February 01, 2016
The showings I was allowed to have went very well. The home was always extremely well-kept and there was never any signs that anyone actually lived in the house. No clothes in the closets, no food in the kitchen. Just a spotless, clean home. Odd, I thought.
Then the phone call came.
It was from a man named James, who had just paid for a vacation rental here in the Florida Keys.
He would be staying here the first week of March. He was given the property address by the person that was claiming to be the property manager for the owner, and he decided to Google it to find out more about the home. That's when he found that it was for sale and found my name and phone number. He called to ask a few questions about his upcoming stay.
I was confused. I knew the home was not a vacation rental since it had a long term tenant in place. I called the owner to ask if their long term tenant had moved out and if they were now doing vacation rentals in the home. They didn't know what I was talking about. They said their tenant was still leasing the property and that the home did not allow for any short term rentals, per Monroe County code (which is correct - no rentals any shorter than 28 days are allowed in this home)
And yet, James told us he had found the home on VRBO, made an inquiry, booked and paid for his stay in March. I went looking on VRBO and I also found the ad, advertising the home for vacation rentals as short as one day!
So I called the tenant and asked him who James was. He claimed that James was "a buddy" of his that would be house-sitting for a week in March. I called and asked James if he really was a friend of the tenant and he responded with a no.
That's when it dawned on me - The long term tenant was indeed renting long-term from the owner and paying his rent each month. However, unbeknownst to the owner, he was operating the home as a vacation rental on VRBO as well as a few other sites. He was making well more than double of what his monthly lease amount was! None of this was ever disclosed to the owner of the property.
That's when it all started to add up. The spotless home, the lack of personal items, the lock box he had on the door - all signs that no one lived in the house full-time. The showings that were denied were probably denied because there was an active vacation rental at the home, so no showings.
When confronted, the tenant hemmed and hawed, but finally confessed that he was using the property for illegal vacation rentals - against county code that prohibits them. The eviction process was swift and no more rentals will be allowed in the home. The owners are looking for another long-term tenant.
Despite this, the property is still being advertised on VRBO. According to the calendar posted online, there are several vacation rentals coming up. I don't know if those vacationers have been contacted or not. James, the first vacationer who called about his upcoming vacation, has asked for a refund but has not yet received one. The so called tenant also has other properties in the Keys he advertises as vacation renters. I'm not positive, but I would be willing to bet those owners don't know what is being conducted at their homes.
When it comes to leasing your home, you can't be too careful. When in doubt, leave it to a professional who will be sure that the rental is conducted properly. Yes, you may have to pay a fee for them to find you a tenant, but it is well worth it.
As always, use caution when booking a home for a vacation rental for your vacations. VRBO and AirBnB, among others, are quite popular sites for vacation rentals and both do have legitimate vacation rentals for rent. Still, do your homework and ask questions. A little effort can save you from being the victim of a scam.
January 08, 2016
Occasionally, you will find a seller that is wiling to finance all or part of your purchase. The exact details of the financing can vary from seller to seller, depending on the situation of the seller and the buyer.
Buyers may look for owner financing for a variety of reasons, such as being self employed and not having sufficient documentation for a traditional loan.
Seller financing deals don't have as many closing costs, such as loan origination fees, discount points, and mortgage insurance premiums, among others.
Typically, these loans come with a short term and a balloon payment at the end of the term. At that point, the buyer, who now owns the property, will need to either pay the loan off in full or refinance with a traditional loan.
Below is a link to a list of properties in the Florida Keys that are offering possible seller financing.
Click here to view the properties.
January 04, 2016
There are several condominium complexes that allow vacation rentals, which are defined as rentals lasting less than 28 days. Weekly rentals is the most common time frame, but some complexes will allow as little as one night.
From the modest studio apartments to open water luxury condos, there is something in just about every price range.
Click here to view the list
December 31, 2015
It's no secret that the Florida Keys are home to some of the most luxurious private homes. Here's a peek at the top five sales in 2015.
|Listing courtesy of RE/Max All Keys Real Estate|
Constructed by one of the areas’ most astute builders, quality craftsmanship and exceptional attention to detail make this property a one of a kind. Adjoining direct ocean front lot and garden lot are also included making it one of the largest estates in this community. Key Colony Beach is known for its’ deep water dockage and direct access to the ocean and gulf.
|Listing courtesy of Preferred Properties of Key West|
620 Eaton Street, Key West ~ Sold for $4,495,000
Built in 1881, this magnificent jewel retains all her grandeur. There are a total of six bedrooms and seven baths. The original carriage houses and servant quarters serve as three guest bedrooms en-suite with private covered living area pool side. The state of the art kitchen is everything a gourmet chef could possibly desire.
|Listing courtesy of Engel & Voelkers Florida Keys|
26 Sunset Key Drive, Key West ~ Sold for $5,000,000
This stunning home is located on the world-famous private island of Sunset Key. Take in one of the most stunning waterfront views of Key West as you lounge beside your private pool, or spend some time relaxing on one of Sunset Key's 3 beaches. When you're done relaxing and are in the mood for some excitement, Historic Downtown Key West and all that it offers is just a 3 minute ferry ride away.
|Listing courtesy of Ocean Sotheby's International Realty|
20 Avocado Street, Upper Matecumbe ~ Sold for $5,087,250
The finest of the bay front parcels in the heart of Islamorada! Peaceful, private, gated estate situated on 1.5+ acres with expansive bay views and gorgeous sunsets. Featuring 4 BR/5 BA, office, media room, exercise room, 2 elevators, impact windows and doors, all marble floors, tall ceilings and doors, swimming pool, and a deep water boat basin to accommodate several large boats.
|Listing courtesy of Esslinger Wooten Maxwell|
80999 Old Highway, Upper Matecumbe ~ Sold for $13,125,000
Ultra secluded waterfront estate on 6.5 acres with expansive dockage, private boat basin, ramp, lifts and davits. Principal house with 4BR/5.5BA and separate 2/2 guest house. Multiple indoor/outdoor entertaining areas and true chef’s kitchen with Carrara marble countertops. Lush tropical gardens designed by Raymond Jungles with oversized pool and spa.
To see more photos and learn more about these magnificent properties, follow this link.
December 30, 2015
Island living is yours to enjoy in the pristine canalfront home in Key Largo. The main living level features three bedrooms and two full bathrooms. The master suite has a private bath and two large closets. The easy open floor plan has all tile flooring, convenient upstairs laundry, large kitchen and dining and a covered wrap-around balcony overlooking the canal.
Downstairs, you'll find a spacious guest apartment with private bath, kitchenette and walk-in closet.
Close to some of the best fishing and diving spots in the Upper Keys, this home is ready for your next waterfront adventure. The concrete seawall has a covered fishing cleaning station and provides ample dockage with easy ocean access.
The property is fully fenced and gated, with large rolling gate opening to the easy maintenance yard and covered parking for your vehicle.
Looking for an investment with a view? This condo at Ocean Pointe just might be the ticket!
Ocean Pointe is one of the few condos in the Upper Keys where you can rent your unit for less than 28 days. Most condominiums have a strict policy of minimum rental periods being 28 days or longer. At Ocean Pointe, you can rent daily, weekly or monthly, allowing you to maximize your rental income.
There is an on-site management company that can take care of all of the rentals for you, or you can manage the property yourself and rent via sites such as VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner).
The complex itself is a resort like setting, with over-sized swimming pool, sandy beach, on-sit cafe and lounge and an oceanfront marina. To learn more about Ocean Pointe, please visit www.OceanPointeCondos.com
September 01, 2015
Located on the top floor, this unit features tile, carpet and hardwood flooring and views from the living area and the master bedroom. Complex amenities include heated pool, spacious clubhouse, tennis, marina and more.
Dockage is included in the deeded boat slip in the marina. John Pennekamp State Park is just minutes away, with Adams Cut allowing boating in both the Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Offered at $393,500. Call today to arrange for a private showing!
- Tracy Larson, Realtor in the Florida Keys / 305-522-3812
- Thank you for visiting Florida Keys Market Update for information about the Florida Keys real estate market. Licensed since 1993 and a Keys local since 1987, I want to be your Realtor here in our island paradise. Note: Information for listings featured on this blog is gathered from our local MLS; not all properties are my listings.
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