We are the experts when it comes to Florida conservation easements. Dean Saunders, owner of SVN | Saunders Real Estate authored the award-winning consumer publication We Create Solutions: A Primer on Conservation Easements. Below are some important facts regarding Florida conservation easements.
To learn more, download our guide:
A Primer on Conservation Easements
If you are Considering a Florida Conservation Easement
When you purchase land, you also purchase a bundle of rights. These rights include, among others, the right to develop and the right to minerals and water. Collectively this bundle of rights is called “fee title.” As a landowner, you also have the ability to sell some of these rights while maintaining ownership to the land. This is generally known as selling a “less-than-fee” interest. A Florida conservation easement is a form of “less-than-fee” interest. When you choose to give up some of these rights, either by donation or sale, you are compensated. The more rights you relinquish to the recipient, the more compensation you’ll receive, either by tax benefits or direct dollars, or both. With the tourism and population boom in Florida, land is more valuable than ever.
Some landowners would like to preserve the beauty and function of their land and also profit from the increased value. Others want their land to stay in the family, but worry that estate taxes will force their heirs to sell. Landowners who sell Florida conservation easements control the ownership of the property and receive money for the easement. The government receives assurance that valuable land will be protected from future development.
Simply, a conservation easement is a restriction on the use of property similar to a deed restriction. It is recorded in public records and generally is in perpetuity.
Benefits of Florida Land Conservancy to the Seller or Landowner Including Florida Conservation Easement Tax Benefits
1. The landowner maintains control and ownership of the property.
2. The landowner benefits by keeping the land and getting paid for the appreciated value caused by development pressure.
3. The landowner assures the property is protected for future generations.
4. Future generations are assisted in transfer of the land by favorable estate tax treatment.
5. Landowners continue to receive income from their land.
6. Landowners may gain income tax advantages.
7. The property may be sold and the restriction travels with the property.
8. Each conservation easement is individually structured to meet the needs of the landowner, along with the conservation criteria, and can be structured broadly or specifically.
Benefits of a Florida Land Conservancy to the Buyer or Recipient
1. The buyer, or recipient in the case of a donation, of land conservation easements may be the federal, state or local government or a qualified conservation organization.
2. The buyer can protect more resources with fewer dollars by buying rights to land and not the land itself.
3. The buyer gets land in conservation that might otherwise be unavailable (ie: the landowner isn’t interested in selling the land but only a conservation easement).
4. The land continues to provide economic activity.
5. The land stays on the tax roll.
Characteristics of Land Acquired
The requirements or characteristics that make land eligible for an easement are determined by location and the unique qualities that the land possesses.
- Is the land a home to endangered plants or animals?
- Does the land contain unique water resources or is it part of a larger water system?
- Is it adjacent to government land?
- How much acreage is available?
- Was this land a prior converted wetland?
- Is the land in an Area of Critical State Concern (such as the Green Swamp)?
How is a Florida Conservation Easement Valued?
An easement is valued with an appraisal from a qualified appraiser. The value of a conservation easement is determined by taking the fair market value of the land and subtracting the value of the land with the restrictive covenants.