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Thursday, May 31, 2012

315 William Street - Old Town - Key West

315 William Street Old Town Key West, built circa 1899
 315 William Street (foreground) as it appeared in 1978
315 William Street as it appeared in1978
315 William Street, May 31, 2012

Buyers who are looking for a large renovation project in the Old Town area may want to look at 315 William Street. I dug through the old shoebox and found some old pics of the house over the years. The Monroe County Property Appraiser says the house was built circa 1899. That would jive with some nearby houses that are among the earliest built in Key West and that survived the Great Fire. The location is just one block north of the Key West Seaport.

The listing Realtor nails the description of this property:
"Architectural gem perfect for the buyer wanting a renovation project. Currently configured as a 3 unit property it offers many options. The main level is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath with decked backyard with pool. Upstairs are two units both one bedroom, one bath - one with a large porch overlooking William Street. New owner can occupy the main level and rent the upstairs apartments or convert the entire property into a wonderful single family home. The main level is currently a monthly vacation rental renting for approximately $4500 per month while the 2 upstairs apartments rent for a total of $2000 per month long term. Outstanding location within walking distance to the waterfront and Duval St."

The Property Appraiser's website shows building permits were taken out in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the pool, decks, and fencing were added and the roof replaced. The kitchen has the 1980s-1990s look which is typical of many built in that era. Today there is lots of granite and stainless steel. Back then kitchens played off the more traditional old Key West look. 

The house works "okay" as currently configured but it could work so much better if the downstairs space was better utilized to permit more "living" space at the rear and move the bedrooms forward. The listing Realtor suggested moving the main entrance to the north side of the house which would free up the entry space to become a hallway entrance into the relocated bedrooms at front. The bedrooms would then have access the front porch for people watching. 

The pool area is dated and landscaping is sparse. The existing second floor apartments have access to the second floor balcony but views of the pool are quite limited from there.  A new owner might reconfigure the second floor spaces to provide better views of the pool from a new master suite.

Second floor apartments could be updated but I think a new owner might prefer to renovate the whole house and convert what I fondly call the left-over hippie look into somewhat more refined living spaces for today's lifestyle.

Second floor front balcony overlooks historic William Street. The house needs a fresh coat of paint and maybe some of the trees trimmed back just a bit so that the public can view this architectural gem that is now a bit obscured.

The property is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Historic Seaport and only a few minutes walk to Duval Street. Eaton Street Seafood Company is up at the corner. Old Town Bakery is just a couple of blocks east on Eaton Street.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. This property is offered at just $829,000.  

If you would like to see 315 Elizabeth Street or any other property in Key West please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Recent "SOLDS" in Key West

A few weeks ago a reader asked if I ever report on houses that I wrote about which sold. I replied back that I usually do a years-end recap. We are near the end of our spring selling season so now is just as good a time as any to report on what sold since January 1st.

Click on any blue linked address to read the blog I wrote about the specific property. Compare what I wrote then to what the property sold for. 
1230 5th Avenue was a real bank owned "fixer".  The place had its share of problems because of what looked like un-permitted home owner remodels gone bad.  The house was initially listed at $340,000 and was reduced to $199,900 when it finally went under contract. The property sold at $207,000 or $7,100 over asking price.

I wrote about the Sunrise at Seaside Short Sale in May 2011. The initial asking price was $278,000 but the unit sold for just $215,000. That price included a transient rental license and all furnishings.

419 United Street #2 was a two bedroom condo in a large old Key West home that had been converted into four condos. The asking price on this short sale was just $299,000. The buyer ended up paying only $235,000 for the unit which has its own private swimming pool - not part of the common area. Great deal for the buyer who hung on and on and on.

Coincidentally the same agent who listed 419 United Street also listed 1133 Von Phister which I wrote about a couple of years ago. This 'condo' was carved out of a larger house with huge grounds that were sold separately during the housing boom. This little unit sold for $750,000 back then but was re-sold as a short sale for just $240,000. That's an incredible price for a small house in the Casa Marina area. This is one lucky buyer.

I wrote about the quite large bank owned 'fixer' at 1017 17th Street in July 2011. It was offered at $359,000 at that time. It eventually sold at $281,000.

The just darling little cottage at 1118 Olivia Street is part of the Lionsgate Condominiums. It is a stand alone house in the exclusive little development. It was listed at $365,000 and sold in eight days for $352,500.

Speaking of cute, the cute little two bedroom home at 1216 Knowles Lane was listed at $399,000 and sold five days later for $390,000. The Old Town location and quite little lane attracted many buyers at the outset of the season.

There is one house I did not write about, but was tempted to do so. It was on Realtor caravan several months ago. The listing agent was a dear friend of mine at Prudential. Perhaps forty agents went inside this particular house and within a few seconds had flashbacks to our college days. The aroma of weed permeated that air - almost as thick as the smell of burning brush along the Florida Turnpike. That little peace of paradise eventually sold. Congrats to my friend who stuck with this property.
I wrote about the property at 846 Olivia Street a couple of times. It was originally offered at $529,000. The location across the street from the Key West cemetery spooked a lot of potential buyers. That cemetery has always suppressed prices. It's a shame because the cemetery provides a quite environment at night, and during the daytime the open spaces provide abundant light that is often missing in many parts of Old Town. The house sold at he end of February for $410,000. Quite a bargain.

I wrote about 1025 Thompson Lane several times. It was originally priced at $525,000 and went through several price reductions. The really charming home sold for $435,000. That is less than the cost of a condo at Shipyard. The house is adorable. Somebody got a great deal.

215 Golf Club Drive was a bank owned property originally listed at $478,900. When the asking price was reduced to $464,900 several offers were made which resulted in a best and final bidding situation. The house sold for $465,000. That was another great buy.

Old Town lovers will remember the charming house at 2 Hunts Lane that was offered at $489,000. This little gem sold at $470,000 or $480 per sq ft.

Meadows lovers may recall the super cute two bedroom/two bath home with a pool (but no parking) at 1311 Newton Street. I showed this lovely home several times. I really liked it. It sold for $474,150. or $605 per sq ft.
I wrote about the Rose Tattoo House at 1421 Duncan Street a couple of times over the past few years. It was the site where the famous movie of the same name was filmed. Tennessee Williams, the playwright, lived next door at 1421 Duncan (see photo above) and watched filming.  The house was listed at $615,000 and sold for $530,000.

The cute little cottage at 1123 Von Phister Street is located just a couple of doors from where I lived.  It was listed for sale at $595,000 and sold at $540,000. It was purchased by the owner of the larger house next door and will be used as a guest cottage. This house sold at $632 per sq ft. What a deal! 

Then there was the super clean and ultra-neat two bedroom/two bath two story townhome located at 1005B United Street. Listed at $589,000 this place sold for $540,000. It had a beautiful new kitchen and gracious decorating throughout. It set the stage for two other sales of similar units located nearby but neither of which compared to the interior features of this place. This buyer won!

627 Southard Street was a bank owned property from hell. The property was listed at $399,900 on April 3rd and went under contract on April 10th. It sold for $560,000. I heard there were ten offers submitted. I submitted an all cash offer of $555,000 for a buyer.  Workers are at the property now demolishing much of the interior to make way for new renovations. This property has a great Old Town location. The building was the scene of intolerable cruelty to animals. It's really troublesome that a city that will not let a homeowner cut down a tree or paint a house an odd color of blue would sit back and do nothing to protect helpless little animals.

1104 Angela Street appeared in my blog several times. It is a really nice little two bedroom/two bath home with a pool and parking. It was listed at $619,000 and sold at $575,000 or $434 per sq ft. I think the new owner got a great little house for the money.

Speaking of great little houses, the so charming home at 811 Carey Lane was listed at $589,000 and sold for $580,000. This place has a cool, laid back style that I just loved. It did not have a pool and one of the bedrooms was a bit smallish. Those are both things that could be changed. The location is terrific.

I got a phone call this past weekend from a reader who asked about 1319 Newton Street. He read about the house in my blog and looked at it with another agent. (I hate that.) He asked how much it sold for. Asked: $595,000. Sold: $586,000. No pool or parking, but this was and is one of the prettiest little houses in Key West. By the way, the caller is now looking again and this time he wants me to show him houses.

6 Havana Lane was a "steal". I really liked this house. It had everything potential buyers wanted except a prime location. The lane is just off Truman Avenue and some buyers pooh-poohed it. They missed the point. This house has two (or three) bedrooms, a pool, and off street parking. The inside of the house is as cute as can be. The exterior is really quite charming and the grounds are seductive. It is located  the same distance from Duval as houses that cost twice as much. This house was listed at $625,000 and sold for $600,000 or $588 per sq ft. Great buy!

811 Washington #103 was a short sale of a recently built three story 3 bed/ 3.5 bath townhome with private pool, Viking kitchen, and superior construction and features throughout. The house listed and sold at $655,000 or $292 per sq ft. All this and a superior Casa Marina area location to boot. Congratulations!

920 Cornish Lane is another Key West storybook cottage success story. This lovely little home was offered at $735,000 and sold for $705,000 or $714 per sq ft. Remember this place had no pool nor parking. Quite a high price for a great little property.

204-1 Southard Street appeared in my blog as well. It is a lovely two story three bedroom end unit with 1100 sq ft of living space and an enviable on the park location in Shipyard. This house was offered at $$795,000 and sold at $742 or $674 per sq ft. Prices are on the rise in Shipyard.

La Casa Roja at 1403 Catherine Street went under contract in just one day and sold at the asking price of $750,000. This has got to be one of the sweetest homes in Key West. I heard the home inspector said he had never seen a house in such good a condition or that had such superior construction in all the time he had been a contractor or home inspector.

815 Sawyers Lane was listed just before Christmas in 2011 at $829,000.It sold for $775,000. The eyebrow house is located on a storybook lane near the Key West seaport.The house had 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a pool, and off street parking.

I showed the grand old house at 1114 Fleming Street several times over the past year. I really loved the old school character of this property. Various features of the house showed the age of the place including some extra wide old growth wood, window panes that rippled with age, and simple design elements that new homes no longer use. This place is a Key West charmer! It sold at $980,000 down from the original $1,450,000.

628 William Street appeared in my blog a several times over the past few years. It was offered at $$.039,000 and sold for $995,000. The home had 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a pool and off street parking. And it is located on one of the very best blocks in Old Town. This buyer got a great buy.

 1320 Reynolds Street appeared in my blog on March 7th, just days after being listed for $2,200,000. The asking price on this Casa Marina contemporary went under contract a couple of weeks later and closed on May 29th at $1,950,000.

If you are thinking of buying a home in Key West please consider working with me, Gary Thomas. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Contact me at 305-766-2642 or by email at Let me help you find your home in Paradise.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

718 Olivia Street - Old Town - Key West

718 Olivia Street is a must see for the buyer who seeks a great Old Town location where  he or she can restore and probably expand a great Conch house and create tropical gardens, add a pool, and off street parking on the over-sized rear lot that is a rarity in Key West.  The listing Realtor describes this property thus:
"A grande historic house built between 1899 and 1912. 5 bedrooms. 2 bathrooms. Large LR, DR and kitchen. Beautiful hardwood floors. High ceilings and 23 large windows create a steady flow of light and air. 9401 sqft lot with BIG 5525 sqft back yard. Build pool, pool house, garage, gardens. Easy walk or pedal to anywhere in Old Town."
I found the above black and white photo taken of this property in the 1960s by the Monroe County Tax Appraiser. The Monroe County Appraiser notes that this house was built in the 1920s on one website and in 1938 on another. It's old either date. But the character of this old house still shines through. A huge Royal Poinciana tree dominates the front yard today. The front porch today still has the same wrought iron posts as shown in the 1960s vintage photo as well as the jalousie windows and the concrete block front fence.

I think this house would make for a stunning renovation project. First I would replace the dated jalousie windows the approved wood windows on the first and second floors. I would open the ceiling in the second floor front bedroom to incorporate the cupola fully into that space. I would seek permission to remove the wrought iron front porch and replace with period appropriate wood.

View from front door looking toward Olivia Street

Front porch  suggestion: remove wrought iron and replace with wood

First floor front suggestion: seek permission to add center window for bay affect

Second floor bedroom suggestion: vault the cupola and ceiling for dramatic affect

Other interiors: remove and/or  update the additions from prior decades

This home has worked just fine for the present family for decades. Now it may be time to rethink some of what worked well before and to recreate spaces that work for the way we live our lives today-especially the way we live them in Key West.  That might include moving the formal and informal living areas to the rear. I'd suggest creating converting the second floor to a single master suite.

The rear half of the property is gigantic. There is room for a guest cottage, a very large pool, off street parking, and tropical gardens. That is 'gardens' as in plural. The  space is enormous.  A buyer with a green thumb will go bananas over this space.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and current mls photos of this home. You will note that the listing states this house has 1538 sq ft of living space. The property site is much larger than it looks in the photos. The front parcel where the house is located occupies only about 2600 sq ft of the entire 9401 sq ft lot. The remaining lot is located at west rear of the front parcel. That is the space where you would put in a pool and guest quarters.The listing agents advises that the seller and adjacent property owner will execute an easement to permit ingress and egress to the rear lot once a sales contract is in place.

 I'd redo the back of the house to provide view of the pool and gardens. There is abundant space to add covered outdoor living area as well.

 The photos do not do this space justice. I was overwhelmed by the size of this undeveloped lot. There are no protected trees or structures that would create impediments to doing something very creative with the space. You would only be limited by your imagination and budge. The good thing about Key West is that small plants and trees grow quickly so you can still grow a wonderful garden even on a limited budge.

CLICK MAP to help locate 718 Olivia Street. If you click the STREET VIEW you will see a mix of old cigar maker cottages, gentrified cottages, and the house next door CLICK HERE which is one of the prettiest homes on the Island of Key West. Duval Street is a four to five minute walk to the west on Olivia Street. Seven Fish Restaurant in only one block away. A small neighborhood convenience store is one block to the east. Olivia Street is a one way street that goes east. I don't recall having ever seen a Conch Train or Trolley car on this portion of Olivia. A lot of the neighbors have lived in the nearby houses for decades. This area really is a Key West neighborhood.

If you are looking for a renovation project in the Old Town Key West area this may be the house you have been searching for. The house certainly has street appeal and the yard space is just huge. Creating a viable plan for the property as a whole is the key to making a project like this work. We have lots of great local architects such as Matthew Stratton, Tom Pope, or Bert Bender that could help a buyer develop a winning concept for this one of a kind property.
Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a view of this property. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West in Key West, Florida.


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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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.