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Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 That Was the Year that Was in Key West Real Estate

My Key West Properties Blog turned ten years old on December 30th.  I have written over 3000 blog posts about Key West real estate during those ten years. My how time flies.  I remember the first person who called me off the blog. He bought a house sight unseen and paid cash for it.  It's a sweet little house with a pool and off street parking located in the Casa Marina Area. It is a doozy of a house. Another fellow called me from London to discuss a house he read about in my blog. We had a couple of lengthy discussions. 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 a few days later from London for the inspection. We closed a few days after that. Not all deals are cash and few go as smoothly as those two. Readers tell me they like my photos and my comments about properties. They like the old time photos and stories about Key West as well as some of the personal stories I write from time to time. 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 Key West.  Our lovely little island got hit by three other hurricanes in 2005. But it was Wilma, the forth hurricane that year, that done us wrong.  Today potential buyers are still concerned 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 Key West, 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 the real estate market started to contract in Key West, many buyers who purchased primary and second homes here decided to walk away from their investment. Many tried to short sale their homes while others gave them up to foreclosure. For a while it seemed as though our market was super saturated with houses for sale.  I remember writing about what I saw as buying opportunities and reading comments from readers who only saw saw doom and gloom..

Then on April 20, 2010 the BP Oil Spill happened. Cable news networks came to Key West to warn of oil slicks hitting the Florida Keys. Fact Check:  the oil spill never hit any of the Keys. Those stories did a great disservice to all Florida Keys businesses. Some tourists cancelled vacations and later used the shattered economy to bully hotels into discounting rooms. Some real estate sales were cancelled.

In the following two years the national economy started to recover and so did our local economy.  The old inventory of homes started to get sold off. Short sales continued but there fewer properties listed.  Bank owned properties continued to hit the market, not because of new defaults, but because existing foreclosure lawsuits were finally getting reduced to judgements and then converted to bank owned properties for sale. Many buyers sought bank foreclosure properties thinking they represented value because many were priced lower than other properties on the market. The inventory of available 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 buyers who had ants in their pants and were anxious to buy before prices continued to rise.  The days of too many houses for sale, low prices, and very low mortgage rates had passed. Between 2014 and 2015 asking prices in the Old Town and Casa Marina Areas started to approach the pre-Wilma range. Some buyers and some real estate agents privately worry that the current price points are not sustainable. I disagree and think prices are going to go much higher. I will discuss this in another blog.

I did a quick search of single family home sales in the Key West area for 2015.  There were a total of 416 single family homes sold. I then excluded all sales east of Shark Key (a total of 34 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 334 single family homes in Key West during 2015 that sold between $200,000 to $5,000,000. I am going to share my thoughts on a few that I think were the top values or good indicators for houses of a similar type or location.
2321 Fogarty Avenue is a 2350 sq ft home that sits on a 5500 sq ft lot. It was bank owned and needed a lot of work. It sold for $324,249 or $137.98 per sq ft. That's a lot of house for a very low price per square foot.
724 Windsor Lane was a one bedroom bank owned single family home with off street parking that sold for $416,000. The house was featured as an example of the ideal Old Town cottage in Coastal Living Magazine a few years earlier.
720 Simonton Street (Rear) is located at the end of a private drive just one block east of Duval Street. This one bedroom 660 sq ft house had off street parking, a private enclosed front and back yard with a sunny deck that might be large enough to add a pool. It sold for $490,000.
1211 Duncan Street was a bank owned property with a lot of potential. The house had a separate rear cottage. Total square feet was 1216. I thought this place had so much potential. The place needs a remodel but you can't beat the price and location. It sold for $515,000.
1711 Atlantic Avenue appeared in my blog several times. It was initially priced pretty high at $680,000. It eventually sold at $540,000. The 1950's vintage home 1800 sq ft home was originally built on a 8050 sq ft lot that was elevated and situated across the street from mangroves that are now a city owned protected sanctuary. I saw this lot as being worth a lot of money to a new owner who might tear down the existing property to create a new house with an ocean view.
530 Grinnell Street is an absolutely perfect Key West cottage with all the bells and whistles most buyer could ask for except for pool and parking. The place was just perfect in every way. The lack of space for a pool and the non-existence of off street parking killed this house for many buyers. Some very smart buyer got a heck of a deal and got this wonderful home for just $750,000.
712 Love Lane is one of my favorite homes in Old Town. It was the poster child for Key West chic. It sold for $885,000.
818 Carsten Lane is another example of an ideal Key West cottage located on a little lane in Old Town. This lovely home 870 sq ft two bedroom, two bath home sold for $900,000 or $1,034 per sq ft. I had a several buyers who fell all over themselves loving this place. They just couldn't accept they would have to pay over $1,000 per sq ft. It was their loss.
1022 Fleming Street is a two story legal duplex located on one of the best blocks in Old Town. It is situated among some of the prettiest and most expensive houses in the area. It sold for $1,000,000.
527 Margaret Street is basically a brand new house built on an historic site. HARC required the builder to retain a couple of the front member walls but the house really is brand new otherwise. I wrote about the finished house in my blog. I was amazed at how much house the builder and the new owners' decorator created. This place is a show stopper. It sold for $1,125,000.
511 Frances Street is an example of owning a really good home in a really great location. This house was a bit dated, but it had three bedrooms, three baths, a large sunny pool, and off street parking. And it had a lot of physical street appeal. It sold at asking price: $1,350,000.
1127 Von Phister Street is located on one of the best blocks in the Casa Marina Area. This 1428 sq ft home has one heck of a street presence. There's a pool, second floor rear sun deck, outdoor kitchen, and lots of interior charm. It sold at $1,375,000 or $963 per sq ft.
6 Pinder Lane is located in the heart of Old Town but tucked away and hidden from public view. The enchanting home and romantic secret garden once belonged to author Nancy Friday. It sold for $1,500,000 or $1,073 per sq ft. I understand the new owner is about to begin a total renovation of the home and redevelopment of the gardens.
1311 Truman Avenue. This estate type property with historic main house plus separate three bedroom and three bath guest cottage, pool, and covered off street parking sold for $1,900,000.
809 Eaton Street is a grand Bahamian style historic home with recently built guest cottage, off street parking for two cars, and lots of street appeal. It became a bank owned property which immediately sold for $2,000,000
620 Eaton Street is located just two blocks from 809 Eaton (above). It is another historic old Key West mansion, except this home was a traditional fair market sale. It sold at $4,495,000.

46 of the 334 single family homes sales in Key West in 2015 sold at $1,000,000 or more. All of those sales were in the Old Town, Casa Marina, or Meadows ares of Key West. The median sale price was $1,612,357 at an average of $683 per sq ft.

If you are looking to buy a primary residence or a second home in Key West and are not working with a Realtor at this time, I ask you to consider working with me, Gary Thomas. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties in Key West. I urge buyers to not be locked into a certain mindset when considering the purchase of a house. Houses that need renovated can be costly but they don't necessarily have to be bank-breakers. Houses that are perfect may not be perfect for every new owner. Locations can be difficult, but no location is perfect. Idiot neighbors are not restricted to any one part of the island. Houses on busy streets and those located by the cemetery or some other scary site may offer tremendous buying opportunities,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gary , is it possible to talk about the damages to the island when these four hurricanes did hit in 2005?
I notice a lot of your followers do get deleted when they ask critical questions which make for a not so friendly atmosphere and open dialogue. It's certainly not your fault. It appears to be the , indeed, "aggressiveness" of certain realtors who have zero rights silencing these discussions. Many of us are contemplating homes there, in the near future and we need to hear it. Otherwise, we are put off with said deletions and manipulations by a few of those
" Miami - geared" realtors.
Quite simply, where did the streets mostly flood?
Thank you.


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.