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Friday, October 31, 2008

Key West Old Town Sales Report - October 2008

Last month a reader suggested that I report on the sales of just the Old Town area as opposed to all of Key West. I thought his request had real merit since that is the area that is most popular with out of town buyers looking to purchase a property here. So here is my spin on current Key West real estate sales.

I gathered the sales info for the years 2004 through 2008. Pretty simple stuff. And the results are not surprising. The fall months historically are slow months. It usually takes a good 30 to 60 days for a contract to evolve into a closed sale. A contract signed around July 4th might take until late September or early October to close if the buyer is relying on borrowed funds. (Bank approval of the loan application, appraisal, survey, title work, etc. Each item takes time and time enlarges the date for final closing.)

2004 was the base year. We had 9 single family homes close for a total of $7,612,000 or sales at $699 per sq ft in Old Town. There were 8 condo and townhome sales totaling $4,745,000 or $866 per sq ft. Remember there were a lot of "conversions" of larger buildings into condos back then. Interestingly, I counted 7 of the total 17 sales in 2004 as being short sales or foreclosures as of today. The number could be higher because I relied just on properties I know from memory that are in foreclosure.

2005 marked the end of the housing bubble and sales had already started to tighten. In 2006 Key West was still reeling from Hurricane Wilma and the downturn in the real estate market. We did not know then that Key West was only a microcosm of what was transpiring nationally. And I don't think any of us understood the world wide importance of the burst of the housing bubble until late summer in 2008. Sales of single family homes in 2005 dropped to only 3 with a sales volume of $4,590,000 or $876 per sq ft. There were 9 condo sales that year at $8,061,750 or $951 per sq ft.

In 2006 the single family sales increased to 6 with a total of $6,047,500 or $683 per sq ft. There were 4 condo and townhome sales totaling $2,017,500 or $703 per sq ft. Condo prices were dropping more as compared to single family homes.

In 2007 there were 5 single family home sales totaling $5,290,000 at $647 per sq ft. Condo and townhome sales dropped to $640 per sq ft as there were only 4 such sales that totaled only $2,198,000.

And this year, 2008, sales have nose dived. There were only two single family home sales in Old Town. One was in Bahama Village and the other was a brand new house at 408 Grinnell Street that I wrote about on May 21st. I referred to it as a half price sale. Well, it went for less than half of the original asking price of $2,750,000 because it sold for just $1,325,000 or $535 per sq ft. Statistically our two single family solds in 2008 amounted to a whopping $1,700,000 or $398 per sq ft. And condo sales were down as well. There were only two sales in Old Town that totaled a mere $1,310,000 or $724 per sq ft. Interestingly, the larger unit (at Harbour Place) sold for $396,000 less than the seller paid for it four years earlier.

There are currently only 7 single family homes in Old Town shown in our mls as contingent or pending. Several of those are short sales. And there are only 5 condo or townhomes shown as contingent or pending. To make matters worse, 3 of those contracts are for units at Harbour House (the yet to be constructed condo development at the foot of Margaret Street).

I have maintained my optimism that Old Town will recover sooner and more strongly than other areas of Key West. I believe Key West will recover as a whole much more strongly than other areas in South Florida. This is because there is still a demand for homes in Old Town. Buyers are waiting to buy the deals. They are waiting for sellers to get more realistic with the asking and selling prices. To borrow and mangle a line from "Field of Dreams" If you price it right, they will buy.

There are a few really nice properties on the market right now in Old Town. Some are priced correctly as compared to previous prices on a per sq ft basis. Some properties are priced high and some low price per sq ft basis. It is not just the price per sq ft that buyers should consider. Some of the distressed properties cost a whole lot more to build than the asking price. And some of the properties enjoy an excellent location which means to me that they will be worth more long term than other properties that may cost less now on a per sq ft basis.

Sellers who need to sell in this market ought to price their properties based on what they are worth today--not on what the sellers wish they are worth. My advice to sellers is to get an appraisal from a good appraiser. Don't list your property based on what you think it is worth or what your Realtor will list it at simply to get your listing. Don't believe the hype being spread around town that short sales and bank foreclosure sales do not count in valuing property. Those sales are a good percentage of the current sales in Key West. They count. Those are the sales that happened. Don't let your life spin out of control and end up losing your property or your equity by irrationally believing that your property is worth more than it is.

Open House Sunday 927 - 929 United -- Key West

Open House Sunday November 2nd
11:30 AM to 3:00 PM
927 & 929 United Street

Attention all of you Parrot Heads and others in Key West. This is your opportunity to preview two beautiful new homes located nest to each other at 927 United Street and 929 United Street on Sunday between 11:30 AM and 3:00 PM.

I wrote about these two homes on September 30th. CLICK HERE to see what I wrote. Better yet, come see for yourself. Cory Held (the listing Realtor) and I will be present to answer your questions regarding these exciting homes.

Stop by after church or brunch. Take a break before the football games start. Avoid stark raving reality on CNN & MSNBC or repeats on the FOOD NETWORK or the omnipresent LAW & ORDER.

CLICK HERE to see the beautiful two story corner lot home located at 929 United Street.

And CLICK HERE to see 927 United Street, the smaller, but so sweet counterpoint to 929 United Street.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

405 William St. Old Town Key West - Short Sale

The two story house located at 405 William Street is located on one of the very best blocks in Old Town Key West. Some of the most historic and architecturally significant homes are located on this block. And this home is one for the books.
CLICK HERE to see the house next door at 409 William Street that is currently offered at $2,194,000 or $770 per sq ft; CLICK HERE to see the Richard Roberts House at 408 William Street that is priced at $1,075,000 or $$573 per sq ft; and CLICK HERE to see 421 William Street that is priced at $2,495,000 or $756 per sq ft.

405 William Street is a two-story renovated duplex. That will cause half the readers to stop reading. But wait. There is more. Before it was made into a duplex it was an awesome single family home with truly unique and grand features that would lend itself to being taken back to single family. Or, the home would make a great second home with legal year round guaranteed rental income from the nicely appointed second floor two bedroom apartment.

The main living level is totally unique to Key West and any other house I have ever seen. You enter through a formal entry hall that leads to either of the two bedrooms or two baths or to the living room, dining area and kitchen beyond. The master bedroom has larger than normal crown molding that set off the high ceilings and formality of the room. Two sets of French doors provide passage to the front porch to watch the denizens of Key West pass by. There is a large master closet and en-suite bath. The second bedroom is also large so you do not get that squeezed in feeling so typical in many older Old Town homes. Another set of French doors opens to the front porch as well. But it is the living room with its arched ceiling that will make you stop and look in awe. The petite French doors in the dining area lead to the exterior porch that overlooks the bricked courtyard and spa area. The recently updated kitchen is at the far end of the house in a saw tooth addition so familiar to Key Westers. The vaulted ceiling and designer touches yank the kitchen right into the 21st Century.

CLICK HERE to read what the listing broker says about this property and see more photos. 405 William was originally listed at $1,595,000. The property was just re-priced as a Short Sale and the new asking price is $899,000 or $328 per sq ft.

If you are seriously considering buying a large home in Old Town, you really must look at this property. It is a large 2740 sq ft home on a very large 4642 sq ft lot. The existing rooms are good sized and efficiently laid out. If you were to convert the property back into a single family home, the renovation would eat up part of the existing space configuration, but the location of the house and the size of the house could justify such a renovation. There is room for a substantial swimming pool in the lightly landscaped rear and fenced yard. I like to tell prospective buyers that you cannot "grow" property. You normally have to try to buy land from a neighbor. That can be tricky and expensive. But 405 William Street has this huge unused space behind the kitchen waiting to have a pool added. And there is off street parking to boot.

This is one of the sweetest homes in Key West. The location is about a two minute walk to the historic Key West Seaport and perhaps five minutes to Duval Street. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule an appointment to see this property. Since it is tenant occupied at least 24 hours notice is required. The tenants are on month to month rental agreements.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Single Family Home Short Sales - Key West

CLICK HERE to review a list of single family "short sales" in Key West. This list is not thorough because not all short sale properties are on it. Some local Realtors have failed to identify their short sale properties correctly in the mls database as "short sales" and that prevents the inclusion of those listings in easy searches of our mls.

I have been seeing some very nice and quite expensive houses start to creep into the mix of houses being offered as short sales. Some of the houses on the above list are pretty pitiful. But there are some real nice ones as well. Take the house at 222 Golf Club Drive listed at $450,000. This single family home (not a townhouse) located in The Sanctuary has two bedrooms, two and a half baths and a screened in patio and dip pool. This property was built in 2000 and is in great condition according to listing agent.

A while back I wrote about 707 Washington. It is on this list and the asking price has been reduced to $1,499,000. The surrounding homes are all in the multi-million dollar range. The Washington street property was totally rebuilt in 2004 (basically a brand new house). I think it will likely sell at a much lower price, and this could be a real deal for a contractor with enough cash to take out the existing lender and fund the cost of some minor improvements to the property.

Please checkout the list of short sales and if you see something that interest you, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or e-mail me at If you have a specific type of property that you are looking for, feel free to contact me and let's see if I can find that for you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

716 Olivia Street - Key West - Short Sale

The Arts & Crafts house at 716 Olivia Street is sitting vacant and looks a little forlorn. The county records say it was built in 1938 but those records have been known to be wrong because the Great Key West Fire destroyed the county records. So many buildings were given approximate dates of construction. Be that is it may, this house has been basically rebuilt with all of the features we require in the first decade of the 21st Century.

The renovation to this 2352 sq. ft house of 4 bedroom and 3 bath house is nearly complete. Interior finishes include Walker-Zanger stone baths and kitchen, Omega custom cabinetry, pre-wired multi-zoned sound system, Dade County pine, mahogany and maple floors with walnut inlays. Don't overlook the custom designed wrought iron stair rails. Outside features include attached carport, cabana with half-bath, storage and entertainment area bordering a 35'x13' heated pool with lap-lane and spa lined with imported English glass and Jerusalem stone coping. The lot is 5146 sq ft. The house is about 90% finished which means the buyer gets to complete the tiling of the pool, the cabana, the landscaping, and the installation of the kitchen appliances.

Everything that has been done or installed was done correctly and with attention to detail. The finishes and materials are first rate. The master bedroom suite takes up the entire rear of the house and it features a large balcony overlooking the pool and gardens (to be) below. The masterbath is bright, elegant, and appointed. The other bedrooms and baths are equally well appointed, but not quite as large.

The first floor has a formal living room, study, bath, dining room with french doors that open onto one of the decks, laundry room, and a very large and bright eat-in kitchen.

The house is located about a 3 minute walk to Duval. But its only one minute to Seven Fish Restaurant. You're close to everything, but far enough removed to enjoy the quiet neighborhood.

CLICK HERE for more information on this one of a kind Key West home. If you like what you see, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule an appointment to see this property. It is priced at $1,995,000 and it is a Short Sale. This is not my listing. And this is just my opinion: this house will most likely sell at a price way below the asking price. I encourage realistic buyers to look at this property. I think this property will require a Cash Offer to get approved.

Friday, October 24, 2008

915 Washington - Casa Marina Area - Key West - Short Sale

I have lived in the Casa Marina Area of Key West since 1995. I have watched the fall and rise of many structures over those years. I have seen the explosive growth of the early 2000s and the decline over the last three years.

Ever since I moved to the area I could be assured to hear some contractor's electric power tools buzzing from 8:00 AM until around 5:00 PM. There was always somebody doing something to their house. Until this year. The number of projects has dwindled to a trickle as the market in Key West turns on its head. There are still some projects going on. But not like before. Some of the big projects are nearing completion such as the Key West Steamplant and the new hotel rooms at the Southernmost Resort (where Atlantic Shores used to be located).

The cute little house at 915 Washington Street was redone several years ago. I watched as it was renovated and updated for today's lifestyle needs. Rooms were reconfigured, bathrooms updated, kitchen replaced, decks, pool and landscaping added. And now that house is offered as another Short Sale at the asking price of $719,000 or $594 per sq ft. I think the house will end up selling at a much lower price. This is how the listing Realtor describes the property: "This excellent Casa Marina value is a short sale and subject to lender approval. From the custom Conch shell gingerbread trim to the delectable tropical pool, this delightful Casa Marina gem will please one and all. Open kitchen, scrumptious tropical colors, and desirable Casa Marina location in addition to 3 bedrooms with baths en-suite plus powder room make this value stand out."

The house is 1211 sq ft and sits on a 3600 sq ft lot at the corner of Washington and Grinnell Street. The author Judy Blum used to own two separate houses on either end of the block just a few years back. The house directly across the street at 916 Washington Street. sold in March 2008 for $2.4 million or $600 per sq ft for the 4000 sq ft home on a large 7480 sq ft lot. That house was new and the new owner did what so many high end buyers do: he tore out much of what the prior owner had done and rebuilt the house to meet his needs. I heard he spent a cagillion on it. The point is that the neighbor hood is solid. And I can testify that it is quite.

CLICK HERE for more detailed information and photos of this cute house. I think this could be an excellent buy for someone who is willing to go through the waiting period to buy a short sale property. This house has so many of the features that second home owners look for in a Key West home. And this house is located about four blocks from the Atlantic Ocean.

Want to see this charmer? Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or e-mail me at

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

608 William - Old Town - Key West

Just Listed ( but not by me) 608 William Street, Old Town, Key West. I wrote about this house earlier this year when it was priced the same as it is in today's new listing. But there has been a big change. The owner has done some spiffy updating as well to tidy the property over until a new owner decides possibly to renovate the property.

This is how the listing broker describes 608 William: "The sweetest cottage in the very best Old Town location has just had a fabulous face lift! This circa 1887 conch classic has a wonderful outdoor covered screened porch with private garden and bricked driveway. The interior is newly painted, there is a new kitchen with new cabinets, appliances, and granite counter tops, and a remodeled bathroom. Although a very comfortable home, an additional up side to this property is the potential for further development. There are extensive HARC approved architectural plans which may be included in the sale of this unique offering" CLICK HERE for more details and additional photos of one of my favorite homes.

The house is a liveable 753 sq ft and sits on a 46.35 x 100.5 (4560 sq ft) lot right smack dab in the Heart of Old Town on one of the very best streets in Old Town. I'm not making this stuff up guys. This is a terrific location. Two days ago I wrote about the historic landmark listed just next door.

I got an email the other day from a blog reader who questioned my opinion on 529 Margaret Street that is priced up near $1000 per sq ft. I wrote her back and told her that "value" does not necessarily equate to "cheap". I told her that the house on Margaret has everything most second home owners want in an Old Town home: pool, at least 2 bedrooms, nicely done, good location, can move right in and not have to do a damned thing. That house does not have off street parking or central air and it only has one bath. So a lot of buyers probably wouldn't even look at it because their agent wouldn't find it in an automatic search. I think my reader would find the asking price on 608 William most objectionable: $799,000 or $1,061 per sq ft. And in this depressed real estate market to boot. The value dear reader is not in the price per sq ft but rather in the uniqueness of this property, its location and the ability to expand the property at some future time.

I seriously doubt that anyone will pay the asking price on the historic landmark next door (read blog below), but I have no doubt that when that house is purchased, it will be bought by someone with an awful lot of money and great vision. I think they buyer will restore and improve one of Key West's most beautiful old ladies. And I think whoever ends up buying 608 William will end up benefiting financially and aesthetically from the renovation next door.

Want to see 608 William or some other Key West property? Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at

Monday, October 20, 2008

730 Southard Street - Historic Key West Landmark

Just Listed (but not by me) 730 Southard Street an historic Key West Landmark.
the listing Realtor describes the property this way: "Here in the heart of Old Town Key West sits this jewel of an original Conch home built in the 1800's waiting for your special touch. The widows walk was once used by the original owners to watch wrecking vessels come into Key West bight. The history behind this home spans several generations of just one family. The rooms are large, the ceilings are high and everything is original in this 2 story home including Dade County pine throughout. There's a standup attic running the entire length with accesses from the second floor landing and master bedroom and the over sized corner lot sits in a prime location of historic Old Town."

This house sits at the corner of William and Southard Street right smack dab in the middle of Old Town. So you could not ask for a better location. The lot is huge and measures 100' X 68'.53" or 6853 sq ft. That is huge for Old Town. The house is equally large. The listing Realtor says the house is 2838 sq ft. The house has 4 bedrooms, 2 baths, a garage. an incedible facade and a widos walk. One of the photos to the right shows the view from the widows walk. CLICK HERE for more information and additional photos of the house.

The asking price on this house is $2,990,000 or $1,054 per sq ft. That's pretty high for this market, especially since the house is a virgin. It was in the same family since it was built and there is only one building permit of record in the County Appraiser's records. The house is pretty much just as it was when it was built expect for the updated appliances in the kitchen. (Look at the pics.) Of course, there is another even more expensive virgin on the market at 616 Eaton. I wrote about it on September 3 when it was listed for $5.5 million.

Maybe back in 2004 or 2005 when people were throwing money away someone would have paid the very high asking price on either of these great properties. I think it is going to be a real hard sell in this market. But don't let my pessimism dissuade you from looking--if you have the money to make a deal like this happen. I'd be delighted to show it to you. I did speak to the recently departed owner one day in October two years ago. We stood on the front porch pictured to the right and she told me stories of her growing up in the house and the way Key West used to be.

If you are looking for a place in Key West that is a a little less expensive, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or e-mail me at Prices on most properties are at historic lows so I think now is a great time to buy bargain priced properties. CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls database and then call me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Key West Bank Foreclosures -- déjà vu All Over Again

It seems like it was only last week that I created a list of current bank owned properties in the Key West area. Well, it actually was last week. There have been a couple of changes so I thought it best to update the list. CLICK HERE to see the new list of single family homes.

Some of the houses in the above list have pools or are located on canals. A couple of the houses are really very nice and are priced aggressively to sell. A couple of the houses owned by local banks in Key West may even qualify for bank financing from the seller at competitive rates. So I suggest you look over the list carefully and not dismiss all of the houses as being dogs. That is not the case.

I did not include teh the above list the numerous condos and town homes in Key West, Stock Island, or the areas up to Big Coppitt Key.

There are two commercial properties investors might want to checkout. One is a mixed us building at 824 Duval. CLICK HERE for limited info posted by the listing realtor. I can provide more detailed info for interested buyers.

The second property is a condo project that did not get completed on Stock Island. Again the listing agent has only put limited info on-line. CLICK HERE to review that info. I am quite familiar with the project. I submitted an all cash offer to the bank that ended up owning this property for an amount near the asking price two years ago this month. The shrewd banker turned down my client's cash offer.

I went to the courthouse earlier this week to checkout a couple of files of pending foreclosures. Just before the judge enters and order authorizing the sale, the party seeking the foreclosure (usually the bank) submits an itemized list of all amounts it claims due on the mortgage including principal, interest, attorney fees, costs, appraisal fees, court costs, legal process fees, escrow reserve short falls, etc. The judge reviews the list and typically enters an Order that becomes a Final Judgment that includes those sums and that amount is what is bid by the foreclosing party at the public auction a few weeks later. The bank wants to load up the costs so high as to prevent some other party from buying the property at sale or inhibiting a party who has a right of redemption from exercising that right. I wasn't surprised to see that the practice has not stopped.

I think there is going to be a huge rally right after the election on November 4th. That happens after every Presidential election. But the stress on markets all over the world will be eased when the US elects its new President. If Obama wins I think European markets will soar. The Europeans hate Bush and the Bush policies. I think they see Obama as a leader who deliver all of us from the abyss. If I am right and the election marks the beginning of the end of the bear market, prices will gradually start to rise. Right now prices continue to drop. So I think now is a really opportune time to buy at or near the bottom of the market.

Want to buy now? Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or e-mail me at for more information.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3810 Flagler Avenue Key West

Just Listed and located far from the madding crowd: 3810 Flagler Avenue Key West. This 4 bedroom 3 1/2 baths home is a very spacious 3207 sq ft that is situated on a massive 14,175 sq ft lot (105' frontage X 135' depth). The rear of the property is located on the Vista Del Mar Canal and has 100' feet of dock space with an open water view of the salt ponds.

The property is considered to be one of the best canal/open water view properties on the Island of Key West. And the location provides nearly immediate deep water access via the Riviera Canal. Imagine coming home at night grabbing a brew and heading out to the ocean to watch sunset far away from the magicians, sword swallowers, and God love them "tourists".

I went out to the property this morning and snapped some pics. The listing agent only has one photo in the mls at this time. The house and driveway were just painted and the front nicely primped. I took some photos from A1A looking west down the canal. I really think this is a deal for someone looking for a waterfront property. I did a quick search of our mls and came up with 28 homes priced between $1,250,000 and $1,499,000 with a minimum of 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. CLICK HERE to compare what you can buy for $ 405 per sq ft at 3810 Flagler. There is one property priced less expensively but its location is inferior to that of 3810 Flagler in my opinion. I have also written above several of the houses on the list. I still like them. Most are in Old Town or Casa Marina and are good buys at their respective prices. But they are not on the water, and they do not have the amount of house or amount of land that Flagler does. That is why this house is such a good deal, especially in this market.

This is what you get for the $1,299,000 (that is only $405 per sq ft): bedroom 1
(16.00x25.00); bedroom 2 (15.00x16.00); bedroom 3 (13.00x14.00); bedroom 4 (11.00x14.00); living room (22.00x27.00); family room (19.00x23.00); dining room (14.00x16.00) plus a beautiful pool and spa, tiki hut, etc. CLICK HERE for more information and photos of 3810 Flagler Avenue.

This is the kind of offering that should not last long--even in a down market. If you would like to see 3810 Flagler Avenue please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Calvin Klein House - 712 Eaton Street -- One of Key West's Premier Signature Homes

Before it became known as the Calvin Klein House, it was the home of Angelo Donghia. Donghia was an internationally famous designer in the 1970s and 1980's whose clients included Ivana and Donald Trump, Barbara Walters, Diana Ross, Mary Tyler Moore, Halston, Ralph Lauren and Neil Simon. Donghia preserved the eccentric—and now famous—octagon house which he purchased for $45,000 in 1976 and decorated it in simply with rattan furniture and white canvas coverings. He sold it in on January 1, 1981 for $975,000 to Calvin Klein. Klein sold it on September 1, 1986 for $400,000. (Source: Monroe County Clerk Public Records.) And in the beginning, the Octagon House at 712 Eaton Street in Old Town Key West was built around 1885 for Richard Peacon, the town grocer.

No matter whose house it is called, the manse at 712 Eaton was just listed for sale at the price of $3,490,000. The listing broker describes the house this way: "Soaring ceiling heights, Dade County Pine walls & floors, spacious rooms and huge porches everywhere make this property truly remarkable. This comfortable & casual home offers three or four bedrooms, three baths & meandering brick pathways throughout a lushly landscaped enormous lot. Relax & entertain by your over sized pool & Jacuzzi. Off street parking for 3 cars. All in the heart of Old Town!"

The photos to the right are of the house as it appears today with the exception of the interior shot. That is how Angelo Donghia had it decorated when he owned it. CLICK HERE for more photos and details on this one of a kind house.

I would love to show you this house--if it is in your price range, that is. But if you are looking for something a little less expensive, we've got a lot of those these days. CLICK HERE to search the Key West Association of Realtors MLS database. If you see a property that you like, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Key Haven -- "Safe" Haven?

With all of the doom and gloom being uttered on TV and in print this past week about the collapse of the stock market, one phrase kept cropping up: "safe haven". Commentators were being asked to tell the public "safe" places to park their money in these trying times.

There are two ways to look at having cash these days. One, if you have a lot of cash you are very fortunate. Two, if you have a lot of cash you probably won't get a very good return if you park it in a bank or a CD. Interest rates are terribly low. So even though cash is king, if you park your money in a bank you will not earn enough interest to buy much bling.

I just created a list of homes for sale on Key Haven. CLICK HERE to checkout the list of single family homes priced in the low $300s per sq ft to over $1100s per sq. ft. Key Haven is a ten minute drive (on good days) from Old Town. It is our bedroom community where so many locals who got priced out of Old Town migrated to. Most of the homes are located on canals that provide boating access to the deep waters only minutes away. Click the photos to see the kind of spectacular views some of these homes have.

Some of the homes on the list are short sales meaning the seller owes more than the amount of the asking price but hopes the lender will accept a discounted payoff in order to avoid possible foreclosure. There is at least one bank owned property on the list (8 Beechwood Dive priced at $499,000 or $364 per sq.ft. - with a pool). It is owned by local bank that has had the property for two long years.

Several of the properties on the list flooded during Hurricane Wilma. Those properties may be priced at a discount because of this.

There are also several very high end properties on the list. These properties have excellent locations and superior upgrades and craftsmanship in their construction. I think there are some good buys on a price per sq. ft. basis on some of these properties. Of course there are more buyers for the less expensive homes, but some of the larger properties are real values even in this stressful environment. It is for that reason that I suggest Key Haven may be a safe haven for buyers who want to capitalize on this current market.

If you see something on the list that strikes your fancy, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or email me at If you are looking for a place in Key West other than Key Haven, CLICK HERE to perform your own search of our mls database. Then call me to help you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

701 Elizabeth Heart of Old Town Key West

You know the house because of its unique design. You know the house because of its prime location. And know you know it is a deal waiting to be had. The seller just reduced the asking pirce on this unique property to only $879,000 or $443 per sq ft.

This is how the listing broker describes this property: "Live at the highest point in Key West, atop Solares Hill, a premier Old Town location. The main home includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, river recovered heart pine floors and 10 foot ceilings. Beautiful French doors lead out to your private deck, heated pool and outdoor shower. The second floor boasts cathedral ceilings creating a soaring master bedroom. The over sized windows feature louvered shutters adding to the architectural features of the home. This custom home also includes parking and a guest apartment featuring 1 bedroom and 1 bath with kitchen, laundry, French doors and deck. A quality home designed by Tom Pope and built by Erik DeBoer." What he does not tell you is that Tom Pope is one of Key West's most noted architects. He also does not mention that Pope and de Boer collaborated on several major Key West projects including the Marquesa Hotel. The pool area of the Elizabeth house was later adapted to the new rooms added to the Marquesa Hotel in 1995. Pope & deBoer used similar louvered shutters on several projects including major homes in the Truman Annex and The Meadows Area.

There is a legal three story one bed one bath duplex unit that could be incorported into the main part of the house. That unit has an opening that soars from the ground floor all the way to the ceiling of the third floor and could become a dramatic foyer into the house.

No need to worry about flooding here. This house sits at the highest point on the Island of Key West. Speaking of which, the views from the second floor are really great. And there is off street parking.This house ws built in 1984. Some features may seem a little dated. Everything works. Maybe in our new economy we will learn to use rather than replace things that work.

This is a very nice house in a very good location that was built thoughtfully by a good contractor. It has what most second home owners want in a Key West property. I'd love to show you this house and take you by some of the other properties the architect and contractor later copied in much more expensive versions. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Bank Owned Key West Properties

A few weeks back I wrote about the new listing at 1119 Von Phister a bank owned property that happens to be right next door to where I live. I totally forgot until yesterday that I almost bought that house in 2004. I had plans to renovate it and sell it for a bunch of money. The house sold quickly after it was listed so I thankfully never got the chance to buy the beast. (I'm not putting that property down. Any renovation becomes a beast in my opinion.)

Today stock markets all over the world have moved steeply downward. The mortgage meltdown has turned into a thermal unclear event. Nobody can really predict what will happen next. But I can predict that things will eventually get better. They always do. I lost a huge amount of money after 911. I went nuts. But I eventually accepted what happened. That's all you can do. Or kill yourself.

Time passes and things do improve. Usually. Take the house on the right located at the corners of Elizabeth Street and Southard Street. The black and white photo is from the 1960s or 1970's. I took the color photo two days ago.

I don't know if we are in a new Depression, but there are a lot of depressed folks out there right now. That's the reason for the big smiley to the right as well. People come to Key West to get uplifted and to relax. And the parachute photo just makes you want to get up in the air and fly.

Here are three links to some recently foreclosed properties in Key West.

Link No. One CLICK HERE is a commercial property at 824 Duval Street. It has two commercial spaces of 1500 sq ft each and 6 one bedroom, one bath fully furnished transient rental apartments. There's a pool and tropical garden plus off street parking for eight cars. Bank owned and financing may be available.

Link No. Two CLICK HERE This is a bank owned condominium project that did not quite get completed. Listing agent says it needs about $200,000 worth of work to complete.
It's located on sunny Stock Island. Bank owned.

Link No. Three CLICK HERE This is a group of several homes that are bank owned. I've written about the house on Go Lane and 1119 Von Phister. Our office has the listing on the architecturally "interesting" A frame at 2301 Linda (corner of Flagler) which has a big pool and a small price per sq ft ($168) for the property. Each house is bank owned. Bank financing may be possible on Go Lane and Von Phister only.

If any of these properties look interesting to you, or if you have a specific property that you are looking to find, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or e-mail me at


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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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.