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Monday, May 21, 2007

Something is Happening Here, What it is Ain't Exactly Clear

Remember the Buffalo Springfield song For What It's Worth? It was about the Viet Nam War. The first two lines "There's something happening here, What it is ain't exactly clear..." are rather haunting because they alert us to something forboding (a man with a gun over there...).

Well, something is happening in Key West and I wrote a little about "it" a few times, even as recently as May 19th. That something is the subtle changes ocuring on our little island. There is an item onPage 3 of the May 18th issue of SOLARES HILL, the Key West weekly newsmagazine. CLICK HERE to get the issue in Pdf format. The item discusses the demise (or relocation to another city) of several art galleries in Key West. One of the galleries mentioned is the Charest Weinberg Gallery on upper Duval. Jeff Dunaway of our office is involved in the sale of the building. It went under contract about two weeks after being listed. Our offices are filled with the works of several artists featured at the gallery. I guess we'll have to give the artwork back.

I recently spoke with a builder who moved here around the same time I did. He remarked on the ever changing scene on Duval and how Key West has always adapted to the changes brought on by circumstance. As an example he cited the drug smuggling of the 1970's when the fishing business was so bad that many fishermen resorted to smuggling to be able to take care of their families. A story I have heard before from others. He mentioned the influx of gays and their impact on the gentrification of Old Town. He discussed several other events and how the town coped, and then he mused on what is occuring now: the downward turn in the real estate market. But he was not pessimistic. Instead,he saw the new market as a buying opportunity.

It bothers me that art galleries are going, and that neon signs are subtly appearing in Old Town. They were supposedly illegal. What is happening here? I ask. It bothers me that a good steak uniformly costs $39 or more at every good restaurant. Potatoes extra. It bothers me that a bottle of beer costs five bucks. That's six with a tip. How did this little town get so expensive? Why did it?

I have written about all of the new two million dollar condos going up around town. None of them have sold. There are pre-sales. We'll see how many actually close. I bet the banks are going to start selling some of them off in the not too distant future.

I previously wrote about all of the new luxury hotels being built in Key West. Maybe I'm ill informed, but I don't think there is a market to support all of the luxury rooms being built.

So those are just a few of the issues that make me sense that something is happening here, what it is ain't exactly clear.

By the by, if you do open the Solares Hill link and read the story, please go to Page 18 and hit the magnifier button so that you can read the page. The editor asked Realtors to identify "the single most important thing you can do if you're trying to sell your house". Read the responses. Two of note: Rudy Molinet of Marquis Properties said to "...price the house correctly." He suggested having your Realtor perform a Comparative Market Analysis of comparable sales in a similar location. And I was quoted saying "Get an appraisal from a qualified professional appraiser and list your home at or below the appraised value. Then use the appraisal in your marketing to show that your list price is reasonable."

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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.