Buying a property? The 7-point checklist your estate agent won’t give you

4th March 2020

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You’re thinking about moving homes, so the costs involved are likely to be top of your mind. Therefore, we thought we’d put together a little list of some of the expenses most buyers never think about and most estate agencies don’t consider, but that are often a very real issue when moving – the hidden costs of trees.

They’re majestic, beautiful living things, they add character to a home, but while they dot our landscape in countryside, towns and cities – so common that we hardly even notice them – trees can cost you your home if you’re not careful and this needs to be given the consideration it deserves when you move house.

From falling limbs that could harm people and damage property to falling trees blown over by winds, weakened by age, infestation or angle of growth – all these could lead to lawsuits. Creeping roots that can crack and displace structures on your own or your neighbour’s side of the fence, or movement and subsidence caused by excessive moisture extraction. Untamed or poorly located trees can cause lots of unexpected costs as they mature so it’s important that you are aware of the risks before deciding to buy.

As professional tree surgeons, ARB Approved contractors, and arborists, we can help you to avoid a property with a money pit tree problem. We can identify the immediate and future costs of maintaining the trees at your prospective home (and those on neighbouring properties that may have an impact on yours) and provide you with a detailed plan for minimising ongoing expenses.

Here is our 7-point checklist for cost planning and expense minimisation when it comes to trees at the property you’re thinking of moving to:

  • Tree reports

If your property has trees in front, beside or at the rear that are taller than the distance between them and your prospective home it would make sense to ask a trusted local tree surgeon or ARB Approved contractor for a tree report. We produce these for buyers and surveyors, as they provide a clearer picture of the impact the trees will have on a property and those surrounding it. How fast will it/they grow, is there any imminent chance of damage, and so on.

  • Upkeep cost predictions

Trees require pruning, insect infestations or infections/illnesses need to be monitored and managed, root growth sometimes needs restricting, a clear-up after a storm may be required, and the felling or relocation of a tree could be needed. There are costs associated with the trees in your garden, but proper maintenance can keep these costs down and a maintenance plan of action could provide you with an annual budget figure to set aside for predictable costs.

  • Advice on light and space

Are there too many trees for the space in your garden, are they too tall or do their canopies block out too much natural light? These are all issues that can be dealt with for aesthetic, landscaping and practical reasons, but, of course, there are costs involved. Our arborists can provide you with information on growth rates, healthy tree distances and a pruning, felling or relocation plan of action to allow more light into your garden and new home.

  • Blank canvas guidance

Just as you would factor in the costs of redecoration or refurbishment to make your new house a home, it’s important to factor in the costs of a garden transformation if you want to stamp your own mark on the property. Our team can provide you with advice and costings on all landscaping matters concerning trees, bushes and hedges. From location of new saplings to reductions, removals and collaboration with landscape designers, we can help you decide what should go where and what this will cost.

  • Neighbour’s problem trees

We help home buyers to identify issues with neighbouring trees and to determine solutions. Can you cut back overhanging branches, remove fruit before it drops and goes rotten year after year on your lawn – and what about those roots snaking towards the rear extension? We’ll provide you with an assessment of risks and opportunities. To get a better view of what may be needed and what can be done, take a look at another article we wrote a little while back called The neighbour’s trees – your rights, their obligations and how to avoid an all-out territory war.

  • Planting new trees

As mentioned earlier, you may decide that trees could be a nice addition to a new garden, but where you put them and what you plant can be important decisions with long-term ramifications for your property. Choose right and they will flourish; choose poorly and they might either not survive the first winter or their growth could cause damage to your property or structures and plants in the garden.

  • Mortgage matters

If a tree is growing close to your property this could give a lender’s valuation surveyor cause for concern and lead to your mortgage application being rejected. However, getting ahead of this issue with a tree report that you can hand to the valuation surveyor could improve your mortgage prospects. Even if a problem is identified, the clarity offered by a tree report could change a ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ with clauses in a mortgage agreement about the ongoing maintenance of the problem tree.

Good luck with your move, and if there is anything we can do to help you with your landscape planning or tree costings, just give us a call.

To book a survey and consultation with one of our ARB Approved arborists for advice on your trees or to book our tree surgeons to prune/maintain or fell your tree(s), call us on 0208 292 8992.

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