You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings and current trends. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

June 18, 2019

35 Things to do with Kids in Key West this Summer

Bored kids?

35 Summer Activities to do with kids
age 5 and under in Key West

We are well into Summer and how many times have you heard your kids say they are bored? Key West has a variety of summer camps to keep the kids busy, but most start at age 6 – 8. Whether you live here with young children or will be visiting our beautiful island, we have created a list of 35 things to do with your children specifically under the age of 5. Of course kids of all ages will enjoy these activities too!

Derek has two children, ages 5 and 1, so he and his family will definitely be checking off these items this summer! Enjoy and be sure to stay hydrated, it’s hot!

Free and affordable activities:

Our lovely parks are nicest in the early morning or evening hours.

1. Bayview Park – fenced in playground, basketball & tennis courts, plus a large green space.

2. Higgs Beach Park – Plenty of shade, especially in the late afternoon and totally fenced in. Bring beach toys to make it extra fun. 

3. Nelson English Park – This park is adjacent to the Community Pool in Bahama Village and was recently redone. Plenty of shade over the playground equipment and rest areas for the adults. This park in not fenced in. 

We have two waterparks which are perfect for non-swimmers.

4. Cozumel Park – located in New Town on 19th Terrace off of Donald Ave. this fenced in park has a playground, basketball court, large green space for playing games and a small fenced in splash pad! Adults wear your swimsuit and bring a low chair and you can cool off in the splash pad too.

5. Truman Waterfront Park – A beautiful addition to our Southernmost City. Located at the end of Truman Annex. Featuring a large completely shaded playground area, bathrooms and a large splash pad to cool off. This park is not fenced in. 

6. Swim! If you do have a swimmer and do not have your own pool, there a many hotels that are local friendly. Plus the Community Pool is another hidden gem. 

Get out an explore nature, whether at a beach or a nature walk.

7. Ft. Zach State Park and Natural Beach – plenty of shade under the pines with grills and picnic tables and the water is great for snorkeling. It is our only natural beach, which means it is rocky so it’s wise to wear water shoes. Explore the fort and watch the sunset. Play a game of how many iguanas you can spot around the fort. There is a fee to enter the State Park. 

8. Smathers Beach – Running parallel to South Roosevelt Blvd. this beach has nice soft sand and is very accessible. 

9. Higgs Beach – make a day of it while you are at the playground. There is very good clear swimming closer to the pier adjacent to the Casa Marina hotel. 

10. Simonton St. Beach – located at the west end of Simonton St. Enjoy a cocktail or a bite to eat at Lagerhead’s Beach Café

11. The Nature Walk by 1800 Atlantic Blvd. -  This is a hidden gem. Follow the path and boardwalk through the mangroves and arrive a beautiful stretch of beach that is virtually private. This is a great spot to collect sea glass. 

12. West and East Martello Towers – These two forts are great for exploring. The West Martello Tower adjacent to Higgs Beach host the Key West Garden Club and is a wonderful spot for a shady afternoon picnic overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The museum at the East Martello Tower by the airport is full of history. Donations are appreciated at the West Martello and there is a fee for the museum at East Martello.

13. Key West Wildlife Center – Located at Indigenous Park adjacent to the Bocce Ball Courts on White Street, this is a fun area to explore with your young child. Check out all the birds that are currently being rehabilitated. Take a walk through Indigenous Park to the turtle pond at the end. For a small donation, you can get some turtle food at the Wildlife Center entrance and feed the turtles in the pond. 

14. The Botanical Garden – Located on Stock Island on College Road just before the Key West Golf Club. A fun area to explore the native landscaping and the Cuban chugs. Be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat. There is a fee to enter. 

15. Little Hamaca Park on Government Road. Located in Mid-Town. Meander over boardwalks and mulched trails through mangrove, transitional, and hardwood hammock communities. See flora and fauna indigenous and endemic to Key West. Bring your binoculars and sunscreen!

16. The Sherriff’s Animal Farm – Open the first and third Sunday of each month from 1 – 3pm. This is free, but donations are greatly appreciated. If you’ve never been, it’s a pretty amazing place with the amount of exotic animals that are there. Plus the majority is located under the jail, so it’s very shady. 

Ready to get in the AC? Check these indoor activities off of your Summer to-do list. 

17. Tropic Cinema – located downtown on Eaton Street, offers $5 kid’s movies every Saturday at 10:45 am. 

18. Regal Cinema – located in the New Town Searstown shopping center, offers all the latest films plus $1.00 kid’s movies every Tuesday & Wednesday at 10am! 

19. The Key West Butterfly Conservatory – is a beautiful place to see the two resident flamingos and thousands of butterflies. The butterflies are most active in the morning. 

20. The Monroe County Library – We love the library and go about every two weeks to check out new books. There is a great kid’s section with toys for toddlers and infants and a large area with games and activities for older kids. It’s a wonderful free indoor spot to cool off and expand your mind. The library also offers Preschool time every Friday at 11am with stories and crafts. 

21. The Waterfront Brewery Arcade – This may be a little better for older kids, but there are some games that a 4-year-old can play. It’s a fun break and the food is quite good. You must buy a gamecard which is reusable, if you don’t spend all your money at one time. 

22. Ripley’s Believe it or Not – Definitely something different to do in the AC. 

Time for a treat! We love ice cream and have made it our mission to visit these ice cream shops this summer.

23. Tropical Vibes – the shaved ice is SOOO refreshing!

24. Dairy Queen – so affordable!

25. Flamingo Crossing – homemade ice cream with many local flavors.

26. Matthesen’s Ice Cream – the ginormous cookies are amazing!

Explore some Key West history. The Historic Tours of America (HTA) company offers local’s month during June where their attractions are free with a Monroe County ID. They are also free the first Sunday of each month. Take advantage and explore:

27. The Key West Aquarium – delicious $6 smoothies across from the aquarium. 

28. The Shipwreck Treasure Museum – Let us know if you make it to the top of the tower!

29. Harry S. Truman Little White House

30. Old Town Trolley

31. Conch Tour Train

Other pieces of history in Key West you should check off your list include the Lighthouse, The Mel Fischer Museum, the Audubon House and the Hemingway House. However, these activities may not hold the attention for a young child. 

Key West has a few Summer events as well. Be sure to check out:

32. The Rotary 4th of July Fireworks – which are set off from White Street Pier.

33. The 1st Key West Mermaid Festival – all things mermaid! 

If you want to take a day trip out of Key West, check out:

34. Aquarium Encounters in Marathon

35. The Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key – you may enjoy this more if you pay extra money to interact with the dolphins. Be sure to call ahead and ask if the splash pad is working for your littles to cool off! 

Don’t forget boating and the many beaches throughout the Keys. Whatever you choose, you will not be disappointed! Enjoy your Summer from Derek Epperly & Jenna Blackwell. 

 

May 1, 2019

Out of 465 Realtors in Key West, how do you choose the right one?

Be sure to ask these 5 questions before you hire a Realtor

For a 2 x 4 mile island, Key West has an astonishing 465 licensed Realtors and everyone knows someone who is a Realtor! Yet, just because your favorite server, hairdresser, coffee barista, fisherman, bartender, pharmacist or your kid's school teacher got their Realtor's license, does that make them truly qualified to represent you in the sale or purchase of one of your largest investments?

We can provide you with a plethora of questions to ask any Realtor before you hire them as your listing or buyer's agent, for now we will start with these five questions.

1. Do you own your home?

This is so important! A Realtor who is a homeowner has been through the home-buying process and everything that goes along with it - house hunting, making an offer, inspections, the staggering loan process, not to mention the maintenance after the sale. If your potential Realtor does not have first-hand knowledge from personal experience of this process, they simply are not experienced enough to represent you. 

2. Are you a full-time Realtor?

Another important question. Things happen FAST in real estate, especially when the market is hot. If a property hits the market that is perfect for you, your Realtor needs to be ready to MOVE on it NOW, not after their shift or day job. Another offer could have already been accepted. Whether buying or selling, questions always need to be answered and you want a Realtor who can act and respond quickly. Many new Realtor's keep their "day jobs" while they get their feet wet in real estate. However, it serves your best interest to hire a full-time Realtor, someone who makes it their priority to get the job done for you any hour of the day. 

3. How many properties have you sold?

A good rule of thumb is to work with a Realtor that has sold at least 50 properties. This gives them enough transactional experience where they are familiar with just about every possible scenario that can come up during a sale.

4. What specific services will you provide for buying or selling a home?

If your potential Realtor can't rattle off a list of services they will provide for you, move on! Everyone deserves good service and we pride ourselves in providing exceptional service. Read our commitments as your buyer's agents and your listing agents and the specific services we offer for each aspect of the real estate process.

5. Can you provide references?

Any quality Realtor will have testimonials from past clients. You should certainly read through some of these, just as you would read the reviews before buying on Amazon. Testimonials will give you a sense of the work ethic of a Realtor. Click here to read our testimonials. 

Contact Derek Epperly at 305.923.4833 or Jenna Blackwell at 305.393.6573 for Service You Deserve!

 

April 9, 2019

KeyWestRealEstate.info Tutorial Video

Please watch our short tutorial video on how to navigate our site.

 

Posted in Videos
Oct. 4, 2018

Realtors vs. FSBO's

So you’re thinking of selling your home yourself …

5 reasons to use a Realtor instead

You own your home and you are ready to sell. Great! You look on Zillow and see the Zestimate and think ka-ching! You calculate the Realtor’s commission and you are like “no way am I giving that amount of money away!” That’s all fine and dandy until you really get into the nitty-gritty of selling your house. 

Most people will always use a professional rather than doing something themselves. Plumbing problems? You call a plumber. Electrical issues? You call an electrician. Feeling sick? You see a doctor. Filing your taxes? You use a qualified accountant. So why would you not use a qualified Realtor? 

Here are 5 reasons to use a Realtor to sell your home instead of selling by owner.

1. Besides having access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), Realtors know how to best market your home and work with a wide network of other Realtors who have buyers looking for homes like yours. Plus, all advertising and photography expenses come out of the Realtor’s pocket – not yours. 

2. Realtors know how to accurately price your home based on what similar homes have sold for and the current condition of your home. If you are worried about “giving away” money in the commission, you can always build the commission into the sale price. 

3. Realtors are expert negotiators to get you the best price.

4. Let the Realtors deal with all the headaches (title issues, encroachments, deferred maintenance, inspections, disclosures, contracts, negotiating repairs, negotiating closing costs, etc.), why add stress to your life?

5. Statistics show that Realtors get more money for home sales than For Sale By Owner transactions. 

You home is your number one asset. Why would you risk losing money to save a little money on the biggest sale of your life? Call a qualified Realtor. Call us, Derek Epperly at 305.923.4833 or Jenna Blackwell at 305.923.6573 and let’s talk about your goals to sell your home. We provide service you deserve and will protect your interests at every point of the sale. 

 

Posted in Selling Your Home
Aug. 28, 2018

How I got a house under contract in 10 days!

Earlier this year, I listed a New Town home in Key West for $700,000. Ten days later it was under contract for the full price and we closed 32 days later. The main reason this home went under contract so fast is because my client had a goal to sell quickly and she was content to price her home appropriately. 

Throughout my website, I often speak of pricing homes appropriately. This means running an accurate Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on what similar size homes have sold for in recent months. I also consider the condition of the home and factor any repairs or upgrades that need to be made to reach a maximum return. Often, the goal of each client is to sell without further spending money. Therefore, it is wise to price the home appropriately to eliminate the need for nickel-and-dime negotiations.

Sellers must also examine their goals as well. If the goal is to sell quickly, then this must be reflected in the price. If you are just “playing or testing the market”, and put an extremely high price on your home, you need to be prepared for it to sit on the market for an extended period.

If you are considering selling your home or just curious as to what your home may be worth, contact me for a complimentary home valuation! I’m happy to meet with you to discuss your goals.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 24, 2018

Be ready to buy!

Buying a Florida Keys property

Don’t be a “Not You”

The Florida Keys Real Estate Market is extremely hot right now for well-priced homes, especially homes that are $700,000 or less. In the past week, I have seen 3 people lose homes because they weren’t ready “to pull the trigger”. In the world of HGTV shows, we’d love to let clients view a property several times before submitting an offer, but in a hot market that is simply not realistic. 

Yes, it’s a HUGE purchase, one of the biggest you will ever make in your lifetime and there are a lot of personal factors to consider. Therefore, it’s best to be pre-approved, know your absolute must-haves and what you can compromise on ahead of time. Even if you haven’t viewed many homes in person and are new to house shopping, you don’t want to lose an opportunity on a good deal if you need time to think about it. Just like we browse for everything online, I’m sure you have already been house hunting online, so you have a good idea of what’s out there. If a house warrants viewing in person, and it’s in good shape at a good price, it most likely warrants an offer. Plus, you can always get out of the contract for any reason within the inspection period, so it behooves you to at least make an offer. 

A savvy Realtor will be abreast of what’s on the market in your price point and what requires work and what doesn’t. When the right house comes along they should advise you to take the leap and make an offer. If they know it’s priced to sell, it most likely will go into a bidding war for the highest and best offer, so don’t be surprised if they advise you to offer close to the list price. 

Just like the commercials for Realtor.com say, you don’t want to be a “Not You”. The person who isn’t you who got the house because they jumped on it first. 

Even if you are months out from buying, but would like to begin browsing online, we encourage you to create a personal account on our website, www.KeyWestRealEstate.com. You can create a variety of search options and receive daily or weekly e-alerts. When the time is right to buy, we are here for you every step of the way providing service you deserve

 

Posted in Buying A Home
Feb. 10, 2018

Ready to Sell?

18 simple things to do before your home is photographed.

If you employ a regular housekeeper and landscaper, congratulations! Your home is most likely ready for photographs and you can skip this blog and continue scrolling through your social media. Just be sure to have your Realtor schedule the photographer the day of or day after these services are complete. 

For the rest of us who do the house cleaning and yard maintenance ourselves, here is what you can do to show your home in the best light for real estate photographs. These photographs are the first impression potential buyers will see of your property, so it’s in your best interest to put some effort into these steps.   

“Hey! I’m paying my Realtor a fat commission. Why can’t they do this for me?” you ask. Of course, a quality Realtor will assist you in any way they can to make your home sparkle, but no one wants to pick up someone else’s dirty clothes and underwear! If you are physically unable to prep your home, let your Realtor know you need help. 

Thoroughly cleaning your home is the first step and actual people and pets should not be in the pictures. However, according to Key West Real Estate photographer, Rocky Gonet, of KeyWestRealEstatePhoto.com here are some simple things you can do to help your home photograph well.

Throughout the home:

• Remove family photos.
• Remove any sign of pets, i.e. dog crates, beds, food bowls or litter boxes. Unfortunately, potential buyers see these items and think “smelly house”. 
• Declutter as much as possible, think “less is more”.

Kitchens: 

• Clear off the counters. Either keep them totally empty or stylishly place one or two items. 
• The exterior of the fridge should be bare, as if it’s brand new. Remove anything attached.
• Remove your trash can and any brooms and cleaning products.

Bathrooms:

• Remove everything from around the sink, open shelves and top of the toilet. Stylishly replace one or two items. If you use it in your personal grooming, (i.e. toothbrushes, deodorant, hair gel, etc.) we don’t want to see it in the photo.
• Hang matching towels neatly on the towel bar, for goodness sake no dirty towels hanging over the shower or visible used washcloths!
• Remove the trash can and any cleaning products and plungers. 
• Close the shower curtain. If your shower or tub has a glass door, remove all hygiene products.
• Close the toilet lid and put the toilet paper on the toilet paper holder.

Bedrooms:

• Clear the clutter off dresser tops, night stands, floor and bed. No clothes on the floor please! 
• Listen to your mama and make your bed as neatly as possible. Pull the covers tight so they don’t look rumpled. 
• Close the closet doors, remove anything hanging from the knobs or exterior.

Yard & Exterior:

• Remove any dead branches, add fresh mulch if possible.
• Trim overgrown plants.
• Hide the trash and recycle cans. 
Extra Credit: Clean outdoor furniture and pressure wash decks and the exterior if you are able or it’s in your budget.

Of course, most of this is common sense, but you will be AMAZED at the poor photos some Realtors use in their listings. Be sure to consult your Realtor for help if this list seems daunting. Since you will be moving soon anyway, go ahead and start clearing that clutter. 

Although we’d love to show you some terrible photos that are on the Key West MLS, we simply can’t do that. You can always check out www.badmlsphotos.com for some laughs. 

Posted in Selling Your Home
Jan. 17, 2018

Avoid the #1 way to damage your listing

Ready to sell your Key West home?

Avoid the #1 way to damage your listing

Money House

The Key West real estate market is definitely hot right now. As of this writing, there are only 17 single-family homes listed in the City of Key West proper under $600,000. These homes are not part of a townhome or a divided condo, they are stand-alone homes. Of those 17, we would consider 4 that need major work and 6 that are livable and could be upgraded over time. The smallest single family Old Town home in this category is 486 SF, listed at $599,000 and is quite cute and move-in ready. We state these statistics to give you an idea of what you can get for your money right now.  

A buyer will have a myriad of criteria in their home search, however at the end of the day, it all comes down to price. If the buyer can’t qualify for a loan or they simply can’t make the numbers work, they won’t buy. Period. And this is the #1 way to damage your listing: over-pricing your home from the start of the listing. Because we live in one of the warmest and most beautiful parts of the continental U.S., we feel we have struck the real estate lottery and consumers will pay anything just to live here. For the buyer where money is no object, that may be true. But for the average couple or family looking for their long-term home, they are considering what they can afford versus what they can get for their buck. Is the home within their budget, but they will have to put another $100,000 - $300,000 into it to fix it up or even make it livable? Is it a nice location within Key West or is it on a congested or high-traffic street? Is the home in a poor flood zone and will require high flood insurance? Is the home, lot or combination simply too small for the price? These are questions you and your Realtor should ask when pricing your home. 

Sadly, many Realtors will let the seller price the home, because of the “island real estate lottery” mentality and they do this to get the listing. A qualified Realtor will run an accurate Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) on your home, as well as take into consideration how well the home is maintained, the location and insurance costs when pricing your property. The number may be less than you wish to hear, but homes that are priced to sell – which means homes that are responsibly priced based on these factors, will have more showings from the beginning of the listing and usually go under contract within the first two months. If you price to “play the market” you may find that you will have to go through several price reductions before you hit the sweet spot where you start seeing some action. Thus, loosing valuable time on the market to have shown your home during season or other peak times. Plus, the more days on the market (DOM) gives the appearance that something is wrong with your home, because it hasn’t sold quickly, this can be a turn-off to potential buyers. If your home is over-priced, your Realtor is reluctant to spend advertising dollars and you are frustrated because you feel they aren’t doing anything to market your home. 

Let’s work together to accurately price your home! Check out my Selling philosophy here: KeyWestRealEstate.info/selling/.

 

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about real estate in Key West and The Florida Keys? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates