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Sunday, June 27, 2010

728 Windsor Lane - Key West - Price Reduction

728 Windsor Lane in 2010

728 Windsor Lane in 1965

I think the little cottage at 728 Windsor Lane is one of the best buys in Old Town Key West. The seller just reduced the asking price from $260,,000 to $229,900. This house is still livable as is for a few years, but it really needs a redo. When I show a house like this I tell my buyers not to consider what it looks like now on the inside or the outside because when to redo is done, you won't be able to recognize the place. The good thing about a redo like this is that you don't have to worry about small rooms or inefficient layouts or lack of closets. All of those ills should be fixed in the renovation.

The house currently has two bedrooms, one bath, a living room and dining room, a small kitchen and separate laundry area accessed from the rear deck. The listing agent says the house has 654 sq ft of space under roof and it sits on a 1279 sq ft 1/2 block from the top of Solares Hill, the highest point on the Island of Key West and one block from the tippy top of Solares Hill. MAP. Many of the other properties on this block are of similar size. Many of those have been renovated. Most share the common dilemma this house faces: small building, small lot, no off street parking. Those three factors and the high cost of renovation in Key West have scared away many potential buyers from a place like this. I understand this but I think I have a somewhat good alternative on how to approach this property.

The red X marks the location of 728 Windsor Lane on Solares Hill in Key West

Key West Cemetery

Top of Solares Hill is one block to the west

Small neighborhood park is just around the corner at the end of William Street

Americans have gotten spoiled into requiring big rooms and grand spaces. Even when buyers are seeking bargain properties, most want to make something bigger and better out of what exists. Well, sometimes you can't get everything you want. Sometimes you must accept a little less to get most of what you want. I spoke to one contractor who looked at this house as a possible renovation project for a buyer. That buyer wanted so reconfigure the existing house and add a partial second floor at the rear. That buyer decided not to do the project because he couldn't make the house grow big enough.

The Key West Historic Architectural Review Commission (HARC) and the Planning Department for the City of Key West must approve such projects. All kinds of rules, building code requirements, and density restrictions must go into approving projects like this. A small house like this can take as much time to move through the bureaucratic jungle as a big project and some decide that the small house does not justify the investment of so much time and money if the end result is still just a small cottage.

What is wrong with a small cottage? Why does someone have to mess with something so quaint? Why not do something a little less daring and probably more certain of getting approval?

I'm not a designer or contractor but I came up with a plausible plan to renovate this house in such a way as to keep the historic facade intact but that would allow a new owner to totally redo the inside to create new living spaces that meet today's lifestyle.

My idea is to remove all existing interior walls, doors, and windows. Repair the foundation as necessary and reconfigure the house with a large bedroom with ensuite bath at the front. Create a new side entrance on the west side of the house with entry into the new living-dining-kitchen areas at the rear. A door off the kitchen would permit guests to use the bath without going into the bedroom area. The existing structure is a double sawtooth with an addition at the rear. I would remove the existing ceilings and create new vaulted ceilings throughout. New French doors would be added to the rear of the house that would open onto the rear deck and pool. I have seen similarly sized and styled homes have been renovated in similar fashion. Local contractors have done lots of houses like this. I cannot say everything I suggest will work or would get approved by HARC or the city planning department. And I cannot guarantee the price of the work. But this only a 650 sq ft property. I just have difficulty believing construction could go beyond $150,000.

Notice the double sawtooth roof
If a buyer purchased this property at the asking price and put $150,000 into it, that buyer would have a virtually "new" cottage style home in a great Old Town Key West location for about $380,000 or $581 per sq ft. What the buyer would not have is off street parking. But a lot of Old Town owners do not have it either. And the new owner would not have a guest room for all of his or her family and friends. I bet that it would be cheaper for a buyer to put his freeloading family and friends up at the Eden House on Fleming Street every year than it would be to add a second floor guest bedroom.

728 Windsor Lane is not a big house for starters, and you can't grow the house much larger. But you could immensely improve the structure and the space. The location is great. There is a neighborhood grocery 1/2 block away. Duval Street is three blocks to the west and the Historic Seaport is five blocks to the north. You could walk to just about any spot in Old Town in about ten minutes or less.

CLICK HERE to see the listing info sheet on this property. This property is rented and advance showing notice of at least 24 hours is required. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this property. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.


Anonymous said...

While the price is attractive, the location unfortunately is not (at least at this time) Galveston Lane is very run down and filled with renters that simply don't care about the properties.

That overflows on to that area of Windsor Lane.

On the corner of Windsor and Galveston is a multifamily home that's also for sale. The property looks to be leaning off its foundation. Bad news all around.

While the property could be a real gem, unless you're going to purchase about 7 or 8 homes right in that little area, the value will have a hard time growing. Considering the Galveston properties are listed in the $400K range the last time I looked, and all need considerable work, I think they'll be sitting a while.

Gary Thomas said...

The same owner that has all of the Galveston Lane properties also owns this home and the multi-unit a few doors away.
I agree Galveston are high priced and all need work. And they have been sitting a long while and have not sold. That is a seller's perogative. I could see a buyer taking all of those fixers off the seller's hands and doing a mini-community and make a lot of money. But nobody will pay the price the seller is asking. There is no upside for they buyer on those houses, but there is on 728 Windsor. And if you walk a few door east on Windsor Lane you will see one big renovation going on.

There are several multi-million dollar homes in the area so don't a few small overpriced cottages prevent you from seeing the value of this location and this property.


Anonymous said...

Gary, where do you get those 1965 photos? Is there a website? I'd like to see how my house looked then. Thnaks.


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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.