My family has a tree farm in Massachusetts and I am curious, is it standard for a forester to apply a fee based on the percentage of timber sale or an hourly rate?

Foresters charge in a variety of ways including percentage, hourly, or by the acre depending on the service provided and the customer's needs and desires. Each method has benefits and drawbacks, so what is more important than how - or how much - a forester charges is what services they are providing for their fees and how well they communicate with you, the owner. Both prices and services can be negotiated - for example I have charged a slightly higher percentage on the timber sale for developing a management plan and be on retainer for any advise or phone consultations. Foresters have a professional obligation to look out for the best interests of their clients. Particularly during a timber sale, which may take place only every 10 to 15 years, it is important not to sacrifice long-term gains for short-term savings. A good forester will more than pay for himself by ensuring you are fully compensated (best price for services & product), protected (insurance, legal filings, etc.), and the job is done in a prescribed manner (oversight, performance bond). If you have not yet selected a forester, you should get a few out for a consultation and job interview.

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