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Monday, May 23, 2011

Non-Bargain Properties in Key West

405 Frances Street before Renovation

405 Frances Street nearly completed in May 2011

I sometimes get emails from Readers asking about "low priced" properties that I have never written about. They ask me what I think. I usually reply with some awful story about the property. Many potential buyers often equate low price with value. They are mistaken.

Low Price and Value are not synonymous-especially in a place like Key West where asking prices are typically higher on a per square foot basis than most locations in the United States.

While I was away a property I have showed a few times had a price reduction. Under normal circumstances I would have written about that property before and maybe encouraged potential buyers to consider it. But that place is not normal. I remember showing that same house maybe ten years ago when it was as cute as a button-the perfect Key West hideaway located in a charming compound of other similar cute cottage style homes. The present owner loves cats and has maybe a dozen of them that roam freely. The cats have overtaken the place and it reeks of cat pee.

I remember a similar house that I showed a few times in 1996. It was owned by a writer who loved cats. I recall that owner had about 19 furry felines in his house. The eventual buyer bought a great house at a good price because most buyers refused to consider it. The new owner told me the floors were sanded and refinished but the odor would not go away. The new owner had to rip out the original floors and install new floors and some drywall. The house is fine now. But the cost was unexpected and the bargain price ended up costing much more than anticipated.

I have not written about another current low priced listing that has limited access with no on site and no street parking. What looks like a nice place on the Internet is something quite different in real life.

I have not written about low priced houses located near popular restaurants because the odors and congestion are something a new owner would have to deal with every day for eternity. Why would I want to subject a potential buyer to something like that? Cheap, yes. Value, no.

There are some small properties located in Old Town that may appear to be affordably priced. Buyers with an itch to do a remodel might consider them. I expect most will require extensive renovation and that the eventual cost on a per square foot basis is just too high to justify the expense for even a small property unless the property has a great location or in an architectural gem.

I have shown some properties that have undergone what I call staple gun renovation. I remember one place a few years ago that looked really sharp. It had a nice new kitchen with granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, cute Italian light fixtures but also uneven floors laid over an old concrete slab. I remember showing the house and looking at the front double door entry. I could see daylight coming in under one of the doors. I looked up at a newly installed accent window. Daylight showed through a gap on one side. I pointed out the noticeable flaws to my buyer and told her not to consider the place. It sold for a lot of money during the height of the market. But not to my customer.

The photos at top of today's blog show 405 Frances Street as it appeared after it sold for the bargain price of $216,500. It underwent a dramatic renovation process which I will write about and share photos of someday after the project is complete. You can probably buy a really nice house in most parts of the United States for $216,500. In Key West you can buy a fixer. Some properties and some locations are worth spending money on because the resultant house (after expensive renovation) justifies the investment of time and money.

CLICK HERE to search the Key West mls database. You do not need to fill out any forms or become the captive of some real estate agent to search the mls.

If you see something that interests you, please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. I'll do my best to help you find a real bargain and avoid buying somebody else's nightmare.

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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.