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New Listing: 1015 Elgin

Historic renovation meets Old Town Charm in this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home located on a quiet lane in Key West. Originally built in 1893 this home has been completely renovated. When you enter the home tall ceilings and an open living and dining area will greet you. The gourmet kitchen features top of the line stainless steel appliances, gas range, and granite countertops. There is a full pantry and laundry room. On the main level you will find the first floor master with an en-suite bathroom. Upstairs you will find an additional master bedroom as well as the guest bedroom, both bright and airy with ample storage. You will find original hardwood floors throughout and Dade County Pine walls. French doors from the living room open to reveal secluded backyard with lush low maintenance landscaping. There is an outdoor dining area, heated pool with Trex decking, and additional seating area. This property features off street parking for 3 cars with access from both Eaton Street and Elgin Lane.

This home is conveniently located in Old Town Key West, just 3 blocks from the historic Seaport and 6 blocks from Duval Street.

View a 360 view of this home here!

 

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Key West Holiday Happenings!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Some people have a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit here on the island, for me, it’s just the opposite.  There are a ton of great holiday events and traditions that both locals and tourists look forward to.

Below are a few of my favorites!

Friday, December 1st– Pet Pictures with Santa

Grab your favorite furry friend and head to The Seaport.  Under the nautical Christmas Tree located in the heart of the Seaport you can get your pets picture taken with Santa.  Photos benefit Boys & Girls Club of the Keys Area, Inc.

 

Saturday, December 2nd – City of Key West Holiday Parade

The annual Hometown Holiday Parade starts at 7:00pm with special guest, Santa!  The parade route starts at the intersection of Truman and White Streets.  The parade will then head down Truman Avenue and head to Eaton Street.

 

Saturday, December 9th4th Annual Parade of Paws

There will be a dog parade starting promptly at 10am where all in the community are welcome to parade their pups (costumes encouraged!) followed by a Holiday Bazaar where local vendors will showcase their businesses.

 

SantaCon

Dig out your Santa costume and join the party as tons of Santas gather at Conch Republic Seafood Company for the annual event.

 

27th Annual Key West Lighted Boat Parade

The annual Key West lighted boat parade will start at 8pm.  Viewers can watch the nautical parade along the Harbor Walk of Lights in the Seaport or for the best spot in town, contact my girls at Lagerheads Beach Bar to reserve a private table.

 

Saturday, December 16th – Rudolph the Red Nosed Run

Join the Positive Step for their 10th annual 5K that leaves from the Southernmost Beach Cafe. A Positive Step is a community based non-profit organization dedicated to serving the highest risk youth and their families.

 

Wednesday/ Thursday, December 27th & 28th – Holiday Home Tours

Join the Old Island Restoration Foundation for the kick off of their 2017-2018 Home Tour season.  The home tours feature historic and renovated homes through out Key West each as unique as their owners!

 

Monday, December 31st – Ring in the New Year!

World famous for our New Year’s traditions, pick a spot on Duval and watch the fun unfold!  Sloppy Joes (200 blk of Duval) is where they will drop the Conch Shell

Christopher and the crew at LaTeDa (1200 blk of Duval) will “pop” a huge champagne bottle.  And of course, Sushi will come down in her red shoe over at the Bourbon complex at the 800 block of Duval.

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Transformation Tuesday: 3227 Pearl

We’ve talked about steps to purchase a house, how to get qualified & what happens after you have an accepted offer, now let’s talk a little bit about what happens after you close, specifically on a fixer upper!

I’m going to take you through each part of our renovation process, room by room I’m going to break down the vision, the obstacles, how we overcame the obstacles, and how choose and put the finishing touches on each space in the house.

When we were in the purchasing process we were deciding on what projects we were going to hire out and which we were going to tackle on our own.  If you remember we used hard money to purchase this property so time was of the essence.  We knew if we chose to take on the bulk of this renovation we would have to schedule it between our current full time jobs and it would end up taking twice if not three times as long.  That being said we chose to hire a contractor to do the majority of our renovation.   The yard was perhaps the easiest project of the entire renovation, which is why we chose to take it on ourselves.

key-west-gingerbread-house

Ya’ll, when we purchased Pearl Avenue it was in quite a state; to say the yard was neglected was an understatement.  Trees were overgrown, there was a huge portable carport staged within the yard for “extra covered storage”, plants and trees that should have been transported years ago to larger pots had sprouted legs and rooted into their now home, with their original plastic pot woven in to the roots.  In the far right corner was a pond that was mosquito haven and in the back right sat a tired old hot tub with a termite-ridden lanai.

The lower deck was rotted and on it’s last legs, the paint having worn off long ago. The lanai and hot tub had seen better days and there were two rogue outdoor storage sheds along the left side of the house.

Dream house right?

The first thing that we did after closing was figure out what was salvageable and sellable.  If you are working on your first flip or renovation project don’t forget this step.  We ended up making about $1000 from all of the things we were able to sell which in the long run helps our bottom line and also financed the purchase of a new chainsaw.

Since we were planning on doing a complete renovation we wanted to sell everything that we could.  The carport sold quickly along with the storage sheds (in hindsight I should have kept those!).  We had a buyer for the hot tub but it literally fell apart from being dry rotted when we tried to remove it from the property.

That weekend we loaded up the Sawzall, gloves and a cooler of beer and headed over and start thinning out the yard.  We took out every tree and shrub that was there with the exception of one that was supposed to be there.  All the others were not native and haphazardly left around the property.

Once the yard was clear it opened up the space tremendously, almost doubling the usable yard space.  We waited to put the finishing touches on the yard until after the contractors had completed their work.  The finishing touches included river rock, mulch, a custom flowerbed, Areca Palms, and partially new fence.

Due to budget limitations we couldn’t afford to do the whole yard rock so we opted for half rock, half mulch.  We worked with Mama’s Garden Center and chose ¾ inch River Rock.  The rock was dropped on the side where the carport had been previously… on the other side of the fence.  So after shoveling, by hand, the rock from the outside of the fence to the inside of the fence, we used a rock rake to spread it evenly.  That portion of the yard was on an odd slope so we also used the rock to even out the terrain although we did keep a slight slope so that water will continue to drain properly from the property.

The fence on the left side of the property had seen better days.  The wood was rotted and we chose replace the left side of the fence with standard pickets from Home Depot.  Once the fence was installed it was painted white along with the rest of the fence along the perimeter of the property.  We used Sherwin Williams exterior paint.  Also along the left side of the fence is where we installed the custom-built flower box.  Perfect for gardening or landscaping.  We installed 4 Areca palms within the flowerbox, they grow like weeds and provide a lush landscaping option for small spaces.  They also work well in containers so as a finishing touch we added an extra potted Areca palm to the side of the steps to the deck.  The pot only set us back about $35 (again, Home Depot for the win) and compliments the rest of the space.

The right side of the property was filled in with dark mulch.  We had the mulch delivered from Manley Debeor and spread it ourselves.  You should have seen the look on my face when the delivery guy pulled up.  The pallet was 2 bags wide by 2 bags deep and stacked at least 15 feet tall.

key-west-investment-renovation

I envisioned this side of the yard having some Christmas Tree Palms as well as some Arecas for lushness; however due to budget limitations we forwent this option and opted to drop the mulch so that we (or perhaps a buyer) could continue the vision down the road.

The final touch was replacing the house numbers with a new modern option, again from Home Depot.  Full disclosure, I wanted the silver option but they didn’t have all my numbers in that finish so I went with black, which I was very happy with in the end.  Also, if you go this route, the little metal risers that are included are tricky and break easily, use caution!

Stay tuned for the next edition of Transformation Tuesday where I will talk about our adventures in roofing.  A hot topic right now, especially in the Florida Keys post Irma.

If you are thinking of taking on a renovation project or are interested in purchasing real estate in Key West please text, call, or email me (305.395.4073 / krystalthomasre@gmail.com).  I am a full time real estate agent in Key West and happy to help you on your renovation and/ or home buying adventure.

 

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Featured Listing Friday: 1020 Southard

The holidays are right around the corner and everyone is gearing up for the celebrations of the season.  Key West is no exception, everyone knows that no holiday celebration is complete without a gingerbread house so today’s Feature Listing Friday is all about the quintessential Key West gingerbread home:  1020 Southard Street, Key West Florida.

The home is not listed by myself but with my brokerage company Preferred Properties, when I saw it was coming on the market I just had to take a peak!  I first took notice of this home when I first moved back to The Keys and into a little studio apartment on Frances Street because it was on my dog-walking route.  Nestled in the heart of Old Town Key West on Southard Street between Frances and Grinnell is where you will find 1020 Southard Street.

The outside of the home features a unique gingerbread design, which became popular in Key West after the fire of 1886.   After the fire Key West was in a bit of disarray so people got together and decided to redesign the city as it was rebuilt.  Each building owner chose a unique, elaborate, and intricate woodwork design to the front of his or her homes.  No two are alike making this the only home in Key West to actually feature the gingerbread man figure.

Surrounded by a white picket fence it also has a wide, wrap around front porch and off street parking with a rolling gate.

One of the first things I noticed about the house when I went inside was that it was so much bigger than I had originally thought it was! Just shy of 2750 square feet the main house has 3 bedrooms each with an en-suite bathroom.  Three master suites?  Check!

On the first floor of the main house is where you will find 2 of the three bedrooms as well as a wonderful chef’s kitchen and open living area that extend to the porch and pool area.  The entire second floor is an office/ sitting area that leads into a grand master suite with a wet bar, upstairs laundry, ensuite bathroom, private balcony and plenty of natural light to boot.   There is also plenty of storage, a rarity in Key West.  Did I mention that this home also has Dade County Pine throughout?

The property sits on a 5,000sf lot and has a beautifully landscaped backyard.  There is a separate pool cottage with a bathroom and outdoor shower.  Hello fourth bedroom!  The pool is an actual pool, not a dipping or cocktail pool, and runs the length of the backyard.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday than in your own Key West Gingerbread House!  1020 Southard Street is being offered for $2,495,000, click HERE to view the full MLS datasheet and the listing photos.  Then please call, text, or email me, Krystal Thomas (305.394.4073 / krystalthomasre@gmail.com), to schedule a showing.  I am a full time realtor and happy to help you in your home buying journey.

 

 

 

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Ten Truman Annex Treasures

Truman Annex is an exclusive neighborhood in Old Town Key West.  The former Truman Naval Station that was once a destroyer and submarine base is now a gated community of homes and condominiums and the Harry S. Truman Little White House. It is also where you will find Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park and the Truman Waterfront.

Below are 10 Truman Annex properties that are currently on the market, many of which have transient rental licenses!  This means that the property has the potential to generate a 10-12% return on the gross purchase price.

https://www.flexmls.com/share/198jU/Selected

Many of these homes are in existing vacation rental programs and already generating significant rental income.  Call, text, or email me (305-394-4073 or krystalthomasre@gmail.com) for additional information about these homes as well as additional investment options that are available.

I am a full time Realtor with Preferred Properties and ready to assist you in purchasing your Florida Keys home!

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You’ve Got An Accepted Offer – Now What?!

So, you’ve gone to see your lender and been pre-qualified.  You’ve searched for weeks for the perfect home and you’ve found it.  You’ve chosen a savvy real estate agent and have negotiated the perfect offer and to your surprise, it’s been accepted!

Now what?

Well, first of all Congratulations!  Now get ready.  Things will start to move quickly.  Your agent will provide you with a list of critical dates that pertain to the contract and you will get to work.

Your lender will send you a list of required documents and it’s your job to get these documents/ requested information back to your lender in a timely manner.  Timely means quickly!  The longer it takes for you to get these items back to your lender the longer it takes to submit your loan to underwriting and the longer it takes to be approved for closing.

Escrow Deposit:

Get this to your Realtor or title company ASAP and be sure to keep a copy of the deposit for your records.  This deposit is refundable through the inspection period and will be applied to the final amount that you will need to bring to closing.

Inspection Period:

Typically the first 10-15 days from your date of acceptance are your inspection period.  This is your opportunity to inspect the property and not just on your own.  Your real estate agent will have a home inspector recommendation and you should work to get this scheduled as soon after the acceptance date as possible.  The home inspector will inspect every part of the home that he/ she has access to and will give you a nice little report including photos and descriptions to review.

This is also your opportunity to call in any contractors or additional inspectors for estimates on repairs that will need to be made.  All of this information is very important when determining if you will move forward with a purchase.  Do the numbers still work once you add in the costs of all the repairs?   If yes, proceed to the next step.

Insurance Shopping:  The Big 3!:

Start reaching out to your recommended insurance providers and getting quotes on the necessary insurances (click here for a list of my recommended insurance providers).  If you are financing a property in Florida you will likely be required to carry 3 different insurances:  flood insurance, windstorm insurance, and hazard insurance.  The bank will require you to prepay for the first year of insurances and then will escrow your insurances through out the year to pay the future years on your behalf.

Appraisal, Survey, & Elevation Certificate:

You will likely be required to have one of each.  The appraisal will tell you how much your home is worth in the current market..  The survey will be reviewed by the closing attorney to be sure there are no encroachments on your property and the elevation certificate will tell your insurance company how high off the ground the lowest point of your home is.  The appraisal, survey and elevation certificate will likely be ordered by the bank however you as the buyer will be responsible for the payment.  Generally, appraisals are pre-paid and the survey/ elevation certificate can likely be paid for at closing.

Taking care of each of these steps and communicating with your Realtor will get you to the closing table and on to the fun part and ultimate goal… homeownership!

Call, text, or email me (305-394-4073 or krystalthomasre@gmail.com) for additional information on how to purchase your first home.  I am a full time agent with Preferred Properties and ready to assist you in purchasing your Florida Keys home!

 

 

 

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Pre Qualification & Avoiding Analysis Paralysis

Although you may casually start your home search with a generic search in Google or Realtor.com the search really doesn’t start until you know what your purchasing power is.

Enter Pre-Qualification.  This is the step where you sit down with a lender to determine how much home you can actually afford and I’ll be honest with you, every first time home buyer says this is the scariest step.  Putting your financial background and information on Front Street is scary and intimidating but it doesn’t have to be.

Work with your real estate agent to find a lending partner that will fit your needs and make you feel comfortable.  This is the job of a lender.  To analyze your finances and income and help you determine what type of mortgage you will/ can qualify for.  They will also tell you how to get to where you need to be if you aren’t there yet.

Pre-qualification is the most important step in your real estate search because it saves you time.  You don’t want to be looking at homes in the $500K range if you can only afford $350K and conversely you don’t want to be limiting your search to $350K if you are approved for $500K.

In my case, the home I was purchasing would not have qualified for conventional financing. It needed a new roof, new siding, new floors (and subfloor), etc.; it was a complete mess.

As I mentioned, I’ve had the idea of homeownership on my mind for years and had been listening to a podcast called Bigger Pockets for about a year when the Pearl Street purchase opportunity fell into my lap.  If you are a real estate investor and haven’t listened to Bigger Pockets you are missing out.  Bigger Pockets is a podcast dedicated to helping real estate investors.  On the weekly podcast the hosts interview investors in various stages of the real estate investment spectrum, everyone from newbies to seasoned pros; one of the things that is so inspiring is that most all of them had to get creative to get their first deal.

So I figured out how much money I would need to purchase and renovate the house (I estimated $300K total, $240K to purchase and $60K to renovate) and pursued the avenue of hard money financing.

I thought long and hard and eventually worked up the courage to put up a post on my Facebook wall that read something like this:  “Investment opportunity available, seeking hard money financing for a home purchase.  Serious inquiries only, PM me for details.”  From this post I had 3 responses, and one of those responses worked out.  We were able to come to an agreement.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of hard money financing it is a loan typically offered by a private investor, and secured with real estate or some sort of “real” asset.   You are charged a higher interest rate and these types of loans are often interest only and for a short term (6months, 1year, etc).  In my case we borrowed $300K for a term of 1 year @ 10% interest only.

So now you’re thinking whoa!  10%, no way.  Yes way!  Sometimes you need to do what you have to do to get your foot in the door. As long as the numbers work, who cares what the interest rate it.  The numbers worked for us so we went to closing and started what would be our most challenging project to date!

That being said, where there’s a will there is a way.  The challenge we took on almost a year ago has grown $100K in equity and is a successful long-term rental in Key West with a positive cash flow.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series, You’ve Got An Offer, Now What?!…=

Call, text, or email me (305-394-4073 or krystalthomasre@gmail.com) for additional information on how to purchase your first home.  I am a full time buyer’s agent with Preferred Properties and ready to assist you in purchasing your Florida Keys home!

 

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Fixer Upper Rental Homes

So about this time last year I was preparing to purchase my first home.

It’s something that I had thought about often but in the Key West market was doubtful that I would be able to afford to get my foot in the door.  Enter Pearl Avenue.  This was a deal that kind of fell into my lap and what was a casual home search got shoved into overdrive.

This place was a fixer upper although I didn’t realize just how much of a fixer upper it would become.  What was purchased to be a cosmetic flip quickly became a domino effect of issues and I often found my boyfriend Ed looking at me with wide eyes like what in the hell did we get ourselves into?!

Here’s a before & after to get your juices flowing:

key-west-rental-renovation

In this series of blog posts we will explore the highs and lows of homeownership & renovation life including how not to have a nervous breakdown when you go to your final walkthrough before closing and there is water pouring out of your ceiling.

I am going to break down each step of the way from purchase to renovating to listing the home for purchase to deciding to take it off the market and rent long term to how to be a landlord.

 

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5 Reasons You Should Buy A Duplex in Key West

If you’ve been struggling with how to break into the realm of real estate ownership consider this:  purchase a duplex.  A duplex is defined as a house divided into two apartments, with a separate entrance for each.  It is also what I consider one of the best investments that a homebuyer can make.

 

  1. YOU CAN LIVE IN ONE UNIT AND RENT THE OTHER!

 

  1. Duplexes qualify for FHA financing, which means that you could purchase the property for as little as 3.5%% down. For a list of my preferred lenders, click here.  (if you are in Key West you could also qualify for 0% down financing, contact me for additional information about the financing programs that are available locally.)

 

  1. You can use the rental income from the unit that you rent out to help you qualify for the mortgage to purchase the property

 

  1. Hellllllo Tax Write Offs – It’s no secret that owning a property provides many tax incentives that you don’t find as a renter. If you buy a duplex and rent out the other side you can write off all the costs that take place including costs to market and rent the property as well as repairs and shared expenses.

 

  1. Welcome to the World of Landlording – Real estate is one of the most lucrative investments you can make.  If you’ve ever thought about investing in real estate this is a great way to start.  Start small with your one unit and then grow your portfolio.  You’ll have a vested interest in the quality of property and tenant that you choose because you will be neighbors.

 

Let’s take a look at 1610 Dennis Street.  A duplex located in Mid Town Key West and currently listed for $385,000 (one of the best deals on the market I think!)

FHA 0% 3.50% 5% 10% 20%
Mortgage $2490 $2415 $2405 $2222 $1856
Taxes*  $324 $324 $324 $324   $324
Insurances** $425 $425 $425 $425 $425
Sample Total Monthly Payment $3239 $3164 $3154 $2971 $2605

 

Now.  Divide that Sample Payment by 2.  #boomshakalaka, you could OWN a home in Key West for as little as $1300!

Let’s make it happen.

* Taxes are based on your purchase price and are a little bit less than 1% of your purchase price.

** We estimated that the insurances for this home will be about  $5100 for hazard, windstorm, and flood insurances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Key West Flood Zones & Insurance Explained

duval-street-floodFlood insurance is one of the most asked about topics in Florida real estate, especially in The Florida Keys and Key West.  Flood insurance requirements and premiums are dictated by the flood zone in which your property lies.

To understand flood zones you will first need to understand BFE; Base Flood Elevation.  BFE is a reference height for building elevations and flood insurance.  A building below BFE is a building below the flood level for that site.  Building codes require most new and Substantially Improved buildings be at a minimum height of BFE +1′.

 

Types of Flood Zones:

“A” Flood Zone:  These zones are more inland from the coastline, where a static rise in water levels can be expected.  This is the most common flood zone in Key West.

“V” Flood Zone:  These zones are close to the shoreline.  The “V” stands for “velocity,” or breaking waves with a force that’s considerably more damaging. As a consequence, building standards are much higher within “V” zones.

X Flood Zones:  These zones are areas where the elevation is higher than the minimum expected flood levels.  Buildings in these zones are not subject to enhanced building codes to prevent flood damage.  Flood insurance is available in these zones at a considerable discount. The elusive X flood zone is typically found in the Solares Hill and The Meadows neighborhoods of Key West.

*Note:  Type “V” and “A” zones appear on flood maps as “AE-#” and “VE-#.  The “E” denotes this flood zone has an elevation level assigned to it, and is expressed as “AE-6” or “VE-9,” with the trailing number indicating the Base Flood Elevation or BFE for that zone.  That BFE number notes the height above sea level flood waters can be expected to rise… at a minimum. For example, if a property falls within the flood zone “AE-6”, the structure would have to be elevated 7 feet above the BFE (6 feet as specified in the flood zone + 1 foot)

Don’t let flood insurance scare you, let me help you navigate the ins and outs of the insurance requirements for your Key West home.  I am a full time real estate agent with Preferred Properties, Contact me krystalthomasre@gmail.com or 305-394-4073.

Source:  How to Read Flood Maps. Retrieved from http://www.cityofkeywest-fl.gov/topic/subtopic.php?topicid=30