Timber Sales


Selling timber is something that most forestland owners do only once, or very few times, in their lives. However, timber is purchased routinely by those who make their living in the forest products industry...the end users.

Timber buyers are very well versed in estimating the volume and value of standing timber. This lopsided equation where the buyer is well informed and the seller may be poorly informed puts the seller at a distinct disadvantage.

Generally, timber is conveyed by one of the following three methods:


Share Cutting:  

One very common method of selling timber is known as 'cutting on shares'. Here, a logger will cut timber and deliver it to a sawmill on behalf of a landowner. The logger will then pay the landowner an agreed upon percentage of what the sawmill owner pays for the delivered logs.  

This practice can encourage the logger to cut the highest value trees, and discourage them from cutting the lower value trees. The result can be a residual stand of timber which is made up of only the poorest formed trees of the least desirable species to occupy the growing space and seed in newly opened areas. Over the period of just one cutting rotation, a forest stand can be degraded for decades to come. This type of harvest is often referred to as high-grading , or 'take the best and leave the rest' .

Additionally, there is no guarantee that the landowner will be paid for every load that is hauled to the mill(s). In lieu of counting every loaded log truck that leaves the woods, the landowner must rely on the logging contractor to accurately report all mill tickets and associated revenues.


Negotiated Lump Sum Sales:

Selling timber 'lump sum' involves defining the timber to be sold, and then selling the right to cut and remove the subject timber for an agreed upon price. The lump sum method has several advantages over share cutting, or other pay-as-cut (unit) methods. Successfully negotiating the lump sum sale of timber requires that the seller is well informed as to the value of his or her timber, current market conditions, and environmental factors pertinent to the property. Even when well informed, negotiating is not the best sale method for timber tracts which are attractive to the market. In order to receive the highest price, these tracts should be sold by the lump sum, sealed bid method.


Lump Sum Sealed Bid:

The lump sum sealed bid method is the best method for selling timber in cases where the offering is attractive. The most important factors affecting marketability are:

        1.  Volume of Timber 
        2.  Species/Quality/Size of Timber 
        3.  Distance to End Users 
        4.  Timing!!!!!

All else equal, properly timing a sealed bid timber sale is the most critical factor. The market for timber is highly cyclical, and knowing when to offer a particular tract for sale can make a difference of more than 50% in the sale price.  The sealed bid method gives bidders only one chance to buy the timber, and results in each bidder submitting the highest bid that they can afford to pay for the timber. If such a sale is properly prepared and marketed, the results can be very gratifying to the landowner.  For a detailed picture of how Ridgerunner Forestry conducts sealed bid sales , please click here. 

Ridgerunner Forestry has conducted over one hundred timber sales since 1988, with a proven track record of excellent results. Feel free to contact us for a list of satisfied clients.


See what the Virginia Department of Forestry has to say about timber sales. Note the phrase, " Retaining a consultant forester generally ensures the highest return possible for the timber."