Getting a Fair Price for Standing Timber

A few insights into the market for standing timber, logging services, and logs. April 20, 2011

Does anyone happen to know what the going rate for standing timber is? I live in central Illinois and have a neighbor lady who is going to have her timber logged out. She is recently widowed and I wanted to make sure she is not going to be ripped off. The timber is mainly oak with some walnut. She said the man going to cut the logs offered to split the money with her after he hauled the logs away and sold them for her 50/50 split. Does that sound fair enough?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor M:
I'll bet he would. She needs to contact her county forester ASAP. He will guide her to a competent "Registered Forester". There is no substitute.

From contributor G:
She needs to get as many bids as possible for her timber. That is the only way to get fair market value for it. Logging costs are constant. If it is high quality logs her share of the delivered price of high quality logs should be higher than 50%.

From contributor W:
We have timber land in N. Calif and have logged many times. For a small show of say 5-10M BF you've got to pay more for the logging/shipping/etc. A 50/50 split is not an automatic red flag.

From contributor A:
Here a lot of the time the land owner will only get 1/3 to 1/2 of what the logs will bring for oak and pine. With walnut they give a stumpage price for the standing timber and pay for the logging. So giving 50% for the logs is not such a bad deal. Where the problem lies is who is buying and how they are measuring. The land owner should get a copy of the weight or scale ticket and know who is buying the logs.

There was a guy here who would just pay the land owner $400 a TT load of logs that come off the place. Not bad since logs were bringing $45 a ton. So the landowner would be happy when they saw three TT loads of logs go out the first day. But after the first load or two he started over loading the truck and was selling the logs by weight. So he was getting four or five tons of logs for free each load. Again, contact the local Forestry Office for the state and they will have some info for you and hopefully a list of people to watch out for.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Purdue University puts out an annual summary of log prices through their extension program. Although prices fluctuate, it will give you some guidance, but the county forester is likely the best source, as mentioned.

From contributor S:
The problem with the 50/50 split is that the logger really doesn't have an incentive to get the highest dollar value for the logs. He's probably going to sell them at the closest location or at a mill he's been dealing with for many years. By putting the timber up for competitive bid, the seller will receive the highest possible price, along with a contract with specifications that suit her needs and goals.