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Friday, April 13, 2007

Trouble (Ya Got Trouble) Fractured

ALBUM: The Music Man
ARTIST: Meredith Willson

Oh, we got trouble
Right here in Key West City
Right here in Key West City
With a capital 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'Phool'
That stands for Phool
We surely got trouble
We surely got trouble
Right here in Key West City
Right here

I recently responded to a query from Solares Hill Newspaper regarding advice on listing ones home. In my reply I added my thoughts on what I see as a very troublesome matter. Key West has a bunch of brand new $2 million (and up!) town homes, condominiums, and single family spec homes being built or currently available for purchase. (I have even written about several such projects in this blog.) Key West does not enough buyers for all of these projects. In fact we don't have enough buyers for town homes, condos. and single family homes that already exist and that are far more affordably priced.

I then suggested that the developers and the bankers financing these "over-priced" projects are in for a rude awakening. I assume that there may be some pre-sales on the projects, because lenders require it. But I believe that most of the pre-sales are to insiders of the individual developers or are buyers who signed up for units a couple of years ago when the Key West market was entirely different. And only a Phool believes that the $2 million asking prices are achievable. Not on one unit and certainly not one hundred,

I think the big projects being built at the Key West Historic Seaport, the Atlantic Shores, and the Casa Marina will be built, but proably be built in phases. I predict that some of the smaller projects will finish units under construction but not commence any more units until the market rebounds.

If the asking price on existing inventory (completed or nearly completed) is not substanitally reduced, the lenders will eventually step in. I think the only reason that the local banks have not foreclosed yet is that the banks are continuing to fund the interest payments out of the construction loans themselves. One of these days the OCC (federal Bank Examiners) is going to require the banks to start writing down the non-performing loans, and when that happens the prices will get reduced.

The smart lenders will not dictate the sales price, because when the project invariably goes south (and that is my prediction for many of these projects), the lender would be setting it up for a defense of creditor interference. But if the developers do not convert the units to sales and if they are unable to pay down the construction loan as agreed, we should anticipate the bank going into ownership either through foreclousure or by deed in lieu of foreclosure.

There is just too much inventory out there. There are not enough buyers. The prices are still too high. And the sky is going to fall.

Oh, and if you think my prediction is contrary to what I have previously written about individual projects, I don't agree. Quality homes in a good location always sell for a higher price than inferior quality properties or properties in less desirable locations. The problem is not the projects, it is the current pricing.

f you are looking to purchase a home in Key West, please CLICK HERE to search the mls website for all current mls listings. Then please consider giving me a call to help you find your next home, vacation home, or commercial property in Paradise. 1-305-766-2642.

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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.