BY BOB GOURLEY – CONDO/HOA COMMUNICATION CORNER
Sure, they look pretty and they clean the air that we breathe, but how many of us ever stop to think of the trees within our condominiums, HOAs and other community associations as assets of the association? They don’t wear out or break down… or do they? They don’t ever need replacing… or do they? They aren’t an item on many Reserve Studies. How can it be that trees are assets?
There is little doubt that well-maintained trees enhance property value within communities. In fact, many home buyers are heavily affected by curb appeal when purchasing a home or condo. There is little argument that trees enhance curb appeal for associations. In fact, trees are an integral part of most plans by community association developers who realize that nice-looking buildings are only part of the appeal of a new development. Trees, shrubs, flowers and generally good-looking landscaping can do as much to attract buyers as does marble countertops and hardwood floors.
Contrary to popular belief, trees are ever changing and require a good deal of maintenance to thrive for years and years. If you visit an older community association where trees have not been properly maintained you may notice all sorts of problems, including broken limbs, diseased bark, even complete death. As living organisms, trees require food and water as well as health monitoring. For this reason, associations are well advised to work with a tree care professional as part of maintaining and managing their trees.
There are occasions when tree replacement may be in order. While many trees will reach a certain size and look of desirability, there are some that will just get too big or unmanageable over time. Some trees that looked great in their first decade may grow tall enough to become potential property hazards in their second decade and beyond. Again, working with a certified arborist can give a community association great insight as to when it is time to replace certain trees that have become unmanageable.
Taking inventory of your association’s trees and creating a Reserve Study line item for them makes perfect sense. In larger associations there may be hundreds and even thousands of trees. If 5 to 10 percent of them needed to be replaced in one year, it could become a major expense. However, not properly maintaining these assets could create an eyesore and even a potential liability. Treat your community association trees like the assets they are. They will bring a healthy return year after year.
Bob Gourley is founder of MyEZCondo, a communications firm that produces newsletter and website content material for condominiums and homeowner associations throughout the USA. He also serves as board president of his local HOA.