desirable and potentially increase its value, and it should help it sell faster," says Dr. Greg Dahle, a assistant professor of arboriculture and urban forestry at West Virginia University, "and West Virginia is in keeping with national studies on that account."

"But storm-water mitigation is a concern here in communities where flooding and sewerage are concerns. Trees reduce the amount of water being released into sewers and increase the amount being released slowly into the ground."

"Even a bare tree can intercept some of that water and release is slowly, and while it might seem like single tree would not achieve much, a collection of trees can certainly have a measurable impact.

Dahle also recommends landowners in West Virginia consider planting fruit trees, which have obvious economic benefits when it comes to food consumption. "I think property owners might consider including a few apple trees or pear trees. I think most Americans don't have enough fruit trees in their yard, though there's nothing as American as apple pie."

Shade trees also significantly reduce energy consumption, Dahle says. "Shade is an important component of reducing the need to cool houses in summer, and, if planted in right location, a tree can deflect winter winds that drive up heating costs."

Trees can also help remove particulate pollution from the air. "Trees capture carbon and can helps lowly mitigate the effects of global warming," he says.

In West Virginia, as in other states, national statistics that regard the value of trees appears consistent, Dahle says with regard to a list of homeowner benefits published by the National Arbor Day Foundation:

  • Larger trees in yards and as street trees can add three to fifteen percent to home values throughout neighborhoods, according to a study cited by the University of Washington.
  • Homebuilders can recover extra costs of preserving trees through higher sales prices and faster sales for houses on wooded lots, according to a study by the Georgia Forestry Commission.
  • Eighty-three percent of Realtors believe mature trees have a strong or moderate impact on the saleability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increases to 98 percent, according to Arbor National Mortgage.
  • Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent, according to a study by the International City-County Management Association.

So, what's the economic benefit of the maple out on your front lawn or the willow down by the pond? Tree appraisers are available to help guide owners, though a National Tree Benefit Calculator has been devised to help. Simply enter the location, size, and type of tree, and the calculator will approximate the benefits of an urban, street-side planting.

Oak on property in western Monongalia County
To find out more about the value of trees, visit the National Arbor Day Foundation, which can help guide you on your way to planting, maintaining, and restoring trees to your benefit and that of your neighbors.

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