Appraising Forest and Other Rural Lands
Undeveloped rural land (i.e. forest, pasture, riparian areas) has been traditionally given a lower economic value than land providing products or housing to people. Even now, the value of these lands are derived mainly from the use they provide. Some locations provide annual crops, others provide a characteristic like shoreline or view to people who value this feature and are willing to pay for the land to own it.
As the population grows and people become more sophisticated in their wants and needs, the demand for the specific economic features has grown, as has the desire to protect some locations from development by using Conservation Easements or funds provided by the government to protect open spaces.
Uncovering and understanding the relationship between value and these economic features in natural resource areas is fundamental to proper management of the resources. Often, one area may have several competing or complementing features, making the management decision more difficult.
The forestland or rural appraisal of property is first and foremost a method of uncovering and estimating value relationships at a given time. Analysis of the various uses for rural property, and the demand for those uses, offers the property manager valuable answers to fundamental questions. A fully developed appraisal can address many areas of concern, providing a manager with both the information and the support to make a well-informed decision.
The manager and the appraiser should work together from the initial consultation to make sure that the manager’s questions about the land are being answered, as well as considered from the aspect of value. The expertise available to the client should be as varied as the questions.
I believe that the depth of knowledge and training of the appraiser are valuable elements in the forest land appraisal. The complexity of issues influencing the forest or other rural land ownership makes great depth of knowledge across the spectrum of issues nearly impossible for one single individual. Assembling a team of experts in the range of issues and analyzing appraisal problems by various members of the team based on the specific situation is one advanced method of efficiently and completely answering today’s difficult forest land and other natural resource appraisal questions.
Forest managers’ considerations are much more varied than the “value” estimates developed. They require thoughtful and accurate answers based on solid knowledge, across a wide range of natural resource information. The team approach, used by Columbia Natural Resource Analysis LLC, provides forest and rural landowners with in-depth, extensive data of natural resource information, together with a staff of knowledgeable analysts to provide information for today’s difficult resource decisions. The team approach to forest and rural land appraisal is better for the client, and I believe, better for the future of rural lands.
(Ken Nuhn has been an appraiser for 15 years).