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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The End is Near!

The End is Near! At least it is for the small eyebrow house at 405 Frances Street in Old Town Key West. No, the house is not going to be torn down, but after months of being on the market, a contract has been signed and the owners and buyers await the closing on the transaction. CLICK HERE to see the particulars on this old house.

The house on Frances Street is quite similar to many other Old Town homes that have been lived in by generations of Key West residents. A few houses in similar condition are still available for purchase. And you might be surprised to read that there are buyers looking to purchase old relics like Frances Street. All of the Old Town houses are in the Key West Historic District so the rules of the Key West Historical Architectural Review Commission ("HARC")will apply. CLICK HERE to read and download the HARC Rules. If you are thinking of buying any house in Old Town, you really need to know the general intent of the rules.

Some of the more valuable houses in Key West once looked something like 405 Frances Street to some extent. When I show old houses to prospective buyers I suggest that they forget about the often cramped interiors and take a different approach. I suggest that buyers look at buying the house as a box with no inside walls. Let the designer or architect rebuild the house utilizing the existing exterior walls and maybe add an addition to the rear or side, HARC permission required. Existing walls go away and new functional living spaces emerge. The look from the street hides the new functionality at the rear.

People who buy old houses in Key West are basically buying a look, a lot, and a location. If the buyer is lucky, the buyer gets a nice looking old house, a decent sized lot, and a suitable location. We all know certain locations suck. We know certain lots are tiny. And certain houses are just plain ugly. 405 Frances is cute and has a great location, but the lot is tiny. So the buyer gets two of three. That's not bad.

I created a list of active houses in Old Town that I think might make for good renovation projects. Some of these properties have been on the market for a long time. Some may not be in good condition--the kind where a buyer would feel comfortable moving right in and sleeping and eating. Some may still seem to be priced very high given their condition. I would simply suggest that buyers take a look at the house CLICK HERE for a late addition: 630 Elizabeth Street just went back on the market. It is bank owned and it would make a great remodel project.

CLICK HERE to see the houses that I think might make for good renovation projects. It is my subject opinion. The only caveat I would add is not to let the asking price dissuade you from considering the individual properties. I think deals can still be made in this tight market. Some of the houses listed have very inflated asking prices in my opinion. The sellers either are living in La-La Land or they are just waiting to get an offer and think they will negotiate.

If you are one of the many buyers who has postponed making an offer on a second home in Key West and continue to hold to the belief that prices will continue to drop, I would simply urge you not to wait too long. The end of the down market is near. The supply of houses is drying up. The supply of houses in Old Town is really drying up.

More on the current market tomorrow. If you see something you like, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or e-mail me at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty Inc, an affiliate of Christies Great Estates.

1 comment:

Gary Thomas said...

One of the houses I mentioned, 711 Elizabeth, went under contract May 1st.


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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.