The Keys: Get there Before the Next Boom

The real estate market throughout Florida as in many other area of the country, looks like a dangerous place with the potential that prices may continue to fall…with the possible exception of the Florida Keys. Yes, it is true that during the incredibly oversold market commencing in 2003 and on, prices within Florida spiked only to come tumbling down during 2007 which continues to this day. This was the inevitable consequence of bad lending decisions coupled with buyers lacking the wherewithal to carry the home. This happened virtually everywhere else in the country.

The Florida Keys are Exceptional and an Exception

One of the main strengths of that market protecting the Keys from some of the dangers in the current real estate market is the fact that the vacation rental market environment is a life preserver to the real estate investor, despite the fact that many have chosen to reside there on a permanent basis. In other words, many of the properties whether condos or homes, are still attractive vacation destinations.

As long as a property can be rented, the investment is self-sustaining. The Keys can always be rented, depending upon the area, on a weekly or monthly basis. This makes them more attractive for investment purposes than the typical home purchased by the home owner as a primary residence anywhere else in the country. In other words, the Florida Keys real estate market was never in a “bust” situation.

The facts bear this out. According to Standard and Poors.com, aggregate real estate prices throughout the U.S., comparing 2000 with 2010 were only 2.6% greater in 2010 than during 2000. While actual sales price in the Florida Keys were 52.1% higher in 2010 than in 2000 ($274,995 vs. $418,209)! Certainly there were declines in Keys real estate prices on a comparative basis during the last half of the decade. This only serves to point up the fact that Keys real estate is very high priced and even when it had declined, prices remain at levels significantly above 2000.

Moreover, this data includes all Keys “residential” real estate, which also takes in vacation rental property, such as homes or condos that are rented out. If that data were available for comparison, it is highly likely that the historical prices would even have exceeded 52%. However, it is important to point out that certain other areas such as New York City and Washington, DC also fared very well over the decade because of explosive Wall Street wealth and the growth of the federal government which affected real estate in the greater Washington DC area.

Short Term Rentals are Key

Despite the overall weakening in the economy and the unsteadiness in the real estate market, vacation rentals in the Keys are strong and this will of course, maintain housing prices within the Florida Keys. However, to the joy of potential real estate investors, the current market rating for buyers is now resting at 1.0 indicating that it’s an excellent market in which to purchase. Certainly, if one’s intentions are to make a property a business investment and pursue the short term (1 week to 1 month) rental route, the investment will pay for itself in the short term. In fact, the shorter the duration of rentals, the higher the rent and thus, the better ROI the investor enjoys.

There are other advantages that work for the investor. If the property is set up as a business and incorporated, many of the normal housing expenses incurred can be deducted as a business expense. This has the result of decreasing an investor’s personal income and taxes, overall. Also, an investor is permitted to make trips to the property for “business purposes” which also permit the investor to use the house or condo and mix business with pleasure, with all expenses being tax deductible.

The longer term real estate outlook for the Florida Keys is exceptional. Because Monroe County has a moratorium on building and because of obvious geographic reasons, the amount of homes and condominiums is finite and for all intents and purposes, capped. Therefore, the market will dictate that the only place for prices to head is up. Even if a recovery is slow, the fact that a property can maintain itself through short term rentals makes the Florida Keys an incredible year round vacation/business destination investment.

Fran Herbenick
REALTOR®
Coldwell Banker Schmitt
100430 Overseas Highway,
Key Largo, 33037
Phone Number:
Mobile Number: 305-304-6334
Fax: 305-451-1220
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