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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Water-Blogged in Key West

I was watching a new episode of HGTV's National Open House last night. The episode featured homes in Minneapolis, Charleston, S.C., and San Francisco, at price points of $250,000, $500,000, $750,000 and $1 million. CLICK HERE for more info on that episode. In the middle of the program there was a gay couple in Minneapolis that bought a home in a deteriorated neighbor hood about ten years ago. As I recall they paid somewhere around $100,000 for their home. They worked their magic on the house and made it absolutely shine. I was just amazed at what they accomplished without spending a helluva lot of money. I think the announced said that in today's market the house is worth $750,000. I may be wrong on the number, but that is not the point. The bought a good house in a somewhat bad neighborhood and turned it into a showcase that is now worth a lot of money.

The camera veered outside to show other houses on the block that were also re-vitalized. House after house had the gay flag flying. All the lawns were mowed and all the facades were crisp and clean. It made me think about what happens when gays move into an area. They play house. They build and re-build and decorate and re-decorate. Just like their heterosexual counterparts, they nest. Sometimes they just build more fancy nests.

When I bought my first house in Denver in the 1970's I decided to find one in the Capital Hill area. That part of town was the area developed after the first generation of miners settled in Denver. A couple blocks from my house you will find the Governor's Mansion and the home of the Unsinkable Molly Brown. But back in the 1970's a lot of the grand homes were split into apartments and many had deteriorated. The wealthy moved on to greener pastures. When that happened, prices went down. My generation of gay men and women did what the unthinkable in earlier times: they bought homes together. In fact the City of Denver had an ordinance which forbid unmarried people from owning homes together in specific areas of Denver. I remember looking a property one time and my Realtor told me "Gary, you know that you cannot buy here." I told her "Oh, yes, I can!" The city eventually abolished that arcane law. Denver's Capitol Hill area is now one of the toniest parts of town.

When prices were low gays moved in and bought the houses nobody else wanted and brought them back to their former glory -- just like the guys in Minneapolis in the National Open House episode last night. That made me think what may happen now that prices are returning to levels where normal people (as is not rich) can buy a permanent home or second home in Key West.

There are some good deals in the Old Town area as compared to prices from a few years ago. Prices are still high as compared to other areas of the U.S. But you cannot find the architecture or lifestyle that is Key West in Minneapolis or San Francisco. If you are gay you can find many gay neighborhoods. But you'll have to deal with other issues like having a real job, commuting, long lines, buying clothes to impress others, things like that.

I think the people that have homes on the market in Key West today really need to sell. So if you are a serious buyer and you want to buy a place in Key West you should spend some time and see if you can find a place that meets your needs. CLICK HERE to checkout single family homes in the Key West area on the water (canal to open water) that are priced between $700,000 to $900,000. You will be surprised what your money can buy today. And, remember, these are asking prices. If you see something you like call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or e-mail me at

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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.