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Celebrate Earth Day with These Eco-Friendly Life Hacks

It’s almost earth day and with all this time on my hands I’ve been trying to do one thing each day that is good for the environment.  Recently trash pick up around my neighborhood has dominated my one hour a day donation to Mother Nature and I can’t help but notice there are just a TON of water bottles, gatorade bottles, soft drink cans/ bottles & tops everywhere.

A few months back I was at a going away party for some friends when I got into a deep discussion about sustainability and recycling with a friend of mine.  I should note that I was fresh off a trip where recycling wasn’t a part of daily life which was pretty difficult for me.  The debate was that recycling is a waste of time and most of it doesn’t get recycled.  Look, I get it, I understand that the recycling process isn’t efficient as it is.  But I also believe it’s our leaders and elected officials job to change that.  I believe that if everyone did their part, citizens doing their part and leaders making the process efficient as an investment in our future we could have an effective recycling program… but that’s a song for another time.

Anyways, the my friend and I were discussing the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle motto and she introduced me to a different motto:  REFUSE, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  That is to make better choices and refuse convenience over the environment.  I don’t know why that concept was so mind blowing to me because to be honest I was already kind of practicing it in my everyday life on a small scale so maybe it was the way she packaged it but it obviously hit a cord because I’m writing a blog post about it.

Refuse

Do I really need that plastic bag for one item?  Even 5 items?  Can I grow my own herbs without buying the plastic packaged ones?  Can I purchase items that can be refilled or reused?  Can I purchase locally grown organic produce instead of plastic shrink wrapped broccoli?

So in the midst of The Toilet Paper Crisis 2020 I wanted to share a couple of eco-friendly habits I’ve adopted that were easy to incorporate into our lives.  Also, I’d recommend hitting up your local TJ Maxx or Homegoods for many of the items below, they have some great deals but until they are opened again I’m sure Amazon will have what you need to make the switch.

  • No Single Use Plastics
    • Unless I’m dying of thirst I will wait.  I also make it a point to always have a reusable water bottle in all my normal locations (car, kitchen, office, by the front door) in case I need some water.  The bonus is that I’ve recently had the opportunity to organize all our Yetis and Tervis tumblers for optimal use.
    • Reusable Bags.  I always bring them into the store with me (and then lysol the hell out of them when I get home). Even when I use Shipt for grocery delivery I request that they use paper bags so I can reuse and I also leave a note for no plastic between the cheese slices from the deli (Publix peeps- you get it).
    • Mason Jars To the Rescue.  I purchase the wide mouth version of all sizes.  They are great for meal prepping and also a cheap alternative to Tupperware and plastic bags.  They come in packs of 12, I get mine locally from Strunk Ace Hardware.  Plus, they look fancy when you share with friends and family <3
    • Reusable sandwich & storage bags.  Packing a lunch?  Left overs that need storage?  These are great to use and are see through so you don’t loose track of the contents.  My favorite brand is Stasher.
  • Cut Back on Paper Products
    • No Paper Towels, No Problem.  Invest in some good dish towels.  They are a staple in my house.  I have them for everyday use as well as special occasions and holidays.  I’d say on average we go through about 3/4 dish towels a day so it helps to have a hefty stock.
    • No Napkins, No Problem Either.  Purchase some cloth napkins.  I like white because they are bleachable.  You can typically find them pretty cheap in bulk.  Plus, it makes all meals feel a bit fancier with a cloth napkin.
  • Use Less Energy
    • Switch lightbulbs to LED bulbs.
    • Shut off appliances and computers when not in use.
    • Wash your clothes in cold water.
    • Carpool, ride share, bike or walk!
  • Be Open Minded About Food & Waste
    • Eat less meat and more plants. It takes far more land and water to support animal agriculture than fruits, vegetables and grains.
    • Try eliminating all processed meats from your family’s diet as a first step, shoot for Meatless Monday and branch out from there.
    • Composting.  We used to have a local service that offered composting pick up and delivery.  You pick your frequency of pick up and bi annually you get your share of compost.  There was a small charge for the pick up but in my opinion totally worth it.  Our waste decreased by more than 1/2 as a household.  Unfortunately that service is suspended right now due to size constraints (I’m reallllly hoping it comes back) but if you live outside of The Keys I’d highly recommend looking into a local composting company that may service your area.

Also, in case you needed some more good news and encouragement to do the right thing, for the first time in more than 30 years, the Ozone layer is healing so let’s keep this momentum going!

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1012 Varela Street, Key West FL

Welcome to 1012 Varela Street, a charming conch cottage in the heart of Old Town Key West.  Located on Varela Street, between United Street & Truman Avenue.  My colleague Gary Thomas describes the house as the Key West bargain you’ve been looking for and here’s why…

This home is made up of two cottages, originally deeded separately but have since been combined under one legal description.  The front cottage has an open living room with a vaulted ceiling that gives the living area a nice spacious feel.  Hardwood floors and Dade County Pine through out which is highly desirable here in the Keys.  This cottage features two bedrooms, a loft that opens onto a rooftop sitting area (current owners use this as their master bedroom) and a guest bedroom on the first floor across from the bathroom.  Currently this room has custom bunk beds however they can easily be removed should the new owner desire a different look or use.  The heart of the home, the kitchen, is large and open with french doors that lead to a fully fenced, private courtyard (the courtyard is large enough to accommodate a pool).

The second cottage, just across the courtyard, has a large bedroom and full bathroom.  Although this cottage does not have a kitchen it does have plenty of storage, small fridge, and a private deck in the rear of the cottage with a separate entrance.

This home is located within the Viva Varela which was originally established for the purpose of creating a common walkway to provide ingress and egress to the the rear cottages.  Included in the association fee is the common area maintenance and water however the owners of the units are responsible for maintaining their own insurance and and building exterior maintenance.  1012 Varela Street is comprised of 2 units, the HOA fee for this home is $257 per month which is a combined total for both units 1 & 2.

For additional photos and to see the complete MLS datasheet please CLICK HERE.  This home is listed by myself, Krystal Thomas and my colleague Allison Findlay of Preferred Properties Key West for $749,000.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, would like any additional information, or would like to schedule a private showing.

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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 😍

//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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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

//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.