Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mayor Plans to Designate Country Song the Official Song of Key West

When you think of Key West, what music comes to mind?

For many it's Jimmy Buffett - whose career started here on the island now synonymous with the song Margaritaville. Each year the Parrothead fan club holds its Meeting of the Minds in Key West.

For others, it's Bahamian music - reflecting on the island's Bahamian roots, and today still well represented by the Junkanoos.

Latin music is also a part of the island - with its historic ties to Cuba. And lets not forget the Village People's song Key West.

But how about a country song? Don't laugh.

During the upcoming Songwriters Festival, the Mayor of Key West, Morgan McPherson, is about to designate the country song "Key West Address" by James Slater (James who?) as the "official" song of Key West. (There is only one country radio station and one country bar in Key West)

Listen to the song below:

Sounds to me like a Jimmy Buffett knockoff. If you're going in that direction, then why not designate a Jimmy Buffett song?

What do you think? Should the Mayor decide for all of us the "official" song of Key West?

What tune would you vote for?
Like this post? Let us know:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Massive Migration of Birds in Key West

Birding enthusiasts should be well rewarded in Key West - if current radar indications are correct.

According to radar images, there is a massive bird migration underway from Cuba to Key West, and then on to the Mainland.

The radar image, attatched to this post, shows the migration from last night to this morning.

So, keep an eye out. Visit Fort Zach and other bird friendly places. You will likely be rewarded with more than a few different migrating bird species.

If you see something interesting, please comment here and share your sightings with the rest of the birding world.
Like this post? Let us know:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Chart: Foreclosures in Key West's Most Expensive Neighborhoods

According to a map of Key West generated by the RealtyTrac website, Key West is still deeply in the midst of a foreclosure wave. This will continue to pressure prices for at least the foreseeable future.

A search of the Key West zip code (33040) on the RealtyTrac website returns 646 properties: 171 pre-foreclosure, 22 auction, 87 bank-owned, 23 for-sale-by-owner (FSBO), and 343 resale homes. The chart, above, shows all the properties in various stages of foreclosure (except the "resale" properties).

As the chart shows, many of the pre-foreclosures are in Old Town, the most expensive part of the island - an area thought to be more immune to foreclosures and dropping prices.

Click on the map, above, to see a larger view.
Like this post? Let us know:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Foreclosures & Other Forces Pressure Key West Market

Countrywide, America's largest mortgage bank, currently has 14,451 REO properties for sale on its website (click here to see the Countrywide website inventory) - these are foreclosures that the bank now owns. This totals nearly $3 billion in current listing price. In Florida alone, Countrywide is trying to unload 1,561 properties they have foreclosed on for a total price of $315,324,354.

Key West is not immune. Currently, the Countrywide website lists 10 Key West properties that are REO = Real Estate Owned (by the bank, that is).

The chart included with this post shows the rapidly increasing number of Countrywide REOs since the beginning of the year.

Despite real estate prices falling significantly these past two years, the number of properties for sale in Key West remains stubbornly high. Currently there are over 1000 residential listings for the island of Key West - far outweighing the few small number of transactions occurring - and roughly the same as two years ago. Until the inventory level drops and more closely meets demand, prices have no way to go but continue down.

Even if the high inventory levels magically disappeared, there would still remain downward pressure on prices due to:

  1. the very uncertain state of hurricane insurance in Florida. Hurricane insurance already costs roughly 2% of your houses value each year. Currently, Citizens' Insurance (the State-backed insurer of last resort) is proposing doubling premiums. Though valiant efforts by grass-roots organizations have managed to keep increases at bay, when the next hurricane hits Florida, all bets are off.
  2. the Florida budget is a disaster - and the county budget isn't much better. Currently, the Florida legislature is working on a budget $5 Billion less than last year. This will devastate many health and educational programs statewide. One has to recognize that this contraction in spending will have its own recessionary effect on Florida.
  3. the US is, by some measures, in a recession. House prices will not make any progress upward with these headwinds.
  4. the developers throughout the Keys are still planning to build hundreds more luxury units, which will more than meet any increase in demand
  5. banks are in peril due to their own lax lending standards and falling house prices. Even if people wanted to buy, they would have difficulty finding financing - especially since South Florida is just about the epi-center of the national housing crash.
  6. despite the big drop in real estate prices in Key West, many sellers continue to list their properties at stratospheric levels. Anyone listing for more than $500 per square foot should lower their price if they want to sell their home anytime soon (most property is selling at around $350 per square foot and less). Many are probably upside down, and will end up foreclosed upon, further pressuring prices.
  7. housing prices in the Florida Keys dwarf income levels - an unsustainable imbalance.
  8. many more foreclosures are coming. despite interest rates being lowered, mortgage rates haven't fallen very much. Borrowers are "upside down" and trapped in variable-interest-rate loans. Foreclosures pressure housing prices lower since banks are eager to drop prices in order to sell property and raise capital.

Like this post? Let us know: