Commercial Investment Real Estate May/June 2017 - Page 14

CCIM Q& A Land Magnet by Gina Orlandi eginning his career in politics, Dean Saunders, CCIM, learned diplomacy and negotiation skills that have served him well in commercial real estate. His commitment to agriculture and land have become his professional specialty. In 1992, Saunders served in the Florida House of Represen- tatives after his time as a staff member with U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Lawton Chiles. During his four years serving in the Florida Legislature, his passion for agriculture and land led him to become a trailblazer for land conser- vation easements. Now a real estate broker and owner of Coldwell Banker Commercial Saunders Real Estate in Lakeland, Fla., Saunders excels at land and conservation easements. “I love being out looking at ranches, conservation lands, and groves,” he says. “There’s never a day that I don’t enjoy what I do.” He discusses his legislative career, the commercial real estate profession, and the insights he has learned along the way with Commercial Real Estate Magazine. B 12 May | June 2017 CIRE: How did you get your career start? Saunders: I was a senior at the University of Florida, major- ing in citrus, when I decided to get my real estate license. After graduation, I started working for U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles as an agricultural liaison. As Chiles’s career in the U.S. Senate started to wind down, I later worked part time for the Sena- tor as a Realtor. Soon after his retirement, I began working in real estate full time, until Chiles got elected as the Governor of Florida. Then I served in the Florida House of Representatives, where I focused on private property rights, as well as authored legislation to get the state of Florida to purchase easements for conservation. CIRE: After your time in the Florida House of Representatives, how did you transition into commercial real estate? Saunders: Once I got out of the Florida Legislature, a local rancher called to tell me how important protecting his ranch with a conservation easement would be for him and his family, and he wanted me to help him get it done. I realized there may be other landowners who need assistance with this as well, so I made conservation real estate my niche. COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT REAL ESTATE