Selling Timber: What the Landowner Needs to Know

Selling Timber: What the Landowner Needs to Know

Working with a professional forester will help ensure successful timber sale.

Many landowners receive only a fraction of their timber's true value because they do not know what they have or how to sell it. Selling timber can be a rewarding experience if you understand the steps involved. This guide will not make you an expert, but it will explain the basic steps involved in selling timber, so you can feel more comfortable during the process and better about the results of your sale.

Work with a professional forester

The first step in conducting a timber sale is to select a professional forester. Many landowners often ask why they should have a forester help them sell their timber. The answer is quite simple: Like your financial planner who helps ensure your retirement and estate goals will be met and your family doctor who prescribes the proper care to ensure your long-term health, a professional forester helps ensure your timber sale will be financially and ecologically successful.

If you cannot answer the following questions and others like them, you may need the help of a professional forester.

How many trees will be cut?

How much is the timber worth?

How and when will the logger pay me?

Will the logger take only the best trees and leave the rest?

What condition will my woods be in when the logging is completed?

Will the logger have liability insurance and post a performance bond?

How do I report this income to the IRS?

There are two basic types of professional foresters: public and private. Public foresters work for either a state or federal agency. They can answer questions about managing your woodland and help develop your forest management plan. But landowners often have to wait for their assistance, and the type of assistance they can provide may be limited.

Private consulting foresters provide responsive service for a fee. They work to get the best dollar value for your timber and, like public foresters, will make your woodland healthier and more valuable. The amount paid for their service is more than returned through the increased revenue from the timber sale.

Regardless of whether you choose a public or private forester, the critical decision is that you choose a forester. A professional forester will provide the following services:

Maximize present and future economic value by identifying which trees to harvest and which trees to retain in the forest

Prepare an accurate inventory of what is to be offered for sale, including species, number of trees, volume, quality and estimated value

Market the timber effectively to obtain the maximum price by using knowledge of the timber’s potential value, markets and buyers

Monitor harvest activities to ensure your satisfaction

Offer guidance on income tax provisions relevant to timber sales

Find the Missouri Department of Conservation Resource Forester closest to your woodland, or call 573-751-4115.

Source: University of Missouri Extension
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