December 31, 2010

Neighborhood Spotlight- Venetian Shores in Islamorada, Florida

Venetian Shores - The premiere boating neighborhood in Islamorada, Florida Keys!

This neighborhood's location on Snake Creek provides boaters with immediate access to either Florida Bay or the Atlantic Ocean.

A good majority of the homes are located on wide, deep canals that accommodate large boats. Many have 100' of dockage while others have 75' of dockage.

Home that are not on the "open" canals are on plugged canals, which provide a nice backyard environment for swimming and kayaking for exercise up and down the plugged canals. These canals do not provide access to open water.  Many of these homes are members of the Venetian Shores Yachting Association, which provides them with a deeded boat slip at the bayfront marina.  These memberships and boat slips are connected to the individual homes and cannot be sold or transferred.

With homes starting in the mid $400's for the plugged side and extending up to over $2,000,000 on the open side, there is plenty of inventory available in this great neighborhood to choose from.  Take a look and find you new Islamorada home.

December 27, 2010

Real Estate Activity for December 18th to December 27th

Here is a summary of activity in the Upper Florida Keys over Christmas week.

 Click on any of the links above to view the properties.

If you're interested in knowing more about the real estate market or information on any particular area of the Keys including Key Largo, Tavernier or Islamoradacontact me!

These links will remain active until January 26th, 2011

December 24, 2010

The Florida Keys Then & Now - The Green Turtle Inn

Originally built in 1928 as OD King's Rustic Inn, a roadside cafe and inn, this quaint conch cottage has become one of the longest lasting icons in the Florida Keys history.

In 1947 Sid and Roxie Siderious purchased the property and transformed it into the now famous Green Turtle Inn. The "Turtle" soon became a local favorite of fishermen and Keys' visitors, and was known as a place where you could enjoy great food and a comfortable night's rest.  True to it's name, the menu included turtle steaks, soups and chowders.

Today, the Turtle is stronger than ever. Transformed once again by a complete remodel, necessitated by Hurricane Wilma, the Turtle retains it's casual Keys flair, but with a twist of sophistication.  Warm, rich woods make up the new interior, with numerous items from Turtle history lining the walls paying homage to the beginnings of The Green Turtle Inn as well as Islamorada itself.  There is always something happening at The Turtle. Most evenings include live music from well-known local musicians.

Located in the heart of Islamorada at Mile Marker 81.2, The Green Turtle Inn is a must-stop location on your travels in the Florida Keys.  learn more about them by visiting them online at

December 21, 2010

Real estate commissions - how do they work?

For the first time seller or buyer, real estate commissions can be a confusing thing.

To understand who pays real estate commissions -- whether it's sellers or buyers or both -- we need to look at how real estate offices and their agents are paid, and how they share cooperating commissions. 

How Real Estate Commissions Work
*  Real estate agents work for a real estate broker/office.

*  All commissions paid from a sale pass through the broker/office.

*  The real estate broker/office pays their agent a portion of the commissions the office recieves from the sale.

*  While sellers usually work with individual agents, the listing agreement is between the seller and the real estate broker/office.

*  The most common type of listing agreement between a seller and her agent gives that agent's broker the right to exclusively market the home. In return for bringing a buyer to the table, the seller agrees to pay a commission to the broker. Typically, this fee is represented as a percentage of the sales price and is shared between the listing broker and the broker who brings the buyer.

What is the Actual Commission Rate?

It is important to note that commission rates are not fixed and are negotiable but generally range from 5% to 7% of the sales price.  Real estate commissions and transactions vary from state to state, broker to broker and even locations within states can be different. 

When you begin to consider the sale of your home, be sure you fully understand the differences between the full services offered by Schwartz Property Sales and the lesser promises advertised by discount real estate brokers.

*  Consider the true risks in trusting the sale of your most valued asset to a company that offers anything less than going beyond the expected to provide you with an outstanding full service real estate experience.

*  The limited services of discount brokerages could prevent you from selling your home quickly or getting the best possible price for your home.

*  Getting the best price often requires the expert negotiating services of a skilled professional who is educated in the intricacies of the most complex real estate transactions - but some discounters expect you to negotiate on your own.

*  Schwartz Property Sales monitors the entire process from initial contact through closing, keeping track of all obligations and promptly resolving any issues.

Tips on choosing a vacation rental investment property

The Florida Keys have long been a favorite vacation destination, so it's no surprise that many second homeowners choose to utilize their home as a vacation rental while they are not using the property themselves. Unlike other forms of investing, a well planned purchase of a home in the Keys is an investment you can use and share with others while it earns you income.

But to be successful, careful considerations must be made before purchasing.  Here are just a few points to consider.

Location is key. The old real estate cliche "location, location, location" holds true when picking out a vacation home. Not only will homes in more desirable neighborhoods rent better, but location within the neighborhood itself is important. Here in the Keys, most vacationers will want easy access to boating for fishing and diving. Having a home that provides quick, easy access to both the Atlantic and Bay side is preferred over a home that requires a long boat ride through a series of canals to reach the open water.

Property history or potential.  While looking at possible homes to purchase, find out if the home has ever been used as a vacation rental. If it has, ask for the history of the rental to see how much activity it has generated.  If the home has never been used as a vacation rental, find out if it will qualify. Some areas of the Keys have very restrictive property uses, so not all homes are created equal when it comes to using them as a vacation rental property.

Size matters. A lot of vacationers to the Keys that rent a private home over a traditional hotel or resort travel with family or friends.  To make things comfortable for everyone, homes that have 3 to 4 bedrooms will book more than homes that have only 1 or 2 bedrooms.  Be wary though of going too big. The bigger the house, the higher the rental rate. And just like higher priced homes for sale, high priced vacation homes generate fewer inquiries. 

Pay attention to details. The typical vacation renter chooses a private home because they want to have the comfort and convenience of home while on vacation. With this in mind, most travelers are looking for high quality furnishings that match their tastes at home. Fresh linens, ample towels, and comfortable, stylish decor should be provided. Appliances should be of a good quality but not so complicated that they cannot be easily figured out.

Maintenance is a must.  The Atlantic Ocean and Florida Bay - two things that draw visitors to vacation home - are also two things that will make your home require regular maintenance, along with the inevitable wear from extended use of the home.  While it is important to maintain your property, it should not be looked on as a daunting task. A good property manager will pay attention to your home even while it is not being rented to keep you advised when cleaning or repairs are needed to keep your home in tip-top shape.

Owning a second home in the Keys that can help generate income for you can be a great investment. For more details on homes that make good candidates, call or email me today. To get you started, here is a link for condos and homes that will allow short-term rentals (14 days or less).

December 17, 2010

Real Estate Activity for the Week of December 10th to December 17th

Here is a summary of recent market activity in the Upper Keys for this past week:

13 new listings

15 pending sales

6 closed sales

Click on any of the links above to view the properties.

If you're interested in knowing more about the real estate market or information on any particular are of the Keys, call me!

December 15, 2010

Open Water Homes under $1,000,000

The Barenaked Ladies sang it best . . .

If I had a $1,000,000 /  (If I had a $1,000,000)
I'd buy you a house  / ( I would buy you a house)

Here in the Florida Keys, $1,000,000 would buy you a nice house, too. 

Here is a selection of open water homes in the Upper Florida Keys, all priced under $1,000,000. 

(Note: some listing agents have indicated properties with open water views as being open water homes, when in fact, it is only the view and not the property that is open water.)

December 14, 2010

Baby, It's cold outside!

Normally, the Florida Keys are known for their great fishing, diving and water-based activities. Today, the skies are bright blue with a nice breeze. But, with no offense to our northern friends, that island breeze is downright cold!

With morning temps in the 30's and today's high to be mid 50's, what today's buyer might want to find is a nice warm place to call home. Today's post features houses here in the Keys that have fireplaces.

It's like having the best of both worlds - beautiful blue skies and water vistas, with the coziness provided by a nice crackling fire.  From magnificent oceanfront homes to cozy conch cottages, there is something here to keep you warm.

December 12, 2010

May The Schwartz Be With Me!

We may be coming to the end of the year, but I've had a new beginning. I'm proud to announce that I am now affiliated with Schwartz Property Sales as a full-time Realtor.

A real estate company is really about the customers that it serves. At Schwartz Property Sales, Inc., Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, we are attuned to the knowledge that our success lies in direct proportion to our ability to deliver successful real estate transactions to our clients who trust us with their real estate needs. We pride ourselves on providing professional home finding, home selling, tenant acquisition and residential property management services It is our desire to deliver unequaled customer service that has been the impetus to creating our exclusive Premier Marketing and Pinnacle Service plans; both designed to deliver maximum assistance through our professional team of Sales Partners. - Premier Marketing, Premier Service, Premier Agents - a Schwartz advantage that our customers rely on.

With offices in Key Largo, Islamorada, Big Pine and Key West, we are truly a Keys-wide company.  Call me - I look forward to assisting you with all of your real estate needs.

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