Whether you are considering your first timberland purchase, your first timber sale, or you have owned timberland for many years, there is one question that every landowner asks – “What is my timber worth?” The answer to this question is, “It depends!” For the landowner who wants to make the right decision and manage their property wisely, this creates a real dilemma.
Variables affecting the value of timber include property-specific characteristics as well as local, regional, and national influences that ultimately determine timber product pricing and value.
Property factors affecting timber pricing include:
- the size of the timbered area
- quality and quantity of timber
- access to the timber
Local factors may include:
- level of market competition
- mill inventory and product specifications
- distance to haul timber to the mill
- weather conditions
Regional and national influences may include:
- the number of competing mills
- demand for finished wood products
- income and estate tax obligations
- regulations pertaining to timberland ownership
Because there are so many variables that can affect the value of your timber, it is critically important for landowners to take steps to get informed and to seek competent assistance from a professional forester who is there to represent your best interest.
Over the years, we have heard numerous stories of landowners who decided to sell their timber “because my neighbor got a good price” or someone made them an unsolicited offer on their timber “through the mail and it sounded like a lot of money.” For some landowners, a single timber sale will be all they experience in a lifetime. With others, timberland ownership can be a more regular source of income for now and future generations. No matter your situation, determining your property’s timber value is a crucial step towards making the right decision and avoiding big mistakes.
A current timber inventory from a competent and reliable expert is necessary to establish an accurate estimate of your timber’s value. A timber inventory will provide you with an estimate of the amount of timber on your property with details including volume present by the various product classes such as pulpwood, chip-n-saw, sawtimber. Current market pricing for each product class is also required to determine an estimate of value. With technological changes in recent years, there is an increasingly varied number of timber product classes with mill specifications that can change often, making it even more difficult to confidently determine value. As experienced professional consulting foresters, we are actively managing and selling timber every day and understand the impacts of all these variables have on timber value.