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Monday, June 9, 2008

Ouch!





I was at the gym this morning listening to the talking heads on Good Morning America banter about the price of oil and how it is affecting our entire economy. I think we are all keenly aware that everything has gone up in price. And for food stuffs that have not increased in price, the sizes have shrunk--as if we are too dumb to know that a 16 oz. can of Campbell's Soup is now only 10 oz.

The talking head then talked about all of the things made out of petroleum. That got me thinking about all of the items contractors, plumbers, and electricians use in constructing or remodeling houses. I did some remodeling last year and made numerous runs to Strunk Ace Hardware, Manley deBoer Lumber, and Home Depot. I was shocked at how much widgets cost. And now, a year later, the prospect of even higher prices on more and more widgets is very real.

What does this have to do with the price of real estate in Key West? Plenty in my opinion. So many prospective buyers think they can buy a fixer-upper, do the work themselves, and save money. It does work. A lot of property owners have done it here. But I have this sense that the cost of remodeling is going to get a lot more expensive and that buying an existing property in good condition at a good price may make great economic sense. Prices are down on a lot of properties. It takes some work to sort out the deals from the not so good deals.

I remember that in 2005 a Realtor-cum-developer had converted a former apartment building on William Street into condos . He had put in granite and marble and stainless steel. The units looked good but not great. He had not done what I consider a quality renovation. He had not put in new piers, sills or joists. The floors were uneven as a result. But the units had granite. He had put in a pool. But the units had granite. The units looked cobbled together. But the units had granite. The units did not sell at the $1000 per sq. ft. asking price. But they had granite. Now the condo units that went unsold are being rented--granite included.

I had a condo listing a block away in a six unit building. My condo listing had granite counter tops, some stainless steel, a pool, and oodles of charm. That listing got sold. I used the building a block away as a sales tool: I took prospective buyers to look at the competition. I didn't have to say anything negative about the other building. It was obvious to each buyer I took there. Quality products and good workmanship are easily discernible. So is schlock.

You can search the Key West Association of Realtors mls database by CLICKING HERE. But you are going to need some help discerning good deals from schlock with granite--at least I think most of you will. My services are free. I get paid when a sale closes and the seller pays the real estate commission. Let me help you find a new home or a second home in Paradise. Call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or e-mail me at kw1101v@aol.com.

We had a major fire in Key West last night. Fellow Realtor Bascom Grooms' office and other adjoining businesses were destroyed. Photos above. The before photo was taken August 4, 2007, the fire photo last night, and the aftermath this morning.

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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.