Where’s the View?

If you’ve looked for mountain property, chances are that you’ve asked that question. In theory, the listing sheet should specify whether the view is year-round or seasonal. In practice, agents – who are all fiction writers by trade – are sometimes inclined to stretch the truth. A good rule of thumb is that if there isn’t a picture of a view on the listing sheet, there probably isn’t a view. Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of for agents to take a picture of the best view in a development, and then run that picture for all the cabins in the development, whether they have that view or not.

There’s something to be said for looking for land in the fall, when the leaves are off the trees, because it’s usually easier to tell whether a given view could be improved by selective cutting. It isn’t always necessary to cut the tree down. Views can often be improved by topping trees, or by cutting selected branches in the middle of the tree. Here’s where an experienced tree man, who knows how to climb, can be invaluable.

In my own development, most people cut down every tree day one, which yields spectacular mountain views but doesn’t leave much to look forward in the winter. My approach, which I have been quite happy with over the years, was to leave most of the trees that didn’t absolutely need to be cut. I did do a little selective cutting to create a year-round view of the highest point in the Cohuttas, the Big Frog, but I left most of the other trees that were in the view. That way, I can enjoy the forest and the forest creatures in the summer, and when winter comes, I enjoy a broader view.

If you are planning to do significant cutting, be sure to check the covenants and restrictions before you buy. I’m seeing more and more developments that specify that no more than 50% of the trees can be cut. Very strict covenants may even require approval to cut specific trees.

It’s also worth considering the direction and permanence of the view. I prefer sunset views to sunrise views. Although it’s always nice to have both, I’m more apt to have to time to relax and enjoy in the evening than in the morning. It’s also important to consider what you’re looking at. National forest views are more likely to remain unchanged over the years than views of land with development potential. If your agent has no idea what you’re looking at, and some of them don’t, a little work with a compass and map might well repay your effort.

12/12/2002

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