John's Journal... Entry 267, Day 5
Consider Resale Price
Editor’s Note: More and more sportsmen are buying land not only to use as wildlife retreats and to make sure they have a hunting and fishing place for the future, but they're also buying timberlands as an investment. Here's a look at why.
Before he buys any land, Mayfield assesses whether he can create a dream
on that property. "Since people purchase forestlands primarily for
recreation, I can get top dollar for property if I manipulate the habitat
to create the buyer's dream," he says. "The real value I assign
to a tract of land sums up all the property's components and the picture
I paint in the potential buyer's mind. The aesthetics of the property
often far outweigh the actual value of the property. A road on the property
that travels across a mountain and creates beautiful vistas where you
can see the sun rise and set has value, as does your ability to watch
ducks light on a pond."
If you look at land sales in west-central Alabama where Mayfield operates his business, the most-sought-after plots don't have their prices based on the land's timber marketability or potential but rather on the recreational value of the land. The property's ability to produce hunting and fishing opportunities far outweighs its timber potential. "If you only consider the timber value of a tract, which I define as cutover/dirt value, then land in this area may be worth $550 to $650 an acre," Mayfield said. "However, if you improve that same land, manage it for deer, turkey, quail, doves and ducks, put in a pond or two stocked with bass, bream and catfish and add well-managed roads, then that land may be worth as much as $1600 an acre." For instance, seven years ago, Mayfield purchased 986 very-diverse acres of hills, bottom lands, pastures and lime rock cedar outcroppings for $450 per acre. The timber value of this land at the time of purchase averaged about $200 an acre, with most of the timber value in only 200 acres of that land and the rest of the land primarily cut over.
I improved the roads so I could drive anywhere on the property and put
up gates to control access," Mayfield reported. Next, he developed
greenfields on the acreage to attract deer and turkeys, plowed and planted
fields for doves and quail, built two lakes and erected a barn and a small
camphouse. He ran electricity to the property and dug a well. "I
improved the land to make it an outdoorsman's dream for hunting and fishing,"
Mayfield emphasized. "In seven years, I sold the land that I'd paid
$450 per acre for $1600 an acre." Mayfield purchased some of these
parcels from timber companies because the land had so many soil types
and terrain variations and didn't produce quality timber. "Diversity
of habitat is generally not good timber-producing land," Mayfield
commented. "But diverse habitat is ideal for producing wildlife."