Everybody is familiar with appraisals for homes, but how often does one hear of a tree appraisal? “Disputes regarding trees come up more often, than one would think,” says Shane Kelly, Arborist, Canopy Tree Service. It is not uncommon for a car to hit a tree in urban areas, Kelly says. Sometimes the tree the car hit is the focal point for a beautifully landscaped yard. Removal of the damaged tree will result in a loss of beauty, shade and history.
Insurance companies need a basis for valuing the tree. Oftentimes, they will request Canopy Tree Service provide a tree appraisal report. Sometimes it is necessary for people in Bexar County, TX to go to court to resolve a tree issue. They will call upon a Canopy Tree Service arborist to provide expert testimony and a tree appraisal to turn into the judge. “Ideally, neighbors who have a tree encroachment problem can work out their differences with their neighbors amicably,” Kelly says, “but sometimes neighbors become enemies and they end up in court.” “Trees are wonderful additions to someone’s backyard, but when the leaves drop in a neighbor’s pool,” people get unhappy.
Tree Appraisal Workshop
Most sales data on trees bought and sold involves immature, container trees, which makes mature tree valuation a difficult task. Tree appraisers value a tree using appraisal tools and methods that may include mathematical calculations, tree measurements, and comparable property sales with and without trees. Two very experienced tree appraisers, Gregory David (North Texas area) and W. Todd Watson (College Station area), taught the Lone Star Tree Appraisal Workshop Kelly attended. Experienced arborists from across Texas, including San Antonio where Canopy Tree Service is based, attended the workshop. The International Society of Arboriculture sponsored the Master’s Series training.
The class was an excellent complement to the 9th Edition of the Guide for Plant Appraisal that Kelly references in his tree appraisals in that it included more recent court case reviews and examples, Kelly said. “Because the class was of such high quality, it really enhanced my ability to be a more effective expert witness in court,” Kelly said. The courts often ask Kelly extensive information about the tree. They may ask what is the cost for a tree removal and replacement. Can local tree nurseries readily supply a replacement? How will the replacement tree compare in size, and utility to the existing tree?
The courts may ask, does the tree have intrinsic value? Intrinsic value is harder to calculate than income-producing values, but could include a quantifiable physical element such as energy savings from the shade a tree offers a house and the less quantifiable sentimental value. An owner may have invested a great deal of time to care for a tree. Important family memories spanning decades may have occurred in proximity to the tree. Kelly understands the grief some tree owners experience and will often set aside a small, light-weight portion of the tree trunk in case the owner wants a keepsake.
A community as a whole may value a particular tree. Case in point, in 1989, someone poisoned a 600 year old tree in Austin, TX named Treaty Oak. For centuries, its spreading branches have observed Indian war councils and dances, religious ceremonies, important conferences, and the signings of pacts and treaties. The courts sentenced the vandal who poisoned the tree to ten years in prison, of which he served three. Understandably, many people thought the sentence was not enough because of the tree’s high intrinsic value.
Some trees have value for their income-producing capacity. First, the wood may be a source for lumber or fire wood or furniture. Also, the tree could be fruit-bearing. Consequently, a fruit tree owner may sell the fruit and bring the receipts to court to request compensation for the income loss.
In summary, there are many factors that go into a tree appraisal, not discussed here such as location, and canopy coverage. Location alone, can be a very significant factor. For an expert tree appraisal, learn more about our Arborist.