Friday, November 30, 2007

Key West Videos

Dreaming of Key West? Maybe your margarita machine broke?
If so, here is a selection of entertaining videos, thanks to YouTube, that are related to Key West and the Florida Keys.

Like this post? Let us know:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

No Sunshine For Florida Real Estate

Data released today confirms that Florida's real estate meltdown is worsening.

The number of homes sold in Florida in October dropped 29% compared to the same period last year.

The median sales price in October for existing Florida single-family homes dropped 8% compared to the same period last year

The number of condos sold in Florida in October dropped 20% compared to the same period last year.

The median sales price in October for Florida condos dropped 8% compared to the year ago period.

Nationally, the real estate picture is bleak - despite assurances from realtors. The US inventory of unsold homes continues to increase - making a turnaround unlikely any time soon. In October, total housing inventory in the US rose 1.9% - equal to 10.8 months supply at the current sales pace.

Meanwhile, Key West real estate continues to suffer as the number of unsold properties remains at near record levels. Adding to the worry is the large number of developments underway and, for the most part, unrecorded in the local MLS. Price reductions in the 100s of thousands of dollars are not uncommon. (The November 25, 2007 chart from Zillow, above, illustrates the current state of the Key West market.)

Nearby neighbor Miami has seen home prices has drop 10% over the last 12 months.

But have we seen the worst of it?

Probably not. And here is why:
  1. Too much supply. As the basic law of supply and demand states: When supply is greater than demand, prices fall.

  2. Homes are still overpriced. In Key West, many properties are still listed at over $1000 per square foot while the few that sell are going for far less (often under $500 per square foot).

  3. Banks, mortgage companies, and financial institutions are rapidly bleeding money from bad loans on overinflated properties. If you are looking to purchase with credit: GOOD LUCK. And if you are a subprime borrower (or are an investor/flipper/speculator reliant on "liar loans"), sorry - that market has evaporated.

  4. Foreclosures continue to climb. When a bank ends up with a property, it typically sells at a 30% loss. This pressures surrounding properties' prices downward.

  5. Appraisers are coming under fire from banks (and municipalities) for allegedly overstating the value of property. Banks have suddenly become very skeptical of appraisers - and this may lead to the next leg down in real estate pricing

  6. Developers keep building - further glutting the market with properties
Like this post? Let us know:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Here Comes the EXCLUSIVE Neighborhood?

Key West is traditionally regarded as very inclusive - welcoming all walks of life.

Residents mingle - unaware of income strata, occupation, accolades, and sexual preference.

And that is why it is so strange that the new, uber-wealthy McCondos and McMansions currently being built here in Key West are usually marketed as EXCLUSIVE.

The Associated Press released a story this week about this new phenomenon - which was published in USA Today and the Orlando Sentinel.

Meanwhile, Key West is dealing with falling real estate prices, foreclosures, and a glut of properties on the market. Yet the building of EXCLUSIVE developments seems unabated. Developers are like steamships - they take a long time to change direction or stop.

Hundreds of $1 million+ properties are being offered, including King's Pointe, Beachside, Casa Marina Residences, Parrot Bay, Harbor House, Steamplant, and Key West Harbor Yacht Clubs (though they do not appear in the local multiple listing service).

Usually, these properties are offered for a cost in excess of $1000 per square foot. Yes, you read that right. And some are offered as high as $1350 per square foot! And these are CONDOS - not spacious houses with land.

But if recent Key West sale prices are any indication, properties are typically selling for below $600 per square foot.

Meanwhile, our nearest big-city neighbor, Miami, is having a real estate meltdown. Predictions are that prices there may drop 20% over the next 12 months. And Florida will likely have a $2 Billion shortfall next year due to declining property tax receipts.

So one has to wonder, what is the future of these EXCLUSIVE McDevelopments? Will they make it? And what will the character of Key West look like?
Like this post? Let us know:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

[PICS] Key West Powerboat Races

The Key West World Championship powerboat races are underway this week.

This is the WORLD championship - the Superbowl of offshore racing.

According to tour promoters, Key West is the favorite venue for offshore powerboat races - allowing fans to watch the races from shore, mingle with the drivers and check out the boats in the nearby pits, and enjoy typically calm racing conditions.

Spectators lined the Key West harbor - from Fort Zachary Taylor State Park to Mallory Square.

Below are photos from one heat of the races. (click on them to see larger versions)

Seeing boats enter the tranquil harbor at over 100 mph, followed by a swarm of helicopters, was stunning. Congratulations to the winners and all the participants. We may never get the Superbowl, but Key West is happy to crown a world champion.
Spectators watching the powerboat races from Mallory Square in Key West.
Race fans watching the action from Mallory Square
Fountain Marine power boat racing in the Offshore Powerboat Championship.
Fountain Marine, always a leader, roaring by.
High speed boats racing past the island Sunset Key in the Key West harbor.
Powerboats racing by Sunset Key in Key West's harbor.
With helicopters overhead, the race begins
The start of a race - the big (and LOUD) boats head offshore.
Power boats speeding past Key West hotel
Speeding by the Westin Resort (formerly the Hilton) at over 100 mph.
Powerboat racing photo picture
Power boat race in Key West underway.

Modern powerboat racer flying into the harbor
Looking like a spaceship, this power boat is nearly as fast.
Like this post? Let us know:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Luxury Condo Towers Over Lazy Lane in Key West

Traveling down Lazy Lane yesterday, one couldn't help but notice the large construction development in progress. Known as Harbor House, this 32-unit luxury condominium is under construction and will likely change the character of the Key West Bight.

The developers website offers "special pre-construction pricing starting at $1,866,750". With units "ranging in size from 1,900 to more than 2,300 square feet", that translates to nearly $1000 per square foot.

This development caused quite a bit of anxiety among Old Town residents, who thought the initial plans for over 100 condo units was too dense (and tall) for the area. After a long battle, the 32-unit version became the final plan. And now, the construction is under way.

While riding down Lazy Lane, adjacent to the Schooner Wharf Bar ("The Last Little Piece of Old Key West") and home to little shacks housing cottage industries, one can't help but notice the two-and-a-half-story building practically touching the funky Lane.

Notice the photo attached to this blog post (click the photo to see a larger version).

Aren't there set-back requirements that restrict building so close to the property line - especially for a building that is nearly 35 feet tall?

Or does Harbor House own Lazy Lane?

Or was this a part of the development agreement?

Will there be any landscaping between Lazy Lane and this building?
Like this post? Let us know: