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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

812 Windsor Lane, Key West - Now a Short Sale Buying Opportunity

Loyal Readers may recognize this beautiful home located at 812 Windsor Lane in Key West as having been featured in my little blog a couple of times during the past couple of years. The house did not sell and is now offered as a short sale. 
The simple home at 812 Windsor Lane in Key West did not always look so neat and proper.  I remember driving past that house several years ago on repeated occasions when someone would ask "How much is that house?"  I would always respond "It's not for sale" to which they would reply something like "We'll I want to buy it when it is for sale." The house looked pretty rundown back then. The front yard was over-grown. The place looked like it had been abandoned. But then in 2008 the family who had owned this house since it was first built undertook the renovation of the original house and construction of a new cottage at the rear plus the addition of a pool.

812 Windsor Lane, Key West - 1965
 Today the property is available for the very first time to the buying public at the short sale asking price of $1,350,000.  The listing Realtor describes the property thus:
"Front of main house built in 1883. Rear cottage built and entire property beautifully renovated in 2005/6. Both buildings are 2Bed/2Full Bath with connecting covered breezeway. Kit, DR and LR in main house. 442 sq.ft unfinished attic space; clean, dry and open in main house is not part of the 1892 sq.ft. Finished Living Area. Pool, brick patio, lush tropical trees and bricked off-street parking. Interior is Dade County and knotty pine. Exterior is 85% hardyboard. Same family in property since 1912. Fully and nicely furnished. Heart of Old Town. This is a potential Short Sale subject to lender approval."
The front porch is just for show these days. The formal entry to the main house is located just beyond the fence at the end of the driveway.  You enter into the great room in the new rear addition to the historic house.  The living area is at the back of this house.  It has French doors that open out to the covered rear deck and which overlook the pool with waterfall.  The two front rooms are used as bedrooms. Both bedrooms have large bathrooms. The master bedroom has access to the old front porch which as a view of the Key West cemetery across the street. The Royal Poinciana Tree located directly across the street will be full bloom with a million red flowers come May.

The guest cottage at the rear has two very large bedrooms and baths. Both bedrooms have vaulted ceilings and ample closets. Each room has a loft inside for the grand kids to play or sleep.  A covered breezeway connects the guest cottage to the main house. 
The two houses have a combined living space of 1892 sq ft under air conditioning. This does not include any of the covered or non-covered deck areas or interior lofts. The lot is 5880 sq ft lot which  is quite large for the Old Town area. There is bricked off street parking for 2 cars. CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls data sheet.
The house needs a fresh coat of paint and some minor repairs which will make it all pretty again. I think a bit of fairy dust would do a heck of a lot of good myself. If I bought this home I might splurge and re-tile the baths and replace the dark granite counter tops with quartz or some more contemporary hard surface. The color schemes are okay but I think a new owner could pick colors that are less Caribbean and more chic. The pool, rear decks, and grounds need some new plantings which would make the spaces more welcoming.  None of the things I have suggested are expensive.  I believe they would make this property show so much better.

This home has a successful rental history as a vacation rental.  The property is located just a few short blocks to Duval Street. The historic Key West seaport is located six blocks to the north. Most of the gyms and yoga studios are within an easy walk as well. Repeat vacation renters love being within walking distance to the gym or yoga studio. Returning guests follow patterns of behavior by going to their favorite haunts year after year. This is an area of family homes with no nearby commercial activity. There is no parking on the opposite side of the street - ever. This location is central to just about everything. Guest and owners will always get a sound nights sleep here.

I view this property as a real buying opportunity because of the location, historic and contemporary architecture, the successful rental history as a monthly vacation rental, and the new pricing which is much lower than previously offered.

CLICK HERE to view more photos I took.  After you've viewed the photos and the mls datasheet, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642 to set up a showing of this Key West home with lots of potential.  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Key West Real Estate - Gravity Lessons

I always loved watching Road Runner cartoons. I always hoped against hope that Wile E. Coyote would smarten up and not get done in by the smarter Road Runner. But Wile E. Coyote never got it. He never learned from his prior run-ins with the Road Runner. He always broke the cardinal rule:
"You can only not fall before you run off the edge of the cliff, not after."

Something is going on in Key West real estate and it does not look good. I did a couple of quick searches of Key West real estate sales and learned the following.

1.  There are 209 single family homes listed for sale in our market priced under $3 million. The current average asking price is $1,207,268 or $651 per sq ft for a 1871 sq ft home.  Key West has a permanent population of around 25,704. The median annual income in Key West in 2014 was $53,796. I don't think a lot of our local population can afford the asking price for many of the homes for sale in Key West.  But we have a thriving tourist market which brought over 4.5 million visitors to Key West in 2014. Many of those guests fall in love with our town and set out to buy a second home here.

(There are 15 homes priced over $3 million at prices per sq ft that skew the price per sq ft so I eliminated those for consideration.)

2. As of March 29, 2016 there are just 50 single family homes under contract. The average asking price is $884,348 or $571 for a 1661 sq ft home. It seems like the public is willing to settle for less than is offered by the current market.

3. Between March 1, 2016 and March 29, 2016 116 single family homes have had price reductions. The current adjusted asking prices of this select group is now $1,204,925 or $561 for a 1852 sq ft home. That statistic tells me there were way too many homes priced way too high. 

4.  Today there are 40 single family homes listed for sale at an asking price of $2 million or higher. During the calendar year 2015 there were just 11 sales at $2 million or higher. I realize we are just three months into the 2016 selling season, but that season is 3/4 over. I honestly wonder how many $2 million buyers are out there. There were 57 single family home sales in 2015 for homes priced between $1 million to $2 million. As of today there 71 single family homes offered in this same price range. It looks to me like we have an over supply of really high priced homes that only folks from outside of Key West can afford to buy. I know from experience many of the would-be buyers are looking for a place they can rent out part of the time to help pay for the house. These are not home purchases, these are investments.

There are some wacko sellers out there - sellers with huge edifice complexes. They are people who did some creative things to their properties like updating a kitchen or redoing baths. Maybe they added expensive kitchen appliances or installed imported light fixtures or added some other feature that sets their property apart from the rest of the market. I don't know that a Viking range or SubZero refrigerator adds that much more value to a home in any one's mind more than the seller. I am sure that some sellers think their design sense justifies a premium price far in excess of what other houses in the same area have actually sold for.  I know from experience some swell-headed sellers will not accept the fact that a new lender will not loan new money on a house that will not appraise for the asking price no matter how chic it may be.

And then there are the heirs - the heirs of the dearly departed former Conchs. These are the sons and daughters, the grand children, and the nieces and nephews who want their share of the ancestral home no matter the condition. They have all witnessed or heard tales about how much some other friend or cuz received from the sale of a some other departed soul's home. They want what is theirs by birthright. The more heirs, the more the price goes up. It seems there is never enough cash to go around to console one's loss for the departed.

If you are looking for a second home or a new primary residence in Key West, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. You can also contact me via e-mail at I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. I'll do my best to keep you from falling off the cliff.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

615 Caroline Street, Key West

The impressive home at 615 Caroline Street looks so regal now with its wrap around first and second floor porches. Dark colored shutters punctuate the exterior of this crisp white house. There is off street parking to the left  plus two gated entrances. The gate to the far east side (right) is a service gate which leads to the pool at the rear. Passersby must think someone famous lives here after all this place is so elegant.
In preparing to write today's blog I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps to determine when this home first appeared on the fire maps that date the etiology of residences in Key West. I was surprised to learn that this building did not appear until the 1912 map. The 1889 and later maps showed something I had not previously seen on any other map: sponge drying. I then checked my favorite book on old Key West, The Streets of Key West written by J. Willis Burke. Of Caroline Street he wrote:
"Caroline Street, once the inland boundary of fledgling Key West, starts at the Presidential Gates on Whitehead. There, Whitehead begets Caroline, who then begins an elegant swath past founder Simonton and siblings William and Margaret.  She stops at Grinnell, perhaps affronted by the ill kept grounds of the old City Electric."
800 Caroline Street back in the day.  The old City Electric with smoke stacks is visible at street end.

Burke adds: "Pauline Hemingway, who remained in Key West after she and Papa divorced once worked on Caroline Street. She bought a spacious two-story structure at 525 Caroline Street and went into the drapery and upholstery business with family friend Lorine Thompson. (Ernest used the Thompson Docks at the foot of Caroline and often fished with Lorine's husband, Charles.) Pauline died in 1951. When consoled by fellow writer Tennessee Williams, Hemingway dug down for another of his 'true sentences': 'she died like everyone else and after that she was dead.'"

The listing agent told me that back in the day 615 Caroline Street probably was located on waters' edge lined with various boat docks where sponge boats and turtle boats came to unload their daily catch. The sponges would get relocated to the sponge drying field at 615 Caroline and the turtles would be taken to Turtle Kraals holding pens to be kept alive before they would be processed into turtle soup.
The listing Realtor describes 615 Caroline Street thus:
"Quintessential Key West historic home - This 4 bedroom 3.5 bath masterpiece is located just steps to the Seaport and world-famous Duval Street. The home has a beautiful formal entry hall adorned with antique chandelier and an exquisite fireplace with mantle. High ceilings, original restored pine floors are among the peerless details of the living, dining and lounging spaces of the first floor. A newly-remodeled kitchen services the dining room as well as the impressive covered outdoor dining pavilion. A freestanding cottage, once the kitchen of the original house, is now a private bedroom located near the pool area. Upstairs are 2 guest bedrooms, one full bath, and the master bedroom with bathroom en suite. The crown jewel of Frenchman's Court is a magnificent covered pavilion that provides seamless indoor outdoor dining/entertainment with a backdrop of private the lush tropical gardens. Other amenities include central air, landscape lighting, irrigation system and off-street parking."
 Let me pose a question: If you bought this home, where other than your bedroom would you prefer to spend your time - the semi-formal living and dining areas or the covered outdoor living space?  I'll bet it would be the posh outdoor area which overlooks the pool.
What a luxurious pool and outdoor space this home enjoys. The former cook shack has been revamped. The current owner has a desk and computer there. The space includes a w/c plus an outdoor shower located next to the entry door. Checkout the specially fabricated copper roof over the shower enclosure. This little cottage would make a wonderful guest cottage but be careful who you let stay there. They may never want to leave.
The two guest bedrooms are located on the back side of the house. In the olden days they may have had a water view. Today they have a view of palm trees and the gorgeous Key West sun. They share share a large bath. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this home.
It was a prior owner from France who oversaw most of the renovation of this home. I assume he added the exquisite bathroom mirror with silver lining that has started to flake a bit. This space oozes so much class. Who in the world would dare to replace this much charm with modern day Renovation Hardware cabinets or Kolhler fixtures? Who, indeed.
The covered front porch overlooks Caroline Street below. Notice the old fashioned swing that intersects the front and east porches. The screened door viewed in the master bedroom opens out to the east porch while the bathroom door opens out to the front. Imagine sitting out there drinking your morning coffee or sipping a glass of sherry before you hit the hay. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

CLICK HERE to view the Key West mls datasheet and to view more listing photos of 615 Caroline Street which is offered for sale at $2,395,000. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing of this very special home. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.


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.