Trees and residential property value – a case study from Ohio

This study, undertaken across six neighbourhoods of differing socio-economic values in Cincinnati, Ohio, was set up with the hypothesis of trees beneficially impacting upon property values. The results aligned with the hypothesis, though the findings from the study will be discussed below.

The six neighbourhoods featured in this study, all of which contained principally small and single-family homes that were between 60-80 years old, were Bond Hill, Carthage, Clifton, Hyde Park, Kennedy Heights, and North Avondale. From these six areas, the authors identified 100 residential property sales in each neighbourhood that were up for sale at the going market value, and subsequently visited each property and recorded the trees present within the property’s grounds (collecting data such as dominant genus, whether the trees were deciduous or coniferous, canopy cover percentage, the diameter of the trees, and the level of maintenance the trees have received – including tree health). Visits were done in winter of 2005-2006 and again in Summer of 2006, with the second visit serving to determine whether deciduous trees had a differing impact upon property value depending upon the time of year.

A view over the Hyde Park area of Cincinnati. Source: Urbanohio.

The results from the winter survey suggest that tree cover had a progressively increasing benefit to house prices in relation to an increase in canopy cover in all six neighbourhoods, with an average increase of $561 per 1% increase in canopy cover. Because the mean property value across the six neighbourhoods was $166,357, and the canopy cover average was 24.8%, the average value of the trees within the property is $13,913 (or 8.4% of the house price).

Summer results were very much similar, with the study data showing that every 1% increase in canopy cover lead to a $580.92 increase in property value. With the average property price being $166,357 and the mean tree cover being 27.1% (likely an increase due to the presence of foliage crowns), tree canopies account for $15,743 or 9.5% of the value of a property.

Looking at the two surveys combined therefore, the authors found that tree presence accounted for an increase of $780 per 1% increase in canopy cover during summer, and an increase of $669 in winter – these differences are not statistically significant. The reason for the difference in value increase, the authors posit, is because buyers cannot conceptualise what canopy cover will look like in the summer with regards to deciduous trees. With the mean sale price of the 600 properties being $188,730 and a mean canopy cover of 25.8%, the average value of the tree canopy was $20,226 (or 10.7%).

So did tree attributes (such as genus, and whether they were coniferous or deciduous) have an impact upon house sale prices? With regards to whether a tree loses its leaves in winter or not, there was no significant difference. In relation to tree genus (of which 40 genera were identified in the study), again there was no significant difference. Ultimately, the buyers were simply content in paying more for properties with trees, regardless of species. Similarly, the number of trees within a property was not significant, nor was their stem diameter.

However, the six neighbourhoods did show variation with regards to how beneficial tree presence was to property value. In the more affluent neighbourhoods (Hyde Park and North Avondale) tree presence had a significantly beneficial impact upon property retail value, whereas in less affluent areas (Carthage) the presence of trees may have little to no impact – or even drive down house prices slightly. This may be down to the fact that trees cost money to maintain, and the less affluent neighbourhoods had less disposable income to spend on tree maintenance.

Source: Dimke, K., Sydnor, D., & Gardner, D. (2013) The effect of landscape trees on residential property value of six communities in Cincinnati, Ohio. Journal of Arboriculture. 39 (2). p49-55.

To discuss this, please either comment below or over on Arbtalk.

Trees and residential property value – a case study from Ohio

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