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Saturday, March 10, 2012


House or Condo in Key West, Florida

I miss the old days when we all had three TV networks plus educational TV (where you could watch a guy paint!). Back then the choices were simple and the viewer had an easy and predictable viewing experience. Today cable and satellite TV offer so many diverse viewing options that a viewer needs a guide to help find what is available at any one moment or what will be available in the future. By chance last night (Friday, March 9th) I was searching for something to watch other than the 19th repeat of MONK when I noticed that HGTV had a "New" (really) program on its HOUSE HUNTERS program where a couple was searching for a getaway house in Key West. I decided to watch it. And so should you if you are in the market for a place in Key West. This morning I searched the HGTV website to see when episode HNT-5801H will air again. HGTV does not show a new air date, but we all know every episode gets shown repeatedly, forever, just like MONK.

HGTV's description of the Key West episode:
"Key West, Florida, has always been a special place for Matt and Amy. It's where they honeymooned, it's their favorite vacation spot, and it's about to be the site of their future vacation home. But for this couple, escaping the cold Ohio winters comes with a hitch. Matt wants the privacy of a single family home. Amy wants a carefree, low maintenance condo or high-rise. Who will win out?"
After the couple was introduced we got to meet their Realtor, Sandy Tuttle, an agent from Marathon, Florida. Sandy and I worked together on a bank owned unit she listed last year. She is a really great agent who works for another company further up the Keys. Sandy showed the couple three different properties in three different Key West locations. That follows the typical House Hunter format. Each property met some of the buyers' search criteria and each offered some challenges as well.

The first house the couple saw was located in the New Town area of Key West. The house was built in 1965 and sits on a nice block with similarly sized homes built during the same era. I showed this house last year to a local who wanted to buy a house he could renovate and flip. The house is still available as of today at the asking price of $335,000 or $243 per sq ft. The show did not disclose that the house is Bank Owned. The viewer could see for him or herself that the place is a real challenge. The floors are on different levels, the rooms sizes are odd, the kitchen is small, the carport canopy dominates the facade and makes it totally out of character with the neighborhood, but the pool is huge. My buyer determined the house needed too much work and too much money for him to achieve his goal of re-selling at a modest profit. The house hunter couple decided likewise.

Still Available! Photographed this morning

Similar vintage house across the street

The voice-over described the second property as being Key West beach side, but whoever wrote the script got that part wrong. There is no beach at Key Cove. I recently wrote a couple of blogs about units at Key Cove. Unit number 48 is a bank owned unit. This was taken off the market on January 20th. Unit number 25 was a short sale. It sold for $375,000. That unit was very similar in size and amenities that the home buyers looked at except the unit they saw had a view toward the east and #25 did not need any repairs.

The House Hunters bought one of these homes - photographed today

Community Pool

The third property the couple looked at was a second floor condo at 1800 Atlantic Condominiums. Matt stated a familiar lament I have heard so man other potential buyers state about the place seeming like a hotel. The unit they looked at was original, meaning it still had the original kitchen cabinets, plastic drop down ceiling in the kitchen, and master bath with the Roman tub. I don't think any hot water heater could ever fill one of those tubs. By the time the tub was full, the water would be running cold. Either that or the bather would be asleep. The couple was bothered by the location being on the second floor just above Bertha Street and worried they would hear the traffic go by. The potential ocean view from the balcony was obscured by trees. And the couple grimaced over the high monthly condo association fees. The couple did like the huge oceanfront pool and location, however.

1800 Atlantic Condominiums

Ultimately the couple chose the Key Cove unit. Matt and some of his buddies from Ohio did a quick renovation and redid the problematic bath and spiffed the place up really nicely. I searched the mls and learned that the unit the TV couple purchased sold for $350,000. The program did not disclose that the unit was bank owned. According to the mls datasheet a different Realtor at the same company (not Sandy Tuttle) actually sold the unit. I think the couple made a very good decision and got a very nice Key West getaway house. Congrats to them! I hope Sandy got part of the commission!

It's fun to watch a show like this because it exposes the viewers (people like you) who may be thinking of buying a second home in Key West to issues most buyers on a budget face: location, price, and features that are positives or negatives. The fixer house ain't gonna sell for a long time unless the bank drops the price to give away status in my opinion. Condos at 1800 Atlantic offer twice the space and in my opinion offer superior construction to similarly priced condos at Shipyard in the Truman Annex area of Key West. However, the street side units are sometimes more difficult to sell, and all units must pay the high monthly condo association fees. Key Cove has a mix of very high end units still available, but there are a few affordable housing units and mid range units that are also a part of this complex.

CLICK HERE to do your own personal Key West House Hunting SEARCH of the Key West Association of Realtors mls database. Select the property type, price range or other feature you want. If you find something that interests you, please contact me to help you find your place in Paradise. Call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at I am buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc. in Key West. Oh, I am a big fan of MONK as well.


Anonymous said...

Did the unit next door to the one this couple purchased in Key Cove sell for less just a few months later? And why did the couple say they paid 345k when they really paid 350k? Of the three they made the best decision but I couldn't take the fact instead of Key Cove they kept repeating Beachside as if that made it sound more exclusive. And they should have been upfront about the bank owned part. I was not impressed with this - a local Key West agent not one from Marathon would have been a better choice. My opinion.

Gary Thomas said...

I don't know if the other unit was next door or two doors away. It was a short sale and it sold for $337,000 or $241 per sq ft as opposed to the bank owned unit that the couple purchased for $350,000 or $250 per sq ft. I showed the short sale unit twice and liked it very much. I now recall having shown the TV show unit as well. I think both sales were well priced and that neither buyer got a better deal than the other. Sometimes locational issues or condition issues make one unit sell for more or less than a nearby unit. I can't recall anything significant about either except I liked the view from the rear balcony.

Don't be hard on Sandy. She's a great Realtor. She is the listing agent on the New Town house. The agent who took the mls credit appeared in another HGTV program.

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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.