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Friday, September 30, 2011

Bank Owned - Old Town - Key West

Entry to 213 Truman Avenue #C

213 Truman Avenue #C is Bank Owned

The very cute little house at 213 Truman Avenue #C sits to the rear of the white picket fence in a compound of four Key West houses that share a simple gated pathway. 213 Truman Avenue #C was built new in 2007. Now it is Bank Owned and looking for new owners. The listing Realtor describes this little charmer like this:
"Brand new in 2007. The home is in great condition. Two bdrms and two full baths up. 1/2 bath down with open kitchen/living area opening to a wonderful large private deck. Wood floors through out. Central a/c. This home is located in a compound of 4 single family. REO property. Offers responded to within 24 to 48 hours homes."
The house sits at the rear of a four unit compound. This property is the largest of the four units, and it is the only two bedroom unit. Each house is owned in fee simple (owner owns the house and land upon which the house is located. They share only a common walkway.) The three other units are one bedroom homes with approximately 580 sq ft of living space in each unit. The houses are basically arranged two up front and two to the rear. This property sits at the left rear. The neighbor to the rear is the Hutchinson Lane Compound, a compound of four Old Key West houses that share a combined common area. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view the listing photos.

213 Truman #C has 1083 sq ft of living space. The living space on the main floor is very open. There are windows on either side and French doors at the rear which gives the living space an open feeling. The two bedrooms are located on the second floor. The front bedroom has an en-suite bath and large walk-in closet. The second bedroom is located at the rear. It has a separate full bath. Both bedrooms have dramatic vaulted ceilings as you can see if you CLICK HERE and to view a small slide show of this property. There are nice views from the windows on the second floor.

The rear deck is large and spacious. The neighbors to the rear are further removed from the property than the photo below shows. This is a nice sized outdoor private space with plenty of room and lots of sunshine. Having outdoor space is one of the main reasons people buy a place in Key West. Imagine what you could do with this space.

213 Truman #C is offered for sale at just $329,900. That is just $305 per sq ft for new construction-not remodeled. If this house were located on the east side of Duval Street it would be priced much higher. You know that and I know that. If you are looking for a bargain in a Bank Owned property, this may be the place you have been looking for. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this great property. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Misconception - Key West Real Estate

As I get older the more I thought I knew becomes blurred. Partly because my memory isn't what it used to be (true), and because things that I grew up believing are true no more. I really did believe in the Tooth Fairy. I really believed in Santa Clause despite the protestations of my big brother otherwise. When Officer Goody came to my grade school and told my classmates about safety, I believed all policemen were good. I believed, for example, that my government would never lie to me. Life taught me that sometimes others say things that are not true: some say things that are not true with good intentions; some make untrue statements because they know not better; some say falsehoods because it suits their needs. The mind is a fertile place to plant a seed of misconception.

The talking heads on TV, the people that write the gibberish we see on our Internet service provider email home page, the blog writers that pontificate TAO of anything, all say things that are not true, sometimes. They plant the seed of misconceived truth in our minds and we let it grow and sometimes turn it into a truism that governs how we look at the world.

I never got mad at my parents for deceiving me about the Tooth Fairy. I still recall the excitement of going to bed at night waiting with expectation that the Tooth Fairy would come and take my old tooth and leave me a dime. Maybe I would wake up and see Her. What a present!

Besides telling me there was no Santa Claus, my big brother told me I was adopted. If one were true, the other must be true as well. I thought. I idolized my big brother. Why would someone I trusted so much tell me something that was not true? I questioned. This is not an insignificant matter for a child or an adult.

It seems like every TV channel has some guru that spouts politics, sports, lifestyle, or news 'information'. We listen. We believe what they say is true because they are on TV.

The big newspapers are now online and many of the great and not so great writers have blogs where they discuss issues of the day in more depth. News and Opinion get blurred. What someone writes in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal must be true, mustn't it?

I recently learned that school text book authors pen educational texts based on the preferences of local school boards. I guess science and history aren't viewed the same these days as they were when I was a kid. Classics like Huckleberry Finn get revised with the hurtful word 'nigger' removed. Revising the words revised the intent of those words and that changes the context of the book. Maybe it makes the old south and the way white people treated black people not seem so bad. Maybe there are two sides to everything. Or maybe not.

I worked for the Resolution Trust Corporation from 1990 to December 22, 1993 when I moved to Key West. The RTC was the short lived government agency that cleaned up the savings and loan debacle of the first George Bush administration. Every month, quarter end, and year end we would all scramble to put together numbers to show how productive we had been. Government agencies (even like the RTC that had its sunset destiny determined when it was created) have to justify their existence. Statistics theoretically prove progress so part of our ongoing job was to create statistics. I worked with some really smart (I mean really! smart people) and I loved my job. I worked with some incredibly incompetent fools as well. Many of those fools were 'lifers' at the FDIC that were on loan to RTC. They brought their governmental largess with them. They relied on rules and procedures and resisted flexibility and speed. The smart guys won and the statistical accomplishments were noted. Since I was a part of the information gathering, I can say that I doubt if all the information that was disseminated was totally accurate. Later, others would use those statistics to make a political point about what had (or had not occurred). Seeds of misconception were planted. I am sure the last George Bush administration and the current Obama administration required or requires government employees to create statistical data to support whatever it is that the administration wants to prove.

Today we watch TV or read news items or blogs that discuss the housing market or real estate. Some stories on TV or in the press or blogosphere focus on specific locations like Las Vegas, Sacramento, Detroit, or Miami. Other times talking heads on TV and writers of all ilk write about the housing market as a whole. They regurgitate the government generated statistics about sales or new construction starts as an indication of a national trend. People who listen or read may conceive that what they hear or read is also what is happening nationally and where they live or maybe where they may want to buy a place, like Key West.

A state official recently spoke to the Key West Association of Realtors and mentioned the 'shadow' inventory of un-foreclosed mortgages the banks are withholding. I watch TV and I read that dribble. At least one elected official bought into it. Maybe there are two or three or maybe hundreds or even thousands of elected officials believe it. Perhaps millions of normal everyday people believe it. Where is the source of this information and how reliable is that source? And if the statement that banks are withholding filing massive numbers of new foreclosures is true, are those foreclosures spread out across the country or are there specific areas that may be more forcefully impacted by lots of new bank owned properties? The mind can conger up all kinds of scenarios about what could happen.

I have written several blogs that discuss the local Key West sales statistics and the number of new bank foreclosure filings that start the process of taking a house away from its owner. Sometimes the foreclosure process takes just a few months. Sometimes it can take a few years depending on whether the owner hires an attorney and files an answer denying the mortgage is in default. A foreclosure action filed in August 2011 may not be resolved until 2013 or later. Or it could be over with in early 2012. The legal system takes its time to adjudicate each and every foreclosure. That means we will continue to see new bank owned properties hit the Key West mls for several years. Again, it does not mean we are experiencing a continuing calamity. Instead, it is a logical end to a process that was started either months or even years earlier. Don't let your misconception of the process control your understanding of present day reality.

The same is true for short sale listings. Even though the Key West real estate market has begun a recovery, there are individuals who can't take the pressure any more and have decided it is time to sell. Many good houses are now available at greatly reduced prices from the mid 2000's. Some short sales get concluded within a matter of a few months. Some banks are getting very proficient in getting problem loans off their books. Other short sales drag out for months on end. Often the failure to get a short sale approved is a function of a seller or short sale negotiator that does not provide timely or correct information to a lender. Furthermore, there are now loan sharks that bought second mortgages at huge discounts that are demanding sometimes outrageous amounts to approve short sales on mortgages they would never foreclose. Their aim is to create havoc to get what they want. They often achieve their goal and drive up the price of a short sale just enough to piss off everybody. The short sale as a process will be around for quite a while despite a recovering market. It does not mean the market is deteriorating; it reflects the reality of dealing with properties not being worth as much in the present day as when they were purchased.

I think most of us have our share of misconceptions about a lot of things in life. Sometimes people tell us things in the media that may be true or partially true or false. We may believe what we read or hear based on the source of the information. If we can't have universal facts about science or history in the text books or revisionist literature that teach our children, how can we avoid developing misconceptions about 'facts' that get disseminated via the media and the Internet? My only suggestion is to have an open mind and question what you hear and read.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On the Waterfront - 11 McCoy Circle, Key West - Short Sale - New LOW Price

If you are looking for a Key West getaway with waterfront views, private dock, newer construction, and located near Old Town, you might want to look at 11 McCoy Circle in the Flagler's Landing Condominiums. There are just 13 units at Flagler's Landing which were constructed in 2001. Only a few have changed ownership since the development was built, so you may not have heard of or even know of its existence. The aerial photo above shows the location just off North Roosevelt Boulevard in the Hilton Haven addition to Key West.

Unit 11 noted with the X

Private outdoor patio with covered parking behind

Unit 11 has a private boat slip

The two story unit sits to the west of the development which arcs from northeast to southwest. The main living level is located above covered parking and a large outdoor semi-covered patio that looks toward the water.
The kitchen, living room and half-bath are on the main level. The west wall is a bank of sliders that open onto a deck that overlooks the water. A separate deck on the backside looks toward the community pool. An intricate custom built wooden spiral staircase winds from the living level to the top floor bedroom level. Each of the two bedrooms has a separate bath. Unit #11 has 1103 sq ft of living space plus the second level deck off the living room and generous ground floor patio.

(Photo taken when the unit was occupied by previous owner. Now vacant.)

The kitchen now

The monthly condo fee here is $434 which includes Exterminating, Building Exterior Maintenance, Building Insurance, Common Area Maintenance, and Pool Service. The fact is that there have been only a couple of resales in this entire development in the ten years life of Flagler's Landing. That means the association is strong and financially stable.

I wrote about this unit a couple of months ago when it was offered for sale at $515,000. The home owner association is now the legal owner of this unit. Unit #11 is now offered for sale as a short sale at the asking price of just $349,500. Instead of me trying to persuade you about the obvious value of this unit, CLICK HERE search the Key West mls to compare this unit that is located directly on the water's edge and that has its own boatslip with other condominium developments in Key West. You will find lower priced properties, for sure, but not with direct water view or boat slip or both.

Photo dated 1921 shows Flagler's Landing in background

If you are looking for a place with a real waterfront location that is offered at a reasonable price, you just may want to call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of 11 McCoy Circle in Key West. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bank Owned Unit - Key West by the Sea

The asking price on this 1221 sq ft three bedroom two bath bank owned condominium unit at Key West by the Sea just got a lot better, just $264,300. The listing agent describes the unit like this:
"BANK-OWNED! Spacious ground floor three bedrooms,two bath unit with private patio ready for your personal touch. The unit is completely tiled. View from living room opens to lawn and pool. Key west By The Sea is located on 8 acres, across from Smathers Beach, with two large swimming pools, one heated, two tennis courts and club house. Just minutes to airport and Duval St."

Southernmost Pool at Key West by the Sea

As foreclosed units go, this falls into the mid-range. It needs some cleaning and a fresh paint job. But other than that, it looks ready to move into. A new owner might want to update the kitchen and replace the tiled floor and maybe landscape the private patio. But neither is necessary.

Patio faces the pool which is about 100 feet away

One of many Orchids on a trellis near the big north pool

Units at Key West by the Sea come in various sizes and different locations. This is a ground floor unit at the far north end of the complex. It has south facing views from the living room and two of the three bedrooms. The back (or entry side) is located just off the parking lot. The assigned parking space is just a few feet from the door. You won't get a sunburn in the hot sun or soaked in a rainstorm walking the few feet from your car to your home. And the largest of the two huge pools is located perhaps 100 feet further to the south. If you have a little dog, the location is perfect for you and your pet. You can get your tanning and other business done without having to use the stairs or elevator.

This is the pool closest to the unit
Parking just steps from your door

Key West by the Sea is meticulously maintained. There is an on site manager. There are beautiful walkways between the buildings, the pools and other common areas. I spotted hanging orchids all over the place. There is plenty of security as well. All entries are gated and locked. Oh, and the Atlantic Ocean is across the street. World famous Smather's Beach is across the street.

CLICK HERE to view a slide show of photos I recently took of this unit. And you can CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls database on this unit.

Monthly fees are $457.48 and include building insurance, building exterior maintenance, common area maintenance, pool maintenance, security, exterminating, and cable tv.

If you would like to see this unit or any other property in Key West, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Friday, September 23, 2011

507 Frances Street - Short Sale - Old Town - Key West

507 Frances Street - Old Town - Key West - Short Sale

I have written about 507 Frances Street before. Now it is being offered as a Short Sale at the asking price of $499,000. The listing Realtor describes this property this way:
"Prime location and great investment opportunity! Frances St is one of the most desirable Streets in Old Town Key West. This is a 3 Unit building. Two 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartments downstairs and one 2 bedroom 1 bathroom upstairs. Each unit has a separate water and electric meter. Total gross income $49,800. This property could be converted to a beautiful single family home. History shows that it served as one of the early school houses in Key West followed by a church. Just steps from world famous Duval St and the Seaport. Excellent for an owner occupant or as an investment. Many possibilities. This is a potential short sale transaction subject to lender approval.

This double gabled building appears to date back to 1870. Removing the front porch enclosures would reveal a classic style conch structure with three doors across the front upstairs and down
. The building is currently configured as three apartments. Each unit has a separate front and rear porches. Removal of the walls at the bottom of the inside stairs would create a unified living space. Then this former school house could become a Key West charmer.

The front porches are integral parts of the current usage. I recall the original exterior walls at front are still in place and doorways open onto the porches. (What you see from the street is not the original exterior wall. It is instead and enclosed porch. The original wall is perhaps six feet to the rear of the enclose porch.) An interior stairway provides access to the three units as currently configured. It works fine for the current usage but a new stairway could redefine the usage as a single family residence. The second floor units is very charming but it could be a wonderful master bedroom with en-suite bath and rear deck overlooking a new pool below. The ceilings could be vaulted and the whole interior spaces transformed into a very decent sized Old Town residence with a striking architectural style. Conversion of the enclosed porches to open porches would reduce the living area by about 300 sq ft but it would add a tremendous amount of charm to the facade.

The listing Realtor has a YouTube presentation that shows the interior layout that is quite helpful.

507 Frances Street is located on one of the best blocks in Old Town

You probably have strolled by, rode your bike past, or driven by 507 Frances Street and wondered what it is and then easily continued walking, riding, or driving. It gets noticed because of its atypical architecture, but then it gets ignored because of it. People can't figure out what it is or why it should interest them as a potential home in Key West. I'm here to shed some light on this property and perhaps create a little interest in it.

507 Frances Street (above) in 1965 with suggested changes by me

507 Frances Street intersects with Curry Lane in 2011

I found the Black & White Photo (above) that shows how this property looked back in 1965. Compare that photo with the color photo immediately below. The place has not changed much. You will note that I added some text to the Black and White Photo to suggest possible changes to this house because I think change is exactly what is needed.

The Red Doors on Caroline Street

701 Southard Street Key West - January 2011

302 Angela Street

507 Frances Street is one of six double gable houses in Key West that I am aware of. The others are located in the Meadows area, Petronia Street, and two familiar properties (the Red Doors on Caroline Street and an apartment building at 701 Southard Street), and the Angelina Guest House at 302 Angela Street. If you study 507 Frances and compare it to either the Red Doors or 701 Southard you will immediately see that Frances Street architecture is basically the same. That is, there are two buildings seemingly joined at a common point with the resultant double gable roof. 507 Frances is different, however, since the porches on Frances Street were enclosed sometime in the past - at least pre-1965. (When I first moved to Key West I was told many of the larger old homes had the front porches enclosed during World War II to house military personnel stationed here. That may or may not be true.) But these four properties share another interesting feature: they are all site-situated right at or very near the sidewalk. There is no front yard or fence to set the building off from the sidewalk.

Imagine the front porch enclosures eliminated and the interior ceilings vaulted

Imagine the rear with a pool and French doors up and down with second floor cantilevered deck

507 Frances Street was built around 1870. The public records show the current building as having 2107 sq ft of living space that is situated on a 38' x 50' lot. The house abuts Curry Lane, one of the slow lanes of Key West.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls database on this property. Please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at kw1101v@aolcom to schedule a showing of this property. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West, Florida.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

2800 Flagler Avenue - Development Parcel - Short Sale - Key West

2800 Flagler Avenue, Key West, Florida

If you are a potential developer or an investor interested in buying a land play in Key West, you might want to take a look at the new short sale offering of 2800 Flagler Avenue. The listing Realtor describes this large property this way:
"Over 4 acres of canal front property with over 1.76 acres of upland land available on Flagler Avenue in Key West. Preliminarily approved plans called for a 6,500 SF religious building on site with 35 parking spaces which would comply with zoning requirements. Conceptual preliminary plans have also been drawn for up to 10 affordable homes on the parcel with ample parking and surrounding space. If a market rate rogo is secured, this could also be a fine residential compound with privacy and water access to the canal. The site contains 480 feet of frontage on Flagler Avenue and Riviera canal. This is a short sale and the Seller is motivated to look at offers which would require bank approval."

A previous listing agent described the same parcel a bit differently when he wrote "There is nothing like this in Key West.(Emphasis added by me.) Zoning allows for up to 14 dwelling units and requires over 2 acres remain open space. Also allows for group homes with less than or equal to six residents. Conditional uses allow two-family residential dwellings (duplexes), educational institutions and day care, parks and recreation, active or passive, places of worship, protective services, public and private utilities." You decide which description whets your appetite the best.

480' Frontage along Flagler Avenue - Key West

I have been to the site a few times and have walked the frontage along Flagler Avenue and down 11th Street which runs two blocks from Flager to the Riviera Canal where there is a public boat ramp. The boat ramp gets a lot of use by locals who launch their boats on the weekends. The houses on either side of the Riviera Canal site to the west and down the canal one mile to the east where the canal feeds into the Atlantic Ocean probably all had scrub mangroves like exist at this site. Having potential waterfront access makes this property worthy of serious consideration. I am not saying a new owner could unequivocally bulldoze the mangrove and use all of the space, but I do think a good land planner and a good local real estate attorney could make a credible case for development of the parcel.

11th Street at Riviera Canal Public Boat Ramp

CLICK HERE to view a slide show of photos of this property which is offered at the asking price of $699,000 or $3.78 per sq ft. They aren't making any new land in Key West. This is a very large parcel by Key West standards. A potential investor might decide to buy and hold a property like this until the market recovers.

If you would like more information on this property please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3015 Riviera Drive - Bank Owned - Key West

3015 Riviera Drive Key West

Checkout the photo above. Pretty as a picture, don't you think? I know I usually write quintessential cottages in Old Town. This mid-century home is located in the area where mid-town and new town meet. The price and features make it a property worthy of further consideration. The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"Fabulous Fannie Mae Property Approved For A HomepathCountertops And Dark Wood Cabinets. Close To The Ocean, Entertainment, And Roads. Owner Occupants Close Before 10 31 11 And Request Up To 3.5% In Closing Costs. Restrictions Appl." Renovation Mortgage. Upgraded Dream Home In Key West! Large Tiles Lead Into Formal Living And Dining Room. Gourmet Kitchen With Granite

Here's the deal from my perspective. The house as currently configured is not quite livable. Someone went to a lot of hard work to remodel this house. There is a large new kitchen that grabs your attention when you walk in the front door. The dining and living area are located toward the back of the house while three bedrooms are off to the right side. The front two bedrooms are livable except some trim works need to be completed. No big deal on that. The master suite is still under construction. It has a re-configured bedroom with very large en-suite bath and extra large walk in closet. The plumbing is roughed in on the bath. Floor tiles, drywall finish, bathroom tile, bath fixtures, lights, and interior trim need to be installed. Outside the rear exterior has been prepped for stucco which remains unfinished. The old shingle roof is still in place and it does look like it needs replaced. This bank owner is offering financing which could include money to complete this property.

In 2009 the house benefited from the FAA retrofitting program that replaced windows, doors, and air conditioning systems for homes under the flight path in Key West. That is a substantial long term improvement to this property.

New Windows Everywhere

The living room has sliders that open out to the back yard. The yard is quite large and has plenty of room for a pool. There is currently a spa located off to the side.

Room for a pool

This house is bank owned and offered at $349,500 or $297 per sq ft. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this house. I took more photos which you can see if you CLICK HERE.

This house would make a great family home. It is located near the schools, baseball fields, shopping, and water. The houses on the other side of Riviera Drive have direct water access out their back door. Others can use the public boat access about two blocks west at 11th Street. Deep water is about one mile east down the Riviera Canal.

The Atlantic Ocean is about one mile east

If you would like to see this house or any other property in Key West, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyer's agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West.


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.