Trees help sell homes — and rent apartments


NEW YORK — A few years ago, U.S. Forest Service researchers in Portland, Ore. showed homes with street trees sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without trees. And they sold more quickly.

Now realtors are seeing the value of trees when renting properties. A real estate start-up is mapping New York City based on the number of trees in a neighborhood.

Tracking trees

New real estate website has started tracking trees with Green Heat Maps. Neighborhoods that are “green” hot make a big difference to potential renters when they look at all the factors that create a neighborhood where they want to live, especially in high-density urban areas like New York City and Brooklyn.

Here’s how the heat maps work, the more trees in a neighborhood, the brighter the green. The map also features locations of farmers markets and major parks.

According to the company’s blog, Rentenna decided to create the map because “choosing an apartment has come to involve far more than a simple price comparison exercise: for many renters issues like quality of life have taken center stage.”


Rentenna calculates a “Green Score” for every apartment rental building in New York based on the proximity of public parks and farmers’ markets for any address in the city.

A recent Wall Street Journal article cites Michael Vargas, a New York City-based appraiser, who says trees are generally a premium in urban environments. In New York City, “most of the prime streets that are tree-lined get a 10 percent to 15 percent premium in value over similar streets with less tree architecture,” he says. “It’s a way to make it seem like you’re not in the city.”

The U.S. Forest Service research buttresses this kind of “green” scoring for real estate. Their reported research, Trees in the city: Valuing street trees in Portland, Ore., analyzed 2,608 real-estate transactions over 10 months, and found homes with trees planted between the sidewalk and street sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees, and sold 1.7 days more quickly as well.

Researchers also found homeowners who live within 100 feet of street trees enjoy a sale premium of $1,688, on average, even though the trees aren’t on their property. Taken all together, street trees resulted in an extra $19,958 in neighborhood house sales.


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