NC State Extension Publications

Planning to Sell Your Timber?

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It is risky to sell timber without having a good idea of its value and the current market conditions. Do what the pros do—sell your timber using a registered forester! Selling timber is like trading stocks and bonds. Seek sound professional advice and assistance to know when and how to sell.

Be informed.

  • Timber is often sold once in a lifetime.
  • Timber prices depend on species, size, quality, competitive markets, and other factors.
  • Timber harvesting affects the future of your land, as well as the condition of water, wildlife, aesthetics, and young timber.
  • Timber harvesting laws and regulations must be addressed to avoid fines.
  • Tax laws on timber sales can be complex, and a forester can help explain them.
  • It is important to plan for reforestation. Financial help is available for this.
Photo of a stand of pine trees

Pine tree stand.

Is It Time to Sell?

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Timing Is Everything: When Is the Best Time to Sell?

When and how you sell your timber can greatly influence your overall financial plans, the cost of regeneration, and other management objectives. You would never sell bonds before they mature or sell stocks when the market is down. In the same way, selling timber requires an understanding of the markets and of the quality and quantities of your timber. Professional foresters have a proven record of generating greater returns for your present and future forest—whether you manage for wildlife, water, beauty, timber, or all of the above.

When selling timber, follow these steps:

  • Talk with a forester.
  • Sell when your timber is mature and the market is good.
  • Plan your harvest with reforestation in mind.
  • Maintain records to minimize your tax burden.
Upward perspective photo of mature trees

Mature trees.

What Are the Markets Like?

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Get Help

A forester is a phone call away! When selling your house, stocks, or bonds, you probably seek professional help. You should seek the same level of advice when deciding whether to sell or hold your timber. Public and registered consulting foresters are available to provide just such help. Public foresters can provide advice, while consulting foresters can provide advice as well as handle all aspects of selling timber. In North Carolina, you can hire a registered consultant forester. To verify if a forester is registered in North Carolina, visit the NC Board of Registration for Foresters.

A forester can make and save you money:

  • By determining the maturity, value, and demand for your timber.
  • By advising you on selling forest products, applying for cost sharing, and minimizing taxes.
  • By handling legal and regulatory issues, reforestation planning, and water quality concerns.
  • By making long-term management plans.
Photo of trucks loading cut timber.

Trucks loading cut timber.

For Advice and Help, Contact a Professional

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Sources for More Information

Most consulting foresters will be glad to talk with you at no charge until they actually perform services.

A professional forester consults with landowners

Professional forester consulting with landowners.


Associate Dean of Extension, Department Extension Leader & Professor
Forestry & Environmental Resources

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: April 14, 2020

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