Should I harvest the timber on my land before I sell it to a developer?

I have 38 acres of wooded land under contract and I’m thinking about having it logged. I have read a little about the process but would like to hear from people that have the first-hand experience.

Would you recommend hiring a private forester to survey the trees? How were they paid? Did you have to pay upfront or after the sale? How much of the selling process did they handle?

My plan for the land is to eventually sell it to a developer. Would you recommend having it cleared before listing it? Does it make it more or less attractive to the developer?

@jonesmatr I haven’t actually logged and sold a parcel, but I used to be a forester…

My 2 cents is to hire a forestry consultant to cruise the timber for volume and value. They should also be able to market the timber to local mills and orchestrate the harvest, cleanup, and replanting for you. I don’t know what state you are in, but generally, there are forest practice laws/permits and also possibly county laws/permits to deal with when harvesting. There could also be a law that requires you to re-plant with seedlings after harvest. It really varies from state to state. The consultant would be able to navigate those laws and permits for you.

Generally, the consultants charge an hourly fee for their services. Often, they may charge a percentage fee based on the volume of logs that are harvested. They may charge a combination.

As with anything, it’s best to find someone who is reputable. You can check with your County Extension office (if there is one). Also of help for locating a person would be the state forestry department or state college (if there is one that does forestry, there should be an extension office).

There is also the Society of Foresters (SAF) that offers a certification for foresters. This isn’t really 100% necessary, but you can find someone on their website who has been accredited. There are plenty of foresters out there who are great even if they haven’t been accredited.

I hope that helps and isn’t more confusing. :slight_smile:


@bloomfieldks Thank you so much for the information. That will help get me started. Your suggestion on where to find a forester is the next step I was looking for.

@jonesmatr You’re welcome! Glad I could help.

As Kristen said,
You need to get a timber cruise done first. On a couple of recent parcels we hired a forester to cruise the property (measure and mark the selective cut) and market them to the highest bidder. They worked for a percentage.

Another thought here is to see what type of timber you have first and what type of cut you would need. (Selective or clearcut?)
Depending on the trees you have, it may or may not be worth logging. Also consider the time it will take to log and that the logger is reputable and doesnt completely tear up the property.

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@jonesmatr Do you know what species are on it? If you want to keep the integrity of the land intact you can look at people who do selective logging for timberframe construction. Generally these are people looking for straight trees with high branches and they might take 3 of 5 trees per acre at the most. They pay better than many for good size as they’re using them to make full size beams. There are also mule loggers who pull logs out to the trucks with mule teams rather than tractors, saving the trail scarring.

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