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Monday, September 7, 2009

Million Dollar Babies - Key West

I hosted an open house yesterday 1502 Petronia Street in The Meadows CLICK HERE. The property is currently priced at $975,000. It was originally priced at $1,795,000. It is now bank owned and priced to sell. There was a good turnout of "lookers" and there were some actual buyers out and about finding what they could get for their money.

One particular man looked around the property 1502 Petronia Street and said something to the affect "So this is what you get for a million dollars!) as if "not much" or "too highly priced". I had a sheet of similarly priced homes that I gave him so that compare 1502 Petronia Street to the competition.

Later in the afternoon I was driving some customers back from a showing. As we drove through Old Town the gentleman said he did not want to go through another renovation. He said he and his wife had gone through two and that was enough for a lifetime. He said he would rather spend more money and get exactly what he wanted.

I think there are a few properties located in Old Town that if purchased at the right price could become million dollar properties not too far into the future. Old Town followed by Casa Marina and then the Meadows are the most desirable areas for second home buyers in all price ranges.

I can't tell you how much any renovation will cost because each property is different. Depending on the property, HARC (Historic Architectural Review Commission) could be restrictive as to what it would permit. The lot size or configuration might also limit what a new owner could permissibly do on a renovation without getting a variance. I suggest that buyers talk to a local architect and to go to the building department to discuss in general terms what might be possible on any given property. The point of both conversations is to provide a quick education as the process one goes through and to get an idea on potential costs. Then the buyer can decide between a project property or one ready to move into.

I created a quick shopping list CLICK HERE of homes in Old Town, The Meadows and Casa Marina priced around a million dollar. Interspersed in that list are a few houses in good locations that have the potential to become million dollar houses.

I wrote about 911 Watson Street before. It could be incredible! The house itself is pure "Old Key West". And the lot is lush with all kinds of trees and plants. But it's gonna take money to renovate. (529 Olivia was added by accident and I am too lazy on Labor Day to remove it.) I wrote about 1000 South Street (it is another house where Ernest Hemingway once lived) and,if purchased at the right price, this house could be another great property.

A few months ago I wrote about 825 Southard Street. This house is next door to Michael's Restaurant to the east rear of the house. That is a serious locational minus to some buyers. And there is a cottage at the rear that is price around $300,000 that is a burden to this property. 825 Southard Street would have sold in a heartbeat, maybe more than the current asking price, if it were not for that cottage. This could be a great renovation if a buyer has the money to purchase both. Then you get to add in the costs of renovation and the property is well over the million range.

1415 Pine Street is a big house with potential. The house next door at 1411 Pine Street CLICK HERE is spectacular. It is priced at $2,495,000. Other houses on the blocks are much less expensive, but the location is really good.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about 919-921 Southard Street. It is currently a multi-unit property that needs total renovation. I would try to get permission to tear the whole thing down and build all new. Since that is highly improbable, the next best approach might be to leave the facade and build all new beyond it. The lot is very large. My thought is that one could build a $400,000 new house on the lot, put in a $35,000 pool and add $15,000 worth of landscaping. The location would justify the cost. If HARC permitted it.

800 Elizabeth Street is burdened by those small cottages at the rear. If only they could be demolished that lot and that house have great potential. But getting permission to demolish those cottages would not be easy.

In the end I suspect a buyer would end up paying around a million dollars for any of the houses on THIS LIST. Renovations are not cheap nor are they quick. But the homeowner will get what they want (or are willing to pay for) in the end. I know that buyers can probably get bigger houses on bigger lots elsewhere. But then you wouldn't be in Key West, would you?

If you are looking for a place in Key West please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or by e-mail at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty Inc. We are an affiliate of Christie's Great Estates.

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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.