Conservation Easements

Dean Saunders' life's work, first in the Florida legislature and now in real estate, has been closely tied to conserving Florida's landscape through work in the legislative process and guidance to landowners for preserving their land.

What is a Conservation Easement in Florida?

A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement between a landowner and a government agency or nonprofit land trust that limits development on the land. These easements are designed to meet the personal and financial needs of the landowner while allowing the landowner to retain private ownership. This allows the landowner to identify not only what portions of the land fall under the easement, but also what rights they wish to retain, limit, or surrender. The easement is designed to protect the natural, scenic, or historic resources of the property.
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Benefits of Conservation Easements

There are many benefits to placing a conservation easement on your property, including:

  • Protecting your land for future generations: A conservation easement ensures that your property will be protected from development, even if you sell it. This can help to preserve the natural beauty of your property and the surrounding area.
  • Reducing your property taxes: In Florida, you may be eligible for a property tax exemption if you place a conservation easement on your property. This can save you a significant amount of money on your taxes each year. Learn more about tax benefits.
  • Generating income: In some cases, you may be able to sell the development rights to your property to a government agency or nonprofit land trust. This can generate a significant income for you.
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Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM

Founder, Managing Director & Senior Advisor
As an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) and a member of the Florida Legislature from 1992 to 1996, Dean spearheaded the action to establish the Green Swamp Land Authority. As a result of his efforts, the very first Florida state agency was created to purchase development rights from landowners. His work was instrumental in the successful passing of the law requiring Florida state agencies to purchase a specific number of conservation easements each and every year. Selling your land as a Florida conservation easement is recommended to real estate clients when the property has the qualified features, meets guidelines, and the landowner desires a way to keep the property from major development for generations to come.
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Landowners Can Sell Development Rights to Protect Their Land

When you purchase land, you are not just buying the physical property. You are also buying a set of rights, known as "fee title." These rights include the right to develop the land, the right to extract minerals and water, and the right to use the land for any purpose you see fit.

However, you can also sell these rights, while still maintaining private ownership of the land. This is known as a "less-than-fee" interest. Conservation easements are a form of "less-than-fee" interest that are specifically designed to protect the natural resources of the land.

When you sell a conservation easement, you are essentially giving up the right to develop the land. In return, you will receive compensation. The amount of compensation you receive will depend on the size of the easement and the restrictions you place on development. Compensation can be collected in the form of tax benefits, direct dollars, or both.

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Protect Your Land and Earn Income through Conservation Easements in Florida

As tourism and population skyrocket in Florida, land is becoming more valuable than ever. Through conservation easements, landowners choose to preserve the beauty and function of their land. These easements also serve to alleviate worries of future estate taxes that may force the landowner’s heir to sell the land versus keeping it in the family.

When choosing to sell development rights through conservation easements, the landowner retains ownership of the property and is compensated. On the other side, the government receives assurance that the valuable land will continue to be managed by the landowner.

Today, not only is the number of conservation easements being bought by the federal, state, and local governments growing, but the demand from conservation organizations is as well.

Selling your development rights through a Florida conservation easement is recommended to real estate clients when the property has qualified features, meets guidelines, and the landowner desires a way to keep the property from major development for generations to come.

Ask if Your Land Qualifies as a Conservation Easement


Free e-book

Conservation Easement Primer

Written by Dean Saunders, ALC, CCIM
This book is written to give insight and answers to your questions about Florida conservation easements and other landowner rights. 
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