Key West Property Market and Real Estate Guide

(Key West, Florida - FL, USA)

Image of Key West MarinaImmensely popular as a second home or retirement destination, Key West offers all the tropical wonders that many northern climes do not, from first-class diving and fishing to laid-back eating out. The year-round mild weather and easy access help to make Key West a favourite US getaway, yet buyers need to have a healthy bank balance to invest in property here.

Property in Key West ranges from condos near the island's marina, which place you a stone's throw from your boat, to pretty white-washed heritage homes with porches dating from the mid-1800s. Beachside properties go for a premium, although the return potential on these homes is excellent.

Location isn't crucial as the island is compact, at just 2 miles / 3 km by 4 miles / 6 km. But if price is a consideration then you will find Old Town Key West property to be among the island's most expensive, with select homes that perfectly characterise Old Florida often in excess of US$1 million.

The historic Old Town and former hang out of Ernest Hemingway is popular among those searching for stately wooden Key West homes of days past, while the quieter New Town offers the best in modern developments such as apartments. Anyone with a passion for boating will enjoy living in the exclusive Casa Marina.

Renting Serviced Apartments

Furnished apartment rentals are not the norm in Key West, yet there are corporate apartments that provide a cost-saving alternative to lodging long term in a hotel. These apartments come with all mod cons including Internet access and cable TV, and the rental price includes all utilities.

Alternatives to serviced apartments include Duval Street's bed and breakfasts, hotels and inns, while outside of the downtown area are beachside cottages and villas available for weekly and monthly lets.

Rooms in charming Old Florida residential homes are also available for rent, but often not for periods of less than 30 days, in which case the property owner must hold a transient license. Due to strict licensing rules there are only a limited number of these types of short-term rental properties available for daily and weekly rentals.

Buying Apartments and Houses

Restrictions on modification to registered Old Town homes are in place to preserve the character and charm of the district, so it is important to establish the feasibility of any planned renovations before you make a Key West property purchase.

Non-Americans can purchase Key West property in the same way as locals, although there are greater restrictions on foreigners' local borrowing powers. Buyers intending to let their property should carefully read up on the rules regarding transient licenses for short-term lets and bear in mind these licenses are difficult to come by, not to mention expensive.

Upon purchase of a property, the Florida Keys property tax is recalculated according to the new sale price. For this reason it is not a good idea to use the previous year's tax as a guideline, since increases can be substantial. Expats can expect the fees involved in buying a property here to amount to around eight percent of the property price.

Of note, the annual hurricane season spans early June to late November, and strong hurricane wind damage to properties, along with inland flooding, can be problematic at times.

Real Estate Agents

First-time Key West buyers and renters are recommended to employ an expert in helping them to find a suitable property and to guard them against potential pitfalls. Key West realtors are used to dealing with expats and typically offer a friendly and professional service.

Below is a selection of Key West realtors and real estate agents:

Century 21 All Keys Inc.
Address: 1720 North Roosevelt Boulevard, Key West, Florida, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 292 6161
Offering experienced staff to assist with any house transaction.

Coldwell Banker Schmitt Real Estate Co.
Address: 1201 White Street, Suite 101, Key West, Florida, 33040, USA
Tel: +1 305 296 7727
This reliable real estate agent has five offices in the Keys, as well as nearly 50 years' experience.

Florida Keys Realty Inc.
Address: Summerland Key, Florida, 33042, USA
Tel: +1 305 745 3717
This agency can help you materialise your dreams of living in Key West with its value-for-money service.