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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

409 William Street - Old Town - Key West

Formerly the William Lowe House - 409 Wiliam Street Old Town - Key West

The historic glass shimmers and reflects the early morning sun

I first wrote about 409 William Street in October 2007 when it was then just listed at $2,999,000. This is how I described the property then:
The Gideon Lowe House at 409 William Street is located within Key West’s National Register of Historic Places in the heart of Old Town. This 2 ½ story historic landmark was originally built by the youngest son of one of the island’s earliest Bahamian settlers (c.1845) and expanded to its current grandeur (c.1866). Today’s completed renovation was overseen by a New York architectural firm, and now is offered as a home of superior design, detail, construction, and history. The lushly landscaped yard haven is perfect for entertaining with an expansive deck finished in exotic Brazilian wood that overlooks the tiled pool. The front second story balcony provides that all important sunset view. The house has two master suites with walk-in closets plus two additional bedrooms. This restored gem sits on a sleepy and palm shaded street within walking distance to the Historic Key West Seaport and it's only three blocks from Duval. And it has 2 off street parking spaces.

The house has been a guest house for the past 20 years or so. I watched the restoration from the street and street and think this house has just about all of the bells and whistles an upper end buyer could desire.
The house did not sell and it has not been lived in. Everything has been consistently and carefully maintained. It was just listed at the new asking price of $1,795,000. CLICK HERE to view the current mls data sheet and photos. This, dear Readers, is a buying opportunity for someone to buy a truly historic home at a great price.

I walked over to the house this morning to take some pics. I just love this street with all of the old houses on either side. I have added some old time photos to contrast how some houses on this block looked half a century ago with how they look today. That's not that long ago. (I had just graduated from high school. The houses look pretty much the same. I have added several pounds and my hair turned gray. These houses will still be here in a hundred years. I won't.)

The local fresh fish market is located on the corner at Elizabeth and Eaton Streets. The Historic Key West Seaport is two blocks further to the north. Sometimes when I walk the streets of Old Town like I did this morning, I fall in love with this place all over again. Really!

Bahamian House across from 409 William Street in 2010

The same house in 1965

The same house in 1965 but viewed from the corner of Eaton Street looking southwest

405 William Street in 2010

405 William Street in 1965

Another Bahamian house on William Street in 2010

The same Bahamian house as seen in 1965

If you are looking for a perfect place in Key West, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Casa Palmera - Sold - Key West

I wrote several blogs about 906 Johnson Street and this will probably be the last. The property closed today and I want to congratulate Cory Held of Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. who represented the Seller and the Buyer on the sale of this incredible property.

CLICK HERE to see what you missed. 906 Johnson Street is located on one of the very best blocks in Key West. The main house sits behind a private gated entry . Gardens surround the house on either side and then wrap around the house at the rear. The two story home has rich wood flooring and European details throughout. The main home includes three guest rooms, a complete mother-in-law suite or servant's quarters, a formal dining area, a formal living room with fireplace and an equally large and gracious family room that overlooks the rear gardens. The home has an extra large galley kitchen, a breakfast room that overlooks the large pool, and a cheerful laundry room that looks out onto the rear gardens as well.

There is a Casita at the southeast rear of the property. It is actually a home onto itself. A separate Writers cottage or office with it's own bath is located at the southwest corner of the property.

Casa Palmera was originally offered for sale at $3,495,000. It sold at $1,749,000. This was the deal of the year. Congratulations to the seller, the buyer, Cory Held, and Pat Labrada at TIB Bank.

There some real good buying opportunities still left in Key West. CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls to find your good deal. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in sunny Key West.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bank Owned - Compound - Transient Licensed - Key West

726 1/2 and 728 Passover Lane - Old Town - Key West - Bank Owned!

Don't let the location across from the Key West Cemetery scare you!

Just listed - 726 1/2 & 728 Passover Lane in the Heart of Old Town Key West. This is how the listing Realtor describes this two home compound:
"Amazing BANK OWNED property with transient license in prime Old Town location near Solares Hill. Two combined properties offer a total of 3 bedrooms on a 5425 square foot lot, 2 off-street parking spaces, pool and lush tropical grounds. Main house (728 Passover) is a 2/2 with a transient license for great rental potential; guest cottage (726 1/2 Passover) is a 1/1 and may be rented monthly. Must be purchased as one combined property. A Tropical Oasis in The Heart of Old Town Key West."

In 2006 a different listing agent offered the same properties but at the much higher asking price of $2,049,000. This is what he said then:
"Lush. Tranquil. Historic. These superlatives are often used to describe 728 and 726 1/2 Passover Lane. These two exclusive Old Town properties are being offered together creating the perfect island oasis. 728 Passover Lane features a 2BR/2BA with ample LR, DR and kitchen with French doors leading to a custom deck and pool. Plus a transient license. 726 1/2 is a perfect pitch compliment offering a 1BR/1BA with separate loft space, galley kitchen, LR and hot tub. Both homes are nestled in a large, exotic tropical garden with off-street gated parking for 2 cars. Both homes have been recently tented and painted. Properties have averaged over $100K in gross rents for each of the past 4 years."

I had the opportunity to see these houses yesterday afternoon. I never had anyone who wanted to look at them when they were priced so high. The listing agent said he had about 60 people attend his open house yesterday. And at the current asking price of $975,000 I can see why.
CLICK HERE to read the mls listing info and view accompanying photos. But read on.

I sent an email late yesterday to a couple of my buyers looking for a place in Old Town with a Transient License. I think this property has some real upside potential as far as price appreciation and income production. This is my impression: both houses look like they were redone in the late 70s or early 80s. The houses are hidden behind an ugly fence that needs to go. So do a lot of the overgrown trees that make the exterior so dark. The grounds are very large but seem overwhelmed by all of the foliage.

The exterior has way too many canvas awnings in lots of places. The front entry at 728 Passover has an awning that is totally out of character for a house in Old Town. My suggestion is to edit the outside and develop a new land use plan that builds on how the houses relate to the street view, the private view in the rear with the existing pool, spa, and entertaining areas.

The inside has some very attractive nooks and crannies and very inviting features. But the spaces are a bit confusing. I had to go outside the front door of 728 to walk around the house past the pool to find my way into 726 1/2. (I later discovered I could have gone in the front door, but there were so many trees I missed seeing the entry.) The kitchen and dining area at 728 Passover are really sweet. The living room and downstairs bedroom are large but both seemed so dark because of the overgrown trees and canvas awnings. The house at 726 1/2 is laid out most oddly in my opinion. I am not "dissing" this place. I think it would be a great buy. But somebody is going to have to do some work and spend some money to spruce up this compound. The time and money should reap big dividends.

This property is located directly across the street from the Key West Cemetery. Don't let that spook you. This is a great location. Most of the properties in this area are either single family homes that are owner occupied but several are rented as legal vacation rentals. Parking is never as issue even though parking is only allowed one side of Passover Lane. I am not being cute when I say the area is quiet. It is. When the tourist parade stops around 5:00 PM, this area is super quiet. If the trees on this property were thinned out, the ugly fence replaced by a proper white picket fence, and both houses were painted a crisp white and shutters added, this two home compound would pop.

If you would like to see these properties, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Irreplacable - 1010 Elgin Lane - Old Town - Key West

"Because Elgin produced so many watches and produced so many spare parts, they can still be easily bought and fixed, so even a 100 year old Elgin can be used, with care, on a daily basis. While mechanical watches can't compete with quartz watches for accuracy, there is something about having a watch that ticks that a quartz watch just can't replace." The Elgin Watch Collectors Site

I got an early preview of a new listing at 1010 Elgin Lane which was just listed in the Key West mls. I took some pics and thought I would share some with you here. I had been to the house before and snapped a pic that I have used as my identification at the end of some of my blog entries. You will see it at the bottom of this page. Whenever I see a bit of whimsy like the house number on the gate, I know from past experiences to expect more of the same on the inside of the threshold. Join me, please.

Elgin Lane is one of the slow lanes in Key West. It runs westerly two blocks from White Street to Grinnell Street. It is a one way only lane because it is so narrow. Many of the houses on Elgin actually front on Eaton Street, but some are located on postage stamp size lots of only 40' depth or so. The houses on the south tend to have larger lots in both width and depth. There are some remarkable little houses in these two blocks. Even if you are not going to buy one, you really need to walk down this lane. Most of these homes are fulled with full time Key West residents. When you take the time to walk down the lane, you will see how much the people that live there love where they live.

The front yard sits behind a smallish white picket fence with minimalist but very attractive yard. The first pic I took was of the front porch. It is a place to sit and read and watch the occasional neighbor or stranger pass. There is adjacent off street parking for two cars.

As soon as I walked passed the threshold and entered I "got it", the house, even before I had seen any other room. It was like "Wow!" this is gonna be great. And it was.

In olden days the owners might have called the front room the parlor. I could easily see this house had Dade County Pine walls and ceiling trimmed with a small crown molding. As I moved from room to room I noticed the floors were wood but some had a different finish or look. That made me determine that the way the rooms were used and furnished played off of the floors and the existing Dade County Pine. (These are real wood floors with wide pine boards. The patina shows the rich history of this old house.) The windows were old and original and not those new replacements that are made to look old. These are the real McCoys. A side hall took me to the rear where I was greeted by a sweet breakfast nook. It is part of the large kitchen that takes up the rear 1/3 if the house.The kitchen is a sawtooth addition to the main house. The kitchen is so simple, but it looks like something you might see in a Ralph Lauren Home Furnishing Store. What you don't see stainless steel or marble or granite. Thank God. The kitchen window over the sink opens onto a bar on the other side where there are a couple of bar stools that sit under a canopy. The kitchen cabinets look ancient but aren't. The room looks like it evolved over time. It didn't. The kitchen is a work of art.

The master bedroom is located downstairs and I forgot to take any photos of it. My bad! The bath is located there.

Then there is the dining room. It's another Ralph Lauren moment. Three doors enter into this former covered porch: one off the master bedroom, a second off the living room, and a set of French doors to the rear that open onto the rear living area. Look at the pic below and notice how the floors mimic the light colored wood deck on the outside. Notice the window outside and the bar stools beneath. You understand how the house operates and how things flow. Purposefully.

When you first enter the house you cannot help but see the steep old staircase located midway toward the breakfast nook. Upstairs you will find a shared bedroom area with two twin beds located on opposite walls with a nice little desk situated between. A separate bedroom is at the rear. If you look carefully you will see there are four scuttles (hot air escape hatches used in old houses-this house was built circa 1906). The house has air conditioning today. There is a large bathroom accessible by each space. While you are looking carefully, look at floors again. Another "Wow!" The floors and the little desk are another Ralph Lauren moment. Some people spend thousands of dollars to create looks like this. This house is filled with them-at no extra cost.

I only got to see everything that I just wrote about after I was made to see the outside. Now you will see what I saw first. There is a 3 0ver 5 glass pane door that leads from the kitchen to a covered rear dining area where you might take most of your meals. But what you really notice as soon as you peer out that door is a giant folly. And what a folly it is. This is the perfect place for a writer to write, a artist or create, a thinker to think, or a lover to - no that is the guest cottage on the opposite side of the pool.

The guest cottage is a two room symphony in how to make sweet love. I cannot imagine any place better to be with the person you love most. This room is so simple and comfortable. The compact size, wood walls, ambient light, and privacy invite intimacy. I guess you could travel to Bali and rent a place in a glen overlooking a deserted beach and find something better. Perhaps. But why bother when you can have your own Bali Hai moment every day.

The home at 1010 Elgin Lane is offered at $849,000. (Furnishings are not included in the sales price but may be purchased separately.) This is not my listing, but you can tell I really like this house. And you will too, but only if you promise not to put in stainless steel and new granite counter tops. If you would like to see this property, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Our office is the Lower Florida Keys exclusive affiliate of Christie's Great Estates. I would not call 1010 Elgin Lane an estate, but baby this place is really great. Just like a hundred year old Elgin watch, there is something about this place that just ticks.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Key West Bank Seized & Sold

The Office of Thrift Supervision seized Key West Bank, FSB, at the close of business on Friday, Marcy 26th. The OTS then sold many of the assets to Centennial Bank's parent company, Home BancShares Inc., which acquired the former Marine Bank, about a year ago. CLICK HERE to read the article as it appears in

I think about everybody in town was expecting the seizure. There were some very nice people that worked their. I hope they find new jobs. Let's see how Centennial Bank goes about trying to sell some of the many REO assets and managing the many problem loans it acquired. I used to do this stuff for a living many years ago. This might be a small town, a small bank, a small amount of assets as compared to what happens up north in America, but how our hometown banks manage the sale and disposition of troubled assets affects this small town in a very big way.

Beautiful Arts & Crafts Style House - Bank Owned - Key West

This Old House as it looked in 1965
A local bank recently foreclosed and now owns the old house pictured immediately above. The old black and white photo was taken in 1965. Until a couple of months ago this property looked a little worse for wear. The years took their toll. Owners came and went. And then the lender did what lenders do when loans are not repaid as agreed: it foreclosed. But instead of letting a decent asset sit and fester like a lot of Big Banks that are Too Big To Fail do, the local bank did the unthinkable: it fixed it up. Not a little but not all the way. But it did enough to make potential buyers see the real potential of this very attractive arts and crafts style home that was built in 1943. Take a look at her now, below.

Above Photos taken March 25, 2010 - Key West

This property is located on Simonton Street near Truman Avenue. It is zoned HNC-1 which is short for Historic Neighborhood Commercial-1. Uses for this zoning include include residential (including single family, duplex, and multi-family) and limited commercial including professional offices, banking and financial services, personal service shops, specialty shops, limited retail, transient accommodations and guest cottages. Rather than rely on what I write, do your own investigation to determine suitability for the use you intend. CLICK HERE to read the City of Key West zoning ordinances and consult with your own attorney. Just because some use may be permissible does not mean you will necessarily be able to do what you want.

Photo from kitchen looking through proposed bath No. 2 and into second bedroom

Photo from living room through dining area with kitchen beyond

This 1204 sq ft building (County Appraiser records) sits on a corner lot (47.33' frontage X 58.07 ' deep or 2,756 sq ft). The building has just been painted and it looks fantastic. The roof is new; the front railing on the front porch is new; the retaining wall is new; the electric is new. All of the windows are original. They all work properly! The contractors working on this house did a really professional job on the projects they did, in my opinion. The interior is currently framed for three bedrooms, two baths, and a kitchen. A laundry closet already has been framed and plumbed and awaits drywall.Extensive building plans are available. It looks to me like the interior spaces could be changed fairly easily. But I'm not builder so any buyer needs to determine how "easy" easy can be and how expensive "easy" can be as well. There is one off street parking space. After the interior is completed, put up a nice fence, add some nice plants, and you could have one sweet looking old house in Old Town Key West. Although it is doubtful that you could get a transient license, you could rent this house as a legal vacation rental. It's proximity to Duval Street with three bedrooms and off street parking make this a great candidate for such a rental in my opinion.

This arts and crafts style house is Bank Owned and is offered at $500,000 "as is". Please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 for more information. This property is not in the mls. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sweet Elizabeth - Old Town - Key West

This is the end of season deal that you have been waiting for. It will last about a New York minute and then some smart buyer will get it. I kid you not!

Just listed, but not by me, this beautiful newly remodeled and expanded home on Elizabeth Street near the tippy-top of Solares Hill (we are talking a couple of inches difference) in the very Heart of Old Town Key West. This house has it all. This is how the listing agent describes this home sweet home:
"Opportunity know in the door for this totally remodel home was awarded the Certificate of Excellence and a Silver Star for 2010 where you will feel the attention to details from the moment that you step inside.The entire house has Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors. There is central HVAC throughout the house and all rooms a wired with cat5 cable for phones and computers. A salt-system pool with a waterfall was installed in the back yard and a propane valve is available for your backyard grill. The kitchen has all stainless steel appliances.The house is located at the intersection of Elizabeth and Angela Street. This is the highest point on the Island and flood insurance is not required."
This home is priced to sell at the asking price of $985,000 or $415 per sq ft. And it will. Here is what you get: 2373 sq ft home consisting of three bedrooms with two and 0ne-half baths. (Two bedrooms down in front with a shared Jack-and-Jill bath.) The living area and kitchen are located at the rear of the house where you will find French doors that open onto the read deck and pool with waterfall. Up the beautiful staircase you will find the master suite with views of the pool below and towering views looking eastward over the treetops. There is no off street parking. Elizabeth Street is a residents only street for parking. CLICK HERE for info and lots of pretty pics.

To see this house of get more information please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty Inc., the Exclusive Lower Florida Keys Affiliate of Christie's Great Estates.

I'm serious on this house dear Readers. This is place is beautiful and it will get snapped up in a matter of days if not hours. Don't mess up. Don't wait. Don't be late.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1304 Atlantic Drive - Bank Owned - Key West

The Beach is about one block south of 1304 Atlantic Drive in Key West

Just Listed, but not by me, another Bank Owned townhome, this time located at 1304 Atlantic Drive near the beaches in Key West, Florida. This is how the previous agent described this property just weeks ago when it was still a "short sale"
"Gorgeous top of the line new construction! Stainless steel Thermadore appliances, wood floors through out. Wired for sound system. Hurricane lock windows and doors, with storm shutters to boot. This home has it all with French doors opening to deck and pool. Less than a block to the ocean and a short walk to the Casa Marina. In area of multi-new homes. Does not get better than this! Owner is a FL Lic RE Broker. Emphasis added by Gary Thomas.)
CLICK HERE to see how the new listing Realtor describes 1304 Atlantic Drive now that it is Bank Owned and bother yourself to look carefully at the photos. 1304 Atlantic Drive is priced at $695,000 or $356 per sq ft. Somethings are missing from the kitchen. Where in the World did Waldo put them and What did he take? HINT. Otherwise, the units are pretty much the same. You be the judge.

Two other units are also on the market. CLICK HERE to see 1312 Atlantic Drive which is offered at $995,000 (at $510 per sq ft) and CLICK HERE to see 1314 Atlantic Drive priced at $1,099,000 or $564 per sq ft.

1304 Atlantic Drive has the same square footage and lot size as the other, higher priced units. All units have 1950 sq ft and have 3 bedrooms plus 3 1/2 baths. Perhaps 150 feet separates the three properties. All of these units were built in 2008. 1304 Atlantic Drive has been used as a vacation rental. The Atlantic Ocean is a five minute walk even though it is located only one block to the south. There is no direct access so you will need to walk a block out of the way to get to your favorite new beach spot. If you don't like sand in your toes and the sting of salt water on your skin, you can swim in your own pool.

The bank that owns this property is a local bank in Key West so I think an offer should get prompt and fair consideration. If you want to see this unit, or any other property in Key West, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or email me at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. Stop dreaming and start acting on it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3814 Flager Avenue - Riviera Canal - Bank Owned - Key West

3814 Flagler Avenue on the Riviera Canal - Bank Owned - Key West

Very Brady Family Room with Fireplace Opens onto Kitchen with Pool Beyond

The Informal Dining Area is on the Near Side and Family Room on Far Side

The Pool is accessed from Family Room, Master Bedroom and Alice's Room

I have shown 3814 Flagler Avenue several times. Each time somebody says something like "This reminds me of the Brady Bunch house". You can look at that as a good thing or a bad thing. But there is a reason the Brady Bunch is ingrained into our minds. No matter how icky-wholesome the Bunch was, we all watched them. Part the aura of the Brady Bunch show was that damned house. It was a character as well. The exterior facade was seen in every episode. The house was a late 1960's split level that in real life was quite small, but in TV life it had large open rooms with vaulted ceilings and brightly colored walls. There was an openness to the house and the characters who lived inside. The interiors and colors, just like the haircuts and clothes the characters wore, are that of another era. So when today somebody says a house looks like the Brady Bunch house, we all get it-exactly.

3814 Flagler Avenue is Bank Owned. And the bank (credit union to be precise) that owns this house is actually in Conservatorship itself. So there is a real reason this bank owned house needs to be sold. Soon! The listing Realtor describes this house this way:
"Bank owned property. What a steal! Bring all offers! Don't miss this rare opportunity to own a Waterfront 5BR, 3BA home in Key West. Tremendous potential with 3,109 sq ft of living space, a 14,175 sq ft (1 and 1/2 lots) piece of property with huge pool and lots of extras. These amenities include a large two car garage with workshop area, eat-in kitchen, great room with fireplace, formal dining room, spacious living room, laundry room, walk in pantry, cedar lined closets, 2 zone air conditioning, tile floors, new metal roof, and gated second driveway for additional off-street parking. All on a wide protected canal with 105 ft of step down sea wall and easy access to open water. This special home can be your piece of paradise!"
Did you get that: five bedrooms. And they are not dinky. The master bedroom is very large and has an en-suite bath plus two large walk-in cedar lined closets. The master bedroom is at the east rear of the house. It has a nice view of the pool and the Riviera Canal beyond. There are three more large bedrooms on this side of the house. There is one bathroom for these three bedrooms. On the west wing of the house (the other side) you will find bedroom number five which has a separate bathroom and a rear door that opens out to the pool deck.

The formal entry leads into the living room and the very large family room with fireplace beyond. The family room opens out to the pool. The kitchen opens onto the family room on one side and to the informal kitchen dining area on the other. Of course, there is a separate formal dining room as well. There is large laundry room and an incredible walk-though pantry with lots of places to put things.

There is a double garage on the west side of the property and a separate driveway on the east side. The middle ground is nicely landscaped. The lot is huge: 14,175 sq ft or (105' front X 135' deep).

3814 Flagler Avenue is located on the Riviera Canal. All of the frontage is just the same at the rear so this house has 105 feet of sea wall. (Control Depth is 3 feet.) The Riviera Canal has immediate access to the Atlantic Ocean so you can do your own booze cruise nightly.

This house is clean. The air conditioner and lights work. It doesn't have the smell so many bank owned houses in Key West have. (The listing Realtor and bank owner have taken care of this asset. Thank you for setting an example.)

The best feature of this really big house is the really low price: $699,000 or $225 per sq ft. CLICK HERE to look at the mls data sheet and to view more photos (taken when recently occupied by house sitters. They are gone now and it is easy to show this home).Some of the paint colors are a bit bright, but for a few hundred dollars in paint a new owner could create a brand new look. The appliances are dated, but they work. The whole house works. The fifth bedroom on the opposite side of the house would be the perfect place for your own Alice.

If you would like to see 3814 Flagler Avenue please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or contact me by email at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.


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.