Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The William Pope Crawl

In our small town of Key West, one street remains the most popular tourist destination on the island. Packed with bars, restaurants and shops, the mile long stretch is a must see for the millions of tourist who continuously stroll down its sun covered sidewalks. Sure, many can say they’ve thrown back Margaritas and beers in some of the most famous bars in the world, but how many can say they know who the street is named after?

That man was William Pope Duval, adventurer, lawyer, cavalry man and former state governor. He was born in 1784, a boy who seemed to get in a lot of trouble ran away from home in Virginia at 14 to the frontier of Kentucky. He carved a successful life and was admitted to the bar when he was only 20. In the following years, he rode as a cavalry officer and served as a congressional representative for Kentucky. In 1822 he became Florida’s first territorial governor, appointed by President James Monroe. At that time Florida had no seat in which he could govern. Until the new capital was constructed in the small Indian town of Tallahassee, Duval governed from a boat docked at St. Marks. He was a popular governor, serving for 12 years and known for his peaceful dealing with the Native Americans.

So the next time you’re throwing back some drinks at Sloppy Joes or doing the Duval crawl, remember William Pope, a man’s name eternalized in down town Key West.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Key West Real Estate Moves Back in Time with the Smurfs

We all know that our real estate market has been a roller coaster ride this decade. I find it interesting to go back and look at how prices have changed dramatically over the years in one Key West neighborhood.

Any one who has spent much time in Key West off Duval Street probably has heard of Key West Estates nick named "Smurf Village". Why the Smurf moniker? Some say that the mansard style roofs make them look like mushrooms where the cartoon Smurfs makes their homes. These homes, in New Town on Duck, Eagle and Harriet Ave, four to a building have been popular entry level homes for Key Westers since built in the late 80's.

When built they were all the same size 1040 square feet, 2 bedrooms and 1.5 baths. Over the years there have been many transformations. The owner has a yard, owns the land and can make many improvements, adding a pool, an addition, enclosing a porch, etc., but it is always a "Smurf".

In the 90's I remember being in discussions with other Realtors, while on caravan if we thought a Smurf House would ever sell for more the $100,000. The collective answer was "no way” shows how savvy real estate agents are. In 2004 one of these town homes sold for $519,000. That was the last sale in 2004. The first sale of that year was $345,000. That is a 50% increase in one year! Where are we now? With a scourge of foreclosures and short sales the average Smurf sales price in 2009 is $166,106. How many years ago was that the average price? The closest that I can tell is 2001, the year of the attack on the World Trade Center. We have stepped into the time machine of real estate travel and gone back 8 years. The good news is that you cannot buy a Smurf house today. They have all been bought. The last several that came on the market had multiple offers within days (a bidding war). This tells me that we will see an increase in prices to satisfy demand. Yes in Smurf Village they have hit bottom and the upward movement of prices is now here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tax Credit Not Just For First Timers

As expected the $8,000 first time buy tax credit has been extended by the federal government. The tax credit will apply for all home sales closed January 1 through April 30, 2010 and will also apply to sales that close by June 30, 2010 as long as they are under contract by April 30, 2010. The $8,000 tax credit is only for buyers who have not owned a principal residence for the last three years, but now there is a $6,500 tax credit for a buyer that has owned their own home. The maximum allowable income is the same, $125,000 for a single person and $225,000 for a married couple. Just as for first timers there is a maximum purchase price of $800,000. The move-up/repeat program requires that you have lived in your home for 5 consecutive years of the last 8 and are buying and moving into your new principal residence. There are no requirements that you must buy a home of equal or greater value, just no transactions between family members allowed. Hopefully many home owners will find this tax credit to be the extra motivation they need to move into the house or neighborhood they always wanted or maybe just downsize.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Open Water Gulfview Home For Sale

REDUCED AGAIN!!! $554,900
One of the newest gated communities in Key West, Roosevelt Annex is located off of North Roosevelt Boulevard offering waterfront homes and townhomes with beautiful open water views to the Gulf of Mexico.

Just a short walk, bike ride or drive to Old Town Key West and nearby shopping centers, restaurants, post office, drug stores, movie theater and many more establishments.

Invite some friends over and relax in the backyard of this well maintained townhome with a cocktail in hand, barbeque a juicy hamburger, take a dip in your very own private pool and enjoy the amazing sunsets over the bay that leads to the Gulf of Mexico.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Perfect Storm for Real Estate Purchase

With three significant conditions converging together in one place in time we are experiencing a never matched opportunity to invest in real estate. We now have mortgage rates below 5%, the more then likely extension of the $8,000 first time homebuyer credit, and record low prices in the Lower Keys. How long it will last is unknown, but it is here and it is happening now.

The week of October 9th showed an average 30 year mortgage rate of 4.87%, down from the prior week average of 4.94%. This has actually contributed to an 18% increase in refinance applications. The Federal Reserve has announced slowing down programs intended to lower rates, but it is predicted that there will be little change in the next 30 to 45 days.

The $8,000 tax credit for first time home buyers, due to expire November 30, 2009 is most likely to be continued for at least six more months. There is even one bill sponsored by a senator from Georgia that is proposing that it not only be extended, but it be for $15,000, no longer be for only first time home buyers only, and have no maximum income caps (currently $75,000 for a single person and $150,000 for a married couple). Wow, that would really crank things up to the next level!

Last, but not least, everyone is so well aware of the fact that we have never seen prices this low. In some neighborhoods the values have gotten in the time machine of real estate travel and gone back 8 to 9 years. A family can now actually buy a home and have a monthly payment less then rent. We no longer need an affordable housing program, it is here, and investors, you can now buy and actually have a positive cash flow.

The planets will most likely never align together in this way for a very long time, call me today to talk about your next real estate purchase.