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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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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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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.