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Monday, June 29, 2015

1621 Sunshine Drive, Key West: Good Day Sunshine

I took some time off Sunday afternoon and played would-be buyer and checked out the new listing at 1621 Sunshine Drive, Key West, Florida. I had been inside this home a couple of years ago when it was still under construction. I could not believe my eyes at how quickly the landscaping has filled in and the home has taken on an identity all its own. The listing Realtor describes this 1672 sq ft three bedroom, three bath home this way:
"Located at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, this beautiful property was newly constructed in 2013 with custom finishes. Upgrades include travertine tile and bamboo floors, Brazilian Marinachi granite countertops, gas range, laundry/utility room with sink, custom closets and much more! French doors connect the living room to the exquisite back deck and pool area, offering the best of Key West outdoor living. Both upstairs bedrooms are en-suite and have private balconies. Built to all the latest codes, the home is elevated and has impact glass. With off street parking for two cars and a location close to the Casa Marina, Old Town and the Atlantic beaches, this Midtown Gem has it all!"
This home is one of several that were built in 2012 in a little enclave located just a couple of blocks north of the Atlantic Ocean and just east of White Street. Higg's Beach and Rest Beach are easy walking distance from here. But there is no need to go to the beach for sunshine or to swim as this home has a sunny private pool and a shady tree where the new owner can listen to The Beatles "Good Day Sunshine" and appreciate the good life in living in Key West where the days are sunny almost every day of the year. 
Lie beneath the shady tree...
Good Day Sunshine
This home is laid out somewhat similar as you would expect to find in an Old Town home where the great room is located at the rear of the main floor. The living area and kitchen are open and expansive. The ceilings are extra tall (9 feet) as compared to many homes built in earlier years. The doors at the rear open out to the covered rear porch which has steps that lead down to the sunny private pool. Three years ago this property had potential. Today it is real. Real pretty, that is! I was really amazed at how wonderful and private this pool area is and also at how sunny it is. So many houses in Key West have tiny yards and tiny pools.
Master Bedroom Balcony Overlooks Pool Below
Master Bath has a Tub and Shower plus Dual Sinks
Second Bedroom, Second Floor.
Second Floor Front Balcony
This home has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. There is a first floor bed and bath which might come in handy should using the stairs becomes a challenge. Both upstairs bedrooms have private balconies. The master bath comes with a huge tub and shower.
Imagine the Sunset Views from the Front Guest Bedroom Balcony
A new owner will benefit from the materials used in the construction of this home which include Hardiboard siding, impact windows and doors, and metal roof. Hardiboard is a man-made material that looks like wood siding but bug resistant and stands up to our intense sun and humidity. The impact windows and doors and the metal roof mean your windstorm insurance costs will be much lower. And you won't have to have someone put up the shutters if we get in the path of a storm. Those lower costs multiply year over year which means your investment now will not become a money pit in the future.
Five Minutes Away by Foot
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and listing photos of 1621 Sunshine Drive which is offered for sale at $895,000 or $535 per sq ft. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule an appointment to see this home.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Maybe you'll buy this home and sing "I'm so proud to know she is mine!"





Saturday, June 27, 2015

502 Margaret Street, Key West - an Old Town Buying Opportunity!

JUST LISTED 502 Margaret Street, Key West. This is nifty house located in a great Old Town location. I got inside this house a short time ago and took more photos to share with you. CLICK HERE to see all photos. But please read on while I tell you more about why I think this place is a buying opportunity.
I found the above photo in my old shoebox. This pic was taken in 1965 and shows the house without a front porch. It sits pretty high off the street and very close to the city sidewalk. You can tell that an addition was added to the left side of the house before 1965. I checked the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps to see if I could determine when this house was built. It existed as early as the 1889 map but was designated then as 231 Margaret Street. The street number changed to 504 Margaret (not a typo) on the 1899 map and remained that way until after the 1912 map. All four maps show a large cistern located just south of the house where the addition I mentioned is now located. It may still be there. I'm pretty sure it is.

They did not have French doors in 1889 - not in Key West, they didn't.  So we know that the French doors that enter into the living room are not original. And it is unlikely that the north living room wall had the beautiful built-in bookcase back in 1889 either. An extra wide doorway opens from the living room into the ante-room with staircase to the second floor loft. One bedroom and bath are located just off this area.
This property is listed as a three bedroom, two bath house. It works fine just the way it is. A new owner might want to do some upgrades and maybe reconfigure the house. Perhaps a new owner might want to eliminate the second floor loft sleeping space and vault the ceiling to provide more interior height and drama. That would free up the area where the current stairway is located for more bedroom space or perhaps enlarge the living area. The listing Realtor says the house has 1796 sq ft of living space. I think a good designer could come up with a plan to use some of the space more effectively. However, this place is so cute as it is a new owner might just decide not to reinvent anything.
The house has a life guard chair but no pool. There may be room for a small pool. An interested buyer would need to have a pool contractor state how large a pool could be built and then the owner would have to obtain permission from HARC and Planning Department. The outdoor space is long and narrow on two sides of the house but there is so much space that I think some type of water feature can be built. But I don't get to make that decision.
The listing Realtor describes this property this way:
"Location Location Location, Key West Gem, Close To Everything, Roomy Living Areas, Open Kitchen, Sleeping Loft And Lots Of Storage. Rear Porch Off Of The Kitchen And Street Porch To Watch Key West Go By And Private Porch Off The Bedroom. Classic Key West Home Built In 1918. Own A Piece Of Old Town Key West."
CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet on this property which is offered at $795,000, and then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to arrange a private showing.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise. 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

SUPERMAN & Me

Sometime ago a reader posted a couple of comments about me being just a 'salesman'. He or she noted there is nothing wrong about being a salesman. That reader thought my 'job' is pretty much like being a sales clerk in a store. No more, no less. Later in response to another comment on another blog I posted a pic of a snappily dressed used car salesman with the notation 'not Gary Thomas'  as if to disprove that I am a salesman. I don't wear Hawaiian shirts, gold chains, sun glasses. Nor do I smoke a cigar or look particularly untrustworthy.

A few years ago I was invited to dinner during Fantasy Fest at the Cafe Marquesa . I decided to wear some old beads I had stored in a box. While I was searching through boxes looking for the beads, I found the wallet I used when I was still in elementary school. Inside I found school photos taken of me and some friends taken between 1957 through 1959. Included in the wallet was my identification card as an OFFICIAL MEMBER of the JUNIOR SALES CLUB OF AMERICA. Seeing that card brought back a wave of memories and internal ruminations about how I got to Key West and where I am in my life. It started with SUPERMAN.


When I was a kid primary concerns were candy, things to amuse themselves with, and not getting beat up. I lived in Denver from birth until I moved to Key West in 1993. In the mid 1950s I would ride the Continental Trailways bus from Denver to Sterling Colorado to spend a week with my three second cousins - all girls my age and younger. I would always take a SUPERMAN comic book to read on the bus ride. I was 11 years old in 1958 when I took my yearly trip to Sterling. There was a full page ad which lured me into becoming a 'salesman' for the Junior Sales Club of America.  DOUBLE CLICK HERE to see a larger view of the ad.


As soon as I returned from Sterling I cut out the coupon and mailed it to Springfield 1, Mass. A few weeks later I got my OFFICIAL MEMBER identification card and a sample box of 'all occasion' cards which I promptly hawked from door to door in my neighborhood. I earnestly plead the efficacy of buying a box of all occasion cards because you never know when someone would have a birthday, get married, have a baby, become ill, or sadly die. You just need a box of cards for all occasions. It worked. I sold the required number of boxes. At $1.25 a box of cards was a 'deal' since back then $1.25 was more than a lot of people made for an hour's work. My mother sent the money I had collected to the Junior Sales Club of America headquarters. A couple of weeks later headquarters shipped the cards to me. I promptly delivered the all occasion cards to my awaiting customers.

In the early fall of 1959 headquarters sent me a sample box of Christmas cards together with a list of prizes I could earn. The Kodak movie camera pictured at the top left hand corner of the above ad caught my eye. I sold the required number of boxes in no time. The prize was mine.  I started shooting movies as soon as my 8 mm Kodak movie camera arrived. A year later I got a projector for Christmas so I could finally see the movies I shot. I decided I was going to be a cinema photographer and end up in Hollywood.
When I delivered the Christmas cards a neighbor lady up the next block told me that I had been knocking on her door ever since I was a little kid - always trying to sell something. She said the first time I went to her house I was really small and had a wagon filled with canned goods out of my mother's kitchen. OMG! I guess the reader who said I am nothing but a salesman was right!

There was another ad in the SUPERMAN comic to which I also responded. That ad was to request a printed pamphlet from Charles Atlas who was going to change me from a 75 pound wimp into a muscleman. Although I sent the coupon, I never received the pamphlet from Mr. Atlas. He must have known I had lied about my age when I mailed the coupon. I was destined to be a wimp for life.


SUPERMAN has been the idol of boys who admire strength for generations. He was morally straight and fought the bad guys. And he always won. As I look back on it years later, SUPERMAN's strength, power, and moral rectitude was partially what motivated me to become an attorney. I grew up in a the western suburbs of Denver just after World War II. The Jefferson County schools were always top rated in the State of Colorado. Plus America was on the move upward in the 1950s. At least where I lived everybody was moving up in life. I recognized that I had an advantage by living in a community that was participating in America's upward mobility.

 In my early teen years I really envisioned going to California to become a cinema photographer. I wanted to attend the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara to learn the craft. First in junior high and later in high school, I started to take an avid interest in politics. I admired President Kennedy and watched how he responded to the racial unrest and political strife. A lot of people hated Kennedy. I remember hearing anti-Catholic rants; Anti-Irish rants; Anti-Joseph Kennedy wealth insults; Anti-civil rights comments such as 'give them an inch and they'll take a mile' or 'who do you trust less a Mexican or a n***er?'.  Most of the negativity quieted down after President Kennedy was assassinated. I felt a tremendous sense loss after he died. I forgot about becoming a cinema photographer. One day I announced to my family that I wanted to become a lawyer. I figured as an attorney would give me entree into politics. Hopefully one day I would get elected to public office where I could change things for the better.
Left to Right: Marcia McGinley, Ben King, Gary Thomas
In 1964 I was seventeen years old and got involved in the campaign of three Democrats who were running for the position of county judge in Jefferson County Colorado.  The county seat is Golden, Colorado - the place where Coors Beer is brewed.  Democrats Frank Jamison and Dan Shannon got elected to the bench.  C. F. Johnson, a Republican, won the third judgeship race. Later Judge Jamison took me under his wing and became the male father figure I needed after my dad died the week before I graduated from high school. I put myself through college and law school. Judge Jamison helped me get summer jobs during college.  I eventually clerked for him while I attended law school. As a lawyer and as a man, I looked to him for advice and counsel when it sometimes seemed the world was not a nice place. And he was there. Always. It was Judge Frank Jamison that became my mentor, my SUPERMAN.

I was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1972. I became an attorney in a five man suburban Denver law firm. Later I did commercial loan workouts for two Denver banks. I worked in the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) from 1990 until December 1993.  I worked on multimillion dollar assets some of which were extremely complex in nature. I had more personal satisfaction working at the RTC than I did in law or banking. I only quit that job to move to Key West after I purchased a guest house here.

I operated the guest house for almost two years. I made the decision to sell it at a time I was having personal relationship issues. I made a bunch of money and successfully invested it just as the stock market started to soar during the Clinton years. Later I decided I needed a job to keep myself busy. I got a real estate license.

Selling real estate in Key West is not a part time job. The people who make good money do their job every day. They are listing new properties, showing properties, attending home inspections, handling customer issues, and maybe even writing blogs. Helping people achieve their dreams is very rewarding. But it is a seven days a week job. 

The little kid who mailed the coupons in the SUPERMAN comic (one to sell cards and the other to get muscles to avoid getting beat-up) became the man who would become a lawyer to help others not get beat-up in the court room and the guy at the bank (and later the government) who had the job of recovering money from people or businesses that would not pay it back. The little kid is still inside the old guy writing this blog. My mission now is not to get the bad guys - it is to get the good buys.

And that, Dear Reader, is how SUPERMAN got me to Key West where I became a SALESMAN.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

812 Simonton Street, Key West - Two Transient Licensed Properties

Just Listed 812 Simonton Street in Key West, Florida. The listing Realtor describes this unique property this way:
"Fantastic multi-unit property with two transient licenses! Property is divided into two sections-812 Simonton is a 3br / 3ba while 812 Simonton Rear is a 1br/1ba. Great Old Town location in an X Zone. Owner financing possible! Multiple possibilities with this property. Perfect for an investor"
 The front building is identified as 812 Simonton Street. It currently has three residential units. The front unit is a small studio apartment. The middle unit is a much larger one bedroom unit which has a transient license attached. The rear unit  is an efficiency apartment which also has a transient license attached. The rear building (812 Simonton Street - Rear) has a totally separate tax identification number and could be sold separate and apart from the front unit. That building is a one bedroom unit with kitchen, living area, a laundry, and two bathrooms plus rear deck. The asking price for both properties is $1,295,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet.
I found a couple of old photos taken fifty years ago that show the front house and rear cottage that make up this property. Even back then it appears the original wood front porch was removed and a cinder block addition added to provide a bit more living space. If you look at the top photo you will see a typical cigar maker cottage type building with a sawtooth addition attached. In the far rear you will see the outline of the rear cottage which appears clearly as a distinct unit the lower photo. The backside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church is seen to the far rear. Today the buildings appear to me to be pretty much the same. The exteriors are in much better shape and the interiors have been renovated for daily rental purposes.
The house next door to the south at 814 Simonton Street is very similar to 812 Simonton Street with a couple of exceptions. The front porch at 814 Simonton Street offers a perfect place to sit and watch the world go by whereas  812 Simonton would have to be restored to create a proper front porch. The front house has a similar sawtooth addition located midway. The cottage at 814 Simonton Street rear has been expanded to two stories and there is a pool between the front house and rear cottage at 814 Simonton Street. Unfortunately there is not enough space at 812 Simonton Street to create a pool.  Finally, the neighboring property has parking whereas 812 Simonton does not have parking.
812 Simonton Street (rear) is located at the rear of the lot and is accessed via a deeded walkway that flanks the north side of the property. The front house has an easement that provides access for the front one bedroom unit and the separate efficiency unit. The third unit in the main house has access off the front entry. The rear unit is gated and totally private.
Rear Cottage Interior
Rear Cottage Kitchen
Rear Cottage Bedroom with French Doors that Open out to Deck
Rear Deck
The rear cottage is a fully contained one bedroom house with living room, dining area, kitchen with adjacent (outdoor) covered laundry, bedroom, and rear deck. The living space has all been updated and ready for monthly vacation rentals. The deck area is very attractive and very private. There is room for a hot tub or maybe even a plunge pool. The building at the rear is the backside of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. 
Living Room and Kitchen of the Front Building
Front Building Kitchen
Front Building Bedroom
 The above photos show the living room which is accessed off the north side easement. Note the vaulted ceiling where the sawtooth addition attaches to the original front cottage. The kitchen is located to the rear. The front room is the bedroom in this unit. This unit is rented as a transient rental unit.
An efficiency unit is located at the rear of the front house. It is also accessed off the north side walking easement. It has a small kitchen, bath, and living/sleeping space. This unit also has a transient rental license.

A new owner might want to renovate the front building by restoring a wood front porch and perhaps incorporate the current efficiency unit into the existing middle unit and thereby create a single family front cottage with two bedrooms, two baths, one kitchen, and a very valuable transient rental license. I believe the new owner could transfer the second transient license to the rear unit.
Neither a pool nor parking is necessary to have a successful rental.  Both are helpful but not mandatory. This property has a very good location that is within easy walking distance to most Old Town attractions. The shops, restaurants, and nightlife on Duval is just one block away. You can't get much closer than that.

Please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to schedule a showing of these properties. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.This property is listed by Preferred Properties but not by me.

Disclaimer

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.