Land | Land use | Ecotrope

In the housing market, money grows on trees

Ecotrope | Sept. 21, 2010 9:37 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:46 p.m.

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An ode to urban trees. Worth more than $8,000 in the east Portland housing market.

An ode to urban trees. Worth more than $8,000 in the east Portland housing market.

Thanks to Oregon Field Guide for bringing this news to my attention: Trees bump up home values.

How much more would you pay for a house with trees nearby? Well, scientists have a way of estimating that. A benefit-calculation model called STRATUM pegs the value of amenities like urban trees and green space.

In east Portland, street trees increased home sale prices by $8,870 on average, according to a new study by the Pacific Northwest Research Station. Citywide, they add $1.1 billion to Portland property values - or $45 million a year. Nice, huh?

And that’s just one of many reasons to appreciate urban trees, according to urban forestry researchers. Here are five more good ones:

  1. Clean air: Trees are natural air filters.
  2. Storm runoff reduction: They absorb rainwater so sewers don’t have to.
  3. Carbon dioxide sequestration: Yep. They store CO2, too.
  4. Reduced energy consumption: They shade out the sun. Hence, less air conditioning.
  5. Neighborhood beauty: They’re pretty!

There is a larger implication here - particularly for cities considering or implementing tree ordinances.

For example, should people need a permit to cut down trees on private property, seeing as they offer so many public benefits (including raising the value of your neighbors homes)?

A recent article in The Oregonian got to the heart of the matter with the story of Anna Drews in Happy Valley, who was turned in and fined for cutting down a Magnolia tree without a permit.

“Why should I get a permit to cut my own tree?” she said. “I think my rights have been violated … How dare they tell me what to do with my own tree?”

The article goes on to explain how different cities have different rules on tree maintenance - many of which residents might not even know about:

“Happy Valley, designated as a ‘Tree City USA’ by the Arbor Day Foundation, is one of the stricter Clackamas County municipalities. Even trees on private property are protected, preventing homeowners from topping their own trees without a permit.

By contrast, nearby Oregon City regulates only the removal of street trees or trees on private property in historical, commercial, or habitat-protected zones. In Gladstone, a tree ordinance doesn’t even exist.”

Speaking of money and trees, I just remembered a fun video that shows people’s reactions to seeing actual money paper-clipped to a tree in Chicago. Enjoy:

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