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1015 Elgin: Beauty in the Heart of Key West

At first glance you might think the photos above show two separate homes which have been renovated in first class style. Well, the style statement is correct, and yes, they were renovated, but today the two houses that once backed against up to each other are now one single family residence. 1015 Elgin Lane, Key West, Florida is listed by Preferred Properties Key West, that’s where I work but this is not my listing. I got to see the house for the first time yesterday during a brokers open house. I have written previous blogs homes on Elgin Lane which is only two blocks long and runs parallel to Eaton Street. It starts at White Street and ends at Grinnell Street. The Old Town Bakery is located at corner of Grinnell Street and is a landmark all returning visitors to Key West should recognize. The lane itself is fairly narrow and not well traveled by anyone except the folks who live on the lane.

I searched the Historic Sanborn Fire Maps and learned that 1014 Eaton Street (now a major component of the Elgin house) was on the 1889 Map and that the rear of the lot (the Elgin site) had no building on it nor was there a building there on the final Map dated 1912.  The black and white photo from 1965 shows 1015 Elgin as it existed at that time, but perplexed me at first sight because the gable roof of 2018 is facing the opposite 90 degrees opposite.  As the defective detective MONK would say – this is what happened:

The two houses at 1014 Eaton and 1015 Elgin Lane were joined together by the owner to create one larger home. The houses were taken apart and totally rebuilt from foundation up. I suspect the original Elgin house was rotated on its side and the kitchen addition added. New piers, joists, and all building elements were replaced or updated as necessary. New windows, plumbing and electricity, HVAC, insulation, and drywall were added. The original floors were kept, however, and they are in remarkably good shape.

Even though the Eaton Street facade still has a street numeral and separate bricked off street parking space, there is just one legal address at 1015 Elgin Lane. When I first arrived at the house I did a quick walk through the first floor and opened the front door. It was a few minutes after noon and we are in spring break. Eaton Street was busy with traffic. I shut the door and heard nothing. I opened it again and heard the traffic. I paused in the hallway behind the front door. I heard nothing. I went into the adjacent master bedroom and listened at the window. I heard nothing. I mention this for good reason – even I assumed I would hear traffic. I was wrong. By the way the louvered shutters on the historic photo may have been operational to allow air into the old house. While the shutters still exist in 2018, the wall behind the shutters is solid.

The master bedroom is fairly large and has a large en-suite bath. There is a guest bath located adjacent. The living room and dining room, entry foyer, and kitchen are located in the Elgin Lane portion of the home.

During the renovation the common living spaces were opened into an amazing open living environment. Dining room has a high pitched cathedral ceiling with French doors which open out to the pool and garden The interior living space is great but it expands immensely when the doors are opened to the great outdoors.

The pool and garden are very well thought out and purposed. French doors open out to the deck which is on the same plain as the interior floors. The transition from inside to outdoors goes unnoticed except that once outside you know you’re in a magical  tropical setting. The length of the pool surprised me but should not have because the lot size is very large: an irregular rectangle that measures approximately 51.58′ X 80′. The new Trex decks line the pool on either side and lead to a step-down area where the grill is located amid adjacent tropical foliage. There is a semi-formal dining area on the Elgin Lane side of the pool. The entire east side of the home is bricked and has off street parking on both Elgin Lane and Eaton Street.

There are two good sized bedrooms on the second floor which share a bath. The owners used the knee wall space to create additional storage.  In searching my shoebox for photos I found a picture of a former owner of the house, V. Oscar Arenberg (1863-1954) who was a ship carpenter employed by William Curry and Sons shipbuilders. The listing broker told me the owners have lots of photos which show the entire renovation of this home. You can see from the above photos the pride of ownership and the attention to detail that went into this very special home.

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1501 Pine Street: Price Reduction

Located on Pine Street in the heart of The Meadows is where you will find this lovely Key West home.  This home was built in 2008 and features classic Key West architecture (complete with a turret!) with modern elegant upgrades.

If you aren’t familiar with The Meadows you are missing out.  This Old Town neighborhood was once the meadow where the cows in Key West grazed.  The Meadows is today a charming residential neighborhood filled with lovely wooden houses and narrow streets.

When you enter the home 11ft ceilings and travertine tile will greet you.  The first floor is where you will find the gourmet kitchen that overlooks the living area.  The kitchen has stainless steel GE monogram appliances with lots of natural light and counter space thanks to the turret!  What’s a turret you ask?  A turret is a small tower on top of a larger tower or at the corner of a building or wall, typically of a castle. The turret is a feature that is only found on the homes on the corner lots within this development.

The living area is large and open and opens out to the private patio and pool.  Once outside you will also find additional outdoor storage in the carport and off street parking for one car accessible through the electric gates on both ends of the shared driveway.

The second floor features hardwood floors throughout as well as the bedrooms.  The guest bedroom is on the back of the house on the second floor above the carport.  It is a large bedroom that has a vaulted tray ceiling and en-suite bathroom.  The grand master suite is located on the second floor at the front of the home and features a private balcony, plenty of storage, and en-suite bathroom with Jacuzzi tub and walk in shower.

Take a virtual tour of the property by clicking this link:

I am a full time real estate agent in Key West with Preferred Properties.  This home is listed for sale by me, Krystal Thomas, and is available for $1,169,000.  If you’d like additional information or to schedule a private showing please contact me!

Flex MLS Link for pics:




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Substantial Improvement: 50% Rule

So you want to renovate a house?  Great!  But there’s are two important questions you should ask yourself before committing to the process in Monroe County, FL.

  1. Is your home below the base floodline elevation (BFE)?
  2. Will the renovation costs exceed 50% of the improvements assessed value?

If the answer to question #1 is NO then proceed to renovation.  If the answer to question #1 is Yes, then proceed to question #2.  If this question is Yes then you should pause (and maybe stop) Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Monroe County Florida has a Substantial Improvement / Substantial Damage rule, more commonly known as the 50% rule.  This means that if the costs of the improvements/ repairs to your property exceed 50% of the improvements assessed value you must bring the property above the BFE.  In some cases this is not a big deal, in others, such as in a concrete slab house, this can be a huge and costly undertaking.

According to the county website The National Flood Insurance Program and Monroe County regulations require improvements to structures within a Special Flood Hazard Area must meet current construction standards including elevating the building to or above the 100-year flood elevation if the improvement is 50% or more of the market value of the property.

Substantial Damage – occurs when the cost of restoring the structure to the condition before the damage would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. (Note: The cost of the repairs must include all costs necessary to fully repair the structure to its “before damage” condition, including labor.)

Substantial Improvement – any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, for which the cost of equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement.

This term includes structures which have incurred “substantial damage,” regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:

  • Any project for improvement of a structure to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the local code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
  • Any alterations of a “historic structure,” provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure’s continued designation as a “historic structure.

In summary, if you are considering a renovation project in Key West or Monroe County be sure that you consult your real estate agent and discuss the possible ramifications of the 50% rule.



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Southernmost Boys & Girls Club: Help Our Youth!

One of the things that I love the most about my job is the flexibility and freedom I have to make my own schedule.  I’ve always been a philanthropic person and my real estate career has really allowed me to get involved with organizations that are meaningful to me.

One of the organizations I decided to reach out to was the Boys & Girls Club here in Key West.  I am currently the director of programing for the Rotary Club of Key West and asked the executive director of the B&G Club to present to our Rotary Club last year.  Next thing I knew I was joining the board of directors.

The Boys & Girls Club has always played a very important role in our community and Since hurricane Irma the B&GC has played an instrumental role in helping our community rebound in many ways, a few of them being offering extended hours & waiving fees of our students through out the rest of the school year.

This weekend we will be hosting our Particular Harbour Party at Margaritaville Café.  This our biggest fundraiser of the year and helps us to provide the care and programs benefit our youth and community.  There will be a silent & live auction, 50/ 50 raffle as well as appetizers, buffet dinner and beer, wine & margaritas!

Our board has been working very hard to make this event a success, we’ve been cranking out ticket sales and have some fantastic auction items up for bid.  I’m looking forward to celebrating the successes of not only our upcoming fundraiser but our club as a whole as well!

If you are interested in making a donation to the Southernmost Boys & Girls Club please contact me at 305.394.4073.  If you would like to purchase a ticket to the event please visit

Listen to the latest radio ad here!

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Pops of Pink in Paradise

Brightly colored homes seem to be synonymous with Key West.  Whether it’s sunshine yellow siding, the ocean colored aqua shutters, or a bright pink door; color is all around us!  I’ve got to say, nothing catches my attention more than a bright pink door.  Maybe it’s because pink is my favorite color or maybe its because the pink makes the house pop or maybe it’s just because Key West is one of the places where a pink door just… works.

Each of these homes are located in the heart of Old Town Key West and are walkable to many of the attractions that keep people coming back to Key West.


1116 Whitehead Street

Asking Price:  $600,000

This home is located on Whitehead Street just down the street from The Hemingway House and the Southernmost Point.


217 Truman Avenue

Asking Price:  $699,000

Located in the vibrant Bahama Village neighborhood this home features 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  Walk to Fort Zachary Taylor or to the Blue Macaw for their bloody mary bar!


1100 Southard Street

Asking Price:  $1,650,000

A classic eyebrow house with a large lot, refinished floors and pool.  Here you will find Dade County Pine throughout as well as a slight Cuban coffee addiction with 5 Brothers Grocery just down the block.


526 Frances Street

Asking Price:  $1,699,000

This one might be my favorite house on the island. I’m a little biased because my first Key West apartment was on Frances Street and I just love the neighborhood.  Live among the orchids as the listing agent says.  Also, right around the corner from one of my favorite restaurants Michael’s.  Did someone say martinis and fondue?  Yes please!


408 United Street

Asking Price:  $2,350,000

Literally 1 block from the Southernmost Point the location cannot be beat.  This home is a showstopper featuring soaring ceilings and indoor-outdoor living at it’s finest.


Click the link below to see the MLS detail and get additional information about the homes above.

I am a full time real estate agent in Key West and ready to help you with your Key West home purchase.  If you are interested in purchasing Key West real estate or would like additional information please contact me at or 305-394-4073.








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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.



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.


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.


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 /  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 /, 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.

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 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!