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Friday, September 30, 2016

Knowing the Value of Money

I was in New York City a few weeks ago during a truly unbearable hot spell. I had no idea how hot the city gets in the summer. I know now and won't repeat my mistake. I made my way to China Town for Dim Sum then walked around in Little Italy wishing I had gone there instead. Later I found my way over near the Flatirons Building when I passed the ancient ATM machine pictured above.  It looked like a cousin of R2D2 or some patron of the STAR WARS bar. And that reminded me of a dinner in I had in Key West a year earlier. 

In February 2015 I  had dinner with a couple of New Yorkers who were friends of a friend before the four of us went to see NEXT FALL at the Waterfront Theater. I had not met this gay couple before that night, but after listening to them speak for a short time I assumed they are among the 1%. If they aren't, they are pretty close. One is a writer and the other is a really Big Shot at one of the big three television networks. I remember asking the TV executive about the cost of living in the city. I referenced BRAVO's Million Dollar Listing New York and asked what regular people had to pay for housing. He said a million dollars minimum. I tried to clarify my question by referring to busboys, bartenders, sales clerks at Macy's, and people that work for tips or an hourly wage. He restated his answer:  a million dollars. I said that can't be right. He insisted it was.

Now I know busboys and shoe salesmen at Macy's can't afford to pay a million dollars for a place to live. I am sure they rent - I just don't know where or how much they pay. But that's not the point. I wondered what kind of reality must these two men live in to not understand that real people can't afford to live in a million dollar universe.

I have had the same feeling about most of those yo-yos in congress and candidates who think there is no need to raise the minimum wage. I haven't been paid an hourly wage since my third year in college - that was a very long time ago. I still remember making decisions on what I could afford to buy to eat based on how long I had to work to pay for it.  I can't imagine how difficult it is for people who work for $7 or $8 per hour to pay for a place to live and feed their children.  In Key West you'll have to pay $3.99 for a loaf of bread and about $4.50 for a gallon of milk. That's more than a sales clerk on Duval Street makes after W2 deductions. I just don't get how people who have so much can have so little understanding of people who have have so little. It's as if the 1% live in an alternate reality not unlike the patrons of the STAR WARS bar.

If you are thinking of buying a place in Key West, please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. I am grounded in reality and know the value and limitations of money.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

703 Eaton Street #2, Key West - Bank Owned Condo - Old Town

The newly reduced asking price on the Bank Owned Condo located at 703 Eaton Street #2 in Key West certainly made this property a lot more desirable. Now it is offered at just $435,900 or $434 per sq ft for this 1003 sq ft second floor unit. 
Soon after I moved to Key West in December 1993 I got invited to a lot of parties and get-togethers including a cocktail party at 703 Eaton Street which was then a single family home owned by a local doctor and author. I met a lot of very interesting people that night - I mean a lot!  That is something new comers to town can look forward to. Key West is very welcoming to all who come here. You can be as big a member of the community as you want or you can be anonymous. There is room for every.  When I arrived I immediately noticed this home was not like the other old houses I had been in because it wasn't old. In fact the original house pictured above was razed in the 1970s. The current building was constructed in 1979.  The building is quite large and was converted into
condominiums after the good doctor sold it several years ago.

The building layout and unit layout is very simple. Entrance to the property is controlled by a keyed entry system that really works. This unit owner will enter off a gate on the Elizabeth Street entrance and walk up a stairway to a separate gated entry to the covered exterior hall with views of Eaton Street. You enter into the living room which has a fireplace on one wall. There is a large balcony which overlooks the shared pool below. The compact kitchen is located adjacent to the entry. The master bedroom suite is located on the west side of the unit and the guest bedroom is located on the east side.

The second bedroom is located on the opposite side of the living room. This spatial separation gives the owner and guests or roommates privacy.  If you have looked at some of the more expensive units in Truman Annex you'll appreciate what I am saying. Oh, and this unit has views of the pool from both the living room and the master bedroom. 
The guest bath is located at the end of the hallway and adjacent to the second bedroom. Both bedrooms have ample closet space.
703 Eaton Street is located two blocks from the Historic Seaport and two blocks from Duval Street. You and your guests can walk to everyplace you might need to go in a matter of minutes, well, almost everything. The new 24 hour gym is located one block away. Starbucks is two blocks. Fausto's is one block away. I lived a little over a bock away for the first eighteen months I was in Key West. You can't beat the location for convenience. The traffic really does slow down to a trickle at night. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this unit. 
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet. Then please call me, Gary Thomas305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West

Saturday, September 24, 2016

717 Galveston Lane - A Last Little Piece of Old Key West

Just Listed, but not by me, 717 Galveston Lane, Key West.  This 532 square foot cottage is tucked away on a little lane near the top of Solaris Hill in the heart of Old Town. The lot measures about 40.5' X 71.5' or 2903 sq ft. The above photos demonstrates the lot is large enough to accommodate two cars and that suggests all kinds of wonderful things a new owner could do with this property.
I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps to try to determine the approximate age of this small home. It first appeared in the 1892 map when it was identified as 19 Low's Alley.  The street name was changed to Lowe's Alley on the 1899 map. The same house first identified as 19 Low's Alley became 717 Galveston Lane on the 1912 Sanborn Map.  The above photo shows 717 Galveston Lane in 1965. You will notice a 1950s vintage CBS (concrete block structure) located next door to the south. The Sanborn maps showed a wood house on that same site dating back to the 1892 map. It was obviously razed for some reason. What a loss as this block is otherwise picturesque. I looked thru my old shoebox and found a couple of additional photos taken in the 1930s by WPA workers which I want to share with you now. Those photos depict the charm of this gem of a location which until a few years ago had not been updated to the same extent of other areas of Old Town.
 I studied this 1930's vintage photo of Galveston Lane which appeared in Redbook magazine in the 1930's. I am fairly certain the photo was taken just off Windsor Lane looking south. Notice the large house to the left rear. That must have been the house that was razed. The children were probably standing in front of 717 Galveston Lane.
Galveston Lane jogs to the left about 60 feet south of 717 Galveston Lane and passes by Bill Butler Park. It then proceeds a couple of hundred feet to the south where it ends and intersects Olivia Street. The photo just below shows 845 Galveston Lane as it appeared in 1965. The second photo shows 845 Galveston Lane a couple of weeks ago. That historic eyebrow house is now near the completion of its renovation and expansion. While 845 Galveston Lane is a much larger home and sits on a lot which is huge by comparison, the photos demonstrate the transformation potential for vintage homes on this little block. (845 Galveston Ln will appear in an upcoming blog on the projects of Key West.)
 Finally, I found the above photo of Solaris Hill taken in the late 1970s. I noted the location of 717 Galveston Lane with an arrow. Solares Hill is the highest point in Key West. Houses in this area are located in the X Zone for flood insurance purposes. If you buy this house, your lender will not require that you purchase flood insurance. But it you do buy it, it will be at the cheapest rate offered.

The listing Realtor describes 717 Galveston Lane this way:
"Old Town Key West cottage on a large lot on a quiet lane, ready to make your own. Off the beaten path yet centrally located to everything in Old Town. Walk in Shed and off street parking for 2 cars."
I sold a similar home on Galveston Lane a couple of years ago. Although it had been updated, my buyers are going to expand that house and add a pool They have engaged local architect Guillermo Orozco to design their upcoming renovation project. 

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and listing photos of 717 Galveston Lane which is offered at $459,000. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to set up a private showing of this little house with a great location. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

You Never Know What You'll See in Key West - A True Story

Two of the things I love about Key West are our wonderful weather and that life here never is predictable. Take for example an incident that occurred a few years back when I was riding my bike to the old Club Body Tech on upper Duval Street. It was riding west in the 800 block of Washington Street around 6:00 AM. I remember it was still pitch black outside. Just after I passed the El Patio Motel I saw a young man in his early twenties walking down the middle of the street. There was nothing special about that, per se. This part of the Casa Marina Area does not have sidewalks. Many people walk in the street. But this guy was different. You see he was totally nude. He walked to my left. I looked back. Yep, he was buck naked. No doubt about it. I thought to myself that's too odd even for Key West. I circled the block and found a public phone at the youth hostel on South Street where I called the police. The operator asked me to describe the naked man. How was I supposed to answer that?

I got back on my bike and headed over to the corner of Reynolds and Washington Street which was the area where the nude dude should have reached by that point. I saw a young woman at the bus stop and asked if she had seen the nude man. She said she had. She said he disappeared behind some apartments on Washington Street.  I looked back and saw no sign of the guy. The young lady asked me to wait with her until her bus came.  I told her I had called the police and agreed to wait.

About 5 to 10 minutes elapsed before the police finally arrived. The nude man had totally vanished by this point. I flagged the cop's attention  He got out of his car and started to approach me. I started to describe what  I had seen earlier. Then I noticed the unclad lad emerge from between two apartment buildings. As I write this I just recalled the guy was then carrying a baseball bat. He did not have the bat the first time I saw him.  The cop saw him and walked toward him with his flashlight drawn and said "What in the hell do you think you're doing?" He put the guy in his patrol car and took him to the pokey. Later that day I looked at the Monroe County Sheriff's office website. The naked bat boy was being held on a mental health hold.

 You never know what you will see in Key West. That's just part of the fun about living in Paradise.

If you are thinking of buying a place in Key West please consider working with me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, email:  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

618 Whitehead Street, Key West - Just Listed!

Just Listed 618 Whitehead Street, Key West, Florida. This 2354 square foot home sits close to the street.  Half the house is obscured by a giant Royal Poinciana tree. If you look carefully you will see pediments over the windows and doors.  These pediments often are clarions of gracious interiors - often, but not always. I searched thru my old shoebox and found a photo of this property and the house at 620 Whitehead Street taken half a century ago. The picture of 618 Whitehead shows the architectural features in greater detail including the pediments over the windows and doors and the ornate railing on the first and second floor porches.  A small fence existed then but the tree had not been planted. The two story home located at 620 Whitehead Street was razed in 1972. Today that space is a parking lot.
618 Whitehead Street in the mid 1960s
618 Whitehead Street first appeared in the 1889 Sanborn Fire Map as 328 Whitehead Street. The street number was changed to 618 Whitehead Street on the 1892 Sanborn map. This property is located one-half block to the south of the Monroe County Courthouse. I found an aerial photo taken in the 1920s. I marked the location of 618 Whitehead with an arrow. You can click the photo to enlarge it. If you look at the image you will see that this house appears to be an amalgamation of three buildings combined into one larger building.  Moreover, today there is a fourth addition at the rear.  Most of the buildings in this block, whether originally built as houses or commercial, are now commercial enterprises. The Green Parrot Bar is at the corner of Southard Street.  There are a couple of small guest houses, a few law firms, a legitimate massage studio, and a snack shop. This building was previously the "home" to a title company, a real estate office, and an apartment. Today 618 Whitehead Street is a a gracious single family home which was renovated to be used as a monthly vacation rental. 
No matter how many additions and uses this property had in the past, the present home is gracious and inviting. The home has been updated to meet the demands for modern day living with style and panache.
Like many recent renovations, this home has been re-oriented by moving the prime living and social areas to the rear. Bedrooms are located at the first floor front and on the second floor. This gives the homeowner the opportunity to incorporate the large pool and deck into everyday life.
The house sits on a 32.76' X 100' lot which is fairly large for Old Town. The lot looks and feels much larger because the front of the house at the property line. The result is the backyard seems immense. Swimming and tanning enthusiasts will love this place. There is a nice covered space just off the living room and kitchen which the current owners use for outdoor grilling and dining.
There are two bedrooms located at the first floor front both of which have en-suite baths. You will notice an abundance of original Dade County Pine walls and ceilings in this home. Each bedroom has been designed with large closets as well. Central air was added to the property. Each bedroom has a ceiling fan as well.
The stairway leads to the second floor landing which provides support to my proposition that three buildings were combined into one house The two photos above show the entry door into the master bedroom located on the rear side of the second floor. This is a large and spacious room with a huge walk-in closet, large en-suite bath, and a door that exits the rear sundeck which overlooks the pool below.
The second floor rear deck provides a nice place to read a book, take a nap, or plan what you or your guests will do to complete the day.
Both second floor front bedrooms have private en-suite baths and ample closets. They share immediate access to the covered front porch which spans the breadth of the house. This is a perfect perch for watching tourists and locals making their way each day as they walk to or from the end of Whitehead Street to take photos of the Southernmost Point and Hemingway House or to walk west on Southard Street toward  Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Beach. Duval Street is just one block to the east. This is the perfect location for an active owner or vacation guest to be located to take advantage of all that Key West has to offer. CLICK HERE to view more photos I took of this home.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 618 Whitehead Street which is offered for sale at $2,200,000. 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


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.