Florida Keys Property Premium


Demand is up for property in the Florida Keys, the narrow, 125-mile stretch of islands off south Florida. Home prices are almost back to 2005 levels in many places, and luxury homes are particularly sought-after, estate agents report. The average sale price for homes over $2 million in the Upper Keys was $2.6 million in 2014, compared with $2.29 million three years ago. Last year, for-sale homes in the Keys sold in 260 days, compared with 492 days three years ago, the quickest since 2005, according to MLS data.

Agents say inventory is low for large, ocean- or gulf-front properties, and developers say they are scrambling to find new spots to build.

On Lower Matecumbe Key, part of Islamorada (pronounced isle-a-more-AH-dah) developer David Rosseau is building 12 luxury homes in a complex called Tarpon Point, to be completed this year. Each unit will have an ocean view. Prices start at just under $2 million for a 2,800-square-foot home.

House hunters on the islands are drawn to vast estates with wide views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as to the small-town feel of the various communities. Locals have a laid-back lifestyle geared toward fishing, boating and diving.

Key West, the southernmost island, is a perennial favourite for artists - Tennessee Williams owned a home there - as well as weekenders and students on Spring Break. The area is well developed and properties tend to be relatively small. Buyers go there seeking a community where they can get around by foot or bike, says agent Cory Held, of Preferred Properties Key West.

Prices for a 3,000-square-foot, move-in-ready home in Key West start at $2 million - almost at 2005 levels before Hurricane Wilma caused extensive flooding. The average sale price of homes over $1 million was $1.749 million in 2014, when 27 high-end properties sold.

Recent buyers looking for more space are shopping in the Upper and Middle Keys. The Upper Keys, in particular, have a new emerging arts scene. Key Largo has hosted the annual Humphrey Bogart film festival since 2013, which draws a crowd. The four-year-old Morada Arts district on one of Islamorada’s islands is dotted with art galleries and trendy shops. Galas and concerts take place in the village’s Founders Park, says Elizabeth Young, executive director of the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, a non-profit in Key West.
The Middle Keys, such as Duck Key, are quieter, as are the smaller islands further south, including Cudjo Key, Little Torch Key and Summerland Key.

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