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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ripe for the Picking Casa Marina Oceanfront Key West

Sometimes I think I sound too pessimistic about what is going on in the Key West real estate market. I talk about prices going down instead of up. I talk about short sales where sellers potentially (Ha!) owe more money to the bank than the property will fetch at sale. I mention bank foreclosures as sometimes being buying opportunities but I know many readers are scared of a market where there are so many foreclosures already and some dumbass like me predicts there will be more. Why a only a fool would buy into that market. Or is it.

I remember Christmas 2004 and the beginning of 2005. People in Key West were giddy about real estate. Everything was selling, especially things that were not even built yet. It seemed like everybody wanted in on the action. I had this dufus that lived somewhere in the middle of the state call me incessantly about buying in to the Key West Beachside project, the Seaside Townhomes, and the Santa Marina Condominiums. He didn't have any money, however. He wanted to finance everything. I had an appointment to meet him and his wife around 3:00 PM on a Sunday right after Christmas to look at properties. We met in the parking lot behind my office. They had camped there in their camper the night before. But they were in Key West to buy property priced over a million dollars. They both wore cheap grey fleece suits from K-Mart or Target. I did not write any deals for the couple, but he later did tell me he bought two units at Seaside with no money of his own.

Around that same time I started working with a sailor at the Key West Naval Air Station. His mother had just passed away, and he inherited just under $500,000. He wanted to buy some income property in Key West. We looked and found a couple of places that really interested him on Northside Drive. He made a reasonable offer on a legal duplex, but the seller turned him down and demanded full price. I told him not to do it. I said it was priced too high. He said he was thinking of looking in Pensacola as well because some of his buddies had bought a couple of brand new condos up there for what one place would cost here. I told him that there is a huge difference between Key West and Pensacola--mainly that there are thousands of units up there whereas there is a limited supply of properties in Key West. I told him that area will continue to build even more units in the future whereas Key West has a mandated limited growth forced on us by the nature of the island and the restrictions imposed by the State of Florida. He found some realtor up in Pensacola to sell him 3 units. I really, really liked that guy. We went out to lunch a few times (his treat). He even bought me a toy replica of a 1959 Mercedes 300SL Roadster that I used to own and foolishly sold.

Several of the units at Seaside have been foreclosed upon or have been offered as short sales. Many of the units on Northside Drive have also been foreclosed upon or are being offered as short sales. I just visited Realtrac dot com's website to see how many foreclosures they have in Pensacola: 1,817. Pensacola has a population of 56,255. There are 629 foreclosures in Key West with a population of 25,478. The worst place for foreclosures in the US in just north of us in Lee County (Ft. Myers area) where there are 21,137 foreclosures.

The couple in the grey fleece outfits did not lose a dime, probably. They didn't have much more than that invested anyway. The sailor did not lose any money in Key West because I cautioned him not to buy at the top end of the market. I hope he did okay up in Pensacola. But there are a lot of other people who did buy into the exuberant Key West real estate market and the 1,817 foreclosures are proof of it.

CLICK HERE to checkout an ocean view property in the Casa Marina Area. It sits on the corner of Grinnell and Casa Marina Court directly across the street from tennis courts and just beyond the courts is the Atlantic Ocean. The property is being offered as a short sale at $899,000. The seller purchased the property in early 2005 for $1,100,000 and the property is mortgaged. It's a short sale. It will sell for lower than the asking price to someone who has some vision; someone who wants to perhaps build a new house to compliment the other multi-million dollar homes in the area. I see this transaction like buying a building lot with the right to build a new house on a 6455 sq ft lot. We don't have many ocean view properties in Key West. This one is ripe for the picking.

CLICK HERE to perform your own personal search of the Key West mls database. Remember, it is maintained in real time so all information is current as of the time you look at it. If you see something that interests you, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or e-mail at Maybe you'll find yourself in Key West sooner than you think.

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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.