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Monday, September 29, 2014

615 Southard St. - Old Town - Key West

The very first time I came to Key West I decided I would move here someday. I actually thought of looking at properties on that first trip, but I decided that would be too impetuous. So I booked another trip and came back six months later to start to look at properties. I talk to potential buyers and get emails from others who tell me similar stories of coming to Key West, falling in love with this simple little town, and dreaming of moving here some day. Many of these people hope to find a house or condo that they occasionally can rent to help pay the acquisition cost of the property. The recently listed home at 615 Southard Street has a successful history as a vacation rental. If you are a buyer that has been dreaming about buying a place here, perhaps this home may be the answer to your little dream. 
The listing Realtor describes 615 Southard Street this way:
"Come and see this perfect Key West Conch House today! With two bedrooms, two baths and a private swimming pool in this location, 615 Southard Street will certainly sell quickly. A few years back the property underwent a thorough and quality renovation. The current owners purchased the property in 2001. Features include custom woodcarvings, restored hardwood floors, high ceilings, updated baths and kitchen, central air and heat pump for pool. Property is being sold turnkey (fully furnished) with lovely tropical furniture and accessories. The location is in the heart of Old Town, and only 1.5 blocks to Duval Street and a leisurely stroll to the Historic Seaport. This updated Key West Old Town classic will sell quickly. Don't miss the boat."

615 Southard Street Key West - 1965
615 Southard Street Key West - 2014
I looked in the historic Sanborn Fire Maps and learned that 615 Southard Street first appeared in the 1892 edition. The house was renovated in 2000 for which it received a ceramic star for excellence in renovation. It has been occasionally rented as a vacation rental since then. A new addition was placed at the back of the original house where the kitchen and dining area is now located. A pool was added was well.
The formal living area is located at the front of the house. This former cigar makers cottage is rich with Dade County Pine walls throughout the property. Notice the extra tall ceilings and large baseboards that give the rooms a sense of strength and permanence.  Each room is painted a bit differently, but all rooms blend harmoniously. Since this home is offered furnished, it's nice to note that the house just feels "like home". 
The broad hallway on the left leads to the two bedrooms. The first bedroom has an en-suite bath. The second bedroom has an entry door into a second bath which also has a door that enters from the hallway. This second bath is used as a guest bath as well.

The kitchen, dining area, and family room are located at the rear of the house. This open space bounds with energy. The place is just so inviting. You immediately want to sit down and have coffee or a cocktail. Once you near the kitchen the back addition opens into view. You see the pool, of course, but more importantly you see all sorts of visual stimuli that immediately lets you know this is a home.  Yes there is whimsy everywhere. There's a comfy sofa and chair, art, and bric-a-brac galore. The house looks both lived in but not out-lived its presence. Who wouldn't love to spend a month here?
The rear doors open out to the kidney shaped pool and rear garden where there is abundant space to get a famous Key West tan (on a sunny day).  I took more photos on a semi-cloudy day which you can see if you CLICK HERE.
If you have been dreaming about buying a perfect place in Key West, a place that you might perhaps rent as a monthly vacation rental to help offset the cost of home ownership, you really ought to consider 615 Southard Street.  It has a successful rental history.  All furnishings and personalty convey with closing as do the advance rental reservations. The asking price is $998,000. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a private showing of this special Key West home.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. This home may be the home of your dreams.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

216 Eneas Lane - Old Town - Key West - Just Listed!

Just Listed, but not by me, 216 Eneas Lane in Old Town Key West.  If you are unfamiliar with the location, you probably have driven near it many times on your trips to Key West and just never knew that there were houses down the little lane that is only 25 feet wide. The lane is located midway between Duval Street to the east and Whitehead Street to the west. The lane runs about 200 feet  to the north of Truman Avenue. CLICK GOOGLE MAP for aerial and street views. I dug down into my old shoebox and found a photo of this property taken half a century ago. Not much has changed other than the front door has been replaced. You can no longer see the historic Key West lighthouse because the sappadillo tree in the backyard has grown to gigantic height.
I think the inside of this home probably has not changed much in the last fifty years as well. The interior walls have wood panel siding that was commonly used in many suburban homes in the 50s and 60s.  The original louver windows are still in place as well. Property records show the metal roof was replaced in 2010. The front porch with broken Cuban tile floor and wrought iron columns remain in place as well.  The 1064 sq ft house is laid out in a big rectangle divided between public rooms on the left and three bedrooms and two baths on the right. A small hallway provides access to the bedrooms which are sized small which is typical for the age. CLICK HERE to view more photos of the house and grounds.
The house seems very stable. The house is located in the X zone for flood insurance purposes. We have been having a lot of rain during the past couple of weeks. The ground here was quite dry.  I did not detect any odor that suggested dampness of any sort. That reinforces my opinion on the stability of the floor system.  The north side yard is quite wide and runs length of the house. There is plenty of room to expand this house on the side or the rear of the house and there is no need to go up unless a new owner would want to do so.
The 4117 sq ft lot runs 40' wide and 98.83' deep. The house abuts the south property line and has about a ten foot separation from the north property line. The back yard extends perhaps forty feet from the back side of the house. A giant old sapodilla tree dominates the backyard space. There is plenty of room for an addition to the house and the introduction of a large swimming pool to this lot. A new owner would have to obtain permission from the tree commission to remove the tree. I am not tree expert but it looks to me like the tree is diseased. The trunk is split near ground level. Two trunks raise way up to the sky. An arborist would be the right person to discuss the possibility or probability of obtaining permission to eliminate this tree.
I searched the historic Sanborn Fire Maps to see if I could determine when this property was built. I am pretty confident I found this property in the 1889 map when it was identified as 29 Elk Alley. If you have ever driven through Big Pine Key or had dinner at Little Palm Island, you probably have seen Key deer. They are cute almost miniature deer. When I read Elk Alley I wondered if we had an elk population back in the old days.  29 Elk Alley became B Elk Alley in the 1892 map. I noticed a large nearby building at 405-409 Division Street that was identified as the Seidman Lachman Co. Cigar Factory. It disappeared on the 1899 map. Four identical houses appeared in its place on the 1912 map which are today photographed by people from all over the world. The 1899 map changed the street name from Elk Alley to Magneto Court. None of the historic fire maps showed the name as Eneas, but that is the name to identify this lane today.
Four painted ladies now occupy the site of the old Seidman Lachman Cigar Co. factory.
216 Eneas Lane has a lot of very positive attributes including the relatively low asking price - just $399,000. I  think this would make a great vacation rental property once it is renovated and a pool added. There is more than enough land to add to the house at ground level without having to add a second story. This could give the new owner three large bedrooms, a new living area and kitchen plus large pool. There is space for off street parking. And you can't beat the location, just about two minutes maximum walking time to Duval Street.

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this property. Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to take a look at 216 Eneas Lane in Old Town Key West. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

712 Love Lane - Key West - Short Sale

If you have been waiting to find that perfect place that you can tinker with just a bit to make it fit your personal needs, I offer for your consideration one of the prettiest properties in Old Town Key West - 712 Love Lane.  This property is back on the market.  It is now offered as a Short Sale at the asking price of $995,000.

The listing broker describes this hidden gem this way:
"One of the island's best kept secrets. This 4/3 triple saw tooth shotgun proved inspirational to many. Harry Roberts was the model for Harry Morgan in Hemingway's To Have & Have Not''. Many other writers have been inspired by this gem, secluded behind the library palm garden. The main home & separate guest cottage with bath open to the private deck & 9' deep heated lap pool with outdoor shower. Cypress shutters & cypress cabinets with travertine tops in the kitchen & dining area. Off Fleming Street at the end of Love Ln. with off-street parking. Home is now unfurnished. Short Sale, buyer responsible for $8,750 negotiator fee. This is NOT an approved price by the banks."
 A vistor to Key West snapped the above photo of 712 Love Lane during an open house and posted it on her Instragram page along with this comment: "Touring a secluded gem on Love Lane that has provided inspiration to many distinguished authors..." with a series of hash tags.  It's wonderful how people that see places like this just fall in love with Key West and the little houses we call home.
If you are a hopeless romantic you may fall in love with today's home when you read the address. But if you're a pragmatist you may actually need to walk to the end of the lane, open the gate, and enter garden before you fall in love with this home. And after that all hope is lost for you will be surely, truly, madly, deeply in love with 712 Love Lane.
 In her book Key West Houses author Leslie Lindsey described 712 Love Lane as "an enchanting environment with a brick-and-stone patio and overhead trellis laden with cascading bougainvillea."

Let me first tell you why it is so "secret" - it's because there are three separate "Love Lanes" each located near the other but far enough apart to totally confuse just above anyone. If you walk on the north side of Southard Street you will find a Love Lane sign located midway between William and Elizabeth Streets. If you walk down the lane you will find that the lane abruptly ends where a house sits and the lane ends. On the south side of Southard Street there is a small walking lane that leads back to a couple of smallish houses - this is also Love Lane. And if you are walking on the south side of Fleming Street just east of the Monroe County Library you will find the third segment of Love Lane that is a one-way lane that runs the length of the library plus an additional thirty feet or so where it abruptly ends at a gate that leads to three homes.  In his book The Streets of Key West author J. Willis Burke explains the confusion about Love Lane:
"Love can generate some confusion - and Love Lane is no exception. Some maps show to Loves, one coming off Fleming and another off Southard, but not meeting mid-block. Other maps indicate Gwynn Street, named for a former mayor and cigar tycoon E. O. Gwynn, is the lane that runs off Southard. And yet another source cites Johnny Cake Lane as making up the northern half of Love Lane. At one time perhaps it did... As confirmed by the loving couple who lives on the Fleming Street side of the lane, both are now called Love Lane. It seems they don't meet because the bungalow that bisects the lane was built on the sly, and over the decades, has been grandfathered and let stand."
Love Lane adjacent to the Monroe County Library Garden
712 Love Lane is located at the end of the quiet little lane
I searched the old Sanborn Fire Maps and found what I believe to be 712 Love Lane. Love Lane existed and was named the same in the 1889 Sanborn Map, but the houses were not numbered. I checked the maps for later years and the house still stands where as the larger house at the corner at Fleming is gone. Today that space is the library garden. The early cottage was simple. I dug into the old shoebox and found 712 Love Lane is it was photographed in 1965 - below.
Like so many places in Old Town, this home has been added onto over the years. Rooms, multiple decks, a pool, a guest cottage are pieces that slowly became parts of a new whole. According to the listing agent what was once a small cottage is now a 1462 sq ft home with three bedrooms in the main house plus the guest cottage or pool house which declares to a bedroom. Below are photos of this home as it looked when still owner occupied.

When you enter the home you see the dining room on the right. It's a magnificent space with soaring ceiling, a library wall once crammed with books and windows that look out to the garden of the Monroe County Library, and the front porch. A quiet little reading nook completes this space.
On the opposite side of the room is the living area with walls that seem to reach to heaven. Cedar shutters line the French doors on the south side which filter the view of the pool. Art has found a home on these walls which themselves become a piece of art. Look through the open door and view the first of three bedrooms in the main house. Notice the pickled wood flooring that is light and practical and in harmony with the house.
Pine walls were whitewashed which allowed the pink tones of the wood to show through. Louvered cedar shutters open out to the pool.
I found it difficult to pick a favorite spot because each room or space is so precious in its own right. I love the spartan bedroom with the single bed. It has a window that looks out to library garden. The shutter lined master bedroom made me want to jump on the bed and take a nap. The gauzy front bedroom begged me to peer through the shutters out to the pool. And then there is that insane kitchen with the soaring ceiling and handmade cedar cabinets. You absolutely positively cannot buy that charm from Home Depot or IKEA here. This kitchen was created with LOVE in mind.

The pool is located on the south side of the property. Some pools that face south get an hour or so of sun each day. This pool should stay sunny most of the day throughout most of the year. Sometimes buyers miss things like that. It's always nice to have a pool with some sun and some shade. Not all people are bronzed gods and not all gods need to bake all day. The guest cottage or pool house (or fourth bedroom) is located at the far end of the pool.
The pool house (guest cottage) is located at the far end of the pool.  I walked inside and looked at the room and my jaw dropped. Who wouldn't love to sleep, or take a nap, or do other stuff in this place? The cottage has a tiny bath so if could function as a bedroom. This space is so restful.
I was nearing the end of taking photos when I snapped the above picture. I told the listing agent that Ralph Lauren must have created this space - it is just perfect!  He didn't, but I think you get what I mean. CLICK HERE to see all of the photos I took of 712 Love Lane.
Kevin N. McCarthy's book The Book Lover's Guide to Florida: Authors, Books and Literary Sites notes that author William Wright lived at 712 Love Lane (for about ten years). The present owners purchased this home from Wright in 1987. They created a masterpiece.  712 Love Lane is now vacant.  All of the furnishings are gone.  The house and garden await the vision of a new owner. The house needs painted and maybe the baths need updated. The house, however, is a little masterpiece that only needs preserved - not remade.
This property was rented during the 2013 season as a vacation rental at $15,000 per month.  I think a new owner might improve on the monthly rental a bit.  You could not ask for a better location than this home. And I don't think there are many houses that are as picturesque as this.  

CLICK HEREto view the Key West Association of Realtors mls datasheet and to view listing photos. If you would like to see 712 Love Lane with me, Gary Thomas, please call me a 305-766-2642. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Property Key West. You'll fall in love with this secluded gem!


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.