10 Steps to selling your timber

Category / Subject:
Woodland management
Publish date:
April 17, 2024
Article read time:
4 Minutes

Getting Timber Sales Right

Trees take a long time to grow and woodland owners may put a lot of effort into getting their trees to marketable size. You may only carry out a harvesting operation once or twice in your lifetime so it is important to get it right. A well planned and presentedtimber sale makes the process easier for the seller and the buyer, reduces risk to both parties.

Northwoods consortium member, Timber Auctions, have outlined below the steps necessary to ensure the woodland owner achieves a fair price, protects their land and meets their objectives whilst the purchaser can work the sale efficiently within the agreed timescale.

10 Steps to Selling your Timber

Step 1: Understand your objectives from the sale

Ask yourself:

  1. What is my motivation to sell?
  2. Do I need cash now?
  3. What do I know about the process of selling timber?
  4. What is the state of the timber market?
  5. What are my forest management goals?
  6. Are there neighbours, tenants or family members I need to consult?
  7. Are there any restrictive covenants, legal complications or access agreements to consider?
  8. Do you have adequate access for the operations you envisage?
  9. Do you have correct insurance cover as the landowner for the planned operations?
  10. What is the end result I want to achieve?

Step 2: Get professional help

From a forestry manager, talk to several different managers and then select one to write your management planand prepare your timber sale. Unsure where to turn? Visit our team page for a number of contacts.

Step 3: Draw up a simple management plan

You can do this with your forestry manager, this does not need to be complicated but will identify:

  1. What resources you have in your forest
  2. The boundaries, hazards, access routes and key features
  3. The management goals for your woodland
  4. The steps to reach these goals
  5. The timing of operations to meet the goals
  6. The end result you want to achieve

There are a number of tools that can help you map your woodland accurately, such as myForest and their newly developed georeferenced mapping capabilities.

Step 4: Identify what you want to sell

  1. Identify the boundaries
  2. Quantify the number of trees, species and size of the trees
  3. Identify the hazards and constraints on the harvesting site
  4. Identify retention areas, exclusion zone, and protected areas
  5. Identify key operational features such as access and egress, loading bays, machine storage areas, fuel and oil storage areas

Step 5: Apply for your felling licence, and if successful, plan the sale

Step 6: Gather adequate, correct information and prepare the sale

  1. Sale description
  2. Crop information
  3. Location map
  4. Access map
  5. Carry out a hazard and constraint assessment
  6. Produce a hazard and constraint map
  7. Felling licence number and/or certification details
  8. Timescale for the operation
  9. Viewing arrangements
  10. Record the state of roads, boundaries, landscape features prior to operations

And think how you want to sell:

  • Consider the unit of sale (lump sum, average price, price per product)
  • Consider the method of sale (auction, tender or negotiation)
  • Consider the payment terms
  • Do you require a performance bond?
  • Set a reserve price

Step 7: Advertise the sale

Timber Auctions advertises timber sales through a combination of a website, postal and e-mail information as well as direct contact with known buyers. In many instances, advertising material on the website will bring enquiries from new potential bidders, these are vetted and then if suitable added to the buyers list.

Scheduled sales are run on the first Wednesday of every month. Bespoke sales can be held as required by customers.

Step 8: Select a buyer and enter a contract with the buyer

A sale should take place a specified time and place.

Depending on the method of sale when the bids are above the reserve a buyer can be select or in an auction the highest bidder is successful. If no offers are acceptable the seller may refuse all bids. Timber sales should always bebound by a written contract; this will protect both buyer and seller.

Your forestry manager should have a standard contract for sale of timber which can be drafted for the sale. This does not to be detailed but should be specific to the contract and detail exactly what has been agreed between the buyer and seller relative to all aspects of the sale.

Once the contract is agreed and signed by both parties, timber operations can begin.

Step 9: Supervise the sale

Normally your forest manager will supervise the sale. This should include:

  1. A pre commencement meeting to discuss the particulars of the harvesting operation, exchange paperwork, maps, insurance etc.
  2. Ongoing supervision to ensure operations are proceeding according to the contract
  3. Administration of authority to uplift timberand return of weigh tickets
  4. Collect payment as agreed in the contract
  5. Report to the owner on progress of the sale

10. Close off the sale

On completion of harvesting the site should be inspected to make sure all contractual obligations have been met, paying attention to:

  1. Watercourses
  2. Protected areas
  3. Rides, open areas, boundaries and landscape features
  4. Lop and top
  5. Roads and stacking areas are reinstated
  6. Machinery, litter and rubbish is removed
  7. All timber is uplifted from the site

Completing the contract

If everything is in order, a letter should be written releasing the buyer from the contract and the performance bond returned. The steps above are for guidance only, every timber sale is different and there may be specific items relating to a sale not covered above so always seek professional advice to help prepare a timber sale.

If you wish to discuss parcels of timber or for further information on marketing your timber please contact:

Timber Auctions offer a truly independent UK wide timber marketing service to help deliver best vale to the owner, agent and grower and develop a monthly purchasing opportunity for timber buyers.

For more information view our website at timberauctions.co.uk.