The Impact of Mature Trees on House Values and Residential Location Choices

By Marius Theriault, Yan Kestens, and Francois Des Rosiers
Quebec (January 1, 2003)- Making a choice of home is a complex and long-term decision taken by households trying to maximize their satisfaction and utility level. They are also willing to avoid inconvenience and noise, often making compromises on location. Along with economic constraints, this decision process involves several types of criteria, including values, attitudes, household composition, as well as perception of environment and neighborhood.

Previous research in spatial economy has assessed the impact of vegetation and environment quality on house values, using hedonic price modeling. Hedonic price modeling uses multiple regression techniques to assess the marginal contribution of property attributes to the sale price, hence assessing the market value of a property. However, measuring the economic valuation of landscaping is not sufficient to fully understand the choice- setting mechanisms behind the effect of trees on residential location choices. New modeling approaches integrating behavioral concepts of attitudes, tradeoffs (accessibility versus nature) and motivations could certainly improve our understanding of people’s valuation of nature.

This paper develops such a behavioral model considering a housing market which was firstly analyzed using an hedonic approach to assess economic valuation of property specifics, location and environment. Logistic regression was then used in order to model households’ propensity for buying a house on a wooded lot (with mature trees measuring at least 10 meters) and in wooded neighborhoods. Our purpose is to highlight the potential of combining economic and behavioral modeling in a two-step approach in order to further our understanding of landscaping valuation in urban regions. This research is based on a detailed field survey of 640 single-family homes transacted between 1993 and 2000 on the territory of Quebec City.

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The Impact of Mature Trees on House Values and on Residential Location Choices