Vision Group Has Joined Builder Team

Vision Group Bringing Their Unique Home Building Style To The Forest

Vision Group logo

Another of Sarasota’s premier local custom builders, Vision Group, has joined The Forest. Co-Owner and Partner Mike Padgett brings years of experience in real estate, construction and custom home building to the company.

Vision Group has built hundreds of custom homes in many of the area. Padgett is a lifelong Sarasota resident and third generation builder. He has an excellent reputation as one of the most respected names in building and selling custom quality homes.

“I am pleased to welcome Vision Group to our approved builder team,” said The Forest managing partner Tom Dabney. “Michael Padgett has been active in the home building business in the Sarasota/Manatee market for several years. The firm will offer a unique combination of experience and foresight to our development.”

Vision Group is dedicated to green building specializing in the latest trends for energy efficient home design and construction.

“Sarasota green building is nothing new to Vision Group,” said Padgett. “We built our first green home in 2006 and now have years of experience in green home building saving our customers thousands of dollars on their energy bills, and helping our environment.”

Learn more about Vision Group on our website.  Contact Brian Wood, the Premier Sotheby’s exclusive agent for The Forest, to learn more about selecting an estate lot and building a custom home.

Latest Home Sale Tops $2 Million

Former Rutenberg Model Sells For $2.15 Million in The Forest

10862 Leafwing Dr. Front The ForestA former Arthur Rutenberg model home in The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch has sold for $2.15 million. Located at 10862 Leafwing Drive, it was the highest-priced sale in the neighborhood during the last two years. The Forest’s Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Wood represented the buyer.

“We continue to offer excellent value for our new buyers while maintaining steady average price appreciation for sellers here in the Forest,” said Wood. “That said, our acreage home sites are still some of the most affordable in their class on a cost per square foot basis and new home and lot packages range from the $900s.”

Situated on 3.29 acres, the 6,667 square-foot former Sorrento model has four bedrooms, five full and two half baths. Built in 2006, the home’s creative floor plan blends California ranch architecture with a contemporary Zen-like interior.

“The buyers moved from south Florida and fell in love with the beautiful design and the natural and spacious setting that The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch provides,” said Wood. “This amazing former model and Parade-winning home sealed their move to the community.”

For more information on available homes and home sites, contact Brian at (941) 928-8408 or

E/M Custom Homes Joins Builder Team

E/M Custom Homes Introduces New Opportunities in The Forest

Brian Wood Jeff Eslinger Tom Dabney Photo

Wood, Eslinger and Dabney at The Forest

A new builder has joined the elite team at The Forest. E/M Custom Homes will bring new opportunities for home buyers in Sarasota’s only gated master planned community designed exclusively for estate homes.

E/M Custom Homes combines the talents of Jeff Eslinger and Rick and Dan Maglich, all seasoned custom builders in the Sarasota/Manatee region.

“We are excited to have Jeff, Rick and Dan join our builder team at The Forest,” said The Forest managing partner Tom Dabney. “They bring a great reputation for delivering high quality custom homes at exceptional values.”

Brian Wood, the exclusive Premier Sotheby’s Realty agent at The Forest, said he has buyers already discussing potential homes with E/M. He believes the builder will be a very good fit for the community targeting homes priced from the $900s and up. Wood added there are still an excellent selection of homesites available to choose from at The Forest.

“We look forward to working with everyone in The Forest. We offer a variety of current plans or can design the perfect home to meet any buyer’s needs,” said Eslinger.We design well built, fairly priced homes and provide service before, during and most importantly after the sale.” 

Learn more about E/M Custom Homes and preview their first featured home for The Forest.

Sarasota Herald Tribune Neighborhood Feature

The Forest In Sarasota Herald Tribune Market Snapshot


The Forest Market Snapshot Sarasota Herald Tribune

Thanks to for including The Forest in his popular Market Snapshot series.  Great to see the update available for area real estate readers with his concise article on our community.

Read it now on the Herald Tribune website.

The Forest is located on Clark Road five miles east of I-75 at the historic Hi Hat Ranch. Plan to visit and let our Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Wood provide the grand tour.

Estate Homes Bring Unique Amenities Without High Assessments

The Forest Difference: Real Estate Living Without High HOA Fees

Sarasota Manatee Estate Community Fees ChartThe cost of living at The Forest is substantially less than other private gated communities east of I-75 in Sarasota and Manatee County.  True estate homesites offer privacy, peace and quiet and the option for residents to design amenities right into their estate homes.  Residents can also access golf courses, clubhouses, parks and other recreational opportunities that are just minutes from the community.

A comparison of 2018 Community Fees shows the substantially lower fees residents of The Forest pay.  In some cases, there are CDD assessments on top of the HOA fees.  The Forest does not have a CDD.

“When we planned The Forest, our research showed a very high quality master planned community with large acreage homesites was missing in this region,” says Tom Dabney, managing developer partner for The Forest. “In many cases, particularly with higher-end properties, residents tend to use the planned community amenities less while still having to pay all the fees associated with those features. Our community places the premium on private space where buyers have the room to build true estates, add more expansive personal recreational amenities to their properties and still have separation from neighboring homes.”

Dabney says Forest residents have room on their estates for additional structures and recreational amenities like expansive pools and tennis courts.  One owner even built a zip line course between large trees (most of the homesites are heavily wooded living up to the community name.)

According to Dabney, in some cases offsite recreational amenities near The Forest are about as close as those of estate homes within larger sprawling master planned communities.

“Our residents can be at great golf clubs, a major regional park and a state park within 5 to 10 minute drives.  Add to that the huge difference in private space available with homesites of three to five acres, priced comparable to communities with much small lot sizes, and the value at The Forest is hard to beat.”


High Speed Internet/Phone Service Coming Soon

Myakka Communications Installing Fiber Optic System

Fiber Optic Connectivity at The Forest GraphicA new high speed communications system is coming to The Forest. Managing Partner Tom Dabney has been working for the past few years to bring enhanced communications to residents. He, along with representatives of other neighboring communities, finalized an agreement with Myakka Communications to bring a fiber optic network to the Clark Road area east of I-75.

“This is a major milestone for current and future residents of The Forest,” said Dabney. “More than ever, people work and communicate from their homes and need access to the high speed internet connectivity. This new service will bring that capability to every one of our residents.”

According to Dabney, Myakka Communications has its contractor ready to begin installation of conduit and connection boxes for the fiber optic cable backbone. This work will begin in November along with cable drops and hookups to homes of current residents.  He said residents should have the new high speed internet and phone access by January 2018.

“It’s exciting to have high speed connectivity finally coming to The Forest,” said Brian Wood, Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent for The Forest. “I know many of our current residents, and those considering building an estate home here, need to communicate around the country and abroad and this new system will make a world of difference in their ability to manage business and personal online needs at today’s higher internet speeds.”

Contact Wood to learn more about the new Myakka Communications service coming to The Forest.


World Rowing Championships At Benderson Park

World Class Rowing Facility 20 Minutes From The Forest

The world Rowing Championships were recently held at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota.  These were the top rowing athletes in the world helping the event to draw thousands to the region over two weeks.

The Forest premiered a thirty-second video as one of the sponsors for the many mobile phone charging stations at the event.  It’s now available to watch on our YouTube Channel along with many other videos about life in and around Sarasota’s premier estate home community.

If you’ve never seen competitive rowing in action you’re missing out.  Benderson Park is truly a world-class World Rowing Championships Nathan Benderson Parkrowing facility and just 20 minutes from The Forest.  There are many major rowing events and competitions scheduled there throughout the year. It’s also just adjacent to the University Town Center Mall.

Great place to see an event, do some shopping and have a meal.


Fall Estate Homesite Incentive

Save 10% On Homesites At The Forest In Sarasota

Site Plan Developer Homesites The Forest SarasotaThis fall there is more than just leafs falling at The Forest.  Prices on estate homesites are also falling for a limited time.

Those thinking about building a private estate home can take advantage of Fall Incentive with 10% off list price on all remaining developer owned homesites. To qualify, buyers must contract and close on a homesite by December 15, 2017.

“There is still a very good selection of developer homesites available and this sale offers buyers the chance to save as much as $32, 500,” said The Forest managing partner Tom Dabney.  “There are some incredible deals to be had with several three acre homesites below $100,000 with the sale incentive.”

According to The Forest Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Wood, typically closings on homesites only require a few weeks.

“The policy is also flexible allowing property owners ample time to develop plans for their custom estate home and to review and select a builder,” said Wood.  “We have Sarasota’s best builders here and they offer a wide selection of current floor plans or can design and build from scratch.”

Wood noted The Forest has guidelines property owners must follow that ensure the unique character of the homes and street scene in the community:

  • Construction must commence within two years of closing on a homesite
  • All construction must be done by one of the approved builders
  • Home plans must be at least 2,800 square feet under air and 4,000 square feet under roof
  • There is a no repeat rule for the exterior design of homes

See the Site Plan for available developer homesites.  Contact Brian Wood for pricing and to schedule a tour of The Forest.

Forest Unique Option In Nation’s Best Place To Retire

Sarasota Ranked Best Retirement Location On U.S. News List

Aerial View of Estate Homes at The Forest SarasotaSarasota has been ranked as the best place to retire in the U.S. for 2018. This nod came in the venerable U.S. New & World Report’s annual list.

The reviewer in the article referred to Sarasota as a “paradise, mixed with hints of realty…as traffic congestion becomes more common.”

For those in search of a community that has all of Sarasota’s best assets without the traffic congestion, The Forest at Hi Hat Ranch offers that and more.  It’s the area’s only gated community designed exclusively for large estates.

The Forest is a great alternative to the traditional small lot communities that dominant Sarasota. Large estate size home sites offer residents greater privacy and peace and quiet, at a location still within easy access to I-75, Doctor’s Hospital, and the entire Tampa Bay region.

In fact, many of the residents at The Forest moved from neighborhoods close to the beach to escape the congestion (watch resident interviews on the Forest YouTube Channel.)

“On a cost per square foot basis, the 3-5 acre homesites are a huge bargain compared to even the largest ‘estate’ lots in other gated communities,”says Premier Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Wood.  “Add to that a no-repeat rule, ensuring every home is truly unique, ensures a street scene unlike almost any other community.”

Homesites range from $85,000 and home and site packages from the $900,000s. Compared to similar style custom homes in gated communities, the Forest offers an excellent value with the alternative to own a true estate home and property.

Find available homesites and schedule a private tour to learn more about this unique opportunity in the nation’s best place to retire.


Resident Deer Include Two Big Bucks

The Forest Attracts Impressive Resident Deer Herd

Two Deer Bucks at The ForestThe Forest lives up to its name with so much of the community set aside in wooded preserves, pines and old growth oak trees.  There is really no other private gated community quite like it in the region.  Acreage home sites add to the feel and also provide an almost continuous corridor for native wildlife.

Many of the residents are familiar with the resident deer that frequent The Forest.  Recently, a resident was fortunate enough to catch a photo of two magnificent bucks.  Jane Paquette said they were enjoying a quiet spot on one of the sites near her home.

These impressive guys with those amazing racks are a rare treat to come across since they tend to be so elusive.  It’s great to know they are part of the herd often seen here with the abundant wildlife that thrives at the Forest.