Sometimes it pays to select long distance timber buyer

By Jim Griffith
Registered Forester #1616

How many timber buyers do you know? The truth is, most timber sales are made to nearby local timber buyers or loggers. Many of these sales are made to the logger cutting a neighbor’s trees. Too often timber owners feel a sense of urgency to close the deal before the logger finishes the nearby cut and moves on to another tract, thereby delaying income and maybe even reducing the income due to the cost of moving equipment back to the timber owner’s property.

Most of us know a local timber buyer, or maybe even a couple. Those of us in the know may be aware of three or four. But is that enough? Maybe. Maybe not! The truth is, timber buyers are willing to travel some distance to purchase a good tract of timber.

So, how do you define a good tract of timber? A good tract is one in which you can purchase, cut, and make a profit! How far can a timber company travel from home to find this “good” tract of timber? That depends.

It depends of whether he uses his own logging crew or contracts the harvest with a local logger. It also depends on the relationship he has with wood mills within service distance of the timber tract being harvested. I have known timber buyers, with their own crew, to travel over a hundred miles to buy timber.

Those buyers traveling a long distance to bid on a tract of timber have a special reason for doing so. They move their crew and house them in motels during the week to make the job work. Now this is not always the case and is not the case with all timber buyers, but it happens. There are some buyers who will travel 50 plus miles on a regular basis to buyer timber.

The question is, when you are selling timber, do you contact all the potential buyers for your trees? Or do you even know all of the buyers to contact? It is important to put your timber for sale out on a competitive bid basis, whether it is for a lump sum sale or is to be sold by the unit. Competition breeds higher prices for the seller. I had a timber owner reluctantly contact me about his timber. I say he was reluctant because he had a friend down the road with an offer on the table to cut his twenty acres of trees.

To make a long story short, we got him an extra $1,000 per acre for his trees. On 20 acres this amounts to an extra $20,000. What do you think he did? He was more than happy to pay a relatively small fee to his Farm Bureau consulting forester after this sale. Wouldn’t you? This is NOT an isolated story. It happens across the state over and over again. You may be selling your timber. You may have a good acquaintance or friend that you are selling to. You may be getting the best price you can get, but don’t you want to know for certain?

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

Georgia Farm Bureau News – August 2004

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