Lakeland broker wins nation’s top sales award after closing $43M conservation sale

Dean Saunders brokered land sales totaling over $126 million in 2020.
Dean Saunders brokered land sales totaling over $126 million in 2020. (Handout)

In 2020, Dean Saunders brokered the sale of 17,080 acres or pristine gulf-front land on Florida’s panhandle to the state for conservation.

The Bluffs of St. Teresa sale rang in at $43 million. It was Florida’s largest conservation purchase in over a decade, and it helped Saunders collect his second APEX Award from the Realtors Land Institute as the nation’s overall top producer and Top 20 Producer nationally for agricultural/ranch land sales.


“This was a rare opportunity to preserve an absolute gem of a property for posterity for the citizens of Florida,” Saunders said. “It was an honor and privilege to work on a project of such significance alongside others who made conserving The Bluffs of St. Teresa a priority for the state.”

Saunders, founder, managing director and senior advisor of SVN|Saunders Ralston Dantzler in Lakeland also won the award in 2018.

Hear what the nation's top selling land broker has to say about his blockbuster $136 million deal last year.

The award recognizes the applicant with the highest overall qualifying transaction volume across the nation. Last year, he brokered sales totaling over $126 million. Those transactions involved 28,516 acres of land. A few of Saunders’ other notable transactions include:

  • Sunrock Grove: a 1,675-acre citrus grove in Hendry County, which sold for $14.15 million. Brian Beasley co-listed
  • Clermont commercial land: Encompass Health paid $6.5 million for 32.46 acres on S.R. 50, just east of Hancock Road, for a future rehabilitation hospital. Marvin Puryear co-listed.
  • Leesburg commercial land: Saunders and Puryear brokered the sale of 110 acres on U.S. 27 in Leesburg, next to South Lake Hospital, to an affiliate of Winter Park-based Condev for $4.65 million.

The APEX Awards Program administrators reviewed 2020 sales by RLI-affiliated land agents totaling a combined $3.5 billion in qualifying transaction volume from 140 applicants.

Recently Saunders teamed up with SVN agent Dusty Calderon to re-list the Green Island Ranch property in Osceola County. The nearly 6,000-acre property on Lake Tohopekaliga is priced at $140 million.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at lkinsler@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261, or tweet me at @byLauraKinsler. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.