Monday, March 17, 2014

Selling a Home with Oak Trees or Oak Wilt?

Got Oaks? Trimming trees in the winter is  recommended to prevent OAK WILT!

As a REALTOR® in Anoka County in Minnesota and owner of my own oak-filled acreage, we just had a tree professional swinging from our oaks and taking out a few branches that we were concerned about. It is important to trim trees before May 1 to prevent the spread of oak wilt which is a devastating tree-killing disease.

From time to time I see sellers’ disclosures filled out by homeowners that sort of “pooh-poohing” the problem of infected trees. One seller had a comment that stated,  “oak wilt is common in Anoka County but there are several other varieties of trees on the property that will fill in any loss of oak trees in time.”
No prevention. No removing of dead trees. Just let the hundred year old oaks die and the buyer can deal with it.
In this particular home, I advised my clients that the landscape would be forever changed if one or two trees are infected with oak wilt and not treated or removed quickly and properly. The disease will continue to spread through the several dozen oaks on this 4+ acres of land. The loss of the mature trees would have a significant negative affect the value of the property. With lack of proper treatment it is a certainty that eventually all the towering shady oaks would die.

On another seller's disclosure for a home in Chisago County with a small grove of oaks  just started to die from oak wilt, the seller wrote in "oak wilt" in response to the question about diseased trees. No treatment plan, no root cutting to prevent the spread to the hundreds of other oaks on the property. With root cutting and treatment, the other trees on the back acreage could be spared. 

Sellers…Oak wilt has to be addressed when selling an acreage home.

Writing "oak wilt" on the sellers' disclosure is an important first step but sellers must do more than just disclose the problem if they want to sell their home. Buyers want to know what you have done and are doing prevent the spread to other trees. If you have not done anything, buyers have no choice but to assume all the oak trees on the property will die. If your home is surrounded by oaks, a buyer imagines a tree-free landscape in the future…and thousands in expense to remove the trees.  It's pretty doubtful there will be a purchase agreement in most cases. Acreage buyers cross your oak wilt-infested property off their list another property without a second thought.

Here are a few important reminders to prevent the spread of Oak Wilt:
  • To prevent the spread of devastating disease, it is imperative to follow the guidelines for oak wilt prevention. Do not prune, damage or cut down oak trees during the growing season from May 1 through September 30.
  • During the spring and early summer months of May and June, oaks are at especially high risk to this highly contagious, landscape changing disease.
  • Any wood or branches taken down over the winter that is infected with oak wilt needs to remain covered under black plastic and completely sealed until after July 1.
  • During the summer if you sustain storm damage and lose a limb from an oak on your property, immediately paint the wound with black tree paint to seal the wound and prevent exposure to the oak wilt fungus.
What is Oak Wilt?

Oak wilt is a disease caused by a fungus which attacks the central system of the tree from the roots to the leaves. The tree attempts to block the fungus, but also blocks all water and nutrients to the branches and leaves. Eventually, the trees leaves wilt and it dies.

Oak wilt spreads through the root systems of near by trees and by fungus beetles that carry the oak wilt spores from tree to tree. For additional information on oak wilt from the

How to Protect Your Trees

The fungus beetles infect trees that have been recently injured or trimmed. These beetles are very active in the spring and summer months. Oaks should be protected from damage and not trimmed from April through July.

Trim large mature oaks now. As a preventative to spring storm damage, have your large oaks trimmed now so that heavy, dead branches won't fall during tornado season and break other healthy limbs.
Consider Oaks When Planning Construction
  • If you are planning to build on your property in the
    spring, plan the construction process to protect the trees. Discuss the situation with your builder and fence off the trees from the base of the truck to the branches.
  • Be prepared with tree paint and apply immediately to any wounds that accidentally occur.
    Root System Protection
  • If an oak is infected on your property or a nearby neighboring property, your trees could be at risk through their intertwined root system. Oak roots travel up to 50 feet out. The fungus can pass underground from tree to tree.
  • To prevent spread, have the roots cut using a trencher or vibratory plow. The five foot blade severs the roots to protect neighboring trees. Root cutting should be done prior to tree removal. If you want to sell your acreage home and there is oak wilt on the property, address the problem and outline a remedy. Ignoring oak wilt will cause the disease to spread and kill more trees. This will directly affect your property's value.

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