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Friday, March 20, 2009

You do the Math - Key West Potential Deals

I thought it would be interesting to let the readers compare two similar yet dissimilar houses for sale. Both houses are often referred to as cigar maker cottages or shotgun houses. Some people call them Conch Cottages. Call them what you want. Both houses are for sale and here are the details that may make them attractive to you.

1216 White Street is located about five blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a Bank Owned house listed for sale at $344,900 or just $262 per sq ft. CLICK HERE for more photos and detailed information provided by the listing Realtor. I've shown this house several times in recent weeks and I think this could make a great project for someone who doesn't mind spending some time and money turning this place into a little gem. Here's why: I am assuming the prior owner did the upgrades or improvements that exist on the house. They are not complete. The kitchen needs to be replaced and the floors need to be repaired. Some piers probably need replace, but those are things your home inspector and contractor can tell you what needs to be done. To me, those issues are "givens". But what makes 1216 White so appealing is the huge yard on the side and rear. I'm talking about the potential to create a really beautiful pool and garden area. Now, there appears to have been off-street parking where the current boarded up garage exists. There is a new sidewalk with no curb cut. But there may be photographs or city records that would give a buyer the right to get that curb cut put back in place. All of a sudden, that ugly little shack comes down and a new covered off-street covered canopy goes up. Beyond that is a fence protecting the gardens and pool beyond.

217 Truman Avenue is located in Bahama Village just west of the Key West Lighthouse. CLICK HERE to read more information and checkout the killer photos of this lovely house just two blocks from upper Duval Street. 217 Truman is priced at $599,000 or $586 per sq. ft. 217 Truman is "done" whereas 1216 White is "a fixer-upper". But both are priced in the price range acceptable to many second home buyers looking for a place in Key West. 217 Truman has less square feet than 1216 White, but White Street needs to complete the renovation.

Both properties are on streets that get a lot of traffic during the daytime. That is why I chose these two for comparison purposes. The view of the Historic Lighthouse, that sweet little pool, and the convenient walk to Duval Street should make a lot of potential buyers want to consider Truman. And the potential to create a very large pool and garden close might attract a buyer who wants a place close to the beach. Most houses in the Casa Marina area are still selling for over a million bucks. This place is about one block outside the Casa Marina area, but it is priced about $650,000 less because of its condition and location. You do the math on either house.

If you are looking to purchase a home in Key West, please consider calling me, Gary Thomas at 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Prederred Properties Coastal Realty Inc at 520 Southard Street, Key West, Florida.


Anonymous said...


Long-time reader with a question.

You occasionally disparage bottom-feeders, and I acknowledge up-front that I am a bottom-feeder - it's the only way we will be able to afford a place in Key West. (That's not the question; just background.) We hope to move to KW by end of summer, before school year starts.

We've been doing as much due diligence as possible from a distance - subscribed to local paper for two years now, regular trips down, house viewings with a realtor, multiple blogs read, internet "friends" made and questions asked, and so on.

Trying to determine which area is best for us - two little kids and very active visitor social life which will undoubtedly increase even more once we move further south. Given your history and experience, what would you say to a family with small kids who can afford a decent place but not super-expensive - what's your opinion of the areas best for families? My husband wants Old Town/Duval area; I say no - no place for kids to hang out, ride bikes, etc.

You've surely run across this question with clients. What are your thoughts?

Appreciate your thought!

Fan slightly north of you

Gary Thomas said...

The bad thing about living in Old Town for a small child would be the lack of other kids to play with and the inability to play out in the street. They'd get run over by a scooter or a Conch Train.

The Casa Marina area would probably work better because it is close to Old Town, but the streets are wide, the lawns are big, and its a real nice place to live.

There are some good deals in Mid Town and New Town. Those areas are somewhat like Old Town.Some streets are good and some are not so good. I don't mean the people are bad, just some blocks are kind of sad and depressing. To me, at least.

The locals love their kids. Baseball is a big thing here. Key West High School is always in the running for State Champ. The city parks are made for public use. Tourists are welcome but the parks are made for the locals to use. The baseball fields on Kennedy Drive are as good as any place you'll find in America. I'm pretty sure about that.

Everybody I have worked with that have (had) children in schools in Key West do all the things here that you do up north in America. Except they do it in Paradise.


flipper said...

Anonymous long time reader, I have to ask the obvious; if you have been viewing properties with a realtor why aren't you asking your realtor this question? Seems odd to me that if you are such a fan you are not using Gary as your realtor. Maybe I missed something here.

Anonymous said...

Use Gary as you realtor - you know he is honest and will give you the square deal. He is right on when he speaks of Casa Marina for a nice young family. Perfect area and the best bang for your buck now and in years to come. His reputation in town is superb and I live in Key West. I would highly recommend his services.

Anonymous said...

But like Gary said, unless you have a million bucks, you probably aren't gonna get into the Casa Marina area. New Town (more toward the entrance to KW has TONS of kids, and there are some pretty good deals under $500K there. If My kids were still with us, that's where I'd look. (and btw, I think you should use Gary too, Nice guy)

Anonymous said...

Yes but Casa Marina is way closer to Old Town/Duval Street where the OP wants to be close to the social atmosphere of Key West. I wouldn't recommend New Town to someone wanting the 'real' Key West spirit as it is nothing but concrete block homes from the 1960s and you have to drive into Old Town. How about Truman Annex? Still close enough to Old Town and a gated community which might appeal to someone with children. However, there are many lovely streets in Old Town/Meadows that still are not in the $1M range but offer larger yards with quieter streets perfect for a family. Plus you have schools in walking distance (Montessori and such) for the little ones.
The biggest drawback is that unless the kids like water,boating or sports, there isn't a whole lot of child friendly places for them.
And remember, nothing in Key West will be on the water and lots of folks want the boating and fishing lifestyle so that may also be a factor in their decision (think Key Haven for that).
In my opinion, ask Gary for his advice and he can pull some appropriate properties for you to view on the web and see when you are in town. Also, he can do a market comparrison for you and assess your wants against what you have to spend. A licensed Realtor is the best way to go with such a huge investment and take it from me Gary is great. I live in Key West and his blog is read here by everyone, even fellow Realtors on the island. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Also, I hope you have deep pockets or a great job lined up here as the job market has been hit very hard by the economy. Even the local govt. isn't a safe bet these days for employment. Most people don't realize this until they arricve and realize not only are jobs scarce but salaries are much lower than elsewhere, especially compared with our high cost of living.

Anonymous said...

Flipper and all, we have not physically looked at properties with a realtor for at least a year, as my husband was seriously injured and has been recovering, making traveling impossible for the recent past. We turned to the internet, starting with the website of the realtor we previously toured with, and then, serendipitously, found this blog. I like it because Gary seems to not really lay out too much BS and showcases a wide variety of properties (although he does like those expensive ones! Of course, so do I!). And the commentary has been really interesting, too.

We definitely will arrange to meet with Gary when we are able to search later this year, to see if he's the one for us. I was hoping for (and got) another opinion to add in to the mix bubbling in our minds over where/how to refine our search. As noted, we don't have a million $ - although I wish we did! - for a house, so Casa Marina is probably out...unless we can find a short sale/foreclosure who'll take a fraction thereof!

I appreciate everyone's comments. It's difficult to try to plan and achieve a move like this long distance!


Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion for you and your family: rent a house on the edge of Old Town (or the Meadows, or Midtown) for a year before you jump to buy something. That's what we did. Settle in a little, see how you like actually living in Key West as opposed to visiting for one or two weeks every now and then. It is very different living in a place day by day. Will you really like the atmosphere (social and weather), will you not be bothered by the endless trashy scandals on the front page of the paper each morning with breakfast, will you avoid "island fever" (unless you fly out, you are more than three hours away from a real city), do you not mind the fact that a rooster has lodged near your home and crows loudly every morning at 4 am? For me, the pluses of KW greatly outweigh the minuses, but for some people the minuses might be significant. Before you drop big bucks, get to know the place on the ground.
Just a thought, good luck to you.

Gary Thomas said...

Your point about "actually living in Key West opposed to visiting"is well taken.

When you live here you learn that life does not evolve around the madness of Duval. If you are a fisherman or a water person, you can do what you want when you want. If you are a gardener, this place can be your Garden of Eden. If you are into the theater or music, get on the bus with all of the other gypsies who sing and dance all the time. If you are a fitness freak, there are gyms, running groups, boot camp at the Navy base, tons of yoga instructors, personal trainers, all over this little island. Finally, if you are a homebody, what a better place to live in your own home sweet home.

I did exactly what the above commentator suggested. I lived here for 4 months in 1987 just to make sure I was doing the right thing. It took me 6 more years to actually buy. That ended up making my cost to move to Key West that much more expensive. But it worked out all right in the end.



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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.