Have you ever thought about the vital role trees play in a house hunt? With their hulking branches and delicate flowers, trees are a joy to see when you first step onto a property.
“A beautifully landscaped yard makes a huge difference,” Nancy Hodges says. Nancy’s a RE/MAX real estate agent, who’s been selling homes for 30 years. On the flip side, an unkempt yard can have the same impact.
“I’ve actually had buyers pull up with me in the driveway and refuse to get out because of the way the yard was landscaped,” Nancy says.
Before buying a home, of course, you’ll look at the trees on the property! But be sure to really examine them before putting in an offer.
Checklist: Buying a House with Big Trees in the Backyard, Near the Foundation or Next to the House
If you choose a house with mature trees, you’ll get lots of benefits, like energy savings. But that’s if the trees are properly planted and in the best shape.
Here’s how to tell if a home’s trees will be a benefit or burden to you!
Benefits of Buying a House with Big, Mature Trees
In addition to making your heart swoon, a big, beautiful tree in your yard can actually pay you back!
If you inherit big, mature trees when you buy a new house, you’ll also get:
- A natural energy saver. Strategically placed trees save up to 56 percent on annual air-conditioning costs. Likewise, in winter, trees, especially evergreens, can reduce the need for heating by 20 to 50 percent. (USDA Forest Service)
- A constant sun blocker. Sitting under a shade tree provides the equivalent of SPF 10 sunblock. (University of Purdue)
- A quiet protector. While providing privacy from neighbors, trees also reduce 50 percent of urban noise. (USDA National Agroforestry)
- A smart investment. A tree in front of a house increases the home’s sale price by an average of $7,130. (PNW Research Station)
What if there’s a big tree near the house or right next to it?
A mature tree right next to or near a home works great as a natural home cooler or wind blocker. But there are risks of having a tree situated near a house: it could fall, its limb could drop or it could damage the home’s foundation.
That’s why the most important thing you can do is get lots of information about the trees up front. And then decide if they’ll be a sound investment or a serious liability.
Before you put in an offer, have a certified arborist inspect the property’s trees for you. At Davey, our arborists actually do this for free. An expert can let you know if you should worry about how close that tree is to the house or if all is good.
How do you know if a tree is too close to a house’s foundation?
Generally, trees should sit about 15 feet away from a house. Some large species need a little more room while smaller species can be a bit closer.
You can figure out if a tree is too close to a home in two steps.
- Give it a closer look. If the tree is hanging over the house, or even has branches touching the roof, it’s probably too close.
- If the tree’s not actually scraping the roof (but looks awfully close), phone in an expert. They’ll let you know if the tree poses a threat to the home or its foundation. Plus, you want to know for sure if this tree is a beauty or beast before you buy the house. Did we mention Davey arborists offer personalized advice like that for free?
What if you’re thinking of buying a house with a dead tree?
Dead trees pose a risk. It’s that simple. If the tree is 100 percent dead, you want to remove it as soon as possible to avoid that risk becoming a reality.
Ideally, a seller would know about the tree’s condition and swiftly remove it. If that didn’t happen, have an arborist inspect the trees and provide documents with their official recommendations. Then, you can ask the owner to remove the dead tree during your contract negotiation.
If that doesn’t work and you’re in love with the house, know that you’ll have to pay for that tree removal on your own–and budget for that cost. Remember if the tree is dead, you need to act fast. After all, you wouldn’t want that tree harming your dream home!