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Is It Worth It To Get A Tree Professionally Appraised?

Is It Worth It To Get A Tree Professionally Appraised?

How much is a tree worth? If you ask an Arborist worth their weight in tree mulch would tell you every tree is priceless, right?

Well beyond that, the cold hard reality of this world is that trees add monetary value to property, and not in an insignificant way.

Some studies would imply that up to 20% of a property’s value is determined by trees. It also is really not that unusual for a single tree to be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Whether you get your tree appraised is of course your personal choice, but we figured we would give you some information so that you can make a more educated decision.

Why Would You Want To Get A Tree Appraised?

There are a few different reasons you may want to get a tree appraised. Knowing the monetary value of a tree is valuable if you are thinking about selling a house so that you can negotiate with realtors.

If you are going to have landscapers do work on your property, it may be good to know the value of trees in case any damage is done in the process.

Finally, the value of trees comes into play with insurance claims. If you are dealing with a car accident or natural disasters, you will likely need to know how much a tree is worth.

Now it should be noted, that with some tools and the right information you could appraise a tree yourself. However, as you are about to see, this is a pretty complicated task. If you are not sure whether you want to hire a professional, you may want to try it out on your own to determine roughly how much may be at stake.

At the end of the day though, getting a tree appraised by a professional is going to offer you more accurate and more legitimized documentation for legal claims and insurance claims.

Four Common Ways Of Measuring The Value Of A Tree

When we are talking about monetary values, there are a few different angles that you can look at it from. The angle you will want to choose will in part be determined by whether you are valuing trees in a residence or in a commercial property.

It should also be noted that state, county, and city governments may have different methods of measuring the monetary values of plants that they require for insurance claims.

Some Measurements Associated With The Value Of A Tree:

  1. Retail Value 
  2. Real Estate Value 
  3. Commercial Value 
  4. Trunk Formula Method

Retail

The retail value of a tree takes into account the price of a tree that is the same approximate size and species if it was bought from a nursery, the price of a professional planting the tree, and the price of any clean up that would be required in the process of replacing the tree.

Real Estate

The real estate value compares the values of similar properties with trees against those without any trees. This may be more useful for city planners than for more personal use.

Commercial

The commercial value of a tree is based on how much money a tree would be worth based on products that could be made from it, such as lumber or paper. This again may not be as much help for personal property.

Trunk Formula Method

Probably the most complete appraisal of a tree will come from the ISA’s (International Society Of Arboriculture) Tree Formula Method. We will talk in much more depth about this method, which combines several different factors in determining the value of a tree.

Because this method has a specific grading system, the safest way to apply this method will likely require contacting your local ISA chapter and having a professional assessment conducted.

Resources Used In Appraising A Tree

The folks at the ISA really create the most well-accepted standards for tree appraisals. Their Guide For Plant Appraisal book dictates the specifications for the Trunk Formula Method. At the time of writing this article, the 10th Edition is the newest version and provides current standards. It is available here from the ISA website.

Another popular resource for tree appraisals is i-Tree. This is a division of the USDA Forest Service that develops tools for assessing trees and forests. You can follow this link to their site.

A Closer Look At The Trunk Formula Method

The Trunk Formula Method was developed by the Counsel Of Tree & Landscape Appraisers (CTLA) division of the ISA. As we said before, the standards for using this method are dictated by their Guide For Plant Appraisal.

Aside from the prestige of the ISA and CTLA, the reason that this is the most widely recognized method for tree appraisal is because it takes into account a number of different factors in its calculation.

The Five Factors That The Trunk Formula Method Takes Into Account:

  1. Height 
  2. Diameter
  3. Condition 
  4. Species/Type
  5. Location (Factoring In How Much It Compliments Nearby Houses)

Using The Trunk Formula requires grading the condition of the tree based on a percentage value that is detailed in the guide. Ultimately, for this measurement to be considered legitimate by an insurance company or government agency may require grading from someone certified by the ISA.

When Is The Right Time To Get A Tree Appraised Professionally?

If you are concerned with insurance claims, it is most ideal if you can get a tree appraised before any incidents like accidents or natural disasters occur.

Similarly, if you are trying to use an appraisal as leverage in negotiating the value of a property, it may be best to have an appraisal performed before meeting with a real estate professional.

Closing Thoughts

Remember, at the end of the day many of the ways that trees add value to our lives are intangible. You really can’t put a price on how trees are scientifically proven to improve the moods of people that live near them. The way that they naturally keep your property cool, the beauty that they add, and their ability to improve air quality are all things that can’t be given monetary values either.

Because we live in a society that prioritizes money so much, it is still at times useful to attach monetary values to trees. Insurance claims, property sales, and even appealing to city planners are all scenarios where tree appraisals will come in handy.

This guide is intended to be a starting point. The appraisal of trees is a complicated process and usually will require help from a certified arborist or another professional associated with an organization like the ISA.

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