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Saturday, June 30, 2012

707 Southard Street - Key West Cottage - Back on the Market

707 Southard Street - Key West, Florida

This special little home at 707 Southard Street is located in the heart of Old Town Key West and is back on the market. (It's been on and off a couple of times since it was listed this spring.) You can't beat the location for convenience. Most of the neighboring homes are equally charming and certainly much pricier. The asking price will fit the budget of many buyers who want a simple getaway place: asking $565,000.

The house next door to the east
The listing Realtor describes this special property this way:
"The Quintessential Conch Cottage on one of the best blocks in the center of Old Town. Utterly charming. Relax on your front porch and watch the world go by. Just a block to Sarabeths and two blocks to Duval. Separate outdoor building houses the original kitchen. The interior was just updated with refinished bath with stone floors, new fixtures, completely repainted interior, refinished wood floors. Outdoor shower and laundry."
The funny thing is I walked by this house on Monday and thought to myself I wish a place like this or its neighbor on either side were for sale. All three look absolutely perfect. Serendipity, perhaps?

The roof is composed of two sawtooth gables plus a rear shed addition. The home is painted a bright white. The blue shutters contrast the white so perfectly that the resultant appearance is crisp and clean. The front porch provides an excellent perch for viewing the continual people parade. I can imagine sitting there sipping an iced tea greeting passersby as they say things like "I love your home!" or other such words of praise and envy.

The house itself is small, just 606 sq ft. The living area is quite spacious and tastefully designed. Six over six window provide light on the south and east walls. The master bedroom is located front west and when the bedroom door is open the filtered light from that room adds additional light to the living area. So what one might assume to be a small space actually appears quite large. There is a smaller second bedroom at the rear. Both bedrooms have private baths. The dining area is nestled between the main house and the historic cook house at the rear which is housed in a smaller building. The cool pool is located to the west of the cook house. What a delightful place to spend the spring, or summer, or fall, or winter, or the rest of your life. 707 Southard Street may be everything you need in a picture perfect setting and located near where ever you want to go. CLICK HERE to view photos I took of this charming cottage home.

Dade County Pine walls and ceiling plus six over six windows equal Key West Classic

Sophisticated but not stuffy

Master bedroom (above) master en suite bath (below)

The second bedroom (below) has private bath and a view of the darling pool

Dining is nestled between the main house and cook house

The cook house is located in a separate building at the rear
The pool
Sarabeth's is just a block away to the west. The Cafe Marquesa is a five minute walk. The Monroe County Library is around the corner: perhaps a three minute walk. Ten minutes if you stop to speak to neighbors. Five Brothers is located a couple of blocks east. You can be almost any place in Old Town within a five to fifteen minute walk. And that's why living here is so great. Your needs are less and they are fulfilled without a lot of to-do.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to view the listing Realtors photos. Better yet, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a visit to see this place. Don't wait. This cottage home is one of the lower priced ready to move in homes in Old Town offered at the price point where many buyers are prepared to buy. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Coastal Realty, Inc.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

904 Frances Street - Old Town - Key West

 904 Frances Street - Old Town - Key West - June 2012
I recently got  a chance to view the charming bungalow located at 904 Frances Street in the Old Town area of Key West. I had not been inside this recently remodeled house. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I had missed. This not so little four bedroom home is worthy of further consideration.  The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"Delightful renovation of a cigar makers cottage on one of the best streets in the heart of Old Town Key West. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms in the main house and a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom pool cabana make for a wonderful retreat or permanent residence. Gorgeous designer kitchen and baths, Dade county pine walls and floors, high ceilings, and a pool with waterfall are just a few of the features that make this home so special. Offered furnished."904 Frances Street as it appeared in 1965 - plants for sale and all!
The current owner purchased the property from the original owner. I dug into the old shoebox and found a taken back in 1965 (above). The Monroe County Property Appraiser records show that this house was built circa 1933, but we know those records were createded by workers from the WPA during the Great Depression. The old courthouse burned to the ground, and the WPA workers helped create new "records" and used 1933 as the construction date for many homes where other records were not available. We also know that not much of anything was actually built in Key West in 1933, or the rest of the country for that fact. The straight clean lines and the generous verandah at the front of the house suggest more of an arts and crafts style of home built just after the turn of the Twentieth Century.

 Front Bedroom
Master Bedroom with Pool View
 Posh! Master Bath
The inside of the house is fairly utilitarian. I mean that in a most polite way. The front door opens  into the living room on the right. Minimal dividers sit on either side wall which serve to separate the living room from the dining area. The kitchen is located at the rear. The home has three bedrooms. The front bedroom has a view of the front verandah. It shares the Jack and Jill bathroom with the second or middle bedroom. The Jack and Jill bath has all of the finer amenities including travertine marble in the custom shower. The oversized master bedroom is located at the back. French doors open out from that bedroom onto the rear deck. Inside, the master bath is like one you would find in an upscale English hotel.

 Renovated but non-public side of 900 Frances (located next door) to north
The back deck is huge and will provide lots of space for sun worshipers who won't need to move a lounge chair to catch a golden Key West tan. The pool, isn't large compared to the rest of the property.  To my surprise there is a guest cottage at the very rear complete with a fourth bedroom and a full bath. The bath has a door that also opens from the pool and ought to prevent lots of wet feet running through the main house. CLICK HERE to view a photo album of pics I took of 904 Frances Street and it's neighbors to the north and south.

Before some locals chime in and start to pooh-pooh the location, let me share a couple of my thoughts. 904 Frances Street is located next door to an historic and nearly iconic piece of Key West - the former home of the Busy Bee Bakery. I wrote about that location a couple of years ago as it was the subject of a Ronny Bailey art construction.

904 Frances Street as depicted by Ronny Bailey

 900 Frances Street - June 2012

CLICK HERE to read and see what I wrote then. Most of what I wrote was about Ronny Bailey, but if you love Key West as much as most of us who live here, you might just appreciate the proximity of location to such a great old landmark. Bare Assets is located at the far end of Frances Street at Truman Avenue. The place is always well maintained and clean. I guess it's the nearly naked ladies on the inside that gives the goody-two shoes part of the population concern. Those naked ladies don't bother me, and I don't bother them. St. Mary's Basilica is a couple of blocks further west where tourists and locals can confess their sins after going to Bare Assets. 

CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to see listing photos. This 1243 sq ft home sits on a deceptively large lot (36' x 93' or 3348 sq ft). There is even double off street parking. The home has beautiful Dade County Pine walls, ceiling, and floors, crown molding and nice crisp trim everywhere. The windows are new and everything appears to look and work just fine. The home has been successfully rented as a vacation rental. 904 Frances Street is offered at $895,000. If you would like to see this home please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My First Car

1958 Plymouth Belvedere that looks identical to my first car

Regrets, I've had a few.  I have learned you do not get many 'do overs' and that the choices you make can be the harbingers of your future. Take for instance my first car - a green 1958 Plymouth Belvedere.  It wasn't my first choice to be my first car.  It was what I could afford.

But before I bought the Plymouth, my dad and I went to the used car lot at Luby Chevrolet in downtown Denver in the winter of 1964. The dealership actually was located on some very valuable ground, except back then a lot of old buildings and parking lots occupied spaces that today are worth millions and millions of dollars. As I was writing this I remembered part of a little tune that Luby Chevrolet ran on TV and the radio "...Lawrence to Larimer on 15th Street".

1957 Pontiac like the one I dreamed of owning

It was a cold over-cast day in 15th Street in downtown Denver.  But I got all fired up when I spied the car of my dream.  It was a bright red 1957 Pontiac. The red shined bright and the chrome gleamed against the gray day sky. Any red blooded teenage boy would be proud to own such a beauty. I don't remember the price. I had to buy my own car and pay for my own insurance. I had saved my money but the red Pontiac was more than I could afford. 

My dad worked with the guy who owned the 1958 Plymouth. He told my dad the car ran fine and there was nothing wrong with it.  Why would anybody lie to someone potential buyer about a car? And who would suspect a co-worker of trying to pull a fast one on somebody he worked with-somebody he would see everyday? And who try to stick it to a seventeen year old kid who had worked and saved the $350 necessary to buy the car? Who, indeed.

So I bought the car and washed and waxed it as soon as I got it home. I bought my insurance and took the car to school to take my friends out for a ride. I lived in Lakewood, Colorado which is a western suburb of Denver. After school I took two or three friends on a ride to Golden where they brew Coors beer. Then I headed north along a state highway that ends up in Boulder, maybe forty miles away from my school parking lot. Some after school trek. So what if I didn't get  the Pontiac, the Plymouth was mine and I paid for it.

Everything was fine until one Saturday afternoon. I was in the left turn lane at the intersection at 44th and Wadsworth when my car died. The engine would not turn over. I am in traffic on a hot spring afternoon at a very busy intersection. Cars are backed up, and I can't do anything.  Then my brother's wife drives past me in the right lane and waves at me, smiling.  She pulls in front of me and turns the corner and incredibly drives away. I was sold down the river. I was past frantic. I got out of my car and ran across the street to the Conoco gas station. I explained my plight and the guy agreed to go over and tow my car to his gas station. I called my dad who showed up a few minutes later.

In 1964 many gas stations actually did automotive repairs. The Conoco guy said he'd need time to figure out what was wrong and give us a price. It took him a few days to determine the transmission needed rebuilt. That repair would cost a couple of hundred dollars.  Back then I had a part time job where I earned one buck an hour. And I earned it. I worked on a furniture delivery truck. I didn't need to go to gym: I made muscles the old fashioned way, I lifted heavy furniutre.   A lot of the kids in my high school were from very rich families. I was born into the wrong family! I didn't get what my classmates got. I was thrifty and saved my money. I bought what I could afford on my terms.

My Plymouth Belvedere worked fine after I got it back, that is until a friend of mine and I decided to drive up to Estes Park. It was late spring, maybe the end of April or early May. We drove up to Estes Park to apply summer jobs at some resort. The manager was nice enough, but he wasn't interested in either of us. We got back in my car to head back to Denver. I turned on the ignition after which the car lit up on fire. Smoke was pouring out from under the hood. One of us ran inside and got a fire extinguisher. The guy who didn't hire us came running out and helped put the fire out. Surprisingly, the stupid car started up and I was able to drive it back home. But on Monday morning it was dead forever. I put an ad in the paper and eventually sold it for $75 or something like that.

I sometimes wondered how my life might have taken a different course had I bought the red Pontiac. Would my life played out like some John Hughes movie? Would I have dated some cute girl and maybe got into trouble and become a teenage dad like one of my classmates?  Would my sense of self-esteem made me too big for my britches? Maybe I on that first ride to Boulder I would have driven way too fast and run off the road and killed myself and the guys in my car.

If I think long enough I could come up with a lot of "what if" scenarios.  The point isn't "what if" because I didn't buy the car of my dreams. I ended up with something less than perfect and accepted it thinking it would do.  In the long run I ended up spending just as much money or more and certainly ended up with a lot less.  Being frugal did not work out for me, at least in that case.

I get emails from would-be buyers who want to buy a place in Key West. Some buyers set a budget and will only look at properties within or under their budget. Some buyers who want more but who are not willing to the price of a house that meets their needs or expectations are often willing to buy a fixer and are willing to do some work in order to save money.  Like me so many years ago, some think they can get almost all they want but not pay for it.  I learned a very valuable lesson on how much cheap can cost in the long run. Not all cheap deals turn into nightmares. But enough do.

If you are looking to buy a place in Key West, CLICK HERE to search the Key West Association of Realtors mls database. If you see something you like, please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or by email at I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Friday, June 22, 2012

709A Windsor Lane - Short Sale Back on the Market - Key West

709 A Windsor Lane - Old Town - Key West

709 A Windsor Lane in Old Town Key West became an active short sale yesterday.  This 487 square foot one bedroom one bath cottage style abode is a legal condominium (one of three in the small association) located adjacent to the Key West Writer's Compound which I have previously written about. It is not a part of the Writer's Compound, but it does share the wonderful location near the top of Solares Hill.

The listing Realtor describes the property this way:
"Charming Conch Style Condo in Old Town Key West. One bedroom one bath with loft completely renovated with the finest finishes. Stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops and beautiful kitchen cabinetry. This is a must see! This is a potential short sale transaction subject to lender approval. Buyer to pay a $2750 negotiation fee to Seller's negotiator."

This unit shares a common wall with Unit B which was a bank owned property that sold a couple of years ago. A third condo, Unit C, is located at the rear of the parcel. The condos share a common plot of ground with side access on the west boundary for access for Units B and C. Monthly condo fees are $257.17 per month and include building maintenance and insurance, and common area maintenance. The small condo association may make it difficult to obtain traditional bank financing on a property like this. Otherwise, I think this is a bargain property. Read on.

I took the attached photos CLICK HERE for a lender last summer. I observed that the unit appeared to have been updated in a good and workmanlike manner. The interior space was well arranged and utilitarian. The living room and kitchen share a common space which is normal in most modern Key West properties. The bedroom is off to the right and it is quite spacious. There are windows on two walls so this space is very comfortable as opposed to some bedrooms which appear claustrophobic. The bath is at the rear and it is extra large. A ship's ladder provides access to the loft located over the bedroom area. This is a neat place to send guests you don't want to stay too long or it would make an excellent place to store things you do not use everyday.  CLICK HERE to view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to view listing photos.

709A Windsor Lane is a short sale priced at $345,000. If you would like to see this property, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to arrange a showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties KeyWest. This is a comfortable small home in a great Old Town location.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1301 Petronia Street - The Meadows Area - Key West

Just listed by Preferred Properties (that's where I work but this is not my listing) 1301 Petronia Street in the Meadows Area of Key West. The bungalow style home was built in the 1920s. It has been updated several times over the years but still retains the charm of the homes built during that era. The home has two bedrooms, two baths, plus a loft space on the "second level" which offers additional sleeping area. It has a lovely 30' x 13' swimming pool and potential off street parking as well. This property is offered as a Short Sale at the asking price of $548,100CLICK HERE to view some photos I took of the property.

The listing Realtor describes 1301 Petronia Street as:
"Adorable cottage on a corner lot in the Meadows with a deep front porch which flows to the long side-yard heated and decked pool. There are two bedrooms with en-suite baths plus a large stand-up finished loft (not included in square footage)."
  30' x 13' pool is surrounded by a big deck. The front porch is equally inviting.

 Dining room is currently used by the tenant as an office

Compact but cute kitchen
Master bedroom is large and has access to outdoor shower

But the master bath has an insider shower as well...
 Second bedroom plus en-suite bath

Listing agent says there is room for off street parking if fence removed

 view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet on this property.  Better than that, call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this really cute Key West cottage that offers a lot of living space, a wonderful pool, and a quiet neighborhood. I am a Buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties 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.