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What to Know About Trees Before Buying a House


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What to Know About Trees Before Buying a House

Does a home inspection include trees?

So you’ve decided to take the plunge into GTA real estate, but what about the trees when you’re buying a house? Whether you’re a first-time buyer, looking to move from a condo to a house, or are upgrading to a property with sizeable trees for the first time, let’s check out what you need to know about a property’s trees before buying.

Tree Inspections for Real Estate

You’ve thought about a home inspection — so the inspector will look at the trees, right? Probably not. Some inspectors may take a quick look at any trees to see if there are obvious problems, like a large branch draping over a roof, broken limbs, or dead trees. However, a home inspector is an expert in houses, not trees. They’re the right people to check out basements and wiring, but they’re unlikely to know a lot about tree care.

When Is a Tree a Problem?

How do you know when a tree is a problem when you’re looking at a house? Many people worry about trees that are too big. However, size isn’t usually a problem in itself. A large tree can be a good thing — the shade, aesthetics, and cooling effects can add value to a property.

What might be a concern with a tree is damage, disease, or infestations. Any of these can run a risk of property damage, depending where they’re located. It can also mean you’ll have to have the trees removed eventually.

A tree that’s an invasive species might also be a tree you’d prefer to remove, though an established tree won’t necessarily cause problems just by being there. Certain species of trees, like elms, ash, and oak, are also particularly susceptible to diseases or pests common in Southern Ontario. An arborist can check if there are any signs of disease in a tree.

Large dead or dying trees could mean you’ll be spending thousands of dollars in removal costs in the next years. If the tree is in a hard-to-reach area, like a backyard with narrow entry, removal costs can easily become very expensive.

Roots and Tree Placement

In other cases, an addition or renovation may have been completed improperly, meaning that a mature tree is now too close to a house. Trees too close to a building run the risk of property damage from breaking branches or growing roots.

Trees should be planted the proper distance from a house because the roots also grow outwards underground. When a tree is too close to a building and doesn’t have enough space for its roots to grow, they may grow into foundations, plumbing, or underground utility lines or pipes. This leaves the potential for big problems later on.

Tree Branches

Branches overhanging a roof, windows, garage, driveway or walkway could cause problems if a tree isn’t maintained. Tree branches scraping against your roof or siding can cause wear and damage over time. Branches over top of the house are also at risk for storm damage.

A broken branch during a summer or winter storm can damage your house, car, or yard. If the tree is otherwise healthy, this doesn’t have to be a big concern. Regular pruning is affordable and helps you avoid storm damage and broken limbs.

Neighbouring Trees

If the house has large trees that overhang a neighbour’s yard, you should pay attention to these too. If a neighbour is concerned about trees for aesthetic reasons, like sunlight in their house or light over a garden, pruning any part of the tree overhanging their yard is their responsibility.

However, you may choose to pay for pruning or share costs. If your neighbour prunes the part of your tree over their yard, they’re responsible for making sure the work is done safely without damage to the tree.

An arborist can help you determine if a tree close to a property line is your tree or a “boundary tree” that you share responsibility for with a neighbour.

Construction

If you’re planning a renovation or addition on a property you’d like to buy, it’s important to note if any trees may interfere with your plans. If a large tree is located in the area you want to build, or too close to it, you’ll need the City of Toronto, or your GTA municipality, to approve the removal before you can get a building permit. An arborist can advise you whether the city would be likely to approve a removal.

Real Estate Arborist Reports

All these potential issues are reasons why it’s in your best interests to get an arborist report before buying a house. An arborist report for a home purchase will focus on the trees, unlike your home inspection report. A certified arborist is the best person to speak to tree condition and safety on a property, and help you foresee any problems. They can also look at the condition of other plants like shrubs and hedges.

After talking to an arborist, you can plan tree care, renovations, and negotiate with the seller if a property has a tree that’s likely to be a big expense for the new owner in the near future.

Your arborist can also help you figure out whether trees are your responsibility or city trees. In Toronto, many front yard trees are considered street trees. This means that the city is responsible for their maintenance, and pruning or removal when needed.

It’s easy to jump into a real estate decision in the hot markets in the GTA, but don’t neglect the trees! A mistake could cost you in the long run.

Need an arborist report for your future home? Contact Vista Tree for a quote now!

author avatar
Michael Co-Founder
Michael is a Certified Arborist and founder of the company. He holds a Certificate in Urban Arboriculture (Honours) from Humber College, Certificate in Project Leadership from Cornell, has post-graduate studies in Urban Forestry and Arboriculture from Oregon State College of Foresty and holds a BAH in Ancient History with a minor in Business. In addition to being an ISA Certified Arborist, he is a TCIA Certified Tree Safety Professional, Tree Appraisal Qualified by Arboriculture Canada and holds a Landscape Exterminator license. Michael sat on the Board of Director for the Ontario Commercial Arborist Association in 2022 and 2023. He worked at some of the top arboriculture companies in Southern Ontario before starting Vista Tree Management. Before that, he was an award-winning Executive Director in the nonprofit sector and published marketing consultant. On the rare days off, Michael can be found at home with his family - a loving wife, two daughters and two cats in Central Toronto.
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Great Reviews - Toronto Tree Service

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Vista Tree Management provided an excellent service of removing a large tree from a backyard of my property in Toronto. The whole process of quoting, and doing the job was very efficient, clearly explained and provided as promised. Their price for the serviced was very competitive.
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My parents used their service to cut a tree down in their backyard. This tree was in such an awkward position where it was interfering with 2 other neighbors. James ensured me that the service would be done in a very professional manner and no damage would be done. Im glad to say he was right and had a group of 6 hard working individuals made the job done safely and efficiently. I would highly recommend this company for anyone needing tree removal.
google
Everything went smooth, from the initial assessment visit to the email communication to the job getting done! Thank you guys for your professionalism and quality work!!
google
Vista is an excellent company to deal with. The owners went above and beyond expectations to help deal with a unique situation. The guys who did the work were not only professional but also very polite. I will be using them again to help with other work in the future.
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We are very happy with all the work Vista Tree Management accomplished on our property.  James was very professional and gave us excellent advice concerning the trimming of our 12 foot cedar hedges and the pruning of our mature silver maple trees.  The crew was very friendly and hard working, they did a tremendous job on the work required and they did an excellent job with the clean up.  We would highly recommend Vista Tree services to our family and friends.  We will definitely use them again for all of our future projects.
John & Sonja
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They just did my front lawn, and boy, did they leave a lasting impression!

They were straightforward with the plan - clear and precise, ensuring that I was well informed of the process and outcome. The execution was meticulous and exceeded my expectations. Moreover, the cleanliness post-service was remarkable, leaving no trace of debris or disruption.

They were on time and was the epitome of friendly and cheerful—felt like I had friends over for a garden party!

Overall, their service was excellent at every stage. The inquiry, consultation, customer support, day-of service, follow-up, and payment process were all seamless.

I had peace of mind and very happy with Vista. I highly recommend them to those in need of reliable and thorough tree management service.
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I can’t say enough positive comment about James and Vista Tree. We were “ghosted” by 2 other tree management companies last fall. James came by and provided separate quotes for two very large trees on our property, both of which were a challenge to severely prune. They were a hazard and had to be addressed. The quotes were delivered the next day after assessment. The team was here on two separate days (April 30 and May 7). They were efficient, professional and most importantly safe. Hollis, the arborist who climbed the trees was friendly and communicated everything he was doing to the trees as well as any changes he made once he was up in the tree. The other members of the crew (Syd and Pete, I can’t remember the others) were professional and friendly. They cleaned everything up and were open to any suggestions we had regarding disposal of the wood. I would highly recommend this company. We will be having them back again to do more work, in the fall.
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Leaside neighbours take note!! Exceptional and professional service from start to finish. The team at Vista Tree Management responded to an urgent and critical situation. They were efficient, skilled and courteous. They handled the tree removal with precision and left our backyard immaculate. I highly recommend this team for your tree removal needs. They beat the competition by $1000+
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James and his team did a great job pruning and trimming our old silver maple. James answered all my questions, provided expert advice and had his team do the work shortly after. The workers were professional, cleaned the space well, and were really efficient. Would definitely recommend Vista Tree management!
google
James was great! Very professional and you can definitely tell he knows what he’s talking about. They provided a quote in a timely manner booked us in for the tree pruning within a few days afterwards. The job was done quickly, professionally and the crew was friendly and polite. They cleaned up everything once the work was completed. Highly recommend!
google
Safe, fast, personable team - did a great job with tree trimming and removal! Note: the removal of a tree was not on the original scope and they still made it happen!
By the end of the day, I wouldn’t have even known they were there.
google
Very Happy with the professional advice and service we received from Vista which was promptly done. The follow-up to ensure we were happy with the work was appreciated.
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Highly recommend! Michal came by first to take a look at things and provide the estimate. He’s obviously passionate about what he does and I learned a ton about my tree that I had no idea about! He gave me the confidence I needed to schedule the work. James and the “J-Crew” arrived on the scheduled day and were super friendly. The team did an amazing job with trimming my large overgrown maple and a fantastic cleanup job. My yard looked better than before they arrived. Will definitely have them back for future maintenance! Thanks Vista!
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Great service from a great crew of people! The team was amazing from consulting on best ways to tackle the project, safely removing the trees and making sure the job was done to satisfaction. Would highly recommend and definitely use them again.
google
These guys are incredibly professional and by far the best arborist that have visited our home. And we've had many!

What impressed me the most was throughout their only concern was safety for my family and our property. With that and that only in mind they made all the cuts and changes that were required. When they left, I felt the most relief I felt about the trees in our backyard in a long time.

Truly appreciate your hard work and will highly recommend you in the future!
google
After doing a fair bit of research into Toronto-based arborists, we decided to go with Vista, and are very happy we did! From my first meeting with Mike when he came to give us a free quote, I was impressed with his knowledge and professionalism. Mike and his crew were punctual on the day they came to prune the deadwood from our very large Red Oak tree, answered my questions, and worked for 7 hours straight to get the job done. We were impressed from beginning to end, and wouldn’t hesitate to hire them again!
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These guys are the best! Very professional, easy to work with and very nice people.
James was amazing in communication and and arranging everything. He is a wonderful person and professional. I had 4 different companies for the quotes and Vista Tree were the best by every criteria I had in mind. After the work was done they cleaned the whole territory even the mess that was here before them. I would definitely recommend them and will call them again when I need any tree work done. Thanks!

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