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Friday, August 30, 2013

1220 Von Phister Street - Casa Marina Area - Key West

Preferred Properties Key West just listed 1220 Von Phister Street, that's where I work but this is not my listing.  This 2064 sq ft home is a bit of an anomaly for Key West in that it is an historic home located in what is mostly post mid-century and later neighborhood. This home is one of the few such homes that were built around the turn of the last century. And it is this 'old school' construction that may just appeal to buyers who dream of owning an historic Key West home that is located within walking distance to the beaches.  Click GOOGLE MAP to view the location and use the toggle switch for a street view. 

The listing Realtor describes 1220 Von Phister Street this way:

"Well maintained two story home with exposed Dade County Pine walls located in excellent neighborhood.This is the perfect place to get away from it all. Superior master suite with private balcony, large bedrooms and spacious living area. Large hot tub and storage shed in back yard. Upgraded Kitchen with stainless appliances. Two zone A/C and generator. This is not a drive by."

The Dade County Pine walls in the family room and living room were pickled and give these living spaces a clean and relaxed feeling. The walls in adjacent formal dining room were painted a muted yellow that harmoniously blends with the living spaces. Just to shake things up, the Dade County Pine walls and ceiling in kitchen were given a the familiar clear coat.  Crisp crown moldings and baseboards trim out these rooms. 

A guest bedroom and bath complete the first floor.  An extra large guest bedroom is located at the front of the house on the second floor. This room is large enough to serve as a second master bedroom for couples that require separate bedrooms.

The master bedroom with en-suite bath and rear covered balcony occupy the balance of the second floor. The bedroom is distinguished by coffered ceiling, and  French doors open out to the porch area that overlooks the spa below.
One of the biggest problems potential buyers see in many Old Town homes is the meager size of bedrooms, bathrooms, closet space, etc. Too many Old Town homes seem cramped especially compared to the living spaces many buyers are accustomed to up north in America.  If the above photos don't convince you that 1220 Von Phister Street has abundant space, CLICK HERE to view more photos.
1220 Von Phister Street is located four blocks from Higg's Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  It's an easy five minute walk which, if you have a dog, you will likely take at least twice a day.  There you will find the White Street Pier, a dog park, the beaches, the West Martello Garden (which is home to the Key West Garden Club), Salute on the Beach, and public tennis courts and two children's playgrounds.  There is always something going on at the beach, even if it just getting a tan or posing for photos in the new object I have dubbed "the thing" that looks like it descended from space.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on 1220 Von Phister Street and then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 or send me an email at to schedule an appointment to see this new listing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

1101 Fleming Street - Old Town - Key West

Just listed, but not by me, one of the most familiar little cottages in Old Town, 1101 Fleming Street in Key West, Florida.  The listing Realtor describes this home as:
"Renovated iconic Old Town conch home in a great location at the heart of Key West's Historic District. 1101 Fleming Street has been featured in paintings, photographs and television ads. Classic yet modern, the living room has vaulted ceilings and light bamboo floors. The modern kitchen features maple cabinetry, pool-tile countertops and stainless appliances. Both bathrooms are beautifully designed with vintage fixtures. Beautiful, private outdoor area perfect for entertaining also includes a covered, decommissioned pool."
This home is located at the corner of Frances and Fleming Streets. Two bikes are anchored to the white picket fence that borders the lot like lace on your grandmother's table cloth. The front gate and nearby mailbox announce the location as Le Folie - The Madness.

The original house was built circa 1899. It has been updated several times over the years, but it is the current owner that breathed fresh air into this little home and gave new life for this new century.

Once you enter the home you are greeted by what appears to be a voluminous room with vaulted ceiling. As you look around you realize the mirror on the far wall and clever furniture placement has tricked your eyes. But what a nice surprise that is. While the spaces are compact, the house has all that one needs for a permanent residence or a getaway cottage that would be an instant "hit" as a monthly vacation rental.
The home has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. One bathroom is located off the center hallway and serves as a guest bath. I must tell you I was awed by this bath. Wow!  The room is so sophisticated in its design.
The center hall with new bamboo floors lead from the bedroom area, past the living space, through three sets of French doors that open to the private outdoor area. There is a pool located under the rear deck. The current owners did not want to use the pool so they covered with decking. The listing Realtor and I discussed the deck and both concluded the pool could likely be filled with water and made to function again without much difficulty. (That is assuming the equipment works after not having been used for five years. But even if the equipment does not work, the cost of installing new equipment would be less expensive than building a new pool.)
This home is in move-in condition.  It is as pretty as a picture and if you CLICK HERE you can see more pictures of this lovely cottage home that is offered at $679,000.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view listing photos. Interested buyers should not sit on the sidelines and watch this for very long.  I expect this home will go under contract within a couple of days. There are a limited number of small homes in move-in condition in the Old Town area. And I really don't think there is anything comparable to this home and priced as reasonably as this.

Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of this home. I am a buyers agent an a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Big Deal in Little Key West

 It was announced today that LaSalle Hotel Properties purchased the 260 room Southernmost Hotel Collection in Key West for $184,500,000. The four hotels are the Southernmost on the Beach, Southernmost Hotel in the USA, and LaMer and Dewey House.  The price equates to $700,000 per room key. I am only reporting this sale. I had nothing to do with the sale!

Michael D. Barnell, CEO and President of LaSalle Hotel Properties said "We are very excited to have acquired this unique, extremely well located asset." "The property is located on the ocean in one of the strongest U.S. markets..."

In May 2013 Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. purchased the Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa for $90,000,000 or $634,000 per room key. 
Also interesting to note is that several large guest houses have been sold in the past year including The Cypress House, Oasis Guest House, Coconut Grove Guest House, Coral Tree Guest House, Papa's Hideaway Guest House, and Big Ruby's Guest House.  There's big money keeping heads in beds in our little town.

There are a couple of guest houses still for sale in Key West. Now is the opportune time to purchase so that you will have time to get new financing in place, do your training, and get ready to see the money flying in the doors.  If you have been thinking of buying a guest house 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. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Projects of Key West - an Update

Every few months I like to update my readers and potential buyers about the construction projects underway in Key West.  We live on an island with strict limits on growth and development. The historic district has very restrictive guidelines for the improvement or redevelopment of old houses and buildings.  The city building code has limitations on height, size, elevation, and density as related to each site.  Preserving a cute little Conch Cottage can turn a simple little project into a BFD for some owners.  Yet buyers continue to buy old houses with the dream of remaking a bit of old Key West just a bit better.  Today we view the status of what has occurred since last May.

In 2010 a bank owned house at 1021 Fleming Street was listed for $321,750.  It had ten cash offers higher than asking price and sold for $400,000 after only a few days on the market. I wrote an offer for one buyer. He bid too low.  Dang it!  Over the past year the house has steadily been renovated and now appears near completion.

1117 Stump Lane in 1965
A few months ago I wrote about the house for sale at 1117 Stump Lane. I said "Budget buyers who are looking for a place they can move right into and do a little bit of fix-up over time or a buyer who wants to do a major renovation ought to take a look at this home." I then added "This is a property that will probably go under contract as soon as you can say "Jumping Jack Flash" because it is priced to sell and there are a lot of buyers who are getting desperate for a deal." It went under contract the first week it was listed. Please view the photos below which show this house mid-way through renovation.

The "little cottage that could" at 525 Grinnell Street (below) is getting a substantial renovation. The old roof was replaced by a shiny new metal roof. Many of the old piers were replaced and the exterior siding was thoroughly prepped and prepared for a quality paint job. Even though the interior had been updated within the past ten years, the new owner "un-did" the re-do and is re-doing it to perfection. Perfection costs money and the redo process is dragging out a bit. The original house shown in the 1965 photo below had a wood front porch. Some later owner added a concrete porch with those lovely 1960s vintage concrete blocks.  The present owner got permission to remove the concrete blocks and to rebuild a new wood porch. That will make the renovation as near perfect as one can get. 

The grand old Conch house across the street at 522 Grinnell Street seems to have stopped for a time.  The owner started an ambitious remodel of one of the largest old homes in Key West. This house was built to grand proportions with tall ceilings, a fireplace, formal dining room, and bay windows on either side of the main floor. The owner added a new rear two story porch which may eventually overlook a pool. The backyard has room for a pool, but so far there is no evidence a pool is intended.
 522 Grinnell Street had been gutted on the inside. The very tall ceilings, ancient crown moldings, and simple but elegant architectural detail remained in tact on the inside. A decrepit old addition at the rear was removed and an out building and garage were torn down. The remaining rear lot left room for a new first and second story porch at the rear. There is plenty of room for a pool.
May 2013
August 2013 - paint is starting to peel
One of the most beautiful houses in town is getting a pretty little sister.  Locals watched the renovation of 730 Southard Street that seemed to take "for-ever".  The renovation was completed just before Christmas in 2012.  As large as 730 Southard Street appears from the street, it does not have enough bedrooms for guests. The owners purchased the adjacent cottage at 608 William Street and began the remodeling of that space into something much larger than one might have imagined possible. I showed 608 William Street several times years ago and even wrote about it in my blog.  It had benefited from a "light fluff".  It was painted and had little do-dads added that made it look as cute as a button. However, the small rooms and old electric and plumbing ached for a major rehab.  And that is what is occurring.
December 2012
December 2012
608 William Street - 1965

608 William Street - 1970s
608 William Street - 2008
Click on any photo to enlarge.  If you do you will notice the re-building of this home in place from the piers to the wood super structure. Note the removal of the rear covered and screened outdoor living area.  A new addition has been introduced toward the rear of the driveway.  

 A brand new house was built from the ground up at 710 Windsor Lane.  The home that previously occupied this space was not old enough or architecturally interesting to be classified as a contributing structure.  Permission was granted to tear down the old place and to construct a new two story home on Solares Hill.  The lot was extra large and that gave the owner the opportunity to build an extra large home.

The house shown above was built in 1954. It was demolished and the foundation for a new residence was poured on the quite large lot (5674 sq ft) located near the top of Solares Hill.

Construction complete and new owner is now in residence. If only all other construction could be so easy....

Speaking of which another old house at 625 Margaret Street is being reborn from the ground up. All of the old house was torn down with the exception of the historic roof and two framed windows at the front. The rest of the house and all of the exterior lot was carted away to make room for the new houses.  The giant tree in front remains.  It forms the focal point for the development that is ongoing.

The old building was razed but the roof  and fireplace were maintained. I started taking photos the week the new framing was added to support the roof. I go back by this property every few weeks to take progress photos. I was amazed to see how large a house is being built on this quite large lot.

If you are thinking of buying a fixer or a place that is move-in ready, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. 


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.