The most beautiful thing about Boston's trees these wee-nippy days may not be the kaleidoscopic leaves. It may be the contribution to property values. Yes, that chintzy red maple on the sidewalk in front of your house helps you more than you give it credit for, you ungrateful swine. Per The Globe's Gareth Cook:
[Forester Geoffrey] Donovan, working in Portland, Ore., brought sophisticated statistical techniques to bear on the question: What, exactly, does a tree contribute to property values? Last year, he published an analysis finding that, on average, a “street tree’’—one situated between a sidewalk and street—added $7,130 to the sales price of the adjacent house. A tree, he found, also adds value to nearby homes, bringing its total impact to $12,828.
The extra property tax receipts a city receives because of trees, he reported, more than covered the city’s cost of maintaining them.
Donovan has also shown that the presence of trees near the home of a pregnant woman decreases the odds that the baby will be born undersize, a risk factor for later health problems. (The mechanism is unclear, but Donovan believes it might have something to do with stress reduction.) An independent team working in Barcelona, using very different methods, recently arrived at a similar result.
There are risks related to these gorgeous boosts to the bottom line. While trees do "send a message: This is a place where the residents care about, and pay attention to, their surroundings," they can also go rogue:
“A tree is the opposite of a broken window,’’ says Donovan.
This is outweighed only when trees obstruct lines of sight between the sidewalk and the first floor windows, providing potential cover for crime. When trees get large enough, their crown clears the first floor, and the cover is gone.
Still, all in all, trees "make excellent neighbors," Cook concludes, an arboreal amenity Boston property owners don't really even have to pay for! Want more info on your new best friends? Check out this handy Hub trees map from Bostonography.