Key West, FL Real Estate News

By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
Not too long ago I was passing time with a local real estate attorney before he was to close a deal I was working on. We traded a couple of stories about this and that when I mentioned the name of a former head honcho at a Key West bank. The lawyer's ears perked up. I knew the bank officer was let go after the bank where he worked was closed by the FDIC. The FDIC often keep the big shots and operations managers to maintain institutional knowledge. The lawyer told me the acquiring bank kept the former honcho for a short time and and then sacked him for theft. Not money. Toilet paper. Banks keep meticulous records on money. Apparently they keep tabs on toilet paper as well.   
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
Just Listed: 1302 Reynolds Street, Key West. This smart looking 2/2 is move-in ready and priced to sell. Offered at $1,150,000. Let's take a look outside and then sneak a peek inside.  The house sits at the corner of Reynolds and United Streets. A white picket fence with gated entrance entrance welcomes visitors into this unexpected treasure.  I had searched through my old shoebox for historic photos of the house. I could not find any. I found photos of nearby houses and then realized the house originally faced United Street and that the enclosed east side porches and deck expansion re-oriented the house toward the east and that the address was changed to Reynolds Street. Upon seeing the house in person I saw a gate on United Street on the west side of the house with steps that led up t...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
I was in Colorado two weeks ago when Roger Emmons of Truman and Company listed an empty lot across the street from where I live for $1,450,000. The corner lot is just 4,265 sq ft or 91' X 47' feet. I previously wrote about the property when there was a 1950s house and pool. Current owner owns the property across the street and took the existing house down and filled in the pool. He bought the property for its land value. He paid $1,182,747 in March 2020. The lot sold in two days on the market and closed this week for $1,400,000 ($328 per square foot land only) or a profit of $217,253 in 18 months. Not bad I'd say. I remember showing the formerly listed property to a know it all who already owned a home here. I told him the value of the lot by itself and suggested he snap it up, rent the...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
This really happened. About 27 years ago. That Key West business that I dealt with is no longer in business. Thank God.  In October 1993 I purchased a former guest house in Key West at a public auction held by the Small Business Administration. The SBA had foreclosed a mortgage on an operating guest house located in a prime Old Town location. The building sat boarded up for two years. I took possession in December 1993 and undertook the clean-up and moved forward to re-opening the business.I drove out on Roosevelt Boulevard to a local appliance dealer that sold SubZero appliances. I purchased a new stand alone refrigerator and stand alone freezer. I previously owned a SubZero in Denver and knew it to be reliable brand. I wanted the best. Not the cheapest.We had just refinished the wood ...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 4 Gecko Lane is one of my all time favorite properties in Key West. I think I saw it the very first time in 2003 soon after it was listed for sale. It was at that time a one-of-a-kind property where two houses were made into one. A few other people copied the concept but the original remains the best. The property even appeared in Vanity Fair Magazine in the mid 1980s just after the initial renovations were being completed. Let's look at some photos to see why this home is so special.Gecko Lane is one of those Slow Lanes of Key West that I muse about. The lane is located on the north side of Eaton Street between Margaret and William Streets. If you blink while riding your bike or car, you will miss it. That is why locations like this are so sought after. They are hidden gems. Upon arri...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 Just Listed, but not by me, 823 Terry Lane, Key West. The concrete front porch base and brick columns tell us that the house was updated about fifty years ago as those building elements were common then. I dug into my old shoebox and found a photo of this house that was taken in 1965.  The 1965 photo shows a wooden porch base with decorative wood rails and columns. The tree in the front was there then and is even large now. I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps to see if I could determine an approximate time this building was built. I did see what looks like a smaller dwelling on the lot in the 1892 map. The 1899 map shows a longer structure that I believe is the current house. I mention this because our property records often provide erroneous construction dates. This house is sho...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
The above photo was taken from the Key West lighthouse in 1910 - just fourteen years after the Great Fire of 1886 which destroyed most of the commercial buildings and many homes in Old Town. You can see the spires of St. Mary's Cathedral near the upper right and Ernest Hemingway's House in the lower left.Most of the homes in Old Town were built by 1899. Use your wildest imagination and contemplate how so many homes could have been built on an island with few natural occurring building resources and serviced only by boats in a time before power tools, delivery trucks, air conditioning, and porta potties were available. The above photo was taken from the corner of Truman Avenue looking north on White Street in 1928. I added the arrow on the left side to indicate 916 White Street which was...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 Just Listed 630 Margaret Street, Key West. This has to be one of my favorite houses in Old Town. I love it for the simplicity in design and its super-quite location abutting Carey Lane and across the street from the Key West cemetery. Let's get the basics out of the way. The Monroe County Property Appraiser shows the house was constructed in 1938. I checked the historic Sanborn Fire Maps and actually found the house first appeared in the 1912 map. The lot was vacant up to the 1899 map. There were numerous other house built on Margaret and Angela Street (later renamed Carey Lane. 630 Margaret St was an infill. So we know it was built sometime after 1899 and before 1912. I mention this as the house is atypical for its design as compared to other homes in Old Town which are often referred...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
This really happened. Sometime in the early 2000's. I was working as an agent at Prudential Knight Real Estate at 336 Duval Street Key West. I had floor duty that day. A woman beyond middle age came inside and asked to look around the building. She said she grew up in the property which was once the Key West school house and later was a single family home. Later it became a real estate office. I walked her through the property and then we went out back where there are six very valuable parking spaces. She pointed to the northwest corner of the lot. She paused. Hesitated. And then recalled the most dreadful remembrance of having lived there. The out house in the northwest corner.She told how horrible it was anytime. She mentioned the unbearable smell, the heat and the rain but it was esp...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
The newly listed property at 316 Southard Street in Key West popped onto my MLS platform late Thursday afternoon. I immediately sought permission from the listing agent to blog about it. You may scratching your head wondering how much medicinal marijuana I was on. Trust me, I was as sober as the Pope. Maybe more. Southard Street is main public entry in the Truman Annex which has become the most popular residential community in Key West. The aerial photo above was taken in the 1920s. I added the X to show the location of 316 Southard. Several of the neighboring properties were razed and rebuilt. The court house square has been both expanded and rebuilt. The old jail and original court house in the center remain.  This photo from 1900 shows how large Key West had expanded after the Civil ...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 Just Listed 1106 Petronia Street, Key West. How cute is this place and what a great Old Town location on a one-way street that is only two blocks long. I dug down into my old shoebox and found a photo of the property back in 1965. It hasn't changed much. What do you think? Actually it aged better than most people do. Let's look at more photos of the exterior where most people who live here spend most of their time. And this house has a terrific outside. The house was built in 1893. It has been in the same family ownership for decades. It has been lovingly cared for. The above photo was taken on the front porch looking northwest toward the Key West cemetery located on the far side of Frances Street - about 200 feet to the west. The house sits toward the front of the 3,668 square foot lo...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
There are many ways the pandemic has changed our lives in Key West including the elimination of in person Realtor Caravan. Boo Hoo! you say. It is a real loss for me as it gave me and other agents the opportunity to see new listings and houses that had been on the market longer than six months to get a fresh look. I have resorted to going to open houses to check out new listings as an alternative.  The photo above is not from one of the open houses so don't think what I am about to write has anything to do with this house. But I did select this photo because it is typical of what I am seeing in many renovated and some newly built homes in Key West - blah.One particular open house was a brand new renovation. It had new windows, doors, floors, lighting, air conditioning, on demand hot wat...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
  Readers are aware that I have not posted very many actual real estate posts lately. That's because the market has dried up. Many well priced new listings with go under contract right away while many others are so outrageously price I won't give the agents the time of day. There are a lot of new agents in town. Be careful who you are dealing with. Ask a lot of questions. Feel the agents out. Ask them their background - what they did and where. How did they get here, how long have they been here, and how did they become the real estate expert the claim to be. So what does the lady on the horse have to do with the return to old times in Key West? For decades both seasonal workers and long time residents would take a break from Key West and head north for cooler climates from August thru ...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
Pete's Meats on Duval Street in Key West     Pete's Meats now located at an undisclosed  location far from Duval. What happened?  
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 Just Listed by Preferred Properties Key West, that's where I work, but this is not my listing: 3930 South Roosevelt Blvd Unit E 211 in the Las Salinas Condominiums. This 807 square foot second floor units has been freshly renovated and is price to sell in today's crazy real estate market.   I don't know if the brand new kitchen with quartz counter tops and new stainless steel appliances will catch your attention first or if it will be the view of the Salt Ponds. Las salinas translates as the salt flats. The Key West salt ponds are a naturally occurring feature on just a short distance from the Atlantic Ocean. It is an expansive area with bright views to the south, west, and north but still only a four mile ride to Old Town. Both the master bedroom with en-suite bath and the living room...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
from October 15, 2010901 Packer St - Old Town - Key West  The Twist Part follows the original post. The Key West Cemetery as viewed from 901 Packer Street    901 Packer Street in Old Town Key West is located directly across the street from the Key West Cemetery and is in desperate need of The Re-Animator. The listing Realtor describes this property thus:"Great Old Town Key West location within walking distance to Duval Street and all of the Key West attractions. Perfect renovation project on a corner lot with off street parking. Located in an X500 flood zone, this is one of the highest elevations on the island."This house was built in 1948 or 1953 (there are two different dates in county records). The relative newness means the house is not a contributing structure and that means a new ...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
 I have written several blogs about the creepiest house I ever saw in Key West. I won't post the address of show the front of the house because it was saved and restored and what once was is not more. There were pens with little dead animals and feces all over the place. The owner's bed was the filthiest thing I ever saw.   I had a pocket Panasonic camera with me when I entered the house. It worked fine until that date. I took photos of both floors, the stairway, and the exterior. The photos all came out bizarre and distorted. Only the above photo came with clarity.  A couple of days ago I saw the two images above of a different home on another site. They reminded me of the house in Key West. I guess some people are too smart for their own good. They don't have time to clean up after th...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
I check the Key West MLS HOTSHEET multiple times throughout the day - every day.The HOTSHEET shows MLS changes in real time including new listings, price changes, back on the market, contingent show, contingent, pending, and closed listings plus text changes. Last Friday afternoon I noticed three more solds posted since earlier in the day. I looked at each sold to see the property, the price paid and the agents involved. It was only after I looked at each sale that I noticed all sold over asking. Then I recalled seeing several over asking solds earlier in the week. We all know that homes are selling over asking across the nation. So what is going on here is not an anomaly. This year I personally sold three houses over asking. I also know that the Key West real estate market exploded in ...
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By Gary Thomas, Realtor to the Dreamers
(Preferred Properties Key West)
from 2015  Abridged from a longer blog I confess: I Wore Blackface That's little me sitting in the right bottom corner of the photo of my first grade class at Mountain View Elementary School in 1954. All of the children in my class and all of the other students and staff and even the entire town were white. Mountain View is located on west side of the Denver County line in Jefferson County, Colorado where it was illegal for Negroes and other non-whites to live in the 1950s. I returned to Denver in 2015 to attend my fifty year high school reunion. On the day of the reunion I drove over to see my old school, went inside, and learned that my old school was a private school for primarily underprivileged Hispanic children. My former lily white suburb had turned Asian and Hispanic and underpr...
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