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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007: That Was the Year That Was

Hey readers, I am not a statistician. I am a firm believer you can use statistics to justify any position you want to take. The accuracy of the information I am about to give you comes from the records of the Key West Association of Realtors mls database. The information in that database is entered by individual offices or sometimes individual Realtors. Get the point: I am hinting that the numbers are probably not 100 per cent correct. You know the phrase "garbage in, garbage out". I am certain that innocent errors were made while entering data. Also, our database contains some duplicates (long story--accept what I say.) Nevertheless, it is what we have to work with.

In 2004 there were 461 single family and condo sales totaling $335,058,765 in Key West. (The specific areas are the islands of Key West, Stock Island, and up to and including Shark Key.) This is our base year.

In 2005 there were 522 single family and condo sales totaling $505,594,132. There were 4 major hurricanes that hit Key West this year with Hurricane Wilma being the strongest and the one that had major short term and long term impact on the island and the economy of Key West. The sales volume in 2005 provided a 66.27% increase over the sales in 2004. And the number of sales increased 61% during that time.

In 2006 there were 302 single family and condo sales totaling $275,697,052. The Key West economy was in recovery most of the year. Many homes were damaged during Hurricane Wilma and local builders and individual homeowners did a significant amount of rebuilding after the hurricane. Buyers were very apprehensive because of the hurricane and the realization that the entire US housing market was in decline. Homes sales declined over the year 2005 by 54% and the number of sales declined by 57%.

In 2007 there were 336 single family and condo sales totaling $283,211,865. The good news is that our sales were up over 2006 by .027% in dollar volume and up by 11.25% in the number of sales. Not a lot, but it is better than being down.

Something really foreign happened in Key West during 2007: the local economy took a deep downturn. Several businesses shut down. Some Duval Street merchants through in the towel and closed rather than getting beaten to death by greedy commercial landlords that demanded higher and higher rents. There were a lot of foreclosures. Some borrowers were able to fend off foreclosure by getting their bank lender to accept a Short Sale price which allowed the seller/borrower to walk away from the property and the debt with the lender getting most, but maybe not all of its loan repaid. There had always been an occasional foreclosure in Key West, but the number of foreclosures in 2007 was totally counter to experience. Year after year property values increased by at least 10%. So the loss of market value (and that is exactly what occurred) was shocking.

In the year 2005 the asking price for a home in Old Town was just about $1000 per sq ft pretty much across the board. Now in 2008 the asking price has adjusted to the new reality that the heyday market of 2005 is gone forever. Many (but not all) sellers are listing their properties more realistically. Some Realtors (read my item Listing Whores) continue to act like enablers who create an atmosphere in which the seller can comfortably continues to believe that their homes are so special that they can command an exorbitant price. I just did a quick check of new listings for the last week of December 2007. The prices ranged from $270 to over $1400 per sq. ft. There are many, many still priced over $1000 per sq ft.

Since we are at the beginning of 2008 the pundits are busy telling us what we already know (or choose to try not to recollect) and that is "The United States is deep in its worst housing slump since the Great Depression, and according to a new report, it's not going to get better any time soon." GO HERE to read the CNN Money item that discusses with clarity the predictions of the potentates from on high. Note that they specifically site three Florida localities (not near Key West) that are probably going to melt-down during 2008: Naples, Fort Whalton Beach, and Punta Gorda.

We are seeing things a little more optimistically here in Key West. I already pointed out that our sales are better in 2007 than they were in 2006. But we also have 46 properties under contract that are waiting to close. The least expensive is $235,000 and the highest is a home on Sunset Key at $5,100,000. There are 18 properties priced over $1,000,000 that are contingent or pending. The average price on those is $1,478,500. Forty Six properties waiting to close as of today, January 1st. That's a pretty damned good way to start the new year. Those folks up in Naples, Fort Whalton Beach and Punta Gorda should be so lucky. By the way, our weather is better, are people are certainly more interesting, and we don't have their traffic.

CLICK HERE to checkout the Key West mls database. It is maintained in real time
not like on a lot of search sites that has dated info. So what you see when you search is what is really availble. After you have done your searching, please call me at 305-766-2642 or e-mail me at I'd be glad to help you find your home in Paradise. Don't make the mistake of waiting for the other shoe to drop. That only happens at the Bourbon Street Pub (never did understand that name!) on Duval Street at midnight on December 31st. Things are going to start going back up.

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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.