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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

1525 Von Phister Street, Key West - Just Listed

Just Listed - 1525 Von Phister Street, Key West. This home was recently totally renovated and now has all the features current home buyers seek including an open concept living area, high vaulted ceilings, impact rated glass windows and doors, Hardiboard siding, new roof, covered rear loggia, pool, off street parking, and a white picket fence.
All that remains of the twentieth century house is some of the original framing as this twenty-first century renovation is au currant. There is a new addition at the rear where the master suite and kitchen are located. The interior flow was reoriented. Now the two guest bedrooms  are located to either the left or right just off the front entry.
The interiors are crisp and clean. Attention to both minimalism and to detail are evident everywhere. The walls are painted a mild gray tone and accented by white. The gray floors contrast the white base boards, trim, doors, sand volume ceilings. New wind impact windows and doors are also framed in white added a bit of "drama" to the otherwise minimalist interior. Inconspicuous recessed lighting is used extensively.
The master suite is located in the new rear addition where the gray and white theme continues. The bedroom is spacious but not too big to be intimate. An alcove provides just the right amount of space for the bed. Opposite there are built-in drawers and media center. You can't see it (that's intended), but the sliding glass door to the covered rear loggia disappears into the wall. Two banks of closets on either side of the hall lead to the spacious en suite which includes a tub, shower, and two sinks. A new impact glass window introduces natural light into the space.
An office nook was added next to the kitchen where another recessed sliding door disappears into the wall with a transom-style window above and large kitchen sink window add more light into this space. Quart counter-tops and stainless steel appliances contrast to the gleaming white cabinets.
Subtle features like recessed lighting, exterior ceiling fans, slate tile floors, drapes, Trex decks, sprinkler system, and solar light system blend together to create two pleasant sitting areas on the loggia. The deck has sunning areas on the east and west side of the long pool. In a town known for its "dip pools" it's nice to see one where you could do laps. This home is located in a neighborhood of both full time and second homes. It could easily be a full time residence or a monthly vacation rental. CLICK HERE to view more photos.
1525 Von Phister Street Key West is offered for sale at $1,595,000. CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and then please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642, to schedule a private showing. I am a buyers agent and a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties Key West.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Hooray for the FBI, NYPD, and other Law Enforcement Agencies

Hooray for the FBI, NYPD, and other law enforcement agencies 
in their capture of the terrorist bomber. 

My grade school teachers always taught us that we each have a permanent record. 
What we do, what we say, what we touch, and how we act matters. 
Our actions and our words have consequences.

DNA and fingerprints matter. Truth matters. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Not Haunted in Key West

Twenty-five years ago today I did the scariest thing in my life - I bought a shut down guest house in Key West. The 13 room guest house had been foreclosed upon by the Small Business Administration which let the place sit boarded up for two years. The auctioneer removed some of the plywood coverings so that potential buyers could take a look at the inside before making a bid. All bids were final and the property was not subject to any further inspection.
The main house and carriage house were once the home of Dr. and Mrs. Warren. Genevieve Warren is second from the left pictured above. She was one of the founders of the garden club. Rightly so as the guest house property had one of the grandest gardens in Key West back in the day and still did even though the Small Business Administration let it go to seed during its lack of maintenance. The trees were overgrown and vines and weeds crept all over the place. The government agency did not pay the nominal annual license fees to keep the business licensed which resulted in the city voiding the 13 guest house licenses. The lights did not work, the water was not turned on, and I had no idea what other conditions might be discovered were I to be the successful bidder. The bidding went slowly in $5,000 increments. A guy who worked with the auctioneer approached me and asked if I really wanted to buy the place. I said I did. He asked me my what my highest dollar offer would be. I said $500,000. (This was in 1993 when prices were much lower than today. You cannot buy a crumby condo for $500,000 in Key West today.) He said I should bid it all and confidentially told me I would blow everyone else out of the water. They would fear me and said I would get the property. I waited for the bidding to continue for a minute or so and then I bid $500,000. The room went silent. The auctioneer beckoned higher bids. Then he gave fair warning, banged the gavel, and announced I was the high bidder and said the government representative would have to confirm the bid. That happened after they confirmed my deposit check.

My partner and I plus our dog moved into the property the week before Christmas 1993. Within two months we had the trees trimmed, the buildings tented for termites, and the rooms cleaned and ready for business. I hired an attorney to help get back the thirteen licenses that had been lost. In the meantime I obtained five transient licenses which were available based on the size of the building rather than the number of rooms. We opened for business the first week of February 1994 and were busy every day thereafter.

Before we opened the doors to the public we got to spend a night or two in each of the bedrooms. Later we lived in the manager's unit tucked away off to the side of the original dining room which we used as our office. The main house was among the grandest of the grand back in the day. And it was still in really good condition when we bought it.

I sold the place a couple of years later. I regret that now but that is what I did. Years later the woman I sold it to wanted to move away from Key West. I showed the property to a potential buyer. I recall her standing in the main entry way telling my buyer about ghosts in the house. I looked at her and thought she sounded ridiculous. That was a lot of hooey.

Three years ago I received an email from a woman writer who was working on a tour book on Key West wherein she was going to discuss the "paranormal".  I told the writer I could not offer any stories about the paranormal as I had not experienced any such thing. I don't know where or why people come up with things like this. Things that go bump in the night are often the result of gravity and not a ghost dropping an object or stepping on a cat's tail. Or too much alcohol.
I have been selling unhaunted houses in Key West since 1996.  I guess Realtors up north in American have to add riders to let potential buyers know their listings are not haunted. If you are looking to buy a place in Key West give me a call.

Friday, October 19, 2018

533 Petronia Street, Key West - Back on the Market

I wrote about 533 Petronia Street in Key West in July when it was listed for sale. It went under contract right away, just like I predicted. The house is in livable condition, but it is best suited for a total renovation.  Let's look at the outside and the interior. You can then appreciate the value of this location and this home.

Back on the Market 533 Petronia Street, Key West.  This is the perfect historic renovation project. It appears to be in pretty good condition suggesting that improvements made by the next owner will be more decorative than structural in nature. There is an attractive front yard, gated off street parking, and room for a pool in the rear. However, I do believe other improvements would necessarily include the upgrading of electrical, water, air conditioning, replacement of windows and doors, and the addition of a new kitchen and baths plus the addition of a pool, decking and gardens.  When completed the "old house" essentially would be new.
I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps to determine the approximate age of this property. It first appeared on the 1889 map as 517 Petronia Street. The street number was changed to 529 Petronia on the 1892 map and finally changed to 533 Petronia Street on the 1899 map. This tells us the house existed as early as 1889. I then dug into my old shoebox and found the above black and white photo taken in 1965. Compare it to the present day photo at the top. You will see some gingerbread was added to the porch columns. The white picket fence was replaced by a chain link fence - usually chain link fences are the ones replaced. The charm of the visage is undeniable.
The house sits to the right of center of the 45' X 100' lot.  The entry door is centered in the middle of the house which measures 24' wide by 50'  deep according to the Property Appraiser records. In actuality, the house is longer as there is appear to be two mystery additions about which the Property Appraiser is unaware. More on that later.
This house reminds me of how so many of the houses in Old Town looked like 22 years ago when I began selling houses here.  Many of the original houses had been modernized in the 1950s or 1960s. The were plain Jane in every aspect. But they had what folks refer to as "good bones" or "potential".  As these houses were bought and renovated, the stock of houses with "potential" diminished.  This particular house has a very interesting street presence, lot size, and house size plus structural condition that suggests this would be a great candidate for renovation. The photos above and below show how the current house is laid out. Forget the the way the place looks now instead focus on the size and condition. And then open your mind as to how you might re-create the spaces into what could work for you and your family or partner or whatever.

The existing living room is located at the front and is very large. The adjacent front bedroom and bath are tiny. The room sizes and configuration make no sense for modern day life! The board and batten in the bedroom strongly suggest the walls are Dade County Pine. If the current ceiling were vaulted, the already large space would be dramatic.
A doorway at the rear of the living room flows into the kitchen. A hall on the west side has a bath and closets followed by a second bedroom. While I did not measure the space for accuracy, I am pretty sure that this is the only part of the house on the Appraiser's record which shows the house measuring 24' wide by 50' deep. In fact there are four "rooms" beyond the known structure: a closet, a bath, the TV or family room, and a third bedroom.
The rear "phantom rooms" add 312 sq feet of living space to the known 1200 sq ft. A thoughtful renovation might change the main entry from the front to the west side which would allow the master bedroom to be located at the front where the porch would be private to the master suite. Bedrooms could be located along the east side and a new open concept living and dining area placed on the west side where there is a sizeable open area which could become a tropical garden and/or deck leading to a pool at the rear.  Multiple sets of French doors might be added on the side and rear to bring light into the new open concept living area. The opportunities to create are boundless.
The rear lot has two storage rooms. The west room presently has a rooftop deck of sorts. A new owner might convert this space into a poolside bar. I would nix the space myself. The east rear storage could be kept without interfering with anything. CLICK HERE to view many additional photos of the house and yard.

This property is located about one-half block east of Duval Street. Several of the adjacent homes have transient rental licenses and others are rented as monthly vacation rentals. When renovated this house could become a very popular vacation rental given the size and location. This would be so easy to kept rented throughout the year.  The most successful vacation and transient rentals are located near Duval Street and have off street parking. Guests will love it!

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 533 Petronia Street, Key West  offered at $799,999. Call 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.


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.