Marketing Timber Your Own Way Could Cost You

By Jim Griffith

A landowner in the process of selling his timber was recently given my name with instructions to call me. My name was passed on to this person to help him navigate the harvest and sell of his timber and to help him get the highest return for his trees. You see that is what I do. I help landowners get more money in the sale of their timber.

This landowner was not sure if he wanted to sell as a clear cut or as a select cut. After looking over the property, I found the landowner had a valuable timber tract. However, the property consisted of various timber types. I offered my advice and suggested how he could get the best price for his timber while achieving the aesthetic result he wanted for the property. As it turned out, the landowner wanted a free estimate of what he could get for his land and timber.

This potential client wanted to sell his timber for the most possible money, which is what we all want when we sell anything. However, he thought the key to maximizing his profit was by conducting the sale himself. What he didn’t appreciate is that there’s a big difference between what an absentee landowner who lives out-of-state can get for his timber and what I can sell timber for as a professional forester.

Although the internet can provide worlds of information for a timber owner, such as a list of buyers, it isn’t the most effective way to market your timber to obtain you the highest price. Even if you did contact a broad spectrum of timber buyers, it has been my experience that if you don’t work these buyers, making personal contact with them and providing information about the property and timber, they still may not bid on your timber.

The reasons for not getting your top price can go on and on. For example, the top bidder on a timber offering may not be a local company or mill. Timber buyers may travel as far as 50 to 100 miles to buy timber. It is not always the local buyer that is willing to give the best price.

But most of all, when you collect your bids, how do you know you have attained a good price for your timber? If you are selling lump sum, it is easy to determine who the best bid is from, but how do you know it is the best the market will bear without the help of a professional forester who has used his knowledge to provide an appraisal of the timber up front, making sure you get top dollar in the sale of your timber?

Jim Griffith is general manager of the Georgia Farm Bureau Timber and Real Estate Companies.

Georgia Farm Bureau News – October 2008

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  1. Looking to sell 8000bf of michigan grown cherry , cutting DBH is my general rule average on small ends 17, any suggestion will help.