Just as they are here in Napa Valley or a Park Avenue address in New York City, luxury homebuyers are attracted to majestic mature trees, even in new construction. In fact, high-end developers, once known for stripping land prior to building, are calling off the bulldozers. Instead, they are dispatching arborists to catalog every mature spruce, sycamore and other trees before breaking ground, and architects are designing or remodeling entire homes around the highly prized trees.
The reason is simple. Developers say you can’t buy a 50- or 75-year-old oak tree, so why not keep the mature oak right where it stands. During construction, the trees are fenced off to prevent trucks from compacting the soil and causing irreparable damage to their root systems. Larger trees are pruned and fertilized to help them with the stress that goes with building. It may be a lot of extra work, extra time and resources, but the investment will pay off in market value.
“Homes with mature trees and well-landscaped yards can sell for as much as 20% over homes without those features,” explains Wes Kocher, a spokesman for the International Society of Arboriculture
, a nonprofit group that certifies arborists. Homeowners can find all sorts of information on the group’s website including downloadable information regarding tree care.
According to the U.S. Forest Service
, the presence of a single “street tree” in front of a home can add $7,000 to its sale price. Mature trees can also increase property values in the entire neighborhood as well as help homes sell faster.
“If you have a valuable house with a large tree, it’s going to have value in tens of thousands of dollars, which suggests it would be worth considerable expense to work around it,” said Forest Service research economist Geoffrey Donovan.
Transplanting mature trees can be done for $50,000 and more. However, a tree more than 12 feet around can not be transported on highways or over bridges, making the most spectacular trees unobtainable.