WICKERSHAM FORESTRY SERVICES, INC.
TIMBER INVENTORIES OR CRUISES
There are many reasons for a timberland owner to need an inventory of the timber on his property. We have listed a few of the major reasons below along with a brief explanation for each.
1. MANAGEMENT PLANS: A landowner needs to know what he has in order to determine how he will manage the different stands of timber on his property. If you know what type timber you have in each area of the tract along with the volume in each species in those areas, then you can make intelligent decisions pertaining to future cuts and silvicultural practices that may be needed. You can anticipate income and determine the cash flow you shoud receive from the timber stand.
2. BUYING LAND: When buying a tract of timberland, you must know what you are buying in order to be certain you are not over paying for the tract. Have you ever bought anything when you didn't know what it was worth? If you buy a bag of sugar, what determines the total price you pay? The weight of the sugar is what you look at and the price per pound is the way you determine if you are getting ripped off or not. So, why then would anyone buy a tract of timberland without knowing how much timber is on the land and what the timber is worth? If the land is worth between $1000 and $1500 per acre, you can see that a 10 acre tract is worth between $10,000 and $15,000. If there is timber on the land, the timber value could be worth from $0 up to $8,000 per acre. How could anyone buy a tract without knowing what the timber is worth? The answer is, they do it all the time. People are ignorant as far as timber goes and they don't even know enough about it to know who to ask for help. A timber inventory should be a top priority when buying a tract of timberland.
3. SELLING LAND: You need to know what you are selling if you are planning on disposing of a timberland tract. The same reasons apply to selling that apply to buying. You don't know what you are doing if you sell timberland without an inventory of the timber. Most savvy buyers won't even go look at a tract if the seller doesn't have a cruise of the timber to show him. If you don't have an inventory of the timber then you have no idea what to ask for the tract. If you think setting the price high enough to cover your ignorance is the way to go, then you are really messing up. Either your price will be so high that you don't get any interest or you will be selling the tract way too low. Either way, you lose. YOU MUST NEVER SELL ANYTHING WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT IT IS WORTH.
4. ESTATE DIVISIONS: Often estates are divided up with little attention to the timber located on the different parcels. One heir may get 3 or 4 times the value of the other heirs just because the portion of the property he received is loaded with high value timber while the other heirs have marginal timber value on their parcels. Most of the time it is wise to sell the timber, divide the proceeds from the timber sale among the heirs, then divide the land according to the wishes of the deceased. An inventory of each parcel could help make the division more fair to all concerned but if that is not possible, then, even though we don't recommend it, the inventory could be used to sell the timber.
5. ESTATE APPRAISALS: Many times an inventory is necessary to determine the value of an estate when the owner passes away. The value of the timber is needed for three basic reasons. A.) To evaluate the estate taxes; B.) To determine the cost basis the new owners will have in their timber for tax purposes later on down the road; and C.) to determine how the property will be divided between the heirs. A good inventory is necessary in order to do things correctly and fairly.
There are many more reasons for timber cruises, however, the five above are the major reasons. We handle each cruise on an individual basis depending on the amount of information the owner needs, the size of the tract to be cruised, and the intensity or percentage of the cruise needed to obtain a statistically valid sample. Our figures are checked and double checked for accuracy before they are mailed out to the client. If you think you may need a cruise of your timber, give us a call and we will be happy to go over your needs and come up with the right method for you to obtain the information you need about your timber volumes.