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Thursday, July 21, 2016

German Class Cheater

I was never a super-achiever in high school. Nor was I super-achiever in college or even law school, although I did much better in law school.

During our office sales meeting a couple of weeks ago I was discussing agents in my community that are posting their new soon-to-be-listed properties on ZILLOW, TRULIA, and FACEBOOK. Our mls rules require that listings be posted immediately in our mls and they do not recognize anything like a future listing. The point of having an mls system is to share information and to provide an even platform among agents.

I then recounted an incident in my German class in 1964. We were taking a test and the girl who sat in front of me took out a crib sheet to answer some of the questions. She reached down toward her right foot and pulled a piece of paper up to her desk. She looked toward the teacher who was reading a book or something. Realizing she would go unnoticed, she cheated. I know a lot of people cheated in high school. This incident occurred more than fifty years ago and you'd think I wouldn't remember one person out of the many that I know who cheated in school. But I remember it clearly because she was a member of National Honor Society.

I took my time leaving class. I went up to talk to the teacher. I told her that I saw someone cheat, but did not say who. I told her it wasn't fair that people cheat to get good grades.  I don't know if I was making excuses about myself for not being a better student or that I was blaming the teacher for not watching the students better so that they could not cheat. I knew I didn't cheat, and I got mad when others got better grades by doing so.

A year ago when I was preparing to go home for my 50th high school reunion I looked through my old yearbook and saw her picture. I went to CLASSMATES dot com site and looked the cheater up. She is a REALTOR. I told the agents in my office "Once a cheater, always a cheater!"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

3414 Duck Avenue , Key West - Bank Owned Commercial Property

Just Listed by Preferred Properties Key West - 3414 Duck Avenue # 8, Key West, Florida. This 5676 square foot office condominium is located in the Poinciana Plaza center in the New Town area of Key West. Other tenants in this center include the Key West Association of Realtors, an alternative medicine clinic, an art and framing store, a real estate closing and title agent, an insurance company, and a land surveyor.
The listing Broker describes the property this way:
"This commercial condominium has appx. 5,600 sq. ft.and can be reconfigured as needed. It is conveniently located at Poinciana Plaza with plenty of parking and close proximity to transportation, schools and housing. This large space is presently two commercial units, one formerly a diagnostic center, the other is a private medical practice. Both units front on Duck Ave. and have high visibility. The property lends itself to a variety of commercial uses and is located in the center of new town. This spacious, versatile condominium is ground level and has easy access for customers. Other well established businesses in the plaza. Easy to see."
The Monroe County Property Appraiser website shows this concrete block building was constructed in 1945.  I dug into my old shoe box and found photos of the Poincina center that date back to 1960. It appears to me that the taller structure (Poinciana Food Centre) was added to the original center soon the building was originally built. The building became a commercial condominium in 2002. The facade was updated and a new covered walkway was added. Unit #8 is located at the far west side of the building and occupies 36.2% of the space.  
Customers have plenty of on street parking in front of this complex.There is gated housing across the street which means there is no competition from residents for on street parking on this section of Duck Avenue. The building has additional parking on the side and rear for staff. 
While this commercial condominium is offered as one unit, a new owner could divide the spaces into smaller office units. In fact the prior owner created one separate unit at the far west end. There are five doors which open to the covered front walkway.  I took more photos which you can see if you CLICK HERE.
Click GOOGLE MAPS for an aerial view of this location and then use the toggle switch for a street view. The building is located two blocks north of Flagler Avenue and three blocks east of Kennedy Drive. This means quick and easy access from Old Town, Casa Marina, and points east.

3414 Duck Avenue is offered for sale at $1,620,000 by Preferred Properties Coastal Realty in Key West, Florida. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

PRICE REDUCTION - 611 Southard Street #5, Key West Florida

Years ago, when I owned what was then called Eaton Lodge (guest house on Eaton Street in Key West), a potential visitor called to inquire about making reservations. She asked "Is the island surrounded by water?"
A few weeks ago I wrote 611 Southard Street #5  located at the Hollinshed House Condominiums just one block from Duval Street in Key West. The unit has a highly desired transient rental license which means the unit can be rented nightly without any limitation as to the number of days or weeks that a vacationer might want to spend. The original list price was $525,000. The unit just had an $85,000 price reduction. Now it is priced at $440,000  or more than a 16% lower than the original price. I think this creates a real buying opportunity for a buyer who wants a place in Key West that he or she or they can come visit but that can also earn enough money to pay for itself through legal vacation rentals. The city is cracking down on illegal rentals and imposing extremely high fines to owners who violate rental laws.
This historic eyebrow house was built circa 1874. If you look up a the windows at the top of the house you will understand how the term eyebrow house came to be used to describe homes like this. These old homes were built before air conditioning and even electricity came into use. Back in the old days, houses were cooled through the use of natural ventilation and shading. Windows and doors were left open to allow breezes to flow through the home. The roof overhung the third rooms in this eyebrow house which allowed the windows to remain open in rainstorms. The photo below shows the inside of this unit with the windows shut. Today this space is air conditioned. The charm of the old house gleams through the painted Dade County Pine walls and ceiling. Guests who stay here step back into time just a bit. They pick places like this for a reason - they don't want to stay in a Motel 6 or a Hilton. They want character.
The Hollinshed House Condominiums are located at the tip-top of Solaris Hill in Old Town Key West. The main living area is the top floor of the of the original house. The old building was expanded years ago where the bedroom and bathroom exist just beyond the door at the rear of the kitchen. There is a small balcony off the sitting area at the livng room which is actually the rear fire escape. The views up there are great and totally private. The entrance is located at the top of the two story wrap-around balcony.
Three additional units are located next door at 609 Southard Street. The property has a nice pool in the large courtyard. There are two off street parking spots available on a first come basis. There is also a coin operated laundry for guests.
I just did a quick search of active transient licensed one bedroom condominiums in the Old Town (including Truman Annex) area and found there are six units with an average square footage of 432 1/2 sq ft. The average list price is $485,750.  The average price per sq ft of all units is $1,329. The Hollinshed unit is offered at $652 per sq ft. Three of the units do not have a pool.  The Truman Annex unit is restricted to 25 weekly transient rentals.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos of 611 Southard Street #5. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. And, yes, Key West is surrounded by water. That's why it is called an island.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

621 Catholic Lane, Key West ~ Charming Wooden Cottage with an Historic Past

Just Listed 621 Catholic Lane, a charming wooden cottage located near the "dead end" of one of the slowest lanes in Key West. The lane is entered off Angela Street, itself a one-way street from heading west from Frances Street to Margaret abutting the Key West cemetery to the south.
This simple home was once owned by author Evan Rhodes (The Prince of Central Park among others). I found a photo of Rhodes and other Key West writers taken at Higgs Beach in 1984, the first year I came to this island that would become my home. I borrowed the photo from the Key West Literary Seminar.
From top left: James Merrill, Evan Rhodes, Edward Hower, Alison Lurie, Shel Silverstein, Bill Manville, Joseph Lash, Arnold Sundgaard, John Williams, Richard Wilbur, Jim Boatwright. From bottom left: Susan Nadler, Thomas McGuane, William Wright, John Ciardi, David Kaufelt, Philip Caputo, Philip Burton, John Malcolm Brinnin.

Of this photo Arlo Haskle wrote:
"How many words is a picture worth if its subjects have penned more than many thousands of bestselling words apiece, already read by tens of thousands of readers? If in their beach bags are five Pulitzer Prizes, a few National Book Awards, two Bollingen Prizes, and office stationery from the U.S. Poet Laureate?"
In researching this house I found reference that Rhodes "finds he writes best in the garden of his house, wearing a bathing suit." As I was taking photos yesterday, I figured out why that was. The house does not have central air. The current owner relies on natural cooling (doors opened for cross ventilation). The heat yesterday was sweltering. The shade under the large canopy trees in the garden would provide cool relief for anyone be they a writer or not.
I have sold the homes of two famous writers, John Hersey (Hiroshima, A Bell for Adano) at the Key West Writer's Compound and James Leo Herlihy (The Midnight Cowboy) on Bakers Lane. There is something different yet common about homes where writers lived - they are set apart from the rest of the world and they are simple homes with quiet spaces where they can reflect and create. Tourists won't likely find this house, there isn't even a street sign to identify its existence. 
I found the above photo of 621 Catholic Lane which was taken a little over 50 years ago. The home sits high above the ground. The four front posts supporting the roof and the louvered door and windows and been replaced. The old aluminum awing was taken down. New thinner posts with balustrade were added as were pediments above the windows. The most striking feature is the bougainvillea hedge that insulates the house from public view. A new owner might consider taking that down to reveal how striking a home this place is.
The front door opens into a warm and inviting center hall that leads to the great room at the rear, the office to the left, and the master bedroom to the right. Dade County Pine and newer wood are evident throughout the house. While the house has been updated, the character of the original house still remains.
The great room has this big vaulted ceiling which adds so much dimension to this living space. The rear opens out to covered porches on either side which expand the living are greatly.
The first room I went into after I entered the house was the office. What an interesting place this is. Even though Mr. Rhodes preferred the outdoors, I could imagine this space to be a great place to read or write the next Great American Novel.
French doors open out from the ground floor master bedroom onto the front porch. Another set of louvered doors provide privacy from street view although I don't think anyone could see through the dense bougainvillea even if they tried.  Still it's nice to have the privacy in this little cocoon of a bedroom. The bath is located behind the closed door.
I assume a prior owner converted the attic space into a second floor bedroom and bath. A skylight floods the stairway with light and also introduces light to the great room below. A dormer was also added as were two rear second floor balconies. Our Historic Architectural Review Commission might not not allow a skylight or a dormer to be installed today. (They don't allow a lot of things that made Key West so eclectic and so interesting.) I snapped a photo of the guest cottage of the house next door. The views from the balcony are really sweet. Once you see this home, you'll understand why people choose places like this live. They are charming, quiet, and cozy.
621 Catholic Lane first appeared on the Historic Sanborn Fire Map of 1889. The house was not given a street numerator until 1912 when the street was still known as Fiat Ct. I was not able to find out when the street name was changed to Catholic Lane. Today there is not even a street sign to let passers-by that the street even has a name.
The house has 1542 sq ft interior living space under interior roof plus substantial covered outdoor space in front and rear. The current owner told me a previous owner added the rear porch. Most of the renovations look to have been added sometime after 1984 when Evan Rhodes sold the home to the prior owner. A new owner could leave this home as is and move in the day after closing. Or maybe a new owner might do something to recreate the interiors and re-work the back porch. I think this space could be magical. The lot measures 50.25' X 94.25' (4736 sq ft) which is quite large for Old Town. Much of rear lot is covered with brick. But it is the huge canopy tree with abundant shades that makes this space so interesting. A new owner might be able to obtain permission to add a pool. CLICK HERE to view more photos of the house and this pretty lane. You really need to look at these photos.
Located across Catholic Lane
621 Catholic Lane is offered for sale at $950,000 by Preferred Properties, that's where I work but this is not my listing. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this home. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to set up a private showing of this special home. I am a buyers agent and 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.