We often find ourselves asking forestland owners, "You wouldn't sell your house without first knowing what it's worth...would you?". The same principle holds true for selling timber; however, a surprising amount of landowners choose to do so without a professional appraisal. Of course, the smartest choice is to hire a reputable Consulting Forester to act on your behalf, as your Agent. If you haven't already done so, please visit our Timber Sales page to learn more.
Even if you are the do-it-yourself type, and are determined to sell your timber without a Consultant's aid, then please consider hiring a professional to cruise and appraise your timber before you sell- AT THE VERY MINIMUM! Here is a situation that we see all too often: Mrs. Smith is contacted by a logger who offers her $40,000 for her 50 acres of timber. Mrs. Smith takes that check, signs a contract (which does not adequately protect HER interests), and the timber gets cut. Unfortunately, the timber was actually worth $75,000. And now, her property has been left in poor condition because the logger did not smooth out the skidder ruts, apply grass seed to logging roads, etc. There is nothing Mrs. Smith can do about it, because the contract she signed was inadequate.
Getting back to the do-it-yourselfer. Suppose a timber cruise on your 100 acres costs you $3,500. The fair market appraisal of the estimated volume gives you a benchmark, and you now have bargaining power. You will almost certainly receive more money for your timber than you would have gotten without knowing the fair market value. In fact, that $3,500 fee will probably pay for itself several times over. If the Mrs. Smith in the above example had gotten a timber cruise and appraisal, she would have known that her timber was worth $35,000 more than she was offered. It will likely cost you more money to NOT get a timber cruise.
We were hired to sell a tract of timber for a woman who had (reportedly) previously been offered approximately $25,000 for her timber. She chose not to sell, and eventually hired Ridgerunner as her Agent. We prepared and marketed a sealed bid timber sale for her, and the results were outstanding. The buyer who made the original $25K offer submitted a bid of $53,090. The eight remaining bids were: $55,000; $67,000; $67,837; $68,300; $71,480; $78,550; $96,634; and $106,857. Our client was very pleased!
Please do not underestimate the value of hiring a reputable Consulting Forester to act as your Agent, whether the sale is conducted by sealed bid, negotiation, or otherwise.