Front Porch Blog

Selling timber is a tricky business

By Pam Cassady

When landowners decide to sell timber from their land, they usually do it because they want to make money. However, if they aren’t well informed, they could end up not making as much as they could.

“Landowners are losing lots of money,” said Bobby Warwick, a consulting forester based out of Bowling Green.

Warwick said he has many examples of instances where landowners are offered a price that is much lower than what their timber is actually worth.

Warwick said he once worked with a man who was planning to sell his timber for about $40,000.

“I told him, ‘If somebody will give you $40,000, there’s somebody who will give you more,’” Warwick recalled.

The man ended up selling his timber for over $100,000.

As a consulting forester, Warwick works with landowners to help them get the best price possible for their timber. Although he said many in the timber industry are honest, reputable businesses, it is easy to take advantage of people. Most landowners have no idea what the timber on their land is worth and don’t know how to find out. But finding out what you have before you sell it is important.

“You’ve got to know how many board feet you have,” Warwick said. If you don’t, “It’s like trying to sell your house and not knowing how many bedrooms, bathrooms and such that you have.”

Warwick, who has a degree in forestry from the University of Kentucky, said his job is to promote proper timber management and help landowners get the most out of their timber.

When Warwick is hired by a landowner, he will first do a walk-through on the land and point out the kinds of timber they have and begins to estimate how much of each kind they have. Knowing how much timber is actually on a piece of property is extremely important, as is knowing what kinds of timber you have.

Warwick said he usually encourages landowners to do a selective harvest instead of clear cutting. He will often point out that allowing trees to grow for longer is advantageous in the long run.

“My mission is to help landowners manage their timberlands for today and the future while at the same time obtaining the highest price possible for their timber,” Warwick said. “In the end, the landowner always wins.”

“I have a passion about it,” he added.

Warwick said he hates to see people taken advantage of and remembers a poor woman who took $8,000 for what was worth around $50,000.

When selling timber, it is important to be aware of the market as well. A landowner may not want to harvest a certain species if prices of that timber are down. They might be better off waiting. Warwick helps landowners consider these issues as well.

When Warwick is hired as a consultant and to help sell timber, he stays involved through the whole process, even monitoring the logging process.

Timber is the number two industry in the state of Kentucky and it is a growing business in Logan County.

“Logan County is a great county for timber harvesting,” Warwick said. “This is a county that grows a lot of good timber.”

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