Home buyers beware: beetles may ruin view
September 27, 2006
FRISCO – Home buyers in the tree-lined mountains of Summit County may soon get a disclosure statement warning that a pine-beetle infestation could leave fewer trees shading their land and gracing their vistas.
Real estate agents in the county – home to four ski resorts about 60 miles west of Denver – are voluntarily adding the potential for dead trees to a state-required list of disclosures about things that could erode a home’s value.
“You’re going to have some people who have bought homes partly because of the great mountain views and find that the mountains are almost denuded, and within a fairly short period of time,” said Ken Deshaies, a real estate agent and past president of the Summit County Board of Realtors.
“Obviously, as a Realtor, I don’t want to be on the defense side of a lawsuit like that. I want to make sure that I cover my own risk of liability, but also that my sellers do that as well,” he said.
Pine beetles have left millions of acres of dead and dying trees across the West. They attack trees weakened by years of drought, most of them the same age and in the same condition after a century of wildfire suppression.
Forestry experts estimate beetles have destroyed more than 7 million trees in Colorado. The outbreak has been the most pronounced in Grand, Routt, Summit and Eagle counties, all home to resort communities with high property values.
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The Summit County Board of Realtors, which represents about 650 agents, is drafting a disclosure report that includes the extent of the pine-beetle outbreak. They report must still be reviewed by lawyers and the association’s members, Deshaies said.
The pine-beetle disclosure would be unique in Colorado, although some real estate agents say they are already alerting buyers to the threat.
“Truthfully, I don’t think there’s a time you go out where you do not talk about it,” said Gail McDonald, president of the Summit County real estate group
Sandy Greenhut of the Summit Mountain Pine Beetle Task Force praised the disclosure plan.
“Most people, particularly people who are new to the area , look around, and it looks great right now. It’s not going to look great in a couple of years,” he said.