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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

I was full of doom and gloom yesterday as I listened to the evening news. There was a story about good people in Minneapolis who have had their electric power turned off because of past due utility bills. A Minnesota state law forbids power companies from yanking the power cord during the winter, but now that spring has sprung, the utilities are free to act. I watched a mom fretting over what had become of her life. She works for a living, and pays her bills. And this is what her life has come to. Within minutes the talking heads on MSNBC were discussing the notion that this current generation may be the first since the Depression that will not see a future any better than already exists. That really cut deep.

I guess everyone in Key West feels a little poorer (real estate-wise) now than we did 3 or 4 years ago. Property values are down almost across the board. There are so many properties on the market that it feels like the bottom has dropped out on certain segments of the local market. And then the national news about gas prices and food prices and the threat of mega only exacerbate the matter.

My parents were old when I was born. They were young parents during the Depression and eeked out a living like so many other people did during those hard times. People my age whose parents went through the same experience probably grew up like I did and that is I learned the value of money. I learned that if you want something you have to either work for it or save for it. I knew first hand that nobody, not even your parents, can give you everything you want. So if you want it, earn it.

The current generation has had so much just given to them that I think they believe they are entitled to everything as a matter of birthright or the fact that they just exist. A year ago I was watching a reality TV on HGTV of young designers who wanted to have their own show. This 20 something girl was decimated when she got booted. She commented that she deserved the TV show because of all she had done. What? She went to college, went to some design classes, got picked to be on tv and she deserved her own show. Give me a break. But now even people who do work and save are having their lives put in total disarray. The government is not doing anything meaningful to help. Not in the short term, and certainly not in the long term. At least that I can see.

Back in the early 1990's when I worked at the RTC (Resolution Trust Corporation) we had a somewhat difficult time selling the assets from the failed savings and loans. We weren't selling houses. Instead, we were selling multi-million dollar investments in housing developments, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, golf courses, etc. Finding buyers was hard. But it did happen. The result was the largest transfer of wealth from one segment of society to another that ever occurred in the United States. Those optimistic buyers in the 1990's who looked to the future and saw the glass as being half full reaped the benefits of their foresight. And those who sat on the sidelines and groused got nothing.

I see a corollary for what is going on now. Except this time the properties being sold are houses and condos, not shopping centers and hotels. There are some really nice homes for sale in Key West. It is sad to see so many nice people who worked hard to create some incredible properties losing their dream homes. But those loses can be a positive force for those who believe that tomorrow will be better than today. I can't wait until tomorrow, friends. Today sucks.

If you look at the photo to the above right and see the glass as being half full and you are not afraid of tomorrow and you want to buy a place in Key West, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at

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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.