We all know that trees, shrubs and ornamental plants can beautify a house and certainly increase its curb appeal. Usually, that is. There are some, however, that don’t help, like when they’ve grown to completely obscure an attractive façade, or when their roots have started to invade the foundation of the home like a malicious tumor, bringing in moisture and threatening the substance of the whole structure.
The "tree" in the chimney here, right at the front of a house I just showed, is probably not a serious threat. But it's on a beautiful old house on a beautiful block in a great neighborhood. It’s an expensive house as well, with gracious proportions and a top dollar asking price. When we looked at old pictures from a previous sale of the same property a couple of years ago, my buyer immediately discovered the same plant crowning up there– just a little smaller at the time.
Most good agents will have a thorough walk-through with their sellers before a house goes on the market. They will explain how prospective buyers will see the place, what kind of features appeal to a wide range of buyers, and what will be a red flag for many of them. Part of the staging process—no matter how much money the seller is willing or able to spend—should always be a critical look at maintenance issues. Weeds in the gutters, cracked window panes or a little rotten wood on a deck might be harmless in the specific home, but they will have a buyer wonder what other, invisible problems have not been taken care of. Or they will outright be scary and make the buyer run.
That said, of course it's up to the sellers to take their agent's advice or to ignore it.
Recently, I wrote about the importance of regular fireplace and chimney maintenance.... Well, let’s not go there. Let’s just say, some trees clearly take away from the beauty of a property.