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Friday, May 1, 2009

April Sales Recap for Key West

It's that time of the month again: time to report on what happened in Key West real estate sales for the prior month. I think I am a pretty optimistic person. I'm old enough and seen enough not to get too rattled by the Swine Flu Scare and the Chrysler Bankruptcy. I know thousands won't die of the flu and that Chrysler will emerge from bankruptcy and continue to manufacture Jeeps and convertibles. That is why I am not frightened by the seemingly sad numbers for the month of April 2009 as compared to prior years.

There were 11 single family homes sales in all of Key West for the month of April with an average price per foot of $455. Two of the sales were "short sales" and one was a bank owned property. Notable sales included three I wrote about here earlier including 608 William Street that sold at $670,000 or $890 per sq ft; 708 Eaton Street that sold for $2,400,000 or $724 per sq ft; and 912 Fleming Street that sold for $372 per sq ft. 608 William Street is a tiny little gem in a great Old Town location. Remember when I wrote yesterday about people that buy a look, a lot, and a location? 608 William Street had all three nailed!

708 Eaton Street is a big property on a busy street during the daytime, yet it commanded a huge price per sq ft. Proof again that quality does matter to discerning buyers.

And don't forget 912 Fleming Street. It has one of the best locations in Old Town and is surrounded by multi-million dollar homes on all sides. The house is in good condition and has a gorgeous pool and rear courtyard. Congratulation to the new owners, Sean & Kellee.

In 2008 there were 11 single family homes sales in all of Key West and the price per sq ft then was $419.

Condo and Townhome sales in Key West in April were not quite as fortunate. There were 10 such sales in April. Three were "short sales" and three were bank owned properties. The average price per sq ft was only $271. In 2008 there were 11 sales with an average price per sq ft of $537. In 2007 there were 20 sales where the price per sq ft was $751. (Four of those sales were of units at Santa Maria Condominiums. Several units there are now offered as short sales with prices discounted in the hundreds of thousands of dollars!) And in 2006 there were 12 condo and townhome sales with an average price per sq ft of $791.

The number of sales in 2006, 2008, and 2009 is fairly consistent. If you take out the four Santa Maria sales for 2007, all four years have about the same number of units changing hands each year. But the price degradation is disturbing. Short sales and bank owned units at the golf course, Shipyard, Seaside, and similar properties have just decimated that market. I watch the filing of Lis Pendens in the Monroe County Clerk's office. The filing of new Lis Pendens on condos and townhomes is not stopping. I haven't tracked how many were filed previously and I can't state the numbers currently. But there are enough to make me think we have not seen the bottom of foreclosures in the condo and townhome sector of our market.

I think there are some real bargains in the condo and townhome market. A buyer has to look not only at the price of a particular unit but also the developments, the strength of the the home owners associations, the reserves held by the associations, and the condition of each unit. Some units are better than others. And some developments are better maintained than others. So if you are looking to purchase a condo or town home, take your time, do your homework, and buy wisely.

When I started today's blog I said I'm optimistic. Everything I just wrote sounds bad however. Sales are down in dollars and percentages over years past. On the other hand, there are lots of buyers. Everybody I know is writing offers. Many of those offers are screwball and low-ball offers that do not have a chance of getting accepted either by the seller or a lender in a short sale scenario. The other day I got an e-mail from a local lender offering 4.5% 30 year mortgage money. That makes buying a place in Paradise much more affordable. There are not a lot of houses in the Old Town and Casa Marina area under the million dollar benchmark. My advice is to think big and think bold. Houses that have not sold during season are languishing for a reason: they are probably over-priced. I think there is a group of houses in the $1.2 million range that are nearly ripe for purchase. Wait until hurricane season and see how ripe they are then.

If you are looking to buy a place in Paradise, please consider working with me,Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty Inc. E-mail me at Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

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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.