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Sunday, September 30, 2007

September Home Sales in Key West

There were a mere 4 single family home sales in Key West (Key West to Shark Key to be exact) for the month of September 2007. The least expensive home was a 3 bed, 2 bath with 1,062 sq ft that sold for $400,000. The average home was 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with 1,731 sq. ft. listed at $1,092,250 and sold at $943,250 . The highest priced home was a 3 bedroom, 4 bath with 2,377 sq ft listed at $1,699,000 and sold at $1,350,000 after 1046 days on the market.

In September 2006 there were 12 single family sales with the lowest home priced at $460,000 that sold for $300,000 after 50 days on the market. The average home was a 3 bed, 2 bath with 1422 sq. ft that was listed at $767,750 and sold at$686,750. The most expensive home had 4 beds, 4 baths, 2108 sq. ft. and was originally listed at $1,550,000. It sold for $1,320,000 or $628 per sq. ft.

In September 2005 (three months before Hurricane Wilma) there were 23 sales. The least expensive home was a 2 bed 1 bath 700 sq.ft. listed at $375,000 that sold in 1 days for $365,000. The average home was a 3 bedroom 2 bath with 1,805 sq. ft listed at $1,095,000 and that sold for $1,110,000. The most expensive home was a 5 bed,6 bath Key Haven home was listed for $3,400,000 and sold for $3,000,000 after 370 days on the market.

September condo sales were better than 2006. This year there were 11 sales recorded with a combined sales price of $9,421,000. In September 2006 there were a total of 6 condo sales recorded in Key West with a combined sales price of only $2,728,000. In September 2005 there were 12 condo sales with sales totaling $8,326,000.

The pics to the right are of a Key West landmark located at 901 Fleming. The older pic is from the 1970's before the gentrification of Key West began. The newer pic is of the building today. It is listed as a historic & visible office/retail building in old Town. It was recently renovated 3 story building, 2 stories office / retail and full (unlicensed) 1BD/1BA renovated apartment on 3rd floor with 5 off-street parking spaces. The building was listed 563 days ago at $1,950,000 and now reduced to $1,690,000. The seller purchased the building in January 2002 for $745,000.

CLICK HERE to perform your own search of the Key West mls website. You can checkout all single family homes and condos for sale from Key West to Key Largo. And you can even checkout commercial properties. Later, give me a call to set up a showing of your potential new home, condo, of business in Paradise. My number is 305-766-2642.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Upper Duval Commercial Building For Sale

1211 Duval Street is th e perfect opportunity to move or expand your business onto Duval St.. Real estate for sale only. This beautiful two-story historical building is the birth place of Mario Sanchez and now home to the world famous Banana Cafe. Located just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in the 'Gallery District' of upper Duval St., it is within a short walk to South Beach and the Southernmost House. The ocean can be glimpsed from second floor. The commercial unit on the first floor is currently operating as high volume, established restaurant with indoor & patio seating. There are 3 transient licensed units upstairs with conversion possibilities. Could be purchased along with one or both of the adjoining properties located at 1207 Duval St and 505-507 Louisa Street located immediately to the east. CLICK HERE for full information on the 505-507 Louisa Street properties.

The asking price on this property is $1,685,000 or $790 per square foot. Not bad for a Duval Street location with transient licenses. Please call me to schedule a showing or to provide you with more financial information on the property.

Key West After Dark

Truth be told: I don't go out at night all that often. But when I do venture out I am always amazed at the people, the lights, the smells, and the sounds of the night in Key West.

So I thought I would take this opportunity to share some pics of Key West at night for those not fortunate enough to live here, or those, like me, who do and who love Key West after dark. Click on any pic for a larger version and a statement about the pic. Enjoy.

Dunway McKenzie Realtors, my office located at 1075 Duval Street in Key West.

Photo taken through a chain link fence at night across the street from my office. Even the statues in Key West are later nighters.

Historic Key West Seaport

Mallory Square from a ship.

Key West as seen from a ship.

Historic Key West Seaport

click the pic for the gossip

Marquesa Hotel is just across the street from "gossip" photo.

Blue Heaven eatery--if you don't mind the chickens in the trees.

St. Pauls

St. Pauls again

The Strand before it became a Walgreens.

Working Girls--drag queens in front of the 801 Bar.

The Longest Street in the world--almost. It stretches from Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. One mile.

Rick's on Duval.

A 5 unit apartment just off Duval at Christmas.

The Artist House guesthouse on Eaton just off Duval. It is for sale and it is our listing. Wanna become an inkeeper? Call me.

Key West's painted ladies.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why Key West?

"Why Key West?", you ask. Why not? Look at the aerial photo of our little slice of Paradise. Our island is four miles long and one mile wide. Another question pops right into my mind when I look at pics like this: "How could I ever live on such a small space in the middle of the ocean?"

I guess when you are young and looking to make big bucks or make a name for yourself, the accumulation of things and the attainment of notoriety are important. But as you grow older, you realize that your days are numbered and that fortune and fame may not provide the fulfillment you seek.

As a perennial tourist I dreamed of eventually moving to Key West. I envisioned what it would be like to live here and imagined all the things I would do and the people I would meet. For me life turned out a little differently. I live three blocks from the ocean but rarely go there. I find riding my bike more enjoyable and less troublesome than driving my car principally because of the erratic driving habits of tourists and the conch train operators--especailly during Season. I know lots of people by site but not a lot by name. Sometimes I'll go a year or longer between seeing people I know. But when the occasion occurs and I spot a familiar face I recognize the person as a kindred spirit.

You learn to spot locals with ease. And I can now pretty much tell if someone is a Conch just by looking at the face or how the person walks. If I were blind I could tell a Conch by the pattern of speech. Really.

Key West is a small island, but it is not provincial. Rather, it is the most worldly place you can imagine. Well over half the people I know are not from Key West. And about half of those people are not Americans. There is a huge European, Latin American, and South African population here. There are many small ethnic restaurants and hangouts. Many come to Key West for the opportunity to make money, but it is the live-and-let-live atmosphere and the great weather that keeps them here.

My only regret about moving to Key West is that it took me so long to make the move. The price of a home or condo is more affordable today than it has been in about the past five years. So if you have been putting off the move waiting for the opportune time why not CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls website to find your new home. Then send me an email for more information.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Key West Riviera

I finally moved to Key West just a few days before Christmas in 1993. And a few days after Christmas I went on the Old Island Restoration Foundation's annual Christmas House tour. One of the homes was located on The Key West Riviera--actually Riviera Drive at the far eastern end of the island of Key West.

I needed directions to find the house since I had never even heard of the area. And was I in for a huge and very pleasant surprise. The house was on the north side of the Riviera Canal so the backyard of the house bounded the canal. But it was what was on the opposite side of the canal that amazed me: nothing. Nothing that is but mangroves. It was like being in a house in the wilderness. It was so peaceful, serene, and bucolic. I did not know that any such type of house existed in Key West. I thought every house was either old like the conch houses in Old Town or suburban like the cracker boxes in New Town. But the houses on the Rivera Canal were just amazing.

Key West also has homes on the Sunrise and Flagler Canals. And the prices of the homes on all three canals vary from affordable to very, very pricey. Most of the homes have docks so the owners can navigate their boats to sea for an evening cocktail cruise.

The pics on this blog are of a home located in the 3300 block of Riviera. It is a 3 bed, 3 bath home built in 1958 with 1891 square feet of living space on a larger (7375 square foot lot). It has a dreamy kitchen, a pool, two boat lifts, and a killer view of the wildlife preserve across the canal. There will never, ever be a house or condo across the canal. No noisy neighbors or prying eyes. Just the little animals, birds, and fish. And the price isn't all that bad: $1,499,000.

CLICK HERE to search for your new home on the Key West Riviera and then give me a call at 305-766-2642 to set up a private showing. I suggest we take the first peak around sunset. You won't believe how truly beautiful the setting will be.

Friday, September 14, 2007

There's No Place Like Home--if you live in Key West

I was in Atlanta last weekend buying fixtures for my soon to be remodeled house in Key West. During the ride in from the airport the cab driver told me that greater Atlanta now has about 5.5 million people. The next day I took a cab to the Buckhead area for dinner. There was an accident and traffic was backed up for miles. The next night another cab ride to the same area. Another accident knocked out traffic on I-75 for more than 24 hours.

The buildings in Atlanta are huge. The streets are congested. And there are so many people. I was in culture shock. I am not used to all that commotion. By contrast the buildings in Key West are in scale to our little island. The Hotel La Concha is the tallest building in Key West and it only has six floors. Some of the hotels on Roosevelt Boulevard have three floors, but most of the rest of the commercial and residential properties in Key West are either single or two story structures. The City of Key West adopted an ordinance a few years back limiting the height and density of new construction and it seems to be working quite well.

Some developers have been litigating the restrictions imposed by the city ordinance. And most of the lawsuits have been adjudicated in favor of the developers. But I think most of the residents of Key West really appreciate the height restrictions. We want to keep our little piece of Paradise pretty much the way it is. That does not mean we don't want to grow, but we want to keep growth in proportion.

Our major streets get congested during season and on busy weekends such as this one--it's Poker Run weekend. But most of the time you can drive your car or scooter just about anywhere without delay except if you go by a school or during our 5:00 PM rush hour (that lasts about 5 minutes).

And as for people, we have around 25,000 full time residents and depending on the day and time of year we could have 10,000 visitors such as are expected this weekend. This summer has been relatively quiet as compared to prior years in part, I think, because many visitors grew wary of mandatory evacuations imposed by over-zealous county or city officials fearing hurricanes over the past few years. Upper Duval has been especially quiet this year. And lower Duval has experienced some financial woes as well. Fast Buck Freddies has a huge Summer Sale sign in its windows. Fast Bucks never has a sale.

We make choices in life and there are a lot of us 25,000 full time residents who could live somewhere else and do what we did before we moved here and make more money in the process. But then if you are just living in the process as opposed to living your dream, what is the point. You could be tied up in traffic congestion in a city like Atlanta, Miami, Boston, or any other larger metropolitan area. You could have 5.5 million "neighbors" if you live in Atlanta. You could live in a co-op way up in the sky or live in a five story walk-up in SoHo if you live in New York City.

If you are tired of living in the process and want to live your dream, CLICK HERE to checkout all of the current mls listings for the Key West area. Then give me a call at 305-766-2642 for more information. There is no place like home if you are fortunate enough to live in Key West.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

So-Old! Congratulations

The commercial building pictured above is Key West's first hospital, the Gayley Hospital. How fortuitous for gay Key West... For the last 30 or so years it has been the law offices of Nathan Eden and various attorneys. It is located one half block off Duval at 415 Eaton Street. And it is just a block walk to the Monroe County Courthouse complex on Whitehead Street. But it is just around the corner and backs onto the grounds of the Southern Cross Hotel located at 326 Duval Street.

The owner of the Southern Cross Hotel contacted me in January 2005 about Eaton Street property. It was then listed with another Realtor at $1,800,000, and we began the dance to purchase the building. We made several offers and counteroffers over the next two years, none of which led to anything other than frustration. The owners of the Eaton Street property went through three different brokers in an attempt to sell the building. They even raised the asking price before the Key West real estate market crashed. My buyer would have none of it.

The Monroe County Tax Records show that the building was built in 1943, but those records are surely inaccurate. The buildings lines and the bones of the building suggest much earlier construction. There are actually three buildings that are connected. They sit on a very deep lot that obscure the size of the building which is reportedly over 11,000 square feet. And it has off-street parking for several cars. So why the difficulty in selling the building, other than price, you ask.

It is a historic building in a very visible location. The Historic Architectural Review Commission must approve any renovation to any building in the historic district, so most buyers found the HARC restrictions and building code requirements to be oppressive. And the current cost of renovation in Key West makes almost any commercial renovation a very, very costly proposition. Those factors made that building decidedly a very costly proposition for most potential buyers.

But the owner of the Southern Cross Hotel had a plan in mind. He proposes to redevelop several of the current hotel rooms into larger (more profitable ) hotel rooms and move the remaining licenses to the Eaton Street addition. He will add a pool and small restaurant to Eaton Street and it will serve as the offices and registration desk for the hotel.

I was never able to have a face to face meeting with the sellers, both of whom are attorneys. I am an attorney as well, but not licensed in Florida. But I was finally able to get them to read a lengthy proposal that I made where I demonstrated how my buyer's most recent offer got them the near equivalent to the price they were asking back in January 2005. To my surprise they finally accepted it. And we closed the cash transaction on September 11th.

That wasn't the only property my client purchased in Key West this week. He also bought 300 Front Street for $6.5 million. That is a total of $8 million in commercial property in a very depressed market. My buyer is one smart cookie. He has made a lot of money in Key West, but he doesn't buy unless the price is right.

There are some very good buying opportunities in Key West right now. Maybe you should think of taking advantage of the situation while it lasts. Prices may go down a little further, especially on bad properties in bad locations, but there are many under priced gems out there looking for new ownership. Checkout our Key West mls website and by CLICKING HERE and then call me at 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of the properties that interest you.

Congratulations Joseph! And Thank You.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Won't You Be My Neighbor?--Part 3

I have previously written about the unique character of the many Key West neighborhoods. I live in the Casa Marina area and wrote about some of the notable commercial spots that are near me. I say "near" because the area itself does not have the little corner stores or art galleries so typical of Old Town Key West.

Casa Marina area is named for its proximity to the Casa Marina Hotel built by Henry Flagler many years ago. The hotel is on the best beach Key West has to offer. The hotel serves as a magnate for many local events annually such as the Fourth of July Picnic and Fireworks, the Key West Fantasy Fest Pet Parade, and many civic organizations. It is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation. I tell my customers that the area is bounded by United Street to the north, White Street to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the South, and Simonton Street to the west. Other Realtors may try to expand the geographic area, but they are wrong. Location is very important, and if you buy the wrong address (or area) you pay for it in dollars when you try to sell.

The area is different from Old Town in that most of the homes were built after World War II. And most of those homes have been renovated since then. The lots are typically much larger than the homes in Old Town. And most of the homes do not have sidewalks. On the other hand, most of the homes in Casa Marina have good sized yards, pools, off street parking, and are larger in size than most Old Town homes. The area is close of several Key West beaches and is much quieter than Old Town and the busy commercial areas of New Town.

I guess the home ownership in Casa Marina area is about evenly divided between people who have second homes and people who live here full time. One nice thing about having "second home neighbors" is the fact that they aren't around that much and don't make as much noise.

The photos above are of two of my neighbors' homes. The middle photo of the modern home with the large tree is that of author Judy Bloom. She has owned several homes in the area over the past few years. The top photo is of a home across the street from me on the corner. The home has a magnificent side yard that looks like a park. The tall coconut palms and green grass amaze me each time I see that house.

The bottom photo is of a home at 915 Washington and was just one block to the west of the home mentioned just above. It was just listed for sale yesterday and is offered at the price of $949,000 or $783 per sq.ft. It is a 3 bed, 4 bath home on a good sized yard with a pool and covered off street parking. Homes in the immediate area are priced between $900,000 to over $3,000,000. CLICK HERE for more information and photos of the home.

CLICK HERE to use the search feature on our mls and find your new home in Key West's Casa Marina area. Then give me a call at 1-305-766-2642 or send me an e-mail at so that I can help you relocate to Paradise. You know you want to do it.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

August Sales Results for Key West

Some statistics for those who like to keep track of what is happening. There were 14 single family home sales in Key West (Key West to Shark Key to be exact) for the month of August. The least expensive home was a 1 bed, 1 bath 735 sq. ft. listed at $429,900 that sold for $417,500. The average home was 3 bedrooms, 2.29 baths with 1,660 sq. ft. listed at $923,329 and that sold for $815,472. The highest priced home was a 4 bed, 4 bath home in Truman Annex with ocean views. It originally was listed at $2,495,000 and was reduced to $1,895,000. It sold for $1,650,000 or $938 per sq. ft.

In August 2006 there were 13 single family sales with the lowest home priced at $450,000 that sold for $395,000 after 31 days on the market. The average home was a 3 bed, 2 bath with 1122 sq. ft that was listed at $743,608 and sold at$685,231. The highest priced home was another Truman Annex plaza located on Admirals Lane. It had 4 beds, 3 baths, 1920 sq. ft. and was originally listed at $2,499,000. It sold for $2,150,000 or $2,120 per sq. ft.

But in 2005 (two months before Hurricane Wilma) there were 21 sales. The least expensive home was a 2 bed 1 bath 756 sq.ft. listed at $599,000 that sold in 9 days for $590,000. The average home was a 3/2 1,874 sq. ft listed at $1,245,424 and that sold for $1,174,831. The most expensive home was a 5 bed,7 bath home on Sunset Key (just off Mallory Square) that was listed for and sold for $2,500,000 after only 27 days on the market. Oh, for the good old days!

In August there were a total of 4 condo sales recorded in Key West with a combined sales price of only $1,772,000. In August 2005 there were 16 condo sales with sales totaling $14,024,612. That is quite a significant drop in sales volume.

I have told prospective buyers for years that the best time to buy a home or condo in Key West is the late summer through October because sales are traditionally slower than other times of the years. Since prices in Key West are down significantly from previous years and since the demand for homes and condos is down, it will be interesting to see how many buyers take advantage of this new buying opportunity.

I was in Homestead, Florida yesterday driving around the wholesale nurseries located there. Lots and lots of nurseries up there. And the funny thing was that at least half of them have a "For Sale" sign posted out front. I asked the guy I was working with why so many of the properties were for sale and he said that many of the properties were purchased with funny money financing that had adjustable rate mortgages that were maturing. We drove for miles and miles and all I could see was "For Sale" signs. It is very frightening. Something is very wrong with our economy. Key West is not an aberration.

Read this blog next week for more info on the building pictured to the right.


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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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.