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Thursday, January 31, 2019

Pot Luck in Key West

A few days ago I was showing properties to prospective buyers. The custom in Key West is for the listing agent to be present the property and explain the features. Many of our homes are historic or unique. The photo above is not the house. The gent was sitting on the front porch. The listing agent asked him if we could go inside. He was an affable fellow said yes. He asked me if I would like an orange slice. I replied "with vodka". He said we drank it all last night. It was a small cottage. My buyers peeked their heads into the single bedroom, moved over to the kitchen, and prepared to exit. The listing agent asked my lady client if she looked into the bathroom. Oh, she forgot. She went back into the bedroom and opened the door finding the Mrs. on the pot. 

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Monday, January 28, 2019

411 William Street Unit 16, Key West Transient Licensed Condominium



The Island City House is an assemblage of old Key West buildings that were joined to create a hotel that later became a prospective condominium complex. I dug out the old shoe box and found some old photos which show 411 William Street, 808 Eaton Street, and the more recently built three story building recessed deep into the lot.  The grounds are densely with tropical foliage and winding paths which lead to the pool, main office, and on-site laundry.
411 William Street as it appeared in 1913
411 William Street as it appeared in 1941
During renovation in 1970s
808 Eaton Street photographed by the WPA in the 1930s
808 Eaton Street as it appeared in 1965
808 Eaton Street as it appeared in 1970 during renovation
808 Eaton Street August 2012
 808 Eaton Street  January 2019
The properties were built around 1889 and were converted into condominiums in 2005.  Only four the units actually sold. The developer retained the other units and continues to manage the entire complex as the Island City Hotel.  Preferred Properties just listed Unit #16 which  is managed this way. Income records are available by prospective buyers. Owners must use the property management team to manage the property and may use the unit no longer than 90 days per year.

Unit #16 is located at first floor rear of the 411 William Street building. It is accessed from walkway adjacent to the building on William Street or alternatively through the walkway from the arched building on 808 Eaton Street. Both paths are short but long enough to pass exotic tropical foliage which will make guests feel they are in Eden. Unit #16 has a private covered porch. The newer building and sunny pool are located opposite. 
The one bedroom unit has 332 sq ft of living space divided between the bedroom, bath, and living area.  Dade County Pine walls quickly remind guests they are staying in an historic structure and not some motel on Roosevelt Boulevard. This is stuff Key West memories are made of. This unit has the essentials for a comfy visit, but I suspect the pool, grounds, and overall ambience of the Island City House are what guests will remember forever. It is that kind of place. But since it has a valuable Key West transient license, the owner can rent this condo and make money on it all year long. This unit is rented like a hotel room. There is no restriction as to the number of days, weeks, or months that the unit may be rented. The only limitation is use by the owner. 
 
 

 The listing Realtor describe Unit 16 this way:
"Unique Opportunity to own a condo/hotel in the heart of Key West.surrounded by the most outstanding maintained lush gardens. This one bedroom deluxe suite has kitchen facilities and a private large covered patio on the main floor, just steps away from the pool and spa. As an investment based on the information that has been submitted, the net income has been exceptional."
Frequent readers know the value of location. This place has one of the premiere locations in all of Old Town. This block of William Street boasts some of the finest older homes in Key West including the B.P. Roberts House across the street. He's the one with headstone in our cemetery that reads "I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK". The Historic Key West Seaport is a short two block walk to the north. Duval Street is three blocks to the west. And there are numerous great restaurants and specialty food shops like the Eaton Street Seafood Market across the street and the Old Town Bakery two blocks to the east. 

CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet on 416 William Street #16 with its valuable Transient License offered at $499,000.  If you would like to see this property or any other property in Key West, please call me, Gary Thomas, 305-766-2642. 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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Sunday, January 27, 2019

11 Nassau Lane, Key West - Open House Rain or Shine


We had a rainy morning last Sunday and then just before noon sunshine and puffy white clouds broke out making a wonderful afternoon. I hope that is the case today.
The "rock" in the driveway is plastic. It's plastic and weighs about 4 or 5 pounds. It's easily movable but stays where its at to remind guests of other neighbors on this small lane that the front parking belongs to this house. The side gate opens to a beautiful passage to the rear garden.
Notice the outdoor shower on the wall. People who live in Key West love their outdoor showers. I sue mine in the rain - I just turn up the water temperature a little higher.
The previous owners bought installed the orchid garden which is irrigated and lighted at night. There is room to add a pool but that would mean a loss of some seating area. There is room on the side passage for workers to dig and install a pool. Set backs are five feet from rear and either side.
The second floor bedroom and bath is accessed via an exterior spiral staircase.  The views in my opinion are incomparable in Key West. The only home I remember with nearly as much a romantic view was from the bathroom in Nancy Friday's former home on Pinder Lane and her view was through the bathroom windows. Only certain people get to live in magical settings. That is how I described Nancy Friday's former home when I sold it. This is such a place.

Two bedrooms, Two baths. Historic cottage. 11 Nassau Lane, Key West - $849,000.


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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Key West Real Estate Market Timer - Mr. Smarty Pants


Some lessons in life are learned the hard way. Some are learned the easy way. Before Google maps, guys like me would drive by intuition. I would head a direction assuming my destination would appear.  Eventually I would stop at a gas station or someplace and ask someone how to get to where I intended to go. I know I am not the only guy who did that.

Thirty years ago I took a road trip from Denver to Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and back.  I rented a car so as to not put all that many miles on my Mercedes. It was near sunset when I drove through Las Vegas. The gas gauge was showing that I was getting low on fuel. I was on a big four lane road when I saw a turn-off at a huge gas station complex. As I approached I saw what seemed like dozens of cars waiting in line to buy gas. I decided to get back on the highway and go to another station. I drove and drove. There were fewer and fewer cars. Darkness set in. Forward I drove occasionally looking at the gas gauge.  It got really dark and there were fewer cars. I don't recall anybody passing me. I was on a large divided highway with a concreted median lined by huge trees on either side. The inevitable happened. The car slowed down and then stopped. I had been having discussions with my self as well as my Ex who kept reminding me that I could have bought gas in Las Vegas but was too impatient.

I started walking forward. We had been driving well over an hour. I had no idea where I was or how long it would take to reach civilization. And then my luck changed. There was a light on the opposite side of the highway. As I got close I realized it was a gas station.  I thanked God, looked both ways, and crossed the median. I explained my plight to the gas station attendant who sold me gas and took a big deposit on an ancient gas can that held about one gallon of gas.

I returned to my rental car. The gas can did not have a nozzle.  I broke the fat end of a large vodka bottle thinking I could insert the bottle into the gas tank opening. That didn't work and I didn't have any vodka to drink either. Then I decide to use the Rand McNally road atlas. (I didn't need it. I drove by intuition anyway.) The covers were thick. I wound the paper into a funnel shape and was able to pour the gas into the hole. The car started. We drove past the gas station several miles before I found a place to turn around to go back to fill the car. Then I had to go back toward Las Vegas many miles before I could turn around to head toward Denver.   I recall that night very well. Even thirty years later.

I tell you this story because I deal with people all the time who think they know what is ahead of us in life.  Most of the people I deal with are very smart. Really smart. I have written that statement many times and have almost always noted that is why they have the money to buy a second home in a place as expensive as Key West.

There is a lot of information available on the internet about Key West real estate. A lot of that information comes from Zillow which in turn extracts and repackages information it gets from our Multiple Listing Service and other governmental and technological websites.  I have worked with several buyers that have created very sophisticated computer programs and files to help them analyze the market. I think they think that data is the key to understanding the Key West real estate market.

I also need to report that a lot of Realtors have been discussing the state of the Key West real estate market and are asking the same questions I hear from potential buyers:  what do you think is going on?  I think we have all perceived a slow down in sales and an increase in prices. Lately we have witnessed a large number of price reductions. Then in the past two weeks we had a very large number of new homes listed for sale. One successful agent with multiple annual sales of million dollar plus houses suggested the public is scared by the government shutdown and Trumps' trade war with China. Other agents have expressed general concern over Washington in general. Some say we are headed toward a recession. Everyone has an opinion. No one knows the future. That is for sure.

I just checked the Key West MLS. We have 22 single family homes under contract in the Old Town, Casa Marina, Meadows, Truman Annex, and Sunset Key areas of Key West. We have a glut of very expensive homes and not enough lower priced homes listed for sale. Lower priced houses in the Old Town and surrounding areas are more likely need new money to make them habitable to the standards of our community which often times makes our lower priced homes very expensive compared to other parts of the country. But our weather and quality of life is probably better than most parts of the country.

I represent three of the twenty-two home buyers with properties under contract. My buyers are buying houses in a high demand but limited supply market. They chose to buy now rather than wait for the market to do whatever it will do. We really don't know what that new market will be or when it will be. But we do know what now is. 

If I had known there was not another gas station for miles and miles, I would have never gone down that lonesome highway driving on gas vapors. I made a bad decision based on a false assumption that there would be another gas station. That is one mistake I will never make again. I would rather stand in line or to pay too much for gas than to get stranded on a roadside in the wilderness. 

Mr. Smarty Pants might be wise to take advantage of the general apprehension in our real estate market. We know what is available now. We can try to negotiate the best deal now. Sellers should share the apprehension of the future. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. Cash now is better than less cash tomorrow or more cash three years from now after you have died of a heart attack.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday OPEN HOUSES in Key West - Find Your Future At Last



If you have been searching for your Key West dream home for too long, drop by the two Open Houses I am hosting today between 12:00 to 2:00 PM in Old Town. Conveniently located one block apart.

409 Grinnell Street is an lovingly restored four bedroom Grand Conch House which was awarded a Ceramic Star for historic preservation in 2014. Offered FULLY FURNISHED at $1,275,000CLICK HERE for all the details.

11 Nassau Lane is a sweet two bedroom two bath cottage located on one of Key West's slow lanes.  Offered FULLY FURNISHED at $849,000. CLICK HERE for the details.  Better yet see it in person.

Both homes will be Open

12:00 to 2:00 PM





Friday, January 18, 2019

409 William Street, Key West - So This is How the Other Half Lives

The Gideon Lowe House located at 409 William Street in Key West was built circa 1866 or during the Civil War.  While Florida had seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, Key West remained under Union control as the island was command central for controlling access to the Gulf of Mexico and merchant shipping. This Grand Conch style home is located on a block of similar prestigious homes of that era.  William Street is viewed by many as one of the prettiest blocks in the historic district.
As the prosperity of Key West waned, the house became a bed and breakfast first known as the Gideon Lowe House and later as Whispers Guest House.  Then the property was sold to a local group who meticulously renovated the original house and added a pool, decking, and gardens for which that owner received a ceramic star for historic preservation and renovation. When you enter the entry hall you know you have arrived at an important home. The attention to detail is evident as you make your way to the rear where the new great room, dining area, and kitchen are now located. Three sets of doors open out to the deck and pool area.
I saw this home last week during Realtor caravan. As I was walking out to the pool I overheard another Realtor remark "So this is how the other half lives!"  It is. And they live it very well. Everything is perfect.
The outdoor living area will become a big part of your everyday living routine, especially in the winter when it is cold as blazes up north. The inside and outside become one when the doors are opened and guests move easily between the two areas. The pool and waterfall catch your attention with color and the sound of water falling. The colors of the house blend with the natural colors of the landscaping, the water, and sky. It all just falls together.
This home has two master suites including the first floor master bedroom with Mahogany doors which open out to the front porch. There is a large walk-in closet and huge master bath. The house has new heart pine floors throughout the house. Even tall men won't feel cramped in this home which has 10.5 foot ceilings.
The second floor master bedroom also has petite French doors which open out to the second floor covered balcony. It likewise has a large walk-in closet and equally large bath. The laundry room is located at the stair turnaround. Another staircase leads to the two guest bedrooms and bath which are located on the third floor. The front bedroom is being used as an office by the current owner. I snapped a photo of 408 William Street which I reported on in my blog two days ago not knowing I would be writing about that property a few days later. The views from the third floor are intoxicating if you love old houses.
CLICK HERE to view the Key West MLS datasheet and listing photos of 409 William Street, Key West, offered at $3,450,000.  The home is being offered FULLY FURNISHED. The listing Realtor has a detailed list of the items. 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. We need to sit on the front porch and take that sofa for a ride.

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Disclaimer

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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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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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.