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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Key West: Optimism or Despair?

With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, 'Studs, you're an optimist.' I never said I was an optimist. I have hope because what's the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven.
Studs Terkel
I'm not saying the awful market is over, yet. But there have got to be a lot of potential real estate buyers that hoped the market in Key West would drop further who are feeling the pangs of not-so-quiet desperation as the market shot up in the past two months. I've been telling my buyers that the market is 'on fire'. The front page of Sunday's Key West Citizen quoted other Realtors as saying the market is "on fire" or "hot, hot, hot". CLICK HERE to read the article.

I did a quick search of the Key West mls records this morning. It revealed 21 single family homes sold in February 2011. The least expensive sold at $305,000 and the highest price paid was for a lovely Key Haven home that sold for $1,600,000. In fact 6 houses sold for $1,000,000 or higher in February. Only two of the single family house sales were short sales and only one was a bank owned property. And 6 of the sales were on the market for 30 days or less. And two of that number were listed Christmas week and sold immediately after being listed. (I sent emails to potential buyers who pondered the merits of buying that particular house and they lost out big time. If you snooze, you lose.)

Condos and town homes sold at an equally brisk pace in February 2011. A total of 13 units sold priced between $163,000 to $825,000. (The latter sale was for a 2 bedroom bank owned beauty at The Meadows of Key West. Our office is listing agent. We still have two 3 bedroom units left.) Three of the February sales were short sales and only one bank owned property.

I also did a quick check of Monroe County Clerk of Court's records to see the number of new foreclosure filings (lis pendens) and bank owned properties that occurred in the last 30 days. There were just 7 new bank owned houses in Key West. For some reason two of the nicer houses have not made it to the mls, yet.

The search showed there have only been 11 new foreclosures (lis pendens filed) for properties in the Key West area (to Shark Key). Three of the foreclosures were at the Key West Golf Course which has really recovered over the past couple of years. The rest of Monroe County isn't quite so fortunate. New foreclosures are still being filed. There are lots of places for sale up the Keys. The problem for buyers is that places up the Keys is not the same as being in Key West.

Buyers are really smart shoppers. They have access to all kinds of information via the Internet. Certain websites offer computer generated statistics that are supposed to predict the value of a particular house based on the Monroe County Appraiser's tax evaluation or comparable recent sales, or both. If you watched Jeopardy two weeks ago you got to see how smart Watson the computer was versus real live geniuses. Watson kicked ass. But Watson made blunders because human knowledge can trump data. Understanding data is one thing. Understanding real life situations is another. I'm not match for Watson, but I bet Watson cannot understand why people want to buy a second home in Key West versus buying a cheaper home up the Keys or a really cheap deal in Miami. And I don't think Trulia or any of the other sites can do it either. Buyers who want a deal need to work with a Realtor, not a computer.

If you are looking to buy a special place in Key West and want to work with a live human being who is also a buyer's agent and full time Realtor, please consider choosing me at your guy. Call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in sunny Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. I am the Realtor to the Dreamers.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gary, I think everyone should remain "realistically optimistic" about the economy in general and the real estate market, more specifically.

Obviously, the sales numbers are looking strong, but I think buyers need to be realistic about their near- and even long-term investment gains in real estate. I don't believe there will be another run-up in prices in a long time.

Also, some sellers are still being unrealistic about their asking prices. I figure they're either the super-rich who buy homes and simply always keep them on the market or they're people who bought high and/or over-renovated and are strapped now and MUST sell at a high price because they're under water.

Either way, those hold-outs will be holding out for a long time if they don't adjust prices.

I think, optimistically, homesellers who price their homes reasonably/competitively might even start getting more than asking price.

Great blog, Gary.

Anonymous said...

Like we were all told in years back: buy if you plan to live there 5 or more years. Anything less and you will not see a profit but will probably lose when you go to sell. Best to stay 7 and always pay 20% or more downpayment. If you can't do these simple truths, you have no business buying - save up till you can.

We should all remember the goal - a house to live and own not to flip and split. It isn't an ATM. If you want to gamble to go Vegas but stay out of real estate.

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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.