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Timber management impacts success of marketing land

By Jim Griffith
What effect does timber management have on the land developer in selling land? Probably much more than you would think.

Several years ago, I was involved in a tract of land that was being divided into smaller tracts of five to ten acres to be sold for residential development. The land was gently rolling and covered in pine trees. It was fairly clean underneath the canopy, but the lay of the land could not be seen more than a few 100 feet off the main road frontage. I thought it was beautiful!

However, the property was not selling like we anticipated. The price was certainly right and the location was quite convenient. After a period of time the bank was in need of a payment. Well, guess where we went to get the payment? You’re right – the standing trees on the property.

We actually did a heavy select cut, leaving about 20 trees per acre, that, in my opinion, were not that big or beautiful. We brought in a whole-tree chipper to do the cutting. The land was being developed so we wanted it to look as clean as possible when the cutting was completed.

Once the harvest was complete and the marketing of the residential lots resumed, a phenomenal thing happened. You guessed it! The land began selling like hotcakes. Ugly, bare, with all of the defects wide open to all, the land sold, one tract after the other.

It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. What a learning experience. People want to see what they are buying without having to get out of their car and walk all over the property. For the most part, they do not want their home site hidden by trees. For the life of me, I do not understand this mindset, but I see it over and over. So, you see how timber management does affect land developers. Most land in Georgia is covered in trees. Developing the land usually deals with some sort of select-cut of the trees on the property. Just because the land sales to follow far outweigh the price of the trees, it does not mean you should ignore profit staring you in the face. Trees are money, regardless of what type of land user the owner happens to be.

Georgia Farm Bureau foresters do select-cut sales all the time. You might say we are experts in such sales. The more the developed the area, the more active we are in these type sales.

Jim Griffith is general manager of the GFB Real Estate and Mortgage Companies

Georgia Farm Bureau News – February 2003

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