Professional foresters give you best assurance of getting top price for your timber

By Jim Griffith

I almost always suggest getting multiple bids on your timber to make sure you get the highest price possible. Are there ever exceptions to this self-created rule of mine? Well of course there are! I’m sure you have heard the saying, “Never say never.”

I’ve often told you that just because a timber buyer gives the best price on one tract does not automatically mean he is going to give the best and highest bid on another tract of timber. Things change. Demand, urgency, location, delivered price, product mix, quality, loggers, terrain and timber types all affect what a buyer can pay for timber. Even if all things were equally the same, the human nature factor of looking-out-for-oneself will eventually kick in. Therefore, normally, I am going to get multiple bids.

So what is it that might lead to the breaking of my “absolute” rule of multiple bids? Professionalism! A professional is a skilled practitioner, an expert. Professionalism is the use of one’s training and experience in an area to perform a duty skillfully with a developed expertise. When you hire a forester to represent you, that person should be a professional, one with training and experience in timber management and marketing. They should have an expertise that you do not have or do not wish to utilize in the process of selling your timber. The person you hire should be someone you can trust. You need to hire someone who knows what is going on in the market and knows his job of representing you.

For example, I recently received a call from a timber buyer. On this occasion, there was a sense of urgency that I don’t normally recognize in a buyer’s voice. He was in need of pine sawtimber; and he was willing to pay dearly for it.

Over the last several months, prices for this product had been somewhat depressed, as much as 25 percent in certain geographic areas. Knowing the current market and what the market had been as much as 12 months earlier, I asked the telltale question, “What can you pay?” His answer was about 92% of the market price a year ago. I told him we would consider selling, if he paid us the full price pine sawtimber was bringing a year ago. This was the price I had been holding out for to put a particular tract of timber back on the market. He asked the mill to meet my price, came back with a “yes,” and we traded.

There was no need to get a second bid, no reason to shop. This was a reputable buyer. He was paying top price. As a professional, active in the market, I knew the going rates and what a top price would be. When you have the top price, you don’t have to shop. You can simply close the deal. When you know, you don’t have to take bids from multiple bidders. This was a per ton sale and there was no room for variation on a timber cruise that might result in varying bids on a lump sum sealed bid sale.

You may be in need of a professional forester to assist with your land or timber. You will want to contact Jim Griffith at the Georgia Farm Bureau to assist with your next land or timber sale.

Published in Georgia Farm Bureau News, October 2007
Jim Griffith is a Registered Forester and General Manager of the
Georgia Farm Bureau Timber & Real Estate Companies.

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