Since launching our weekly Facebook feature, ASK THE TOWNSEND TEAM, earlier this year, we’ve been answering the Key West questions on your mind. Your positive response has inspired us to commit to continuing the series for 2019. That’s 52 posts! What a challenge!
These six ASK THE TOWNSEND TEAM posts garnered the most attention in 2018. We hope you enjoy reading them and learning something new along the way.
SHOULDN’T I PRICE MY PROPERTY HIGHER, SINCE I CAN ALWAYS DROP THE PRICE LATER?
While this strategy might have a positive ring for a seller, following it will likely result in a lower selling price. The most opportune time to sell a home is during its first few weeks on the market—when it attracts the greatest attention. When a property is overpriced, it competes with houses with more competitive features at that higher price level. Local real estate agents may refrain from showing the property because they feel it is priced too high. Consequently, the overpriced home is unlikely to attract an offer. The longer the home remains on the market the more likely potential buyers are to ask what is wrong with the property. Eventually, the seller will have to reduce the asking price. The fact that the home has had a price reduction after being for sale for an extended period will almost certainly be factored into an even lower offer for purchase.
WHAT’S NEW ON THE KEY WEST RESTAURANT SCENE?
Run don’t walk to the fabulous new Moondog Café & Bakery on Whitehead Street and our longtime favorite, The Flaming Buoy Filet Co., at its new location on Eaton Street! We eat out every night and consider ourselves to be less foodies and more professional diners—loving locally owned places with great food and welcoming environments. These two restaurants have captured our taste buds and our hearts. We bet you will enjoy them as much as we do!
Moondog Café & Bakery • 823 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040 • 305-741-7699
The remarkable culinary team behind legendary Key West eateries The Café and Banana Café has created the not-to-be-missed Moondog Café & Bakery. Located next to the historic Hemingway House, the imaginatively designed art-filled café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Instantly becoming one of our go-to dining destinations, we’ve been working our way through Moondog’s delightful menu. We love the Seafood Omelette, Norman’s Huevos Rancheros, Fresh Spinach & Artichoke Dip, Grilled Caesar Salad, The Frenchman Burger, and Roasted Mushroom & Fontina Pizza.
The Flaming Buoy Filet Co. • 424 Eaton Street, Key West, FL 33040 • 305-295-7970
After way too long a wait, Scot, Fred and their extraordinary team are back with their stylishly funky and fabulous new Flaming Buoy on Eaton Street. We were thrilled to be invited to rub elbows with Key West celebrities at their soft opening last Saturday evening. We loved the amazing new décor and our all-time favorites, the Seafood Mariana and The Filet Co. Three Way. It is great to have The Flaming Buoy back and better than ever!
I’M PAST RETIREMENT AGE. AM I TOO OLD TO GET A MORTGAGE LOAN TO BUY A HOME?
As long as your creditworthiness qualifies you for the mortgage loan you are seeking, The Equal Opportunity Credit Act assures that you will not be charged more or denied a loan because of your age. So far this year, we have had an over-eighty customer finance the purchase of his Key West by the Sea condominium and a first-time home buyer over seventy purchase her Old Town cottage. The driving force in both of their decisions to buy was a desire to not have to move again.
It is never too late to live your Key West dream as a homeowner. As Judy Blume said, “You’ll never grow old in Key West, you might die, but you’ll never grow old.”
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH KEY WEST TRANSIENT VACATION RENTAL PROPERTIES?
Unless your Key West property is part of a condominium or homeowners association with rules governing vacation rentals, with the correct City of Key West license anyone can offer their home as a vacation rental. There are two types of vacation rental properties in Key West: those with transient rental licenses and those with standard rental licenses.
Most Key West transient rental properties are located within half a block of Duval Street, on Truman Avenue, and along Eisenhower Drive. There are properties with transient licenses in the 1800 Atlantic, Key West Beach Club, La Brisa, Sunrise Suites, and Marriott Beachside developments. Truman Annex homes may have a special transient license that is subject to a weekly minimum and has a sunset clause attached. Additionally, there are grandfathered-in transient properties peppered across the island. A typical transient license allows a property to be rented nightly, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Transient licensed homes can be operated much like a hotel. While they require higher levels of management, they offer greater flexibility and the potential for high returns. Since transient rental vacation properties often attract short-term visitors that are coming to Key West to party, they can suffer more wear and tear than long-term vacation rentals. Homes with transient licenses typically sell for $75,000 to $100,000 more than like-kind properties that do not have a transient license. Transient licenses can be bought and sold but can only be placed on receivership sites designated by the city.
A standard City of Key West rental license allows for a home to be rented for 28 days or more (think monthly, with February being the shortest month at 28 days). Those renting for a month or longer are typically older couples that have the time and money to vacation in paradise for an extended period. Even larger properties are usually occupied by a couple for most of their rental period, with friends and family joining them for short visits. Consequently, long-term vacation rental properties suffer much less abuse than transient rentals. When they are staged to feel like a home, rather than a hotel room, long-term vacation rentals tend to attract repeat visitors and higher occupancy rates.
THERE WAS A DEATH IN MY HOME. DO I HAVE TO DISCLOSE THE FACT TO POTENTIAL BUYERS?
Florida law is clear on the subject. It states that if your property was the site of a death, homicide, or suicide it is not a material fact that must be disclosed. Further, according to Florida law, HIV and AIDS status are not material facts that must be disclosed in a real estate transaction and no cause of action arises against a homeowner or REALTOR® for failure to disclose that the occupant of a property is infected with HIV/AIDS. Interestingly, Florida law is silent on haunting. If you believe that your house is haunted, it would be best to consult your legal counsel and perhaps a medium.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A NOTE, A MORTGAGE, AND A DEED?
In a nutshell, the note is the borrower’s promise to pay back his or her loan, the mortgage is putting up the property as security for the note, and the deed transfers ownership of the property.
The promissory note (note) is the borrower’s promise to pay. The closer presents the note for the buyer’s signature. The note shows the principal balance, number of payments, and the dates and the amount of the payments. The amount will be for principal and interest only. The first payment date will normally be the first day of the second month after closing. The note is not witnessed or notarized. If a signature appears on the face of the note along with the borrower’s signature, that person becomes a cosigner on the note.
The mortgage is the security for the note. It is the document that may require the borrower to pay 1/12 of the ad valorem taxes, hazard insurance, and mortgage insurance premium along with the principal and interest required by the note. It requires that payments be made on time, taxes be paid, and the property be covered by insurance. It also describes payment options and probably states that a transfer of the property will make the loan due immediately.
The general warranty deed (deed) is the document that transfers ownership of the real property. The general warranty deed is the most common deed, with the seller’s guarantee to the buyer that he or she has good title, without material defects or encumbrances, and will stand by the guarantee forever. Special attention should be given to names, legal descriptions, and any items in the “subject to” section, such as restrictive covenants and mortgages.
Do you have a question about buying, selling, or investing in Key West real estate? Are you pondering the ins and outs of living on our tropical island? Wondering what’s new in Paradise? Email your questions to info@DeanTownsend.com and look for our responses every Wednesday on our Townsend Team Facebook page.
THE TOWNSEND TEAM
Dean & Keith Townsend, REALTORS®
Keller Williams Key West Compass Realty
333 Fleming Street, Key West, FL 33040
305-942-1369 • www.DeanTownsend.com