How Do Trees, Vegetation and Landscaping Affect Appraised Value?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike here in the Greater Houston area, I thought the topic of on-property landscaping and vegetation would be something of relevance. As an example, my home has a good size yard with three large and very old Oak Trees on it. These trees provide great natural shade and a very pleasing curb appeal. After the storm passed, I came home to find that Ike had split one of these trees down the middle and it was now in danger of falling on my house. I quickly had the tree removed but afterward was very bummed about how my yard looked with this enormous tree now missing. The following day I received a call from another homeowner who had the same situation and wanted an appraisal that would reflective the value of the property without the trees. I had to explain to this homeowner that unfortunately, unless the property were agricultural and the vegetation was income producing, that there was no way for an appraiser to value the loss (or addition) of landscaping.

And that brings us to the point of this article; in most cases trees and landscaping are not taken into consideration when performing a real estate appraisal for residential property. It’s undeniable that a well landscaped yard and large beautiful trees improve the curb appeal and overall desirability of a property, but there is no way for a real estate appraiser to place a dollar amount on these items. For one, as in my case, these items could die or be destroyed in the blink of an eye. And secondly, market value is developed by comparing sales from within the market area and making adjustments to the comps based on what the market is paying for these items. There is simply no way to say, “well, looks like buyers are paying $10,000 per tree over 30′.”

However, your landscaping and vegetation can be appraised by an Arborist. This can be very helpful when determining a loss of value for tax purposes, but it will not affect your home’s market value for the purpose of real estate appraisals.

So does your landscaping not count for anything at all when your home is being appraised? Not exactly, we take landscaping and curb appeal into consideration under overall “condition” of the property. Just don’t go planting award winning Azaleas and expect to get an increase in appraised value!

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