Homeowners like property value boost from trees


GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Aug. 29, 2016 – If a city plants trees near a residential area, most homeowners value the likely subsequent boost to their property values, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

And they’re willing to pay an average of $7 more per month in taxes for public trees planted in their city.

In the UF/IFAS study, 1,052 surveyed Florida homeowners said they would like the trees on their land to provide shade and to be healthy, but they would prefer an increase of $1,600 in their home’s value.

Residents were separated into two surveys. One asked them to consider a hypothetical home improvement project to better the trees on their property, while the other asked a similar referendum question regarding a city program that would increase their utility tax to increase urban forests in public areas near their homes. There were 526 responses to each survey.

Given a range of paying between $1 and $10 more per month in city utility taxes, survey respondents said they want trees in their cities, but they are only willing to pay up to $7 more per month, said Jose Soto, a postdoctoral researcher in the UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation.

“Our findings indicate that participants find it useful to invest in urban forest infrastructure and are also willing to pay for the benefits of having more trees near their homes,” Soto said.

Damian Adams, a UF/IFAS associate professor of forest resources and conservation and an Extension specialist, said the study’s findings are consistent with basic economic theory. All things considered, people want more value for their property, and more trees can add money to their home’s appraisal.

“Basically people are driven, at least in part, by economic values associated with planting trees, but they appear to be more sensitive to the property value effects of planting trees than other factors,” Adams said. “They are clearly concerned about tree shade too, which can lower energy bills and hence reduce costs. But tree shade also increases outdoor enjoyment and aesthetic benefits, which just makes people happy, and that’s worth something.”

It is important to note that while Florida homeowners are willing to pay more for public trees, some Florida programs give trees away for free and some actually plant trees near homes – for example, in Tampa, Soto said.

Tampa has a program called “Tree-mendous Tampa,” in which the city plants free trees in public rights-of-way. You can find more information on that program online. Other cities, such as Portland, Oregon, compensate residents for planting trees, Soto said.

Soto and Adams presented their findings this month at the 2016 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association Annual meeting in Boston.

Copyright © 2016 News Leader, Community Newspapers, Inc., Brad Buck. All rights reserved.

Outdoor Trends To Attract Buyers

If you are considering putting your home on the market, don’t neglect your outdoor space while making improvements indoors as well. Your home’s exterior and the backyard are important in drawing the eyes of potential buyers and making your home as appealing as possible. Here are some modern trends in outdoor living that will entice today’s buyers.
Outdoor Structures

Outdoor structures make the backyard, and even the front yard in some homes, more functional. An outdoor structure can be something simple – like a storage shed – that makes the space more functional. Or, it can be an outdoor shelter – like a gazebo or pergola – that provides more outdoor living space. These outdoor structures boost the function, and therefore increase your home’s value. Privacy in Outdoor Spaces The outdoor living space is considered more than just a backyard for the modern buyer. Today, the outdoor space is an extension of the home. People are moving indoor furniture outdoors, adding fireplaces and even installing televisions. Yet when they are relaxing outside, individuals want a measure of privacy. No one wants to be gawked at when enjoying a drink and watching the game after a long day at work.
What does this mean as you are upgrading your outdoor space? If possible, add some privacy to the space to create a room that is an extension of the home. Put up walls around the pergola or choose an enclosed gazebo to do this easily. Outdoor Kitchen More and more meals are being cooked outdoors, and the modern outdoor kitchen includes more than just a grill and a picnic table. An outdoor sink, range and even oven can make your home more inviting. Of course, you will need to weigh the costs of this upgrade against the potential benefits; but if you have a great outdoor entertaining space, consider adding an outdoor kitchen to attract potential buyers.
Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting appeals to buyers for a number of reasons: First, it improves the function of the space, making it easier to enjoy an outdoor living space even after dark. A well-lit deck lends itself well to summer barbecues and parties that continue after midnight.
Outdoor lighting also helps attract buyers by making the home more visible when they drive by the property, even if they drive by after dark. Good outdoor lighting will make the home inviting at all times of day. Also, it helps improve the security of the property, which may be important to select buyers.

Landscaping Most home sellers know they should improve and upgrade their garden areas, but do so carefully. A lush, yet high-maintenance garden may detract from your home’s ability to sell. Many of today’s buyers are busy and do not have the time it takes to tend a garden.
When upgrading your landscaping, go as low-maintenance as possible, while still ensuring that the home is attractive. Perennials that grow well in your area can add a splash of color, but do not need to be replanted year after year. Mulch or rock can keep weeds at bay while giving the space a finished look. Automatic watering systems help ensure the plants have enough moisture to thrive, without requiring the owner to keep track of watering schedules. Don’t forget to add stone walkways and decorative items to improve the aesthetics of the space, without adding maintenance efforts.
Natural Wood and Stone Natural wood and stone features on the home – even if they are made from faux materials like vinyl – attract the modern buyer.

This design trend can make an outdated home look modern on the exterior, causing more buyers to stop and schedule a showing. It can also boost the appeal of a modern home by helping it to stand out from a crowded marketplace. Fire Pits or Fireplaces If you have a modest budget, but want to add an outdoor feature that will increase your home’s potential value, consider adding a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. You can even do this as a DIY project if you have the time. A fire pit provides a comfortable, logical place for outdoor entertaining or simply enjoying s’mores together as a family.
Permanent Seating

Many homeowners pull out all the stops when it comes to building decks, patios and outdoor entertaining spaces, but forget the most important part – seating. While you can add seating through outdoor furnishings, this will not add value to the property in the opinion of a buyer. Consider a permanent, built-in seating option, like a bench built into the deck or a picnic table that stays with the property.
Remember, today’s buyers still have plenty of houses to choose from. As you prepare yours for the market, be sure to think like a buyer and add features that will make the home as appealing as possible. As you make these improvements, remember to put some attention into your outdoor spaces!
Jeff Caldwell is brand manager of Superior Shelter, a subsidiary of Superior Recreational Products. The company designs and creates custom outdoor shelters – including steel pergolas, gazebos and more – to solve your outdoor design needs. It works with landscapers and architects around the world.
This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

Ranch living – Mid-Century Modern Style Home


The mid-century modern, “ranch” style home is highly desired architecture right now. You only have to look at Palm Springs, California to see the increase in value from these 1950’s to late 1960’s style homes. The old saying that “everything comes around again” is true for these properties.

In Florida, this style of home is prevalent due to our warmer climate and year-round balmy weather. The ranch is really starting to catch on with young buyers.

No longer tear-down properties, the mid-century modern styled home is being renovated and updated with sleek new looks and updated and innovative design details.

There are a few important things to remember:

  • Be prepared to spend some money. Most of these homes do not have adequate insulation, low sloping roofs with small bathrooms and kitchens. This type of home requires renovation and money. Don’t buy into a ranch home if you are not prepared to spend some cash.
  • Like all homes, the kitchens and bathrooms are the most important upgrades in ranch homes. Opening up the kitchen to the rest of the house will create a great spacious floor plan and a visual look that is hard to resist. Updating your home while keeping the character of the house intact is going to not only look gorgeous, but will bring financial rewards when the home is sold. Moving walls to create the open floor plan will make your ranch home a thing of beauty.
  • Remove all wallpaper. While wallpaper is back in vogue, remember that what you like may not be something a future buyer will desire. Wallpaper is what agents call “seller specific” so either be prepared to remove when selling or don’t use on your interior space.
  • Updating a mid century ranch styled home involves upgrading the landscaping. This is very important. Nothing says mid-life crisis for homes like a dated and boring yard. Be prepared to add a splash of color and modern detailing on the exterior.

The mid-century modern house is back to stay and I get so excited to see them renovated and returned to their former glory. The new “ranch” is modernized and appreciated as a unique form of architecture.

In short, these homes are groovy.