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Saturday, January 11, 2014

2013 That Was the Year that Was in Key West Real Estate Sales

I just realized that my Key West Properties Blog turned eight years old on December 30th.  I have written 1966 blogs about Key West real estate during those eight years. My how time flies.  I remember the first person who called me off the blog. He bought a house from me sight unseen and paid cash for it.  It's a sweet little house in the Casa Marina Area with a pool, off street parking, and it is a doozy of a house.  Then people started calling me to show them houses. Two years later another fellow called me from London about a house he read about in my blog.  We discussed the property. I did some additional leg work for him. He made a cash offer to buy a major house on Fleming Street. His offer was accepted. He and his wife flew over for the inspection. We closed about ten days later. Not all deals are cash and few go as smoothly as those two. Readers of my blog tell me they like my stories as well as the photos and my comments about properties. This blog has worked out well for both me and my readers.

I started this blog a year after Hurricane Wilma did so much damage to the Key West.  Our lovely little island got pummeled by three other hurricanes in 2005. But it was Wilma, the forth hurricane that year, that done us wrong.  Buyers still worry about future flooding because of the damage Wilma did.

The years 2006, 2007, and 2008 were the start of the downward spiral of the national economy.  Buyers still wanted to buy houses here but they became more and more cautious with what they purchased and how much they were willing to pay. Lenders became more cautious to whom they loaned new money.  After 2008 new rules and new scrutiny made the closing of new mortgages a challenge for buyers, Realtors, attorneys and closing agents.

As more and more short sales and foreclosures hit the Key West real estate market, more and more buyers became suspicious of why we had so many houses for sale. I remember a couple of worry warts that commented on my blog about the great abyss of buying in Key West. They saw doom and gloom at every bougainvillea covered door.

Then the BP Oil Spill happened. Except the oil spill never hit our island. That did not stop cable news networks from coming here to tell a good story.  Those stories did scare many buyers.  The effect was really harmful to our local economy.  As the national economy started to get better, so did our local economy.  The old inventory or homes started to get sold off. Short sales continued but not as many as before. Bank owned properties continued to hit the market,not because of new defaults but because old lawsuits to foreclose old loans finally had judgments entered.  The inventor of unsold homes shrank more and more.

By 2013 the supply of houses for sale diminished to such an extent that prices started to rise.  As 2013 came to a close, it became quite evident that buyers had ants in their pants and were anxious to buy before prices continued to rise.  The days of too many houses, low prices, and low mortgage rates had passed.

I did a quick search of single family home sales in the Key West area for 2013.  There were a total of 333 single family homes sold. I then excluded all sales east of Shark Key (a total of 67 sales) as I feel those houses are not located in areas my buyers would consider for a new full time residence or as a second home.    

There were 242 sales of single family homes that sold between $150,000 to $999,000 at an average price of $566,404 or $385 per square foot. I am not a fan of price per sq ft comparisons because these comparisons may give some readers the assumption that all houses are similar. Nothing could be further from the truth in Key West.  I am going to list some particular houses that sold this year. You will see a great disparity among houses I consider to be the best deals that occurred in 2013. There were 24 single family homes that were listed over $1,000,000 that sold in 2013 at an average sales price of $1,454,478 or $641 per sq ft.  Let's see what you think of my picks for the best deals in Key West real estate sales for 2013.

527 Bahama Drive is a short sale that took eight years to actually get done. Cheers to Mila de Mier for having the tenacity to take this property all the way to closing. This property was on the market 2563 days and sold for $225,000. It is a single family home one-half block east of Duval Street.

1209 Margaret Street is a single family home that sold for $259,000 or $304 per sq ft. I selected this not because it was cute or its good location but rather because it was okay in both respects. The house needs some work but it was livable as it sat.  It is located next door to El Siboney Restaurant in Old Town. If you spent $259,000 in some town in Ohio you could probably get a pretty nice house. In Key West, you'd be lucky in 2014 to be able to find a place like this. This house has potential. 
901 Pearl Street appeared in my blog twice. It was a bank owned property located on a large lot in the Meadows Area.  Because the building is CBS (concrete block construction), it could be torn down and a new building built. The house had been occupied for decades. Most recently it was a long term rental.  The house needed work but it did not need work to be done immediately. I think the ground by itself was worth more than the house because a new owner could tear down the house and construct a new one. You cannot do that in most of Old Town.
813 Eaton Street rear was a short sale with some "strings attached". A buyer got the house and a nice little parcel of land for $366,000 or $450 per sq ft. The new owners have begun renovation. 
629 Elizabeth Street is one of the most noticed houses in town. It sits at the corner of Elizabeth Street at Windsor Lane.  I think half the town is waiting to see what the new owner does with this old house. The house sold for $380,000.
221 Golf Club Drive was sold by my friend Michael Spirnak. I wrote about this beautiful Key West Golf Club home at least three times. I showed the home multiple times.  It was in great condition, had superior interior features and finishes, and it was sold fully furnished.  The lucky buyer got a heck of a deal for only $520,000 or $325 per sq ft. Some golf course homes continue to be superior values on a per sq ft price compared to most of what is for sale throughout Key West. Not every person needs to live within a five minute walk to Duval Street because life for most of us does not revolve around hanging out in bars with drunk tourists and drag queens.
909 Pohalski Lane was a newly constructed property designed by Tom Pope and built by Key King Enterprises after the original structure was destroyed by fire. HARC required the owner to save three front walls which were incorporated into an all new structure that received an award from the Old Island Restoration Foundation.  Pohalski Lane had a small off street parking spot as well. It sold for $550,000 or $433 per sq ft.

707 Southard Street appeared in my blog a couple of times. It is the poster child for Key West charm. The cottage is small (only 606 sq ft)  but it had two bedrooms, two baths, a private small pool, and oodles of street appeal on the outside and Key West chic interiors. This property sold at $575,000 or $948 per sq ft.
1115 Packer Street was a totally renovated 2/2 with cost saving features such as impact windows, Hardiboard siding and designer elements throughout the property. The 683 sq ft home sold for $603,800 or $628 per sq ft. An agent in my office listed this property years earlier when it was a tragic mess with multiple tenants. I showed it once and refused to show it again. When I saw how wonderful the renovation was, I titled the blog I wrote "Sheer Genius". 
719 Windsor Lane (Rear) is located in the Key West Writer's Compound. The owners shares a beautiful garden and pool with eight other equally attractive cottage homes. This property was a lovingly maintained 2/2 home with private outdoor space that sold at $493 per sq ft. This is one of the best locations in Old Town. You could not find a stand alone single family home as nice as this at the sold price of $625,000 in Key West.
1101 Fleming Street had a flurry of buyers who recognized the value of the location and charm of this super cute 2/2. This 772 sq ft home had multiple offers and sold for $650,000 or $842 per sq ft. The lesson to be learned when a place like this gets listed is to not sit on your thumbs hoping the price is too high or that nobody else will notice it. The whole world follows the Key West mls on the internet. You are not the Lone Ranger. You are not the only person with a wad of cash who wants to buy the perfect little house in Key West.  
912 Truman Avenue appeared in my blog a couple of times. I showed it many times to buyers looking for an historic property or a real value. It was both.  This 3494 sq ft home sold for $795,000 or just $228 per sq ft.
1428 White Street appeared in my blog in December. The list price was $850,000 for this gorgeous 2/3 in Casa Marina. The architecture and interiors were superior to other properties priced the same. I saw this property as an incredible buying opportunity for someone who wanted a quality home at an affordable price (by Key West standards). It went under contract within a couple of days after it was listed and closed (sold) 12 days after it was listed at $805,000 or $479 per sq ft. This was one of the very best deals in Key West in 2013. 
1309 Villa Mill Alley is a bank owned property with lots of space for family and friends. The original cottage was expanded  into a grand compound by a former resident. This 3529 sq ft compound sold for $1,300,000 or $384 per sq ft.
1125 Von Phister Street in the Casa Marina area of Key West sold at $1,375,000 or $683 per sq ft within days of being listed. The house is one of the prettiest homes in all of Key West where all of the rooms open out to gardens, private decks, or the glorious pool where the word "Dream" is carved into the stone bench. 
916 Fleming Street is located on one of the very best blocks in Old Town. We all know the real estate maxim "Location, Location, Location". This home has the location and visual appeal buyers hope to purchase. This thoroughly rebuilt 2670 sq ft home with top-of-the-line interiors and finishes sold for $1,475,000 or $552 per sq ft.
728 Love Lane has been one of my favorite houses since the first time I showed it after it was listed for sale a couple of years ago. Who wouldn't want to own a perfect house in a perfect location on a Lane called Love? The partners who renovated this home told me that each home they did in Key West was better than the last. Love Lane was the culmination of the many successful projects in our little town.  This 2100 sq ft 3/3 1/2 home was designed to the nines! It sold for $1,500,000 or $714 per sq ft.
1311 Truman Avenue is an historic Key West home of grand proportions including stately interior living spaces, a glorious wrap-around porch, a large pool, covered off street parking, plus a guest cottage with living room, kitchen, and three bedrooms each with private baths. The buildings totaled 4049 sq ft of living space on a huge 14,490 sq ft double lot.  This property sold for $1,650,000 or $408 per sq ft.
8 Nassau Lane is a newly built home in 2006 that used modern building features such as Hardiboard siding and impact window but that evoked classic Key West architecture on the outside and sleek contemporary styling on the inside.  The home sold for $1,800,000 or $844 per sq ft.

The supply of houses for sale listed for sale in Key West is down from prior years. The line of interested buyers is long and getting edgy.  If you took the time to read through this blog you will see that people have made choices as to how buy their place in Key West no matter how humble or grand.  I would never suggest that a buyer "settle" for less than he or she may want, nor to spend more money than one could afford. I do know that over the period of a few years the dollars some people fret over spending disappear as the value of all prices here continues to rise.

If you are hoping to purchase a home in Key West please consider working with 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. Let me help you fulfill your dream of owning a home in Paradise.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a bunch for the year that was blog entry Gary! After reading the blog today it got me looking back at the projects of Key West. I have no idea why. Came across 924 Flagler. Any idea how soon this beauty will be done and ready to list? Think I remember you saying it was going to be up for sale when it was done. However, I could be wrong. Thanks again!!

Gary Thomas said...

Dear Anon, I don't think I ever wrote that 924 Flagler would be listed for sale because that is not the case. The owner has been doing substantial improvements to the house which included replacement of all historic windows with custom made wind impact windows. The roof on the main house and garage were replaced as well. The interiors have been updated, the stairs and wood work refinished or replaced, the Cuban tiled floors refinished, and the baths updated.

The owner has not put in a pool yet. Nor has the yard been made private. The house looks today what it looked like decades ago. I old that house like Jack Flash several years ago when few people were buying houses. It was gone before people who sit on the fence picking their teeth could figure out if it was a good deal or how they could squeeze the seller and get a better deal. The buyer was decisive. He got a great house at a great price.

Again, it is not for sale.


Anonymous said...

My mistake. Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...


I found your blog about 2-1/2 years ago and have enjoyed reading it.

Your blog is much more in depth than the MLS description. I have found it very helpful in narrowing down possible houses in Key West.

Your fan in NY

Anonymous said...

Not gonna be a very long "year that was 2014" at the rate listings are going these days. If something good pops up jump on it. Things aren't hanging around for very long!

Anonymous said...

AND things aren't coming around very often also. So I agree, jump quick.


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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.