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Friday, March 9, 2018

923 Fleming Street, Key West - Investment Property with Renovation Potential

Not all that much has changed to the house at 923 Fleming Street, Key West during the 52 year time period between 1965 when the black and white photo was taken and 2017 when the color photo was made. The building is a modified Greek Revival which locals refer to as a "Conch House". This just happens to be extra large.  I checked the historic Sanborn Fire Maps and found a much smaller building on this site as early as the 1889 map.  The 1912 Sanborn map shows the side addition and a long more narrow addition at the rear. The 1912 map shows the front porch extending out onto Fleming Street which was noted as being "brick paved". Some of the most beautiful homes in Key West were and still are located on Fleming Street. The listing Realtor describes 923 Fleming St this way:
"Unparalleled 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, 2,788 square foot, two story home on a 4,500 square foot lot with a gorgeous lagoon style pool and parking. It has three legal units but could easily be converted into a spacious single family home in the perfect Old Town location. The poolside apartment could become a large one or two bedroom guest cottage and the other apartment could become a downstairs master suite. It is beautiful as-is, yet lends itself to capturing your dreams of creating your personal paradise in the heart of Old Town Key West. Your outdoor options include some of the best porches in town and lush landscaping surrounding a beautiful heated lagoon pool. Off-street parking adds to the convenience, but from this location, you can walk almost anywhere. Once inside, your indoor living is framed by Dade County Pine, a fully renovated kitchen featuring exquisite granite counter-tops and hand-crafted Hansel and Bringle cabinets and an extraordinary number of rooms upstairs and down."

The listing Realtor shows the square footage as 2788 sq ft. This is one very large house with two stories of exterior porches (not calculated in the interior square footage). There is also a small cottage at the left rear. The lot measures 45' X 100'. There is a narrow walking lane adjacent to the east property line which is access to a house located at the rear of 923 Fleming but which is not a part of this property.
I saw this property a few days ago on Realtor caravan - a monthly tour or new listings in the Old Town and Casa Marina Areas. I instantly felt at home, but I had never lived here. In 1993 I purchased a similarly large property on Eaton Street. It had been a 13 room guest house, but was closed for two years after it had been foreclosed upon. I was new to Key West and although I had been in a few big houses on various trips to Key West, I really did not appreciate the value of these big old houses nor the value of good location. I do now. Let me share my thoughts. 
1.  This is a big and well built property. It has been well maintained. The photo below shows us that much of the original character has not been mess around with. The metal louvers are still being used. A new owner might want to install new windows, but a purist might prefer to keep the old character in tact.
2.  The house sits right at the city property line. In fact the Sanborn Map suggests that the easternmost porch may extend out onto the public right of way. This fact and the knowledge the lot is 100 feet deep tells the back yard is very large. We can see the pool in the photo, but it is the size of the yard and the potential it offers to a new owner that is the dominant fact.
3.  It has been my experience that a single family residence in a location like this would be more valuable over time than a multi-family. But a multi-family offers a new owner income and different ways to use the property until such time as an owner wants to convert it into a single family residence. The existing apartments are very nice and should command high rents because of their condition and this great location. The photos show the property when fully occupied. The front main floor unit is the only space occupied so a new owner could move in and occupy any of the other spaces and rent the other.
4.  The attic has been updated and offers additional living space that may not be included in the total square footage of the building. This is an amazing space that offers a lot of possibilities.
5.  I usually tell buyers to live in a home for six months or longer before deciding how to change it. Many of our old homes are too small and buyers try to figure out how to create more living or storage space. This place is the opposite. It's pretty big, maybe too big for most buyers. But that size gives a buyer with money and vision opportunities that less wealthy and maybe less visionary folk cannot achieve. 
The second floor front porch wraps around the front of the house to the west. It is a nice place to sit and people watch all year long. Around 5:30 PM on the last Friday in each October that space will be gold as it offers prime time viewing of the People's Parade during Fantasy Fest. Thousands of revelers will pass this location and many will be deliriously jealous of whoever owns this home. I am not suggesting that a new owner convert this so a single family home and rent it as a monthly vacation rental, but if you did the place should be very successful because of the size of the house, number of bedrooms and bathrooms it could have, the awesome pool and garden area, and the perfect location close to everywhere but far enough away from the hoopla. And, oh yes, the proximity to the other very valuable homes in the same block.
I sold two of the larger homes across the street a few years ago. 923 Fleming Street looks mighty pretty from the front porch of 914 Fleming Street. CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and all listing photos. Then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing of this property. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

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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.