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Posted: 12/14/2003 12:54:27 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/14/2003 1:47:26 PM EDT by pilot4x4]
I am in the process of purchasing a home and acreage in south central Kentucky. The owner told me he was going to have "three or four" trees removed that he was afraid would fall on the house this winter if there was an ice storm. I got a call from him the other day saying they were almost done with removing the trees, just a few more days. I asked him how come it had been taking so long to take take down just a few trees and he said "oh, they've taken 80 out so far and still have more to go." Turns out that after we agreed to buy the property and have been waiting for the contract to come in the mail, without my knowledge he decided to sell around 95 large mature trees (at least 35 - 40 years old) to a local mill. They were mostly poplar with 15 or so oak and walnut mixed in. Now he's offering $1000.00 of the price to compensate me for the fact that this was done and I've got lots of stumps and tree tops to get rid of. From a little reasearch on the internet I'm guessing he's made thousands on the sale of these trees. The owner is being very secretive about the whole thing and unfortunately I live too far away to easily be able to maka another trip there to see it right now. So I'm waiting for him to send pictures to see what it looks like now. If any of you have any experience selling timber any idea what kind of prices trees like that bring? John

I just went through my pictures I've taken of the property on visits there and found a couple that show some of the trees. It's hard to find any that give you a good idea as to how tall they but at least it gives an idea of trunk diameters. The large tree (between gravel drive and house) is probably fairly representative, maybe a little smaller than most of the 95 or so trees that he's sold. Looking at the other picture you can see some of the larger trees in the background. He tells me they've gone through and cut all of the larger trees from that stand of trees and all others on the property. All total there are about 6 acres of woods on the property. I was trying to figure out roughly what he'd get board foot wise out of trees like that but I'm not expert on it. John

http://home.earthlink.net/~pilot4x4/trees1.jpg

http://home.earthlink.net/~pilot4x4/trees2.jpg
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:07:10 PM EDT
If he felled the trees and sold them AFTER you bought the property, I'd say get a lawyer and get YOUR money back! Hardwood lumber can be pretty damn pricey, especially the walnut logs. Oak and poplar are less expensive, but still worth a lot. If the trees were in good shape with long straight boles then he made a damn good amount of money. He wants to give you a lousy $1,000 when he made WAY more than that? Get a lawyer!
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:07:51 PM EDT
Talk to someone in the area who knows the market, but id say your getting screwed. Assuming what you call maure tress are, and they are in good condition that is worth alot more then 1000$. Considering 6in diamter pulp is worth 300$ a truckload at the moment your getting screwed. Walnut can be worth 100$ a log if its good and straight for veneer
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:08:48 PM EDT
man...this guy is screwing you. I say the contract is null and void...unless he is willing to show you the contract with the timber company, give you the money and you pay him an extra thousand for the property. This guy is a crook and an ass. I had 34 acres cleared last year. Most of the bigger old stuff was diseased. I seriously doubt there were more that 70 large pines.....Little to no hard wood...$67k -HS
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:15:42 PM EDT
The cost of logs cut depends on the size, type of wood. You are being boned big time, he is looging out the property before selling to you, if you were going to buy the property because of the standing timber, don't do it now, trees --- logs are worth a fortune, a 24 inch tree of say Oak sell for about 600 - 1000 dollars, depending on height, girth, and grain.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:17:31 PM EDT
Luckily we did find out about this prior to signing the contract. He had an attorney write up a contract and there were some problems with it so the attorney had to revise it and send out a new one. Luckily the attorney made those mistakes or we would have signed the contract before we found out anything about this. I was at the property a few weeks ago (when the final decision was made to make the purchase) and it's obvious now that the owner was in the process of preparing for the loggers to come in but he told me nothing at all about it then. He just told me he'd had to take down some fencing so he could get a large truck in to move some things of his out. Now he's changed the story and he said the reason he took the fence down was so they could get trucks in to haul the logs off. I feel he was extremely dishonest with us and we are most likely not going to purchase the property now unless he makes a fair price adjustment to the property. The amount of cleared area and wooded was specified so I feel now we aren't getting what we paid for. I was just curious about what you guys though the timber might be worth, sounds like a good sum of money probably. John
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:24:33 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:31:07 PM EDT
Just a receipt for some earnest money at this time and an agreement to sell the property to us in the condition we last saw it except for removing 3 - 4 trees that he believed were in danger of coming down on the house this winter while he was still there. Obviously looks now like unless he will mark the price down by the amount he received from the mill then we are better off trying to get our deposit back and finding a new place. John
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:35:18 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:39:15 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/14/2003 1:44:31 PM EDT by danonly]
Since it sounds like they guy wants to bend you over and ram it in, i would tell him he has two choices. Reduce the agreed upon price in half, or give you 90-95% of the money he got from the sale of the trees. Anything else, I would threaten to sue him with misrepresentation of property for sale. Do you have a buyers' realtor? the sellers realtor has no obligation to look out for your interests. get a buyers realtor, they (both realtos) will split the comimision, and he well will represent you in the transaction. Edit- I would sue him if you have ernest money down and an agreement for the condition of the property, minus the 3-4 trees. I would get all the money he gets from the sale of the trees, plus the legal fees you incur, plus whatever is a good amount representing your time wasted, loss of emotional attachment to house, and a significant punishment to this shyster! Make him pay! ps, what was the acres/ house size and sale price? If you don't mind me asking.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:53:03 PM EDT
Based on the photos youposted, I would not do anything, except retain a lawyer for the case, until you see the property. If he takes out 95 mature trees, they will probably ruin another 50 smaller ones. You might not even recognize the propety as being the one that you had your heart set on buying. (even though people should enter real estate sales with no emotional attachment) Sounds like there are no realtors involved, is that correct? I would say that this is a case to show that it is worth paying an extra 3% for you to hire a realtor, and not trust the seller a bit. just my two cents, and i've only bought one house, one percel of 80 acres, and another parcel of 5+ acres. (so i'm not some real estate expert, but at least i've gone through escrow a few times)
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 1:54:33 PM EDT
I just added some pictures to my original post. Like I said there it's hard to show the size of the trees but that at least gives you a rough idea. I've been told by the owner that the trees he had cut are about 95 of the largest trees from all the stands of trees on the property and some individual trees around the home. The property is 21 acres, roughly 3/4 cleared and the rest (was?) wooded, has a 2200 square foot home, the shed you can see in the pictures and an old barn which probably won't last much longer. Price is about $130,000.00. Unfortunately in Kentucky it's about impossible to find a buyers agent. Most realtors there will only show their own listings and some times it's even hard to get them to do that. Most realtors also do auctions and I think they'd prefer to sell at auction for a higher commission so they don't push hard at all to sell their listings and instead let the listing run out and try to talk the seller into running it through the auction. This place was for sale by owner and we found out about it through a friend of a friend that lives in Arizona across the street from relatives of the owner of the KY property. John
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 2:01:02 PM EDT
HUH. Sounds like the real estate market there is very different than here. Ok, so i can understand the realtor difficulty and other things. If it is FSBO for sale by owner than sometimes that is the way it is. sounds like you paid him direct the ernest money, is that true? If so I would suggest in the future to use an escrow account- some neutral 3rd party to hold earnest money, etc until the final papers are signed. At least that way you will protect your deposit. Again- make sure you physically walk the property before you sign papers, and if you are not willing to live with it, (get rammed) i would get a lawyer. This guy sounds very crooked to me.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 2:55:16 PM EDT
Those trees are alot older than 40 years, theres at least a 1000 bf visible just in those pictures, on some of em look like theyd make 16 ft logs. How much damage to the land and smaller trees depends on the harvesting method, for a small operation probably a hand crew and cable skidder. Still, iff most of the big trees were removed it will totally change the look of the property for decades.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:03:40 PM EDT
Danonly, The earnest money is in a escrow type of account with an attorney there. I think they will have no problem releasing it back when they find out how he's modified the property. Orion_Shall_Rise, Thanks for the info. I don't know myself how old the trees are. The owner there tells me 35-40 years old but as I've found out you can't believe what he tells you so that probably wasn't true either. It's probably safe to say this guy made lots of money off of these trees. It was a beautiful place, too bad this man has probably ruined it. Looks like it's time to start the property search again. John
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:18:44 PM EDT
The loss of the tress isn't the only thing that you need to worry about. It sounds like this guy is only concerned about the money, which means he won't require the lumber company to clean up the brush or the ruts their equipment made. My friends neighbor had 20 acres of woods logged. Before it was logged you could ride all over it on 4 wheelers. Now there is so much brush everywhere and 8 to 12 inch ruts that even the 4 wheeler has problems getting through. His property is pretty much trashed. It would take either a huge amount of work to clean it or a crew and some heavier equipment. I wouldn't make any decisions until you saw the property for yourself. Do you honestly think dishonest person is going to send you pictures of what the property really looks like?
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:30:35 PM EDT
SWire, You are absolutely right about the other problems associated with him selling the timber off besides the trees themselves. He tells me they've left all the stumps in place and he says the ground is covered with tree tops now. He told me it would take him at least a year to cut up all the tops alone so that's why he's willing to take $1000.00 off the price. He didn't even mention the stumps being a problem which they actually would be. A thousand off probably isn't even near enough for the labor alone it will take let alone the loss of the trees. I've had a phone conversation with him since I started this post that went something like this... ME: Are you still going to send the pictures? HIM: I don't think so? ME: Why not? HIM:If I take them now then it will look different tomorrow and the next day because they are still taking more out. ME: Fine, wait until they are done and send them. HIM: I don't want to because the place looks too bad with the tree tops laying around. No I don't want to send pictures. Just go ahead and sign the contract and send the rest of the deposit if you still want the place. So obviously we have no deal now. If the guy isn't willing to send any pictures because he's afraid I'll think it looks so bad that he's afraid I won't like it, then it must be really bad. I've got several thousand in expenses I've incurred as a result of going to see his place to make the final decision (then him changing the condition just days after I left and having already planned to do so when I was there but not telling me about it) and expenses I've already incurred in putting down deposits for a metal building kit and some other moving expenses. I'm going to write him a demand letter asking him to pay those expenses and then go from there. People seem to be pretty honest in that area for the most part, just my luck I find a bad one. John
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:37:04 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:40:53 PM EDT
At this point if you want to get some of your expenses covered I strongly suggest you get a lawyer. If you didn't have a signed contract for the place I doubt there is much that you can do to get your expenses covered. A lawyer will let you know what your rights are and how to proceed. I'm guessing if you write a letter to the owner and demand your expenses be paid that he will probably just throw it away.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 3:54:00 PM EDT
Yeah, if it was me the deal would be off.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 4:09:14 PM EDT
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 4:27:39 PM EDT
If this guy doesn't know how many trees they are taking out it sounds like a spur of a moment decision that he made probably at the strong suggestion of a fly by night company. These companies are notorious for quoting high prices for the trees, removing most of them from the property and then claiming they will come back the next day to pick up the rest and to deliver the final check. The only thing is they come back in the middle of the night pick up the rest of the wood and skip town. Leaving the owner with a trashed woods, no trees, and no check. Wouldn't it be ironic if this guy got screwed while trying to screw you.
Link Posted: 12/14/2003 5:10:38 PM EDT
I think you just got a free house. Generally speaking, once money is on the table, the property is considered to be under contract and the seller can't alter anything without the permission of the buyer. The seller is a thief and you should hit him hard for his greed.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:15:03 AM EDT
After a long search (about 1 1/2 years) we've finally found a realtor that will act as a buyers agent for us in the southern part of KY. It sure is hard to find one there compared to other areas where I've been. Anyway we've pretty much given up on the place we were trying to buy and I thought we'd never hear back from the owners again but they wrote us tonight so I thought I'd share with you what their comments on the timber selling that took place. "IT WAS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE TO SEE IT ALL HAPPEN BUT SO SATISFYING. NOW THE PROPERTY LOOKS MORE OPEN AND ALOT OF UNDER BRUSH WILL BE GONE MAKING IT LOOK MORE LIKE A NATURE AREA. IT HAS TO BE DONE EVERY 20 YEARS THEY SAY." Note that they never comment on how much money they made off it but I'm assuming that the "satisfying" part would have something to do with that. They've also been stressing the fact now that lots of the trees were dead and decaying but the lumber company was nice enough to take then anyway. They've been stressing the dead tree issue for a while now and I believe they are trying to make us think they didn't profit from this as a result of the trees being no good. I've got no experience with selling timber at all but I'm guessing these loggers wouldn't keep coming back and working all day to take out dead trees and in our visits to the property we haven't seen much in the way of dead trees at all. Anyway it's probably best we found out about this now rather than later. I'm to the point now where I wouldn't trust anything the man tells us about the trees, house, property or anything else. It's been a hard and expensive lesson but it was better to find out now how the they are than to find out after we've bought the place and a million problems come up. John
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:41:36 AM EDT
It’s analogous to you putting a down payment on a car, then when you show up to buy it the tires are gone, the engine’s been swapped from a V8 to a 4 banger, and oh, did I mention it looks nicer without a windshield? I would send him and the attorney holding the earnest money a letter demanding a refund. At this point things start over from scratch as he’s not selling you the property you agreed to purchase. It would be worth paying for an hour worth of consultation with an attorney so you will know your legal rights. Good luck!
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 1:02:23 AM EDT
Dead and diseased trees can still make good lumber for building furniture! This guy is so full of shit I think even *I* can smell it from Kalifornia! Get your money back, and tell him to fuck off. What a damn crook!
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 2:58:36 AM EDT
I agree w/EVERYONE, this seller is a blood sucker.........FIND OUT HOW MUCH HE GOT.........I'd bet 10k at least if it was "good wood".....GET A LAWYER!!....go to the mill and ask, it cant hurt. PULL YOUR MONEY OUT>>> its a buyers MKT right now w/interest rates so low they get top dollar for their property. There's always a better deal out there if you look.
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