How to know if you’re getting a good price for your timber

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

I talked with a timber seller this past week. He was in the process of selling his timber and wanted to know if he was getting a good price. Determining a good price for your timber starts with hiring a forester who represents you. Timber owners tell me all the time, “I’ve been offered ‘x’ dollars for my timber.” When I ask who made the offer, they have to find a business card or scrap piece of paper to remember the name.

First and foremost, you should know who you’re doing business with. Trusting someone you don’t know, who works for someone else, and probably gets paid a bonus to make the best deal possible on a timber purchase, is not the wisest move you can make. You should deal with someone you can trust, someone who comes with a reputable referral. This will give you piece of mind and prevent you from feeling the need to check on timber prices after you’ve already made an agreement to sell your timber. I can’t tell you how often I get the “how much is my timber worth” call, after the owner has already made an agreement to sell.

I’ve always wondered why so many timber owners are willing to sell without having any idea what their timber product is worth. Timber owners often tell me, “Well, I heard the prices were up right now, and it’s a good time to sell.”

Just because the market is up, does not mean you are getting the best price for your timber. Also keep in mind that just because your next door neighbor got ‘x’ dollars per acre does not mean that is what your timber is worth, regardless of what it might look like to you. I promise you, your timber buyer is not going to buy on looks. He is going to know.

It takes the time and efforts of a professional forester to determine the value of your timber. You will be much better prepared to negotiate the best price for your timber products armed with a timber appraisal/cruise provided by your independent forester, that is, if you know current market prices and know where to find the more reputable timber dealers. Also, you should have a well-prepared timber deed that is going to protect your interests as well as the buyer.

Needless to say, there is a lot to think about when selling timber. It’s not as easy as contacting the man down the road where the log trucks are always parked. If you want to know you are getting a good deal in the sale of your timber, contact a name you can trust.

Jim Griffith is general manager of the Georgia Farm Bureau Timber & Realty Cos.
Georgia Farm Bureau News – August 2007

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