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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Walking Money - The Cost of Walking Away from a Good Deal in Key West

Most of my customers are buyers. I identify with their wants, needs, frustrations, and frugality.  I know what it is like to dream, to plan, to save, and to eventually to buy the special place to call home. Some people have a lot of money and they sometimes treat price negation as a bit sport while others treat it as a genuine business matter that is to be dealt with. They leave the emotion out of the equation and usually get the deal done. They know what they want and they usually get it.

I think a lot of buyers who are pursuing the dream of buying a place in Key West are often vexed by the perceived high or inflated asking prices on houses here. They often get overwhelmed by the process and the seeming intransigence of sellers who won't budge on asking price - or  at lease budge enough. Some buyers draw a line in the sand. They take their stand and avow the seller can take it or leave it.

Unlike those dazzling dandies on BRAVO TV's Million Dollar Listing LA, I don't play games when I negotiate.   How can they trust me when I tell them something if I play word games with them?  They can't and they won't.  So I don't. I am straight with my buyers. I expect the same from them. When a principal tells me something, I conversely believe what he or she tells me. I have an ethical duty to be honest when dealing with my principal. Why should I expect anything less from him or her.

The line in sand becomes problematic when either side uses it as negotiating tool and really doesn't mean it. And the words line in the sand don't even need to be said to have the same affect.  Words do matter. Failure to respond to an offer or to make a counter-offer creates a sense of unease or worse on the part of a buyer who fears the seller really does not want to sell to that buyer. Likewise, when a buyer says "X dollars is my final price, he or she seemingly cuts off the ability to find a compromise. I run into this very often when buyers reach a point beyond which they are unwilling to go.

Sometimes the breaking point is a matter of a few thousand dollars. This becomes the cost of walking away from a potential purchase. Now I know every dollar in a deal matters. But some dollars are more meaningful than others. I can tell you what that cost is. It is predictable. It is the exact dollar amount amortized over thirty years. Let's say the buyer and seller reach the breaking point at $10,000.  Buyer won't spend a nickle more. Seller won't accept a dime less. Agents won't split the cost to save the deal. The deal is lost. The deal is lost over $46.31 per month (calculated at 3.75% amortized over 30 years).  A $25,000 disparity would cost $115.78 using the same amoritization.  The point is the fractional issue is often a matter or pride or ego rather a genuine breaking point. 

I know the price of houses houses goes up across most parts of America, but I doubt that it goes up as much as it does in Key West. We live on a little island out in the middle of the ocean. The island can't get any bigger and we can't expand the number of houses (or condo) beyond the number the State of Florida allows each year. We can't build skyscrapers and thank God we can't. So we are forced to sell the same houses over and over again. The best houses in the best locations sell for more money than inferior locations or inferior properties. And the word inferior does not mean  there is something wrong. It means the location or house is not as good as rather than there is something wrong.

To the buyer who wants to walk away from buying your dream house over $46.31 I would suggest that is about the cost of a pair of LEVI 501 jeans. How appropriate. You can have your walking jeans but not the house of your jeans.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Case of the One Legged Drag Queen

Loyal readers know that I live in the Casa Marina Area of Key West. My little spot on the island is just about the best place in the world on most days. My house sits on a big corner lot with lots of tropical foliage that insulates my house from the two intersecting streets. A big privacy fence surrounds the lot. My house and several more on my street and the next block have very tall Mahogany trees. In addition I have one of the tallest Date Palms on the island and a variety of very tall palms including a Washingtonian Palm, a Royal Palm, and several Coconut Palms interspersed with shorter tropical foliage that give my yard quite the tropical feel.

After returning from the gym one morning, I decided to do some yard work before going in to the office. I put on some grubby shorts and t-shirt, grabbed my rake, and started to attack the scrub under the foliage out on the right of way.

As I worked my way to the corner I noticed something sparkling through the bushes just on top of the pea rock. I bent down and saw a single fuchsia colored high heel shoe. The heel and base of the shoe had sparkles.Then I noticed a small multi colored clutch or purse.  I chuckled with delight. I pulled the shoe and purse out from under the bush. I searched for a second shoe but found none. I opened the purse: it was filled several lipsticks, rouges, and eyeliners but no ID.  I decided to grab a camera to record my find for posterity.

A neighbor walked by (actually, I think he came out of his house after he heard me laughing so loudly).  I showed him my find.  I laughed and told him that I had found the shoe and purse of a one legged drag queen. He laughed and said it's stuff like this that makes life in Key West so damned interesting.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

812 Simonton Street Rear, Key West - The Affordable Escape to Key West

When I was a kid my mom and dad had this dream of buying a camping trailer to drag behind our 1952 Studebaker. We would take it up into the Colorado Rockies where we would fish and live the Life of Riley. We got the trailer but things didn't work out exactly as planned. The reality of Twenty First Century America is that you can no longer stop your car along the roadside or beachfront and set up camp for a few days of camping. There are just too many people and too many rules to allow that anymore. In fact there are too many people and too many rules - period.  For many people the dream to getaway from the job, the city, the job, the day-to-day life and all those damned rules is just that - a dream. People have expectations of what they want and how much they can reasonably afford to spend. When they start checking out prices on the internet or meeting with a Realtor they often decide that the cost of fulfilling the dream is, well, too costly! I have watched the price of Key West properties rise higher and higher year after year for decade after decade. Prices always go up, or so it seems - until now.
812 Simonton Rear sits behind the front cottage. Access is via deeded path to the right of the building.
The listing Realtor describes this 480 sq ft stand alone one bedroom fully equipped cottage this way:
"Lovely Old Town rear cottage for under $400K! This private one bedroom / one bath cottage with additional outdoor bathroom has all the amenities of home. Wood flooring throughout and additional loft space for storage. Spacious outdoor space to enjoy the Key West breezes."
The cottage is a fully contained small home. You enter the small home from the side entry and walk into the living room which has a vaulted ceiling. This gives even this small space a sense of being much larger than it is. The point is the place doesn't feel small. The bedroom is adjacent at the rear. It, too, has a vaulted ceiling. French doors open from the bedroom out to a private rear terrace. The back side of the St. Peter's Episcopal Church is the neighbor. I can imagine going to bed at night with the doors opened. It's that private. The kitchen has been revamped and has all the comforts of home stainless steel range,microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator. The kitchen door opens out to a covered porch which houses the covered laundry and another bathroom and out door shower. 
For those buyers who want to have a place where their friends can come and stay, you can either plan on spending a lot more money for a larger home or pay for a couple of nights lodging at a nearby guesthouse or hotel. The price will be a lot less and you won't have to babysit your friends.

The asking price on this little charmer has just been reduced to $399,995. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and many listing photos that show each aspect of this home. Once you've looked online, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 and ask me to schedule a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  This could be your great escape to Key West place.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

1320 South Street, Key West - Bank Owned Home

The newly listed Bank Owned property at 1320 South Street certainly is something to cheer about if you are in the market for a large home located in a superior Key West neighborhood,  This home was built new in 2008 and replaced a much smaller home that previously occupied the 4939 sq ft lot. I dug around and found a photo of the old house. The new place looks nothing like it. The neighborhood as a whole has changed as well. Most, but not all, of the smaller mid-century houses that dot this area have been replaced. The Thompson Estate is located across the street and to the west. Thompson was a buddy of Ernest Hemingway.  I remember showing the Thompson property many years ago and marveling at the huge animal trophies on the walls.
The 3220 sq ft home sits on a 4939 sq ft lot. The facade looks like two houses were joined together to make one large home. There are three bedrooms each with en-suite bath plus a fourth bath on main floor. The great room is extra large and has doors that open out to the pool and rear deck. The adjacent family room with wet bar also opens out to the pool. Rich Tiger Wood floors are located on both floors of the house. 
 The custom kitchen has about every high-end kitchen appliance that Viking makes including a gigantic range, double door refrigerator, ice maker, dishwasher, and wine cooler. There is abundant storage everywhere. The back side of the kitchen island is extra high and provides a nice place for casual dining.
The main floor bathroom is adjacent to the wet bar in the family room. The full bath also includes hook-ups for washer and dryer. There is a second washer and dryer on the second floor. The house is wired for stereo throughout and there is also a central vacuum system.
The house has Hardiboard siding, 2 zone central A/Ca/c, house generator, impact windows/doors, custom built pool and waterfall with grotto surrounded by IPE decking and built-in custom bench. The yard is fully fenced and accessed via large electronically gate.
Both guest bedrooms are very large. Each has a large walk-in closet located adjacent to the en-suite bath. The hallway between the two bedrooms is lined with more closet space. A second floor laundry is tucked away behind one set of doors.
This house appears to be in really good condition. I did not notice any deferred maintenance or see anything that was broken. The house is painted white throughout. That's probably the one thing a new owner might want to change. It's easy. It's fun. And it's not very expensive. CLICK HERE to see more photos I took of this lovely home.

1320 South Street is offered for sale at $1,199,999 or $372 per sq ft. Most homes in this area sell at a much higher price. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Friday, October 9, 2015

45 Bay Drive, Key West - Waterfront Property

The listing broker, not me, describes 45 Bay Drive near Key West this way:
"Open water with breathtaking views. Spectacular sunrises, romantic moon rises & starry, starry nights are what this property is about. Open water is visible from kitchen, living & dining areas. Covered deck facing open water is perfect for relaxation. Enjoy your morning coffee or evening tea looking out at the open water. High ceilings & a great-room design w/2 master suites. Huge fenced, 18,161 sq foot lot (1+1/2 lots). Enjoy the rear yard under the nice big shady tree w/ your family & friends. Fish from your own back yard! BONUS is that you are only 15 miles from downtown Key West, same distance to Big Pine Key. Exceptional restaurants, full service marinas, convenient stores & retail shops close by. County Park with Kiddie Park, tennis, basket, volley, & Bocci Ball courts on the island. World famous Baby's Coffee is within walking distance. Plenty of parking. Boat ramp & seawall. Friendly neighborhood. Shallow draft boating access to Gulf & Atlantic. Doesn't get any better than this!"
She writes with authority because she lives across the small cut at the tip of Boulder Drive on Saddlebunch Key, 15 miles from Key West. She told me she has lived there, in that spot, for 32 years. Her eyes lit up as she spoke about the beauty of this spot.  Click GOOGLE MAP for an aerial perspective of this property. Use the toggle switch on the right side to raise the view even higher so that you can appreciate where this home lays in relation to its neighboring islands (keys or cays) as well as the not so far away island of Key West. You will see that Saddlebunch Key is a peninsula that is almost enveloped by Sugarloaf Key which extends so far that it looks like it will never end. This creates a gentle seafront for 45 Bay Drive. Access to the deep water ocean is via a nearby channel.
45 Bay Drive sits just a mid-way down Bay Drive with houses of varying sizes, types, age of construction, and value. The older homes at ground level are giving way to homes either elevated or constructed on piers. There are many homes on larger lots with commanding ocean views with million dollar views and appraised values that match. This home was constructed in 1986 and in my opinion is about mid-value for this area.
The Monroe County Property Appraiser shows this home as being 1505 sq ft under air, but this only shows the second floor inside living space on the site. There is a ground level garage plus storage area capable of being air conditioned that is not included in the living space calculation. The lot is actually a lot plus a half lot with a total space of 18,161 sq ft. The shoreline is about 108 ft from side to side. The irregular lot runs between 156 to 165 ft from the road to the water. There is room for expansion of the house which has a tiny foot print on this large lot. 
This is an informal home designed for laid back Florida Keys living. As is the case with many of the Lower Keys homes, a covered walk way surrounds the living level  on all four sides. This provides a comfortable perch to watch the kids as they play or to have a cocktail as night approaches. The practical use is to provide access to install storm shutters when needed. 
 Windows abound in the great room and kitchen which flood the space with light. I didn't measure the ceiling height but assume it reaches beyond 9 ft. There are two bedrooms. The master bedroom has an en suite bath. The second bedroom also has access for guests. There is a large laundry room on this floor. (There is a second laundry on the ground level.)

 I'm a city boy and always have been. But I can see why people who love the water, fishing, boating, and nature in general gravitate towards a home like this. The garage here and a good part of the yard is filled with toys for enjoying life on or around the water. I get it!  And if you are a buyer that wants a place near Key West to watch a play, listen to a live band, attend an art show, have a great meal, or watch funny people from Peoria act out during Fantasy Fest, this may just the place for you. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this property. If you have kids they can get in a small boat and play in the secluded lagoon just north of the house or walk up the street to the park. Baby's Coffee is up at the highway. It's a great place to get Key West's favorite coffee, morning baked goods, and even champagne. There's a nearby deli where you can buy sandwiches when you are too tired to cook.
45 Bay Drive is offered for sale at $899,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing. Remember this home is priced mid-range for this area. I think a new owner could do some simple updates to the kitchen, bath, and grounds to make this place shine. There is room to expand and add onto the exising house or maybe add a guest cottage, a pool, or do something really creative with the lot. i am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


The information on this site is for discussion purposes only. Under no circumstances does this information constitute a recommendation to buy or sell securities, assets, real estate, or otherwise. Information has not been verified, is not guaranteed, and is subject to change.


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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.