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Monday, April 30, 2007

Key West is NOT South Beach




I watched part of an insipid Extra last night only because I woke up and could not go back to sleep. There was a segment on the beautiful people in South Beach and why the viewer ought to go to a particular club where only VIP's can enter. Now why would an average Joe want to go somewhere that he is not good enough to enter? New York and LA have the same type of clubs where one must be rich, or famous, or beautiful, or outrageous to gain entry. The same goes for the chic restaurants in those big cities. There are some restaurants that are so special that the average Joe cannot get a reservation, no matter how long he is willing to wait. Didn't the French have a Revolution about such non-egalitarian behavior?

Well, there are no VIP clubs or restaurants where you are not welcome in Key West. Everybody is welcome. I remember that during my first trip to Key West a local told me about how people from all stratas of society intermingle here. Of course, that was over 20 years ago. And for the most part I think it is pretty true today. Some of the newer arrivals who have spent big bucks on their homes may not get it, but most do. The golf course is public and the "Yacht Club" is open to anyone.

It is the openness and accepting nature of the way we get along in Key West that makes this little place so special. The town has lots of gays. But it probably has as many or more counter-culture (left over hippies). Key West has a huge population of foreigners who work in the hospitality business, many of whom are from the Russia and the Ukraine and are Muslims. The native conchs surely make up the largest segment of the population.

What does this have to do with real estate? Nothing other than if you want to be a snob and be with the beautiful people to to South Beach, or LA, or NYC where chic is in and VIP's rule. Key West is not South Beach. Thank God.

Take the pics to the right. This is a perfect example of what I tell potential buyers about location and value. The house at the top is locate in the 1000 block of Southard Street. It was on the market for over 2 years before it sold earlier this year at a real bargain price of $772,000 on May 19,2006 for $874 per square foot.
That price was a steal in my opinion because it's next door neighbor at 1017 Southard sold last year at $5.5 million. And almost all of the neighboring properties are price in the $2 million range. Except for one: the neighbor next door to the east, Cafe Sole`. That's the fly in the ointment.

The before pic shows the house at it's worst. It had an Ugly enclosed front porch with no street appeal. But it has a good sized side yard with room for a pool and existing off-street parking. But parking is not an issue at this location anyway. The former owner was a realtor and he kept dropping the price until someone bought the location and the development possibility. The pic below shows how the present owner is renovating the property. I could not tell if there will be a pool in the side yard or not. I think the new owner stands to make a sizable profit when and if he/she sells. A snob would never have bought this house because of Cafe Sole`, but I think a wiseman did.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.