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

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.


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.

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