Tree Week

6 Things You Should Really Ask Before Buying a Home on a Wooded Lot

published May 25, 2022
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Picture yourself sitting in a rocking chair on your porch, listening to the birds singing in the trees, and watching deer wander through your little slice of forest. It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? 

Living on a wooded lot comes with a lot of benefits, like built-in forest bathing, solitude, and absolutely gorgeous views in the fall. But before you go out to purchase your dream property in the trees, you’ll want to be sure to find the answers to these questions.

Where are the exact property lines?

Kristina Morales, owner of Kristina Morales Real Estate in Ohio, suggests making sure you know the exact property lines before you buy. Wooded lots can be a bit confusing, but if you get the property mapped out on a survey, you’ll always know where your sanctuary ends and the wilds begin.

What’s the fire risk?

It seems obvious: a wooded lot is at greater risk for fire. So keep that in mind when you’re looking for your dream forest home.

“Homes in wooded areas are often located farther away from a fire hydrant or local fire department than homes in more populated areas, which could impact your home insurance premium,” says Steve Wilson, senior underwriting manager at Hippo, a home insurance provider.

Make sure you know where the nearest hydrant is, and that the address is visible from the road should the fire department need to come out. Plus, you’ll want to be sure every level of the house — and every bedroom — has a fire and carbon monoxide detector.

What’s the flood risk?

You can’t often tell from a distance, but some forested areas are also flood zones. Morales says to confirm whether the property you’re buying is in one or not. Then you’ll need to consider whether the benefits of the home outweigh the potential flood risk (and the cost of flood insurance).

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How much time and money can I devote to maintenance?

A home on a wooded lot requires more maintenance than you might realize.

“Take into account your surroundings when living on a wooded lot and how much regular home maintenance TLC you’ll need to protect your property, such as blowing leaves, trimming branches, or clearing the gutters,” Wilson says.

You’ll need to take extra good care of your roof, protecting it from falling branches and ice damming in the winter, which can happen when enough sunlight doesn’t hit your home. You’re also more likely to have dampness — which can lead to mold — in your home if direct sunlight doesn’t touch it. Make sure you get a thorough inspection to check for this.

Do I have the right homeowner’s insurance?

Based on the home’s location and the lot itself, you may need to get extras added to your homeowner’s insurance, like additional wildlife coverage or extended replacement cost.

“Ask your Realtor about previous home insurance rates and coverage needs for the home so you can rest assured that you know what extra household costs will need to be factored into your budget,” Wilson says.

What is the tree root pattern?

Tree roots can do pretty extensive damage to your property, from pushing up cement patio blocks to snaking into wells. Consider having a pro inspect the trees, their distance from the home, and what the roots look like before committing to a purchase.