First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Trees
When you buy your first home, you feel excited about the opportunities your new space will give you. You look forward to decorating its interior and installing permanent features. You can’t wait to spread out your belongings in your increased square footage.
Most of all, you anticipate taking care of a large yard. Now that you no longer live in an apartment or a condo, you can take responsibility for your own yard and use the green space in any way you want.
But when you buy a home for the first time, spend some time evaluating the home’s property. The grass, trees, and other plants in your yard can increase your property value if properly maintained and landscaped. On the other hand, poorly placed flora or ill-maintained yards can detract from your home’s image.
Read our list of five things to look for in your yard before you make a final offer on your first home.
When you buy a home, you want to make sure you can turn a profit if you ever need to sell it. To attract future buyers to your home, make sure your yard looks appealing and well-kept, especially from the street.
Trees and shrubs should help frame your house and emphasize the most attractive features. Look for a home where the trees don’t obscure the front door or hide the charming window shutters that give your house a unique style. If the home you love seems overgrown with excess trees or shrubs, you’ll have to pay a professional to trim them. Factor any landscaping needs into your original budget.
Shade vs. Sunlight
The placement of trees in your yard can also affect how your home looks on the inside. A well-placed shade tree not only gives you a shelter from the heat under the canopy-it also keeps heat from entering your windows and fading your furniture.
When you tour a home, walk around the exterior and note the proximity of trees to the windows. In bigger rooms, you want to allow some natural light to give the area a soft glow. You also don’t want so much vegetation that you can’t see the beautiful view out your living room window. Look for a balance between shade and sunlight in the trees nearest to your home.
Large trees, especially older ones, pose a risk to homeowners unless the trees receive proper maintenance. Scope out your future property for the following problems:
Cracked branches: When trees have signs of decay or cracking, their branches may fall unexpectedly. Any heavy branches in danger of falling put children, adults, pets, and nearby cars or buildings at risk.
Closeness to power lines: If your branches cross power or telephone lines, your home runs the risk of power surges or electrocution.
Diseased branches: Signs of decay in the branches of your tree (especially those in the joint where two branches meet) signify a tree that may not survive for long. If the disease spreads to the entire tree, you’ll lose a source of shade and beauty-and you’ll have to pay an arborist to remove it from your yard.
Dead or hanging branches: When a branch dies, it will eventually fall off the tree. Often these dead branches get caught in other foliage and dangle above your reach. If you notice numerous hanging branches, your tree and your home may be at risk.
After you inspect the branches of each tree, jot down some notes about the yard. Extensive tree and branch problems provide you with a reason to negotiate with the seller on the price of your home. These problems also help you predict your landscaping budget once you move in.
Regardless of how big the yard’s trees are now, the trees’ roots will expand as they grow. Pay attention to the shape of your trees’ roots and how close the roots are to pathways, sidewalks, and the edges of your home.
Roots that collide with these features can crack your sidewalk or even the foundation of your home. If you plan to expand or remodel your home, you’ll need to keep in mind the growth trajectory of all your trees’ roots.
Cost of Upkeep
Even if you find trees in perfect condition surrounding your dream home, your yard will require maintenance each year. All trees need pruning to keep them growing in the right direction. Fruit trees demand more consistent maintenance to make sure your yard doesn’t get overloaded with overripe fruit.
Any aged trees in your yard will need inspections to make sure they remain in top health. If you notice deep decay or disease in your trees, you may need to get them removed entirely.
For all these situations, consult your local arborist for an appraisal, and factor that cost into your home-buying budget.
When you buy your first home, you’re entitled to feel comfortable with the state of your house and yard. Remember these five potential tree problems when you begin the process of choosing and buying a home.