Mother Nature and Mortgages
Here in the lovely state of Arizona where we live six months of the year seven inches from the surface of the sun, we usually have what we like to call a “dry heat” – not unlike an oven, if you will. However, for about six blessed weeks in the middle of all this wonderful heat, we have Monsoon Season where it rains like it’s trying to catch up with Seattle’s annual precipitation totals, and our streets turn into rivers and our parks into lakes. You can read all about it in the brochures they give out at the airport.
After one of our most recent monsoon storms, I was driving along one of the higher-elevation streets that didn’t become a river, and I noticed that on one side of the road in front of a rather fancy housing development was a row of rather mature Palo Verde trees – and every single one of them had been toppled over by the wind with their entire root systems exposed for all to see. (I’m sure arborists were blushing.) Based on my extensive research (three minutes on Wikipedia), I confirmed that Palo Verde trees are native to our desert climes, so one would think that they’d be used to Mother Nature’s huffing and puffing during Monsoon Season – and they’d be right. If you go out to the desert and spy a Palo Verde tree that ended up there naturally, you’ll see that it’s standing upright and fully planted despite whatever the elements threw at it.
The reason for this difference isn’t that these “city” trees have loose morals causing their “country” parents and relatives untold hours of disappointment and hand wringing. The answer is far more simple: like any tree, a Palo Verde’s roots seek the closest and most abundant water source. In the desert, this usually means that the roots are forced to reach down MUCH deeper to find a water source. When Palo Verdes are planted as a component of an overall landscaping scheme, they’re either situated close to a patch of grass where all the watering is done at the surface, or the trees are watered independently by a drip system, which is also at the surface. In either case, the roots stay close to the surface and never develop a system that really anchors them deep into the soil.
If you’re going to plant a Palo Verde tree, the best way to ensure it develops a root system to withstand Monsoon winds, you should take a PVC pipe and drive it into the ground parallel with the trunk of the tree. The length of the pipe should be anywhere between 4 feet and halfway to China. Once the pipe is installed, the tree should get one deep watering each week ONLY through that pipe. By having the tree “fed” this way, the roots are forced to reach down toward the water source rather than across to a patch of grass or a drip system.
If your lender spends five minutes on the phone with your buyer and gives you the green light to take them out to look at houses, he/she may be setting you up for failure. In other words, when the fierce Monsoon winds blow in from underwriting, did your lender do the right work up front to assure your client’s roots will be strong enough? In most cases, you didn’t find THE HOUSE for your client in five minutes – and I would venture to say there are some clients who need reminding of that, right? We want the transaction to close as much as you do, so give us the time to get our hands dirty and dig down deep enough to make sure we can all weather the coming storm.