2nd Quarter 2015 Southern timber stumpage prices showed slight declines over 1st Quarter performance in all but one product category: Hardwood sawtimber rose slightly quarter to quarter. Pine sawtimber, chip-n-saw, and pulpwood, and hardwood pulpwood dropped by a small percentage. Year-over-year performance was better for the higher product groups, with Pine and Hardwood sawtimber, and pine chip-n-saw showing small gains over a year ago. Pine and Hardwood pulpwood declined year-to-year, with Pine pulpwood stumpage highest in Florida this quarter at just over $14 per ton on average.
Looking forward, U.S. housing starts continue to show strong recovery, especially in the South. This trend is expected to continue as evidenced by strong upward performance of new building permits, and has historically correlated to demand for lumber, and therefore timber prices. We expect to see growth in the timber markets as housing continues to climb, barring any market correction.
Southern timberland real estate asking prices rose this quarter to just over $2,050 per acre on average. Tracts fewer than 1,000 acres continue to sell at a slight premium over larger tracts.
Bottom Line: We are still waiting for timber markets to respond to the ever-improving housing recovery. Volatile stock markets and global uncertainty continue to affect investor confidence. Even so, timber markets and land sale markets have held steady in general over the past year and continue to show a growth in demand for quality timberland properties.
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The big winner is hardwood sawtimber, which shows a more than $6 jump year over year, or a nearly 24% increase. Hardwood pulpwood growth is strong as well with a 19% increase of its own. We are projecting that hardwood markets will continue to show increases in the near-term. If you have hardwood that you have considered harvesting, talk to us about timing your sale to take full advantage of the market movement.
Pine product year over year increases are still respectable: Sawtimber (+5%), Chip-n-saw (+4%), and Pulpwood (+4%). Florida and Georgia were the leaders in the southeast pine pulpwood markets, both with stumpage prices over $14/ton, and Florida nearing $15.
In other market news, housing starts and home improvement projects are still growing, but at a slower rate than expected earlier this year. Fuel prices dropped lower this quarter.
In real estate, average timberland transaction prices in the South were around $1,800/acre, well above the nationwide average of $1,475 and last year's south-wide average of $1,595. This may well be a time to consider divesting timber assets from your portfolio. If you would like to discuss, give us a call.
Source: Timber Mart-South, The Journal of Southern Timber Prices, 3rd Quarter 2014, Vol. 39, No. 3
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