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Purchasing a Home in The Florida Keys – It’s Easier Than You Think!

One of the best parts about my job is that I get to help people purchase their home in paradise, especially when they are my friends. 

Many people here in the Florida Keys rent their home because they think that they cannot afford or will not qualify for a mortgage or they are too intimidated by the process to try. Well I’m here to tell you that purchasing a home is more attainable than you think.

I have a friend that had been considering purchasing a home for about 4 years.  The first two years were pretty casual but then after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc on the Keys her search got a little more serious. 

I happened upon a house that I just knew was for her.  It checked all of her homeownership boxes so I sent her a text that said “I found your house…”. The next day we went to go see it in person and 6 weeks later my friend was a bonafide homeowner. 

How did we do it?  Dedication and diligence; we had a plan and executed it to the T.

Before this house came along we did our homework and sat down with a lender.  Since this is often the scariest step for a potential buyer I went with her to the meeting and helped to guide the conversation so that everyone was on the same page and all of her questions were answered.  My friend walked into that appointment thinking she wouldn’t qualify and then walked out of the meeting with a pre-qualification letter in hand for $500K.

Let the fun begin!  Once we had the pre-qualification letter I knew where we needed to focus our search.  We waited about a year and a half and sifted through listings in the $400-$500K range until 18 Riviera Drive hit the market.  That was the house, I just knew it. 

Since we had been working together for a bit I knew what the financial picture was and how much money my clients had to put down so we structured the contract so that the sellers also contributed to the closing costs and the buyers had minimal out of pocket expenses. 

Let’s break this deal down by the numbers. Here’s a sample of what your out of pocket costs would be based on a $499,000 sale price and FHA financing with 3.5% down.

  Sales Price $499,000
Up Front Fees  
Initial Escrow Deposit
(within 3 days of acceptance )
 $ 1,000.00
Home Inspection  $ 395.00
Insurance Mitigation Forms  $ 175.00
Flood Insurance Premium  $ 700.00
  Total Up Front Fees Due  $  2,270.00
Additional Escrow Deposit
(due on day 11)
 $ 4,000.00
   Estimated Closing Costs  $10,000.00
  3.5% Down Payment  $17,465.00
  Less Escrow Deposits  $5,000.00
Total Amount Due @ Closing  $28,735.00
  Less Seller Contribution  $7,485.00
     
Additional Funds Needed to Close  $ 21,250.00

Wondering how to come up with $21,250 to close?  Save for a year, take a look at your 401(k) / retirement accounts (you can borrow and avoid penalties when purchasing a home), maybe you have a family member that will gift you the money.  The point is where there is a will there is a way and there are options if you have a plan.

Still aren’t convinced?  Check out how much money the average Florida Keys resident is contributing to someone else’s bottom line over a 5 year period:

Rent  $     2,700.00
x 12 Months Per Year 12
Total Rent per Year  $   32,400.00
Total $ Spent over 5 Years  $ 162,000.00

That’s $162,000 every 5 years that you are putting in someone else’s pocket.  It’s time to make the investment in yourself and your future in the Florida Keys.  I’m a full time Realtor in Key West and ready to help put you on a path to homeownership.  Let me be your real estate”easy button”, contact me today 305-394-4073.  

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Key West Properties I Saw AND Liked!

One of the perks of selling real estate in Key West and The Florida Keys is that you get to see a lot of wonderful homes throughout the process of helping your buyers find their dream home.  You never know what awaits you behind the charming fences of Old Town or what little gem will be tucked away in New Town that is perfect for the first-time home buyer. The Key West Association of Realtors puts on a Realtor Caravan a few times a month highlighting properties that are located from Old Town Key West to Big Pine Key, FL .

Last week I attended the New Town Caravan in Key West and below are 5 homes I saw last week and can’t stop thinking about. All of these homes are under $675K and many of them perfect for a first-time home buyer.  Click the link below to see the full MLS datasheet and photos of the listings: 

Totally in love with the blue glass subway tile at 1417 Sun Terrace in Key West 😍

https://www.flexmls.com/share/2LqA5/Selected

I am a full time resident and Realtor in the Florida Keys.  If you’re interested in learning more about Key West real estate please feel free to contact me at 305-394-4073 and let me help you live where you vacation! 

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Upper Keys Rendezvous

A few weekends ago I met some girlfriends in Key Largo to celebrate my best friend getting married (Cinco de Mayo in the Sunshine) and we haven’t stopped talking about it since.  Living in Key West means that I am usually the friend that has to travel the farthest to participate in life events of my friends and family (it’s just one of the sacrifices you make to live on an island and I wouldn’t have it any other way.) but this time I got to have 7 ladies in my backyard and show off The Florida Keys.  Although I’ve lived in Key West for quite some time the Upper Keys have typically been a place to stop and grab lunch, perhaps a cocktail or two between trips from Key West to the Mainland, but I’ve never spent a weekend there so I started researching and planned the most ultimate bachelorette partay. 

If anyone is thinking about taking an Upper Keys Rendezvous here’s a quick recap of our weekend with recommendations… 

The Accommodations:

We stayed at Keys Breeze, a privately owned condo at The Mariner’s Club in Key Largo managed by Star Properties.  The property was perfect for our group, 3 bedrooms with a great kitchen, private balcony overlooking the water, and plenty of room for everyone.  The property itself had resort style amenities with a walk-in pool, private beach, and an adult only pool and hot tub. 

View from the balcony
Resort style pool with private beach

The Itinerary:

Friday: 

The girls arrived on Friday afternoon and after a day of traveling I knew that everyone would likely want to have a cocktail, bite to eat and freshen up before heading out to a local restaurant. 

One Love food truck located at the Chevron Station on Stock Island provided the welcome platters for the ladies.  Since I was driving up I placed the order 2 weeks ahead of time and they were ready for pick up on my trip up The Keys.

We had fresh guac & house made plantain chips, jerk rubbed tuna w/ wasabi crema, ceviche & chips, and a tropical fruit & meat charcuterie board.  Is your mouth watering yet?

Fresh Keys cuisine ready for pick up!
Everything was fresh, delicious, and a total hit with the ladies!

^^side-note:  these platters would be perfect for happy hour, a potluck, boat day, welcome gifts, anything! 

Once the girls were ready we grabbed a cab to Lorelei, one of the most popular dock bars in Islamorada. They had live entertainment and most importantly cold cocktails and good food.

Friday night sunset @ Lorelei

Saturday:

Saturday we took advantage of the resort and played by the pool for the day.  The condo had a handy cooler in it so we filled it up with White Claws and headed to the sunshine armed with sunscreen and sombreros.

After getting sunkissed we freshened up for a photo session with Costa Vida Photography.  Michaelynn was recommended to me from Jaclyn, the owner of Star Properties and Michaelynn was great, she bearing a bottle of sparkling rose and made all of the girls feel super comfortable and beautiful.

For dinner I hired a private chef to come to the condo and cook dinner for the ladies.  I cannot say enough good things about Chef Wes and his assistant Penny.  From start to finish they were wonderful to work with.  Penny was responsive to all of my emails and questions throughout the process.  The food was excellent and they take care of the clean up too! 

Fresh grouper ceviche
Filet Mignon with Florida Lobster, mashed potatoes, broccoli and Key Lime bernaise
Chef Wes with homemade Key Lime Pie for dessert

Sunday:

Helloooo Sandbar Sunday! We headed out to the Islamorada Sandbar via the Tiki Tiki and we had an amazing time!  The Tiki Tiki is an all-inclusive boat charter that comes complete with rafts, drinks, food, and music of your choice.  The captain fileted fresh grouper and shrimp on a paddleboard in front of us and cooked it on the grill for lunch.  But the best part of the day was that they took photos of the whole day so no one was glued to their phone and everyone got to enjoy the day. 

Cheers to the Bride
Fresh fruit appetizer
Paddleboarding like a pro
Fresh grouper and shrimp for lunch courtesy of Captain Charlie

Whether you’re staying the weekend or just passing through I hope my upper keys hit list helps you enjoy the sunshine and all of the amazing things that The Florida Keys have to offer! 

If you’re thinking of buying or selling in the Florida Keys contact me, I’m a full time resident and Realtor in The Florida Keys and ready to help you live where you vacation!

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1202 George Street, Key West Duplex For Sale!

Hello Mid Town, Income Producing Duplex!

Welcome to 1202 George Street! This three bedroom, two bathroom home with a separately metered, legal accessory unit is located on a large private and fully fenced lot in Mid Town Key West.

The main house features three bedrooms and two baths with slate tile throughout. The galley style kitchen features stainless steel appliances and opens to the living and sunrooms. The large sunroom off the back provides plenty of natural light and a great addition to the living space of the home.

The separate, rear unit was completely redone in 2016 as a studio with full bath, private entrance and yard, and separate washer/ dryer. The property also features low maintenance landscaping and an electric fence for off street parking.  

This property is currently a long term rental with Gross Rental Income of $55K which believe it or not is under market for the current rental rates in Key West, market rents project a gross rental income of $62K+

Click the link below for the complete MLS Datasheet, additional photos, and the Matterport Virtual Tour.

https://www.flexmls.com/share/2JXv6/1202GeorgeStKeyWestFL33040

I am a full time realtor with Preferred Properties in Key West and would be happy to help you in your home search. You can reach me via text or phone at 305.394.4073 or shoot me an email: krystal@krystalthomaskeywest.com.

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JUST LISTED in Big Pine Key!

3753 Gumbo Limbo Street, Big Pine Key, FL 33043

List Price: $634,000

3753 Gumbo Limbo Street, BPK

Just listed in Port Pine Heights on Big Pine Key this 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is the epitome of keys living.

The kitchen opens to the living room and then onto the screened porch for ample living and entertaining space and features recycled glass countertops and new appliances.  The master suite has a walk-in cedar closet and a recently updated en-suite master bath as well as private access to the screened porch overlooking the canal.  On the opposite side of the home is where you will find the two guest bedrooms which also share an updated bathroom.

Located on a pristine canal this home has great boating access and a 10,000 lb lift.  Additional outdoor amenities include irrigation, low maintenance landscaping, fully fenced yard along with a swim spa, outdoor shower, covered parking and plenty of storage for bikes, paddleboards/ kayaks, and so much more.

The house has a metal roof, hurricane impact windows (in addition to the accordion hurricane shutters), custom concrete construction and is elevated making the insurances very affordable.  Relax outdoors on the screened back porch while enjoying the private, lush nature preserve that Big Pine Key has to offer. 

Click the link below to view the complete MLS data sheet as well as additional photos. For additional information or to schedule a private showing please contact me directly at 305.394.4073 or krystal@krystalthomaskeywest.com

https://www.flexmls.com/share/2JKIT/3753GumboLimboStBigPineKeyFL33043

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Top 5 Business & RE Books

I’m a book nerd.  There I said it.  There are few things in life that I enjoy more than curling up in a window seat on a rainy day with a book.  Or in a hammock on a sunny day at Fort Zachary Taylor…  In honor of National Book Lover’s Day (which was actually last week on 8/9 but I’ve been a bit behind due to this summer cold that decided to sneak up on me!)  I thought I’d share with you 5 books that have influenced my life, not only in real estate but in life in general, in no particular order:

  1. Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way – Richard Branson
  2. The One Thing – Gary Keller
  3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki
  4. The 10X Rule – Grant Cardone
  5. The Book on Rental Property Investing – Josh Turner

* Sidenote:  Each of these books can be ordered through our local Key West bookstore:  Books & Books, just give them a call (305-320-0208) and they will give you a ring when it arrives for pickup!

Each of these books have had a different effect on me but the one thing they all had in common was that I couldn’t stop highlighting passages and quotes that made me think and transform into light bulb moments.   I go through periods in my life where I crave knowledge and can’t download books fast enough to my kindle and then times when my brain is pulsing with so much information I have to chill and take a step back and process.

Do you have a favorite business (or any!) book that you’d like to share?  Comment below and let me know what I should add to my reading list.

I am a full time real estate agent in Key West, if you’re interested in purchasing or selling in Key West or The Florida Keys, please contact me, Krystal Thomas at krystalthomasre@gmail.com or 305-394-4073.

 

 

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Simplifying the Real Estate Transaction

Did you know that this week, 8/5-8/11 is Simplify Your Life Week? As if we needed a reason to simplify our lives.  With “Back to School” just around the corner many of my clients and friends are gearing up for a busy fall and upcoming “season” that lies ahead.

I’ve found that the simpler I can make something, whether a meal I’m cooking, a process I’m learning, or a routine I’ve had for years the easier things seem to flow and the more grateful and mindful I am. That being said one of the things I’ve really focused on as a real estate agent over the past year is to simplify the process for my buyers and sellers.

Real Estate transactions are complicated but they don’t have to be for client, in my mind, my job as an agent is to make this a simple experience so that it brings more mindfulness to the transaction and that the buyer and seller don’t get caught up in the minutia of the transaction.

Here are a few ways I’m simplifying the real estate experience for my clients:

  1. E – Sign Errrrythang – Docusign, an electronic signature platform, has changed my life, not just professionally but personally as well. This super user-friendly platform allows me to send, receive, and sign documents electronically. This is especially helpful in a destination/ niche market where buyers and sellers are constantly on the move. E-signature is THE way to go.
  2. FREE Listing Consultation – Are you thinking about selling your house but know that there are some things that you need to take care of prior to listing in order to maximize your profits? Let me help you make that list and prioritize it. Some projects are more important than others when preparing your home to sell.
  3. I’ve Got A Guy –Need a recommendation for an AC repair man? How about someone to haul away all the debris from your demo? Need a wet bar installed? I’ve Got a Guy. Having a locally recommended and accredited list of vendors on hand for my clients allows for them to have work performed quickly and gives them confidence in the work being performed.

Of course, these are just a few, but a great example of how using these techniques and more I’m able to simplify the process for both buyers and sellers and create a positive customer experience.

I am a full time real estate agent in Key West and ready to help you SIMPLIFY your Key West real estate transaction. If you’re interested in purchasing or selling in The Florida Keys, please contact me, Krystal Thomas at krystalthomasre@gmail.com or 305-394-4073.

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Mini Lobster Season

One of the conversations that I’ve been having with locals is that Key West is moving closer and closer to no longer a seasonal town. Traditionally summer (June-Sept) has been the “slow” time of year but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that over the past 10 years the tide has started to change.  I realized it this month when I was waiting for 10 minutes to cross the street in my car because of the steady stream of tourists.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining!  I recognize that our economy is built on tourism so bring on the tourists!

July has become the 3rd busiest month in Key West (February & March being the first and second).  Why July you ask?  My theory has a lot of moving parts but I’ll break it down:

FACT:  It is less expensive to rent a house for a month than for a few days or a week.

FACT:  July is still considered “off season” in terms of the lodging/ hospitality calendar so the cost to rent a home in Key West for the month of July is less than ½ of the in season/ February/ March rate.

FACT:  Key West is a major Florida destination for Independence Day Celebrations.

FACT:  The summer is one of the best times of the year for fishing in The Keys.  The water is calm and smooth as glass and the fish are plenty.

FACT:  Mini Lobster Season is the last full week of July and is a period of  2 days where locals and tourists can go lobstering (limit 6 per person) before they open the waters to the commercial fishermen and regular lobster season on August 6th.

*This year the mini season falls on July 25th and 26th (make sure to always verify dates and regulations with Florida Fish and Wildlife). It begins at 12:01 am on Wednesday and ends at 12:00 midnight on Thursday. The regular 8-month lobster season is always August 6 through March 31.

Combine all those and you’ve got one hell of a reason to make Key West your July destination!  And if you follow me on social media you know that one of my favorite hashtags is #livewhereyouvacation so let me get to work for you!  If you’re looking to buy in the Florida Keys please give me a call or shoot me a text at 305.394.4073.  I am a full time Realtor with Preferred Properties and am ready to help you find your Florida Keys Home.

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Sunset Celebration

One of my favorite sayings is “Celebrate Everything”.  That’s also one of the unofficial mottos of the City of Key West because we sure do like to celebrate the heck out of holidays! This week is Capture the Sunset Week and in it’s honor I’ve got my top 5 places to catch the sunset in Key West.

 

My Top 5 Favorite Places to Watch the Sunset

 

The Galleon (617 Front Street) – The quintessential tiki bar tucked away inside of the Galleon Resort.  Cocktails, beer, wine, and live music on the open water, you just can’t beat it (if you can find it!)

 

Fort Zachary Taylor (601 Howard England Way) – Take a bike ride down to the Truman Waterfront and follow the signs that point you to the beach.  Fort Zach, A Florida State Park, is home to lush pines, sandy-esque beaches, and one heck of a sunset view.

 

Latitudes (Sunset Key) – Treat yo’ self.  For the special occasion sunsets hop on the ferry and head over to Sunset Key.  You can pick your seating, inside or out, but I’d recommend requesting a table outside on the beach if you really want the full experience.

 

Mallory Square (400 Wall Street) – More of a tourist favorite than a locals favorite but you can’t talk about Key West sunsets without mentioning this spot, home of the famous Sunset Celebration.  Every night local artisans and performers head to Mallory Square to celebrate the sunshine.

 

From a boat (Middle of the Ocean) – If you’re coming to Key West I always tell people to really make it a point to get out on the water.  I’d venture to say that having the crystal blue ocean as our backyard is one of the main reasons us locals choose to live here.

 

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Hemingway Days & Events

There’s perhaps no other author in history more synonymous with Key West than Ernest Hemingway and we put on one hell of a celebration to honor him!

Wikipedia describes Hemingway as: an American novelist, short story writer, and journalist. His economical and understated style—which he termed the Iceberg Theory—had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his adventurous lifestyle and his public image brought him admiration from later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short-story collections, and two non-fiction works. Three of his novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.

This year the 38th Annual Hemingway Days to honor Mr. Hemingway will kick off on Wednesday July 17th and run through Sunday July 22nd.   Hundreds of Hemingway lookalikes and fans will converge on the island to celebrate the late author and his literary works.

Events include the famous Hemingway Look-Alike Contest, Paddleboard race and 5K run/walk, street fair, marlin tournament and The Running of the Bulls!  For a complete schedule of events click the link below:

 

https://fla-keys.com/news/article/10331/