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Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 That Was the Year That Was in Key West Real Estate

Each year I like to look back to see what was sold and select what I think were the outstanding sales for our little island paradise. Most of my customers are buyers.  Most of my buyers are folks from up north in America who are seeking either a getaway place or a potential retirement home. As a result I have been inside a lot of the houses that were sold in the past year and have a pretty good sense of what constitutes a good price, a good location, or just a really good all around value.
I wrote about 1435 Flagler Avenue a few months back. This home was typical of many places in Key West that had been occupied by locals for multiple years. The home needed updated and had some issues but overall it was a solid home in quality area.  It had once beautiful yard and pool that will be brought back.  I liked this place a lot. 
9 Gerome Avenue sold for $465,000. It is located on a walking lane near the Chevron gas station on Truman Avenue. It was a mix of an historic house that had been updated years ago but was also a place that would benefit from a new update. If this house had been located on an easier location to get to and if it had parking, it would have sold closer to a million dollars. And for the buyer who wants to be away from everything, the added value just may be the isolation.
I showed 1116 Varela Street on many occasions and had even more phone and email conversations with potential buyers. While the house pictured above may not look like much, the value with this property was the enormous lot not visible from the street nor the ability to add a pool and re-build an existing out building at the rear. This place sold for $475,000.
1518 Rose Street is a mid-century three bedroom, two bath home with a pool located in the mid-town area of Key West. It needed some updating but it was a solidly built home with a large pool and nice private yard. Buyers looking for homes now will probably have to pay more money to get something not as large or as nice and probably not get a pool.
1717 South Street presented a big challenge to the bank that owned this very large and once magnificent house. The 1900 sq ft home also had a guest cottage, pool, and sat on an 8531 sq ft lot. The place sat vacant and not maintained for several years. There was both water intrusion and termite damage that scared a lot of potential buyers. The people I showed the house to were overwhelmed by the amount of work that was required to fix up the place or the prospect of tearing down and building a new house on a glorious lot. I would have gone of the tear down and rebuild route myself. This place sold at $460,000.  Big Bargain despite the cost to renovate or rebuild. The lot by itself was worth more than the sales price.
1107 Southard Street is located amid some of the nicest and most expensive homes in Old Town. The place as a family homestead for generations. The place will require extensive repairs and renovation but will be worth perhaps 150% more than the price paid to purchase this fixer - $492,000.
237 Golf Club Drive was my listing and sold in just two weeks on the market for $744,000. The house had been thoroughly updated and offered more interior and protected outdoor living space than any other house when listed and sat a much larger lot than any other home in the Sanctuary.  I have sold dozens of homes at the Key West Golf Club and consider the community to be one of the very best values in Key West.
The picture perfect cottage at 628 Frances Street sold at a huge discount to asking price - just $675,000. I wrote about the place in my blog a couple of times and showed it several.times. When the sold price got published, potential buyers told me they would have paid that amount. They just did not expect the seller would be willing to sell that low. This is a lesson a lot of people learn in Key West. Sellers and their agents should list houses at realistic asking prices and buyers should not be afraid to make offers at price points they believe more reflective or real market value irrespective of the asking price. 
The mid-century modern at 1611 Seminary Street received a clever renovation that totally transformed the old house into functional 21st century home with open living spaces. This home sold for $865,000. 
25 Sea Lore Lane was another bank owned property that lingered on the market for quite awhile. The 3,023 sq ft house sat on a 14,688 sq ft lot with great open water views. The house was built in 1994 but seemed a bit dated as the kitchen and bathrooms were typical of construction materials used then which is three decades ago.  This place sold for just $940,000. This was a bargain!
I have sold a couple of homes in the Key West Writer's Compound over the years including the former home of John Hersey. This year a two story cottage at 715 Windsor Lane Rear came onto the market and went under contract within days of being listed. It sold for $900,000 and was worth more. It was adorable. None of these homes have off street parking which pose a challenge for a lot of potential buyers who fear separation anxiety over not being able so know there car is outside the window like a puppy. And some people don't like the idea of sharing a pool. This is about the best walking location and one of the quietest places in Old Town. 
915 Washington Street is an adorable little cottage located on one of the best blocks in the Casa Marina Area. It sold at $1,095,000 in one day on the market. I wrote about it in my blog and sent emails to various potential buyers and talked to a couple of buyers on the phone. I understand when people located a thousand miles away may reticent about committing to spending $500,000 or a million dollars for a house on a sight un-seen basis.  However, I have sold houses for more than that where the buyers did not see the house until inspection. This is one house where a buyer could tell from the photos and good old GOOGLE MAPS what a great location this house enjoyed.

527 Margaret Street appeared in my blog a couple of times over the past few years including when the original beat down house still existed.  The old house was taken down to the front frame and totally rebuilt and then stylishly outfitted by a noted interior decorator. The new "old" house sold in a flash for $1,460,000.
1104 South Street also appeared in my blog a couple of times. This is another magical Casa Marina Area home. Local architect Matthew Stratton transformed the prior master bedroom into the new living room and re-purposed a legal apartment over the double garage into the new master quite. This stunning home sold for $1,800,000.
744 Windsor Lane was purchased by my buyer for $3,675,000. This was the highest priced home sold in Old Town this year. This is the fifth home this buyer has purchased from me. As of today there are 34 homes for sale in Key West offered at $1,800,000 or higher. And there are many priced under the $1.8 price point. I am a buyers agent and I would love to work assist anyone reading my blog in finding their perfect place in Paradise.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas from Key West - 2016

As we drove over to have Christmas Eve dinner at the Banana Cafe last night, I saw the finally completed H20 Hotel on upper Simonton Street in Key West. While I think it is totally out of place in Old Town, it caught my eye and ear. Water trickles down the two-and-one-half story star lighted fountain and adds a sense of calm to the ever increasing calamity that continues to invade this once quiet part of the our island home.

Merry Christmas to my loyal readers and those of you who have contacted me to help you find your place in Paradise. While prices continue to rise, rest assured that they are only to go higher and higher as the years pass. 

I just celebrated my 23rd anniversary of moving to Key West. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

1021 Packer Street, Key West - Renovation Project with Potential

Key West has changed a lot in the past half century. The town was re-discovered in the 1970s by hippies, gays, and the literary. During the 1980s and 1990s word of this magical laid back town located out in the ocean spread by word of mouth. Soon thereafter the Monroe County Tourist Development Council was formed to promote tourism. Depending on who you talk to the TDC has been a wondrous success or a Frankenstinian ogre that is destroying the very Paradise it was designed to promote.
The above black and white photo was taken in 1965 and shows 1021 Packer Street with an open front porch with center doorway and windows on either side.The house resembled a bungalow rather than cigar maker cottage which was as is typical of this part of town. A later owner enclosed the front porch where a bathroom was added adjacent to what may have been the original living room. I believe that owner built the rear addition that included a kitchen, living area, and rear deck. The addition must have been made before HARC existed or was done in the middle of the night. I can't believe any governmental body officially would have approved what was built. The building is fine. The interiors are laughable.
The current house and rear cottage offer 1395 square feet of living space and sit on a 4002 square foot lot (42.8' X 93.5') located in the south of Truman Avenue area of Old Town Key West. The large house across the street was sold in June 2016 for $2,100,000. That property was built in 2005 and sits a 5667 square foot lot. That sale suggests to me that a nicely renovated house would fit very nicely into this improving neighborhood. I believe 1021 Packer Street is a buying opportunity for a buyer who is looking for a renovation project in Old Town.
I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps and learned that 1021 Packer Street existed as of the 1892 map - or to say it differently 1021 Packer Street sat on this lot for at least 124 years. The City of Key West officially designated this house as a contributing structure. Longtime readers of my blog know that our Historic Architectural Review Commission (HARC) has guidelines which suggest how renovation to contributing structures like this should be addressed. This old house and this particular lot pose a challenge for a potential new owner as well as the City of Key West. Earlier this year a new survey was prepared for a then pending sale of the property. The survey showed that a portion of the front roof and eave encroached onto the adjacent lot at 1119 Packer Street.  Encroachments occur from time to time and owners can often resolve these issues with easements, land swaps, or land sales. Because of lender issues on the adjoining property the encroachment could not be resolved. A cash buyer could take title to the house as it sits and hope to resolve the encroachment in years to come. A new lender however probably would not loan new money with the encroachment. The most likely buyer for 1021 Packer Street will be a cash buyer who is looking for a project property.
The listing Realtor describes this listing this way:
"Historic 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in Old Town plus a 240 sf out building that needs City approval to rent. Backyard big enough for a pool. The house encroaches on 1019 Packer and needs to be lifted and moved 3 feet. Price reflects contractors bid of $142,500. See documents. This location is increasing in value with a $2 million home right across the street."
The City of Key West is aware of the challenging lot line issues for this property. I think the listing Realtor has a developed a workable solution to fix the problem and to preserve and to improve the original house.  The encroachment will disappear when the house is moved. Many of the existing trees will be removed and all new piers added. The listing Realtor suggested to me that a new owner might try to get permission to add a new first floor addition and place the original house on top thereby creating a two story house. Otherwise, the house would be moved onto the piers and renovated. Nothing inside the existing house is worth saving. Money spent on replacing windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC will be money very well spent. 
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 1021 Packer Street which is offered at $575,000. Click on the DOCUMENTS tab to view the survey and contractor bid. I think this will be  a really fun project. I look forward to seeing how this place will get renovated. There are very few houses with this much potential at a price this reasonable - especially houses located in Old Town. If you are looking for such a place, please contact me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to set up a showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

32 Hilton Haven Road #4, Key West - Beautiful Waterfront Condominium

Just Listed 32 Hilton Haven Road #4, Key West described by the listing Realtor this way as being the largest waterfront condominium available in Key West. Two units were combined to make one 2258 square foot home with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a large open concept kitchen, dining, and living area open water views from the fifty foot balcony.This unit has been completely renovated from bottom to top including new wood and tile floors, recessed lighting, wind impact doors and windows, kitchen cabinets, appliances, and so forth. The waterfront view remains forever inviting.
While standing in the kitchen I took the above photo and imagined living in this space. Everything blends together so nicely.  One of the complaints I have often heard about other condominium properties is how alike they are which is the same as saying how unimaginative they are. This place is the opposite. The living space is so large and open. There is plenty of room for a real family to live here and not be tripping all over each other.
The bedrooms are located on the four corners of this unit each of which has an adjacent bathroom.  Having this much separation ensures privacy for the people occupying these spaces. The current owner chose to use one bedroom as a den and enlarged the adjacent laundry to add an office. All living space is located on the second floor. There are multiple entrances to the deck area as well.
32 Hilton Haven Road is offered for sale at $1,349,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and listing photos. After you have imagined how wonderful this place would be to own, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to set up a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West. The listing agent promised to get my buyers in at a moments notice. Let's take a look. You will not be disappointed.


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.