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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Key West Horror Story No. 6

In the year 2010 I set up a showing of an older Key West home which the listing agent described as "Old Town Gem, over 100 years old, the property is certainly worthy of a total restoration. Perhaps with removal of non-historic additions, one can have a nice patio/garden with pool. Off-street parking also possible. Excellent location." The mls primary photo is above and two other photos appear immediately below. You can tell from the outset that the place needed work. Of that, my buyer was fully aware.
My buyer wanted to see this place because it met his requirements as to architectural style and appeal, location, and price. The listing agent met us on the sidewalk in front of the house. He told us the older woman sitting in the car parked in front of the house with the large dog was the owner. He then told us the owner's grand daughter would show us the interior.  That was odd from the start. Agents are supposed to show their listings - not the principals. He whispered that he would wait outside - as if the small size of the house was the reason he would not go inside. It was not until after we saw the house that we understood why he chose to stay outside.
Betty Furness who demonstrated how to use the new appliances of the 1950s
When we crossed the threshold we saw only a couple of pieces of  furniture which were obscured by piles of newspapers and magazines stacked nearly waist high combined with odd things encased in old grocery store plastic bags. We had to move across the floor wedging our way through piles of papers or things saved in grocery bars. The stench was over-whelming. We moved toward the rear to checkout the kitchen and back yard. It became clear that this house needed more than a minor fix-up. The back was dark and nasty. I can't recall anymore than the rear was surrounded by dank old wood, We turned around and saw the grand daughter standing next to the to the inside doorway leading to the second floor. The young lady pivoted on the spot and opened the door as if doing her best impression of Betty Furness with arm outstretched inviting us to go up the stairs to view the second floor.  My buyer lead the way but stopped after a step or two. He said something like "Gary, the smell is horrible!"  I suggested that he breathe through his mouth so we could at least see what was upstairs. He was a big man but briskly ascended the stairs. There was a semblance of a second kitchen of sorts with a table where some pared potatoes were sitting on a small table. The smell was putrefying. We scanned the room, turned our heels, and made a quick exit out of the house thanking the young lady for allowing us to see her home.
The listing agent sold the house to someone who did a remarkable transformation. The old house was lifted up to the sky after which a new pier foundation was built. The house was lowered and rebuilt in place. Most of the framing was replaced. The house was expanded to the rear where a small pool was built. There is even a small second floor rear deck off the master bedroom. To my surprise the new owner was able to create an off street parking space in front as well. The new owner paid $216,500 for the place. I would think the house would sell for around $1.2 million in today's market.
Sometimes houses of horror can have happy endings. This is one of those times. The listing agent was correct in his prognostications about the potential for this old house.  If you are looking for a place in Key West and are not working with another agent, please consider contacting me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, or send me an email at  I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. Let me help you find your place in Paradise.

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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.