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Old 03-20-2015, 02:15 AM
 
Location: USA
17 posts, read 20,780 times
Reputation: 16

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Howdy!

I am thinking about retiring to Duck Key. I am an avid Blue Water fisher and, the Middle Keys are calling me. My question is, have recent Hurricanes overtopped the seawalls at Duck Key and flooded/devastated the homes there. I would want a home that had a dock to put my boat, and don't want it in my living room

Also, is Duck Key a good place to live? Also, do they have an "in your face" homeowners association that gives people a hard time for putting up a flagpole and things like that? THANKS!
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:48 AM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,156,963 times
Reputation: 2358
You need to visit in person, and also talk to a Realtor (or several) with properties on Duck Key. The questions you're asking are very specific, and there are very few residents of the Keys who write on here, and very likely no one from the tiny population of Duck Key.

I don't personally know about how hurricanes have affected Duck Key, but I did visit there a few times recently and it looks pretty beautiful to me - certainly I would say the residents are managing, whatever the damage may have been in prior storms (keep in mind that a hurricane is not necessary for damage - many serious flooding incidents come from simple tropical storms).

I think they do have a lot of regulations there, but I don't know whether they are excessive. Again, you'd need to speak to actual residents, who are unlikely to be online.

People in the Keys are very friendly, and it's very likely that were you to make an in person trip, many residents there would be happy to share information about what it's like to live there, and the vulnerability to storm damage. Realtors are a good additional resource, but don't believe everything they tell you - especially when it's positive. They are known down here to say absolutely anything to close a sale - a small minority are honest so if you happen to find one of them you will have a great resource for local info as well.

Choosing Duck Keys is awfully specific if you haven't been there to ask these types of questions. You may want to look into other Middle Keys also unless there is a reason to go to that tiny Key and only that Key.

I can only assume your budget is extensive if you are considering this, and that you already own a Blue Water vessel? Having a dock out into the blue, Oceanside on Duck Key is no joke. It's not for the faint of heart financially. I say this because many people post here who dream of living in the Keys, but have a housing budget of only 200k. What you're talking about could easily be 12x that.

If you do a search online for "Duck Key for sale" the first thing that comes up is a guy who has a long history of selling (and living) on Duck Key. I have no idea if he's honest, but very likely he knows a ton of the type of information you want to know.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:09 AM
 
Location: USA
17 posts, read 20,780 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
You need to visit in person, and also talk to a Realtor (or several) with properties on Duck Key. The questions you're asking are very specific, and there are very few residents of the Keys who write on here, and very likely no one from the tiny population of Duck Key.

I don't personally know about how hurricanes have affected Duck Key, but I did visit there a few times recently and it looks pretty beautiful to me - certainly I would say the residents are managing, whatever the damage may have been in prior storms (keep in mind that a hurricane is not necessary for damage - many serious flooding incidents come from simple tropical storms).

I think they do have a lot of regulations there, but I don't know whether they are excessive. Again, you'd need to speak to actual residents, who are unlikely to be online.

People in the Keys are very friendly, and it's very likely that were you to make an in person trip, many residents there would be happy to share information about what it's like to live there, and the vulnerability to storm damage. Realtors are a good additional resource, but don't believe everything they tell you - especially when it's positive. They are known down here to say absolutely anything to close a sale - a small minority are honest so if you happen to find one of them you will have a great resource for local info as well.

Choosing Duck Keys is awfully specific if you haven't been there to ask these types of questions. You may want to look into other Middle Keys also unless there is a reason to go to that tiny Key and only that Key.

I can only assume your budget is extensive if you are considering this, and that you already own a Blue Water vessel? Having a dock out into the blue, Oceanside on Duck Key is no joke. It's not for the faint of heart financially. I say this because many people post here who dream of living in the Keys, but have a housing budget of only 200k. What you're talking about could easily be 12x that.

If you do a search online for "Duck Key for sale" the first thing that comes up is a guy who has a long history of selling (and living) on Duck Key. I have no idea if he's honest, but very likely he knows a ton of the type of information you want to know.
Thanks!

In my college freshman year of underwater basket weaving at UM, before my parents yanked me out for skipping class for fishing/boating in the Keys, I spent a LOT of time in Islamorada. Of course, that was directed at the party boats (crewing when I could), and getting sloppy at the Old Green Turtle Inn making Lenny crazy. So I am familiar with the Keys - but never spent any time on Duck Key. Of course, we are talking about the early 70's.

I was lucky in that my father lived in Coral Gables on one of the waterways. But, God rest is soul, he gave me the choice of a car or a boat. It was a VERY hard decision, but I took the Corvair.

Yes, I've been fortunate enough to make a few bucks and can afford to move/buy there. I saw where there was quite a bit of rain flooding from (I think) Wilma on DK that caused some serious water damage.

But in all the web research I have done, I have yet to come across reports of hurricanes surge topping the seawalls. I'm not concerned about the flood insurance (what a joke), I worry about a boat on my back lawn deposited by storm surge. That would make me cry as there is a 8 month wait for what I want.

What I was trying to do is get a feel for the Island, before I come down to look/buy, as I am fairly sure I would much prefer DK to say, Key Largo or Islamorada. Just too crowded in Islamorada - all the houses are in spitting distance of each other.

Homeowners Associations/Committees with restrictive covenants up the wazoo would be a instant deal breaker. Not that I'm going to do anything crazy at my age, but I just don't like people in my face. IMHO we have too much of that in government, and I don't want to have to deal with that regarding my potential home. In the Autumn of our years, we don't need aggravation! We've already experienced enough in life.

Will be coming down in November for a few weeks, and will probably sign a contract for something. Then again, if I can't find what I want, might have to move up the chain northward. But anything north of Islamorada would break my heart.

Anyway, had planed on talking to as many Conch Republic citizens before I speak to the first Real Estate agent.

Very Best, Crabcake
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:02 PM
 
1,448 posts, read 2,156,963 times
Reputation: 2358
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly, but you haven't been to the Keys since the 70s? If so, things have changed a lot since then! Primarily, things have been built up a great deal. My impression of Duck Key is that its homes are no more spaced out than you would find on Islamorada. You'll also need to understand the new building codes to make a good purchase - ideally you're going to want a post-2002 house on stilts. Even if you buy a house in cash and don't need to get flood or wind insurance, for your own safety and the security of your retirement you're going to want something that is mold-free and will withstand the inevitable hurricanes that are going to come our way. Real estate is very politically complicated down here. You will do well to research thoroughly, and not just plunk money down on the first house you like in person.

If you're looking to be left alone, you need to realize that the whole of Monroe County is under strict regulations for permitting and building codes. The county is not going to get in your face for cosmetic things for the most part, but they are VERY active in terms of permit enforcement. You need a permit for virtually everything down here - ANY house improvement that costs over $800 (including an intent to install cabinets yourself, or to repair your own flooring, for example), any tree pruning, and permanent installation in the yard (hot tub, shed, etc.). There are also rules about being able to rebuild or significantly improve a structure that is below flood - the short version is, if the house has even a portion of the living space below flood, you can only repair or improve up to 50% of its value before they will force you to bring the house into compliance - EVEN IF THE HOUSE IS PRE-FIRM. Pre-firm is usually a poor investment, because the first big storm or surge will destroy all you've worked for and bring mold which may destroy your health on top of it. And if you want to insure, the costs are astronomical, and still going up. I have heard all sorts of stories about permitting, involving permit inspectors showing up as a friendly neighbor and before you know it they're citing you for in some cases 100k for violations in and around your house! There are also cranky neighbors who will call on you if you rub them the wrong way. The permit office will get the job done if there is one to do one way or the other, so stay away from violations, and vet that house thoroughly with a real estate attorney before purchase - you can legally be fined from the date of original violation for permit violations committed BEFORE you purchased the property, and those can really add up!.

Be aware also that if the house is violating FEMA code, even if you do not have flood insurance, you can rack up exorbitant fees daily that become a lien on the house - this is what happened to many foreclosed properties. Also keep in mind that foreclosures down here have had it rough being exposed to the elements, and tend to have infestations of rats, cockroaches, scorpions, and bees, in addition to bad mold. I have seen a huge range of indoor natural disasters in watching neighbors attempt to revamp long-time foreclosures (over a year without maintenance - in some cases over 5 years).

In terms of less populated, you might want to consider a place like Conch Key, Long Key, or perhaps one of the Lower Keys. Money makes privacy, though, so certainly if you spend above $1mil you're much more likely to have space from your neighbors.

As far as your concerns about hurricanes, you have to think ahead. Living on the Keys is essentially living on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. The likelihood of hurricanes is very high down here, and we are long overdue at this time for a major one to make landfall or hit nearby. So statistically speaking, each year that goes by we are exponentially more likely for that to happen. If you have a house on open water, and all the more so on the Oceanside which tends to be less protected and get bigger waves and wind, if not as much swell as some portions of the Bayside, you have to figure there is likelihood for damage - to your house, vehicles, and boat(s). Of course it's not just your stuff, it's your neighbors' stuff crashing into your things. It might be a liveaboard sailboat that was not properly tied down a mile or so away that crashes into your house. You can't move down here expecting to control everything... for the most part, you'll have to expect flooding, and damage. Hence, the insurances, or saving up to self-insure. There's really no telling what will happen, but a history of the last 20 or 30 years of the local area will not tell you much. Hurricanes are operating on a much longer-term scale, and storms seem to be getting more severe over time due to the rising water temp. No one can guarantee to you that water won't rise past the seawalls, even if they haven't in recent memory.

You might also want to consider contacting a local Keys historian. Duck Key is so small you might not get much reliable information going back a long way as to the damage it's sustained, but a Keys historian might be able to point you in the direction of archived records of such. These guys are a few who might be able to help you figure out where to look:
Brad Bertelli: Author, Historian, Tour Guide | Keys History | KeysNet

But really, common sense is going to tell you that hurricanes can't be predicted that far into the future, and even past behavior is not going to tell you much about your future risk. People did not expect the damage of Hurricane Andrew, nor of Katrina. If we get hit by a big one directly or really close, or if the rains are heavier than normal, all bets are off. As they say, prepare for the worst and hope for the best! If you talk to other local boat owners, they can tell you what to do to prevent your new baby from getting tossed against your house in hurricane season. You could consider having it parked elsewhere for the height months of Aug and Sept as an extra precaution. You could also consider keeping it at a marina, where at least it won't threaten the house, and will have some professional tie-down options for smaller category storms.

I don't know Duck Key history, but I did a lot of research into the Upper Keys storm damage history before buying my house. I was amazed to learn that for one single month in the 1960s, there were no hurricanes at all but the Upper Keys got 21 FEET of rain dumped on them, which caused severe damage! And that was all in June! Most people you would ask here don't remember that, because they weren't here. And it's not on a record of Keys hurricanes. But it is relevant to what kind of damage I might expect in the future anyway. To some extent, this is just a risky place to live and you have to accept the possibility that you could lose it all one day. It's a fun place, and a lot of locals are just risk-taking people, who think "have a good time today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow!"

Do keep in mind that the further down the chain you go the better the water color, the more tropical the atmosphere, but the longer you have to drive on a constantly trafficked and often gridlocked road to try to evacuate. And some years, more than one hurricane hits so evacuations might be multiple. Check the online flood maps - is there anywhere on or near Duck Key high enough for you to park your car if you stay for a minor hurricane? Evacuation is sometimes ordered even for tropical storms, depending on conditions, but you should definitely expect it for a Cat 2 or above. So if you have more than one vehicle and you can't drive them all out, common practice is often to park them up on the above-flood parts of the Overseas Hwy... but those spots get taken early, and you might not have any near you in the Middle Keys at all.

There's a lot to think about with a purchase down here. Absolutely get a professional mold inspection of the house you choose before purchase. And do check also for termites - we only have the subterranean kind here, but they can do some major damage.

It can be a great, if socially isolated, life in the Florida Keys, but you have to prepare for the bad parts to really enjoy the good parts!
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:43 PM
 
Location: USA
17 posts, read 20,780 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly, but you haven't been to the Keys since the 70s? If so, things have changed a lot since then! Primarily, things have been built up a great deal. My impression of Duck Key is that its homes are no more spaced out than you would find on Islamorada. You'll also need to understand the new building codes to make a good purchase - ideally you're going to want a post-2002 house on stilts. Even if you buy a house in cash and don't need to get flood or wind insurance, for your own safety and the security of your retirement you're going to want something that is mold-free and will withstand the inevitable hurricanes that are going to come our way. Real estate is very politically complicated down here. You will do well to research thoroughly, and not just plunk money down on the first house you like in person.

If you're looking to be left alone, you need to realize that the whole of Monroe County is under strict regulations for permitting and building codes. The county is not going to get in your face for cosmetic things for the most part, but they are VERY active in terms of permit enforcement. You need a permit for virtually everything down here - ANY house improvement that costs over $800 (including an intent to install cabinets yourself, or to repair your own flooring, for example), any tree pruning, and permanent installation in the yard (hot tub, shed, etc.). There are also rules about being able to rebuild or significantly improve a structure that is below flood - the short version is, if the house has even a portion of the living space below flood, you can only repair or improve up to 50% of its value before they will force you to bring the house into compliance - EVEN IF THE HOUSE IS PRE-FIRM. Pre-firm is usually a poor investment, because the first big storm or surge will destroy all you've worked for and bring mold which may destroy your health on top of it. And if you want to insure, the costs are astronomical, and still going up. I have heard all sorts of stories about permitting, involving permit inspectors showing up as a friendly neighbor and before you know it they're citing you for in some cases 100k for violations in and around your house! There are also cranky neighbors who will call on you if you rub them the wrong way. The permit office will get the job done if there is one to do one way or the other, so stay away from violations, and vet that house thoroughly with a real estate attorney before purchase - you can legally be fined from the date of original violation for permit violations committed BEFORE you purchased the property, and those can really add up!.

Be aware also that if the house is violating FEMA code, even if you do not have flood insurance, you can rack up exorbitant fees daily that become a lien on the house - this is what happened to many foreclosed properties. Also keep in mind that foreclosures down here have had it rough being exposed to the elements, and tend to have infestations of rats, cockroaches, scorpions, and bees, in addition to bad mold. I have seen a huge range of indoor natural disasters in watching neighbors attempt to revamp long-time foreclosures (over a year without maintenance - in some cases over 5 years).

In terms of less populated, you might want to consider a place like Conch Key, Long Key, or perhaps one of the Lower Keys. Money makes privacy, though, so certainly if you spend above $1mil you're much more likely to have space from your neighbors.

As far as your concerns about hurricanes, you have to think ahead. Living on the Keys is essentially living on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. The likelihood of hurricanes is very high down here, and we are long overdue at this time for a major one to make landfall or hit nearby. So statistically speaking, each year that goes by we are exponentially more likely for that to happen. If you have a house on open water, and all the more so on the Oceanside which tends to be less protected and get bigger waves and wind, if not as much swell as some portions of the Bayside, you have to figure there is likelihood for damage - to your house, vehicles, and boat(s). Of course it's not just your stuff, it's your neighbors' stuff crashing into your things. It might be a liveaboard sailboat that was not properly tied down a mile or so away that crashes into your house. You can't move down here expecting to control everything... for the most part, you'll have to expect flooding, and damage. Hence, the insurances, or saving up to self-insure. There's really no telling what will happen, but a history of the last 20 or 30 years of the local area will not tell you much. Hurricanes are operating on a much longer-term scale, and storms seem to be getting more severe over time due to the rising water temp. No one can guarantee to you that water won't rise past the seawalls, even if they haven't in recent memory.

You might also want to consider contacting a local Keys historian. Duck Key is so small you might not get much reliable information going back a long way as to the damage it's sustained, but a Keys historian might be able to point you in the direction of archived records of such. These guys are a few who might be able to help you figure out where to look:
Brad Bertelli: Author, Historian, Tour Guide | Keys History | KeysNet

But really, common sense is going to tell you that hurricanes can't be predicted that far into the future, and even past behavior is not going to tell you much about your future risk. People did not expect the damage of Hurricane Andrew, nor of Katrina. If we get hit by a big one directly or really close, or if the rains are heavier than normal, all bets are off. As they say, prepare for the worst and hope for the best! If you talk to other local boat owners, they can tell you what to do to prevent your new baby from getting tossed against your house in hurricane season. You could consider having it parked elsewhere for the height months of Aug and Sept as an extra precaution. You could also consider keeping it at a marina, where at least it won't threaten the house, and will have some professional tie-down options for smaller category storms.

I don't know Duck Key history, but I did a lot of research into the Upper Keys storm damage history before buying my house. I was amazed to learn that for one single month in the 1960s, there were no hurricanes at all but the Upper Keys got 21 FEET of rain dumped on them, which caused severe damage! And that was all in June! Most people you would ask here don't remember that, because they weren't here. And it's not on a record of Keys hurricanes. But it is relevant to what kind of damage I might expect in the future anyway. To some extent, this is just a risky place to live and you have to accept the possibility that you could lose it all one day. It's a fun place, and a lot of locals are just risk-taking people, who think "have a good time today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow!"

Do keep in mind that the further down the chain you go the better the water color, the more tropical the atmosphere, but the longer you have to drive on a constantly trafficked and often gridlocked road to try to evacuate. And some years, more than one hurricane hits so evacuations might be multiple. Check the online flood maps - is there anywhere on or near Duck Key high enough for you to park your car if you stay for a minor hurricane? Evacuation is sometimes ordered even for tropical storms, depending on conditions, but you should definitely expect it for a Cat 2 or above. So if you have more than one vehicle and you can't drive them all out, common practice is often to park them up on the above-flood parts of the Overseas Hwy... but those spots get taken early, and you might not have any near you in the Middle Keys at all.

There's a lot to think about with a purchase down here. Absolutely get a professional mold inspection of the house you choose before purchase. And do check also for termites - we only have the subterranean kind here, but they can do some major damage.

It can be a great, if socially isolated, life in the Florida Keys, but you have to prepare for the bad parts to really enjoy the good parts!
Yep - Dad shipped me off as far away to school as he could think of so I wouldn't skip classes. So, 1971 was the last time I was in the Keys.

Thanks for the pointers - and I have decided to have a home inspector (from well out of the area to avoid politics) ASHI who can inspect all the areas you mentioned, and those conditions would be in the contract. Also a pest inspection, inspection by a profession engineer for structural, and I would also request the local building inspector to pay a visit for a through review. Would alto find a real estate attorney before I contact a R/E agent to get the skinny on where the landmines might be.

I like you ideas about the other areas to check out. My main problem is I need 6 feet at MLLW as my boat will draw 5 feet. Also, I need that minimum to get to the Bluewater - so wherever I look, a condition of the search requires that MLLW of 6' to be available until I can motor to deeper waters. I have the NOAA maps and have ruled out some homes I was interested in due to draft issues. There are a very few in Duck key that have clearance without the low bridges in the canals, which make it impossible. As you may have figured out, the boat will get a workout either inshore of offshore almost daily, except for real sloppy weather.

Have not seen anything on the market so far that tripped my trigger that is post 2002. All are late 70's and late 1990's. Many have been "upgraded" in the 2005-2007 time frame according to the Broker propaganda.

Insurance can be good - but to pay $14k for $250,000 of insurance, ain't gonna happen. I will have no mortgage so there is no reason for me to burn those kind of bucks. Once I have found out the history of the houses I will be looking at when narrowed down to what I would make an offer on, and then have the professionals come in to do their thing - I think I will be in a position to make an educated guess based on what the experts say. If I like toe joint, I can do some work on it, dependent on the selling price. Obviously there comes a point of no return, so I will have to walk away and start looking all over. However, I am a patient person to a point, and am under no self-imposed time frames. So what will be will be.

If I really like the house, and can realistically bring it to code and not be way out of kilter on comparables, I would do it. Bu the house would have to be something I really want and meet what I want. I have found several in Key Largo, 2 in Duck Key, and one I have not checked the access draft in Islamorada.

OK, I have to bolt for a few, will resume when I get back as I don't think I can save the message for later...........

Yes, looking at the area maps on houses, I see most of the canal homes very close together.
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Old 03-20-2015, 05:57 PM
 
Location: USA
17 posts, read 20,780 times
Reputation: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you correctly, but you haven't been to the Keys since the 70s? If so, things have changed a lot since then! Primarily, things have been built up a great deal. My impression of Duck Key is that its homes are no more spaced out than you would find on Islamorada. You'll also need to understand the new building codes to make a good purchase - ideally you're going to want a post-2002 house on stilts. Even if you buy a house in cash and don't need to get flood or wind insurance, for your own safety and the security of your retirement you're going to want something that is mold-free and will withstand the inevitable hurricanes that are going to come our way. Real estate is very politically complicated down here. You will do well to research thoroughly, and not just plunk money down on the first house you like in person.

If you're looking to be left alone, you need to realize that the whole of Monroe County is under strict regulations for permitting and building codes. The county is not going to get in your face for cosmetic things for the most part, but they are VERY active in terms of permit enforcement. You need a permit for virtually everything down here - ANY house improvement that costs over $800 (including an intent to install cabinets yourself, or to repair your own flooring, for example), any tree pruning, and permanent installation in the yard (hot tub, shed, etc.). There are also rules about being able to rebuild or significantly improve a structure that is below flood - the short version is, if the house has even a portion of the living space below flood, you can only repair or improve up to 50% of its value before they will force you to bring the house into compliance - EVEN IF THE HOUSE IS PRE-FIRM. Pre-firm is usually a poor investment, because the first big storm or surge will destroy all you've worked for and bring mold which may destroy your health on top of it. And if you want to insure, the costs are astronomical, and still going up. I have heard all sorts of stories about permitting, involving permit inspectors showing up as a friendly neighbor and before you know it they're citing you for in some cases 100k for violations in and around your house! There are also cranky neighbors who will call on you if you rub them the wrong way. The permit office will get the job done if there is one to do one way or the other, so stay away from violations, and vet that house thoroughly with a real estate attorney before purchase - you can legally be fined from the date of original violation for permit violations committed BEFORE you purchased the property, and those can really add up!.

Be aware also that if the house is violating FEMA code, even if you do not have flood insurance, you can rack up exorbitant fees daily that become a lien on the house - this is what happened to many foreclosed properties. Also keep in mind that foreclosures down here have had it rough being exposed to the elements, and tend to have infestations of rats, cockroaches, scorpions, and bees, in addition to bad mold. I have seen a huge range of indoor natural disasters in watching neighbors attempt to revamp long-time foreclosures (over a year without maintenance - in some cases over 5 years).

In terms of less populated, you might want to consider a place like Conch Key, Long Key, or perhaps one of the Lower Keys. Money makes privacy, though, so certainly if you spend above $1mil you're much more likely to have space from your neighbors.

As far as your concerns about hurricanes, you have to think ahead. Living on the Keys is essentially living on a sand bar in the middle of the ocean. The likelihood of hurricanes is very high down here, and we are long overdue at this time for a major one to make landfall or hit nearby. So statistically speaking, each year that goes by we are exponentially more likely for that to happen. If you have a house on open water, and all the more so on the Oceanside which tends to be less protected and get bigger waves and wind, if not as much swell as some portions of the Bayside, you have to figure there is likelihood for damage - to your house, vehicles, and boat(s). Of course it's not just your stuff, it's your neighbors' stuff crashing into your things. It might be a liveaboard sailboat that was not properly tied down a mile or so away that crashes into your house. You can't move down here expecting to control everything... for the most part, you'll have to expect flooding, and damage. Hence, the insurances, or saving up to self-insure. There's really no telling what will happen, but a history of the last 20 or 30 years of the local area will not tell you much. Hurricanes are operating on a much longer-term scale, and storms seem to be getting more severe over time due to the rising water temp. No one can guarantee to you that water won't rise past the seawalls, even if they haven't in recent memory.

You might also want to consider contacting a local Keys historian. Duck Key is so small you might not get much reliable information going back a long way as to the damage it's sustained, but a Keys historian might be able to point you in the direction of archived records of such. These guys are a few who might be able to help you figure out where to look:
Brad Bertelli: Author, Historian, Tour Guide | Keys History | KeysNet

But really, common sense is going to tell you that hurricanes can't be predicted that far into the future, and even past behavior is not going to tell you much about your future risk. People did not expect the damage of Hurricane Andrew, nor of Katrina. If we get hit by a big one directly or really close, or if the rains are heavier than normal, all bets are off. As they say, prepare for the worst and hope for the best! If you talk to other local boat owners, they can tell you what to do to prevent your new baby from getting tossed against your house in hurricane season. You could consider having it parked elsewhere for the height months of Aug and Sept as an extra precaution. You could also consider keeping it at a marina, where at least it won't threaten the house, and will have some professional tie-down options for smaller category storms.

I don't know Duck Key history, but I did a lot of research into the Upper Keys storm damage history before buying my house. I was amazed to learn that for one single month in the 1960s, there were no hurricanes at all but the Upper Keys got 21 FEET of rain dumped on them, which caused severe damage! And that was all in June! Most people you would ask here don't remember that, because they weren't here. And it's not on a record of Keys hurricanes. But it is relevant to what kind of damage I might expect in the future anyway. To some extent, this is just a risky place to live and you have to accept the possibility that you could lose it all one day. It's a fun place, and a lot of locals are just risk-taking people, who think "have a good time today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow!"

Do keep in mind that the further down the chain you go the better the water color, the more tropical the atmosphere, but the longer you have to drive on a constantly trafficked and often gridlocked road to try to evacuate. And some years, more than one hurricane hits so evacuations might be multiple. Check the online flood maps - is there anywhere on or near Duck Key high enough for you to park your car if you stay for a minor hurricane? Evacuation is sometimes ordered even for tropical storms, depending on conditions, but you should definitely expect it for a Cat 2 or above. So if you have more than one vehicle and you can't drive them all out, common practice is often to park them up on the above-flood parts of the Overseas Hwy... but those spots get taken early, and you might not have any near you in the Middle Keys at all.

There's a lot to think about with a purchase down here. Absolutely get a professional mold inspection of the house you choose before purchase. And do check also for termites - we only have the subterranean kind here, but they can do some major damage.

It can be a great, if socially isolated, life in the Florida Keys, but you have to prepare for the bad parts to really enjoy the good parts!
+

Had to let Meals on Wheels in the neighbors house. She is mostly deaf, and they won't leave food on the front porch. Sorry about that!

Anyway, I'm not really worried about FEMA as you can see from my plan on the last reply. I am more worried about Gestapo HOA's. Lots of horror stories on this issue on T&V and newspapers.

I saw the permit form list on the Islamorada web site last night...... whew, I was waiting for one to inhale and exhale.

Never had a problem with neighbors - but there is always the first time - something I would have to deal with, but I'm a big boy, and there are always smart lawyers to deal with those who have nothing better to do than harass others. I had a problem with Directv and beat them in federal court. My motto is live and let live. That cost them a BUNDLE! If someone wants to aggravate me, they had best have a valid argument. If they do I will bend over backwards to remedy the problem. If they are just a troublemaker trying to give me a hard time, I put my pants on the same way they do. Being in the business community all my adult life, I know how to play war.

You are totally correct on the Hurricanes. There is always the outlier that sandbags everyone. But I can't help but think that a home, say built in the late 1970's that has weathered many hurricanes, would in a good position to weather all but the most destructive storms. But that's where a PE comes in. I would rely on both a P/E and architect for advice. Then if there is a major big blow, I have done what I could and would have to pickup up the pieces like everyone else.

Love you vehicle ideas! See, I never thought of that! MANY THANKS! What I will do is to make arrangements with an extended stay motel in South Miami for the hurricane. I think I can get the vehicles moved up there too. Or, at least one.

I've been a Skywarn Spotter since the program was started, so I have a fairly good grasp of what Hurricanes can do. Was in South Carolina for Hugo. That was fun, NOT.....

You have done a yomans job on issues I have missed. One thing I will do is to 'buy' a yearly ticket to the closest boat hard to hauly the 115,000 pounds out of the water and put it on dry land for the duration. That's the biggest single group of insurance claims, boats left in the water during hurricanes. Taking your warnings very seriously, that is the cheapest insurance for protection as I will be carrying a high deductible rather than give the insirance companies a bonus.

You have my work cut out for me tonight. Will follow all your suggestions pointers on other Keys and the historians!

Again, many thanks for your thoughtful insight!

Crabcake
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:34 PM
 
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Was also thinking, you can have a lot of privacy and quiet even on busier Keys by buying a property on a single-street offshoot from the highway. There are a number of streets for example Oceanside, where you could buy the last house, and there are only maybe 10 houses on the whole street, and the street connects directly to the Overseas Highway in a quiet part of the stretch. I can think of a number of streets like that in Tavernier, for example. The last house Oceanside would face the water, not the street, so generally the lot would be large and there would be a lot of privacy, and the street is too short for an HOA. Such houses tend to have large concrete waterfront stretches with big davits, etc, and have deep water with direct and easy Blue Water access.

If you were open to such houses, that would greatly open up your range of what is available all the way from points in Key Largo to the Lower Keys. If you have the davits and they can handle your boat, you can hoist the boat up out of water yourself before storms. I don't know if anyone's ever tried it, but I wonder too if one could use davits to hoist up a car in the air, and wrap it in tarps - "desperate times...." after all!

If you're planning on being on the boat daily, though, have you considered just legally mooring slightly offshore and not bothering with the house purchase at all? During the hurricane season you could just head for safer waters and have a bit of adventure in new ports if you didn't want to give it to a marina or boat transporter to handle for you.

I must say, there is a lot to consider with such a purchase, and given that you haven't been here at all in some 40 years, I would strongly recommend that you rent down here for a year prior to purchase, or consider living in the boat for a while while you look on land for a house. If you will have a ton of savings even after the purchase of the house, it's less critical, but life here is so different from pretty much anywhere else in the US and there are so many things that could go wrong with a purchase of the house when you don't know the area or have local ties, it would make the likelihood that you would choose the right neighborhood, Key, and house for you a lot higher. Tons of people move down here every year and leave within a year because they realize they hate the reality of long-term life here - it's not like the vacation at all. Many people who have been here for decades are also moving because they hate how much the Keys have changed, and will continue to change. The environment has significantly changed due to pollution, so the types and amounts of fish are nowhere near what they once were in the 70s, and there is a lot of reef bleaching. There are just a lot of things that have changed since you were here last, and perhaps your memory would be more ideal for you than the current reality.

One other local thing you might not know about, is that all Keys houses are not required to hook up to sewer. It's a big headache if you buy a house that has not hooked up yet. It will be on your dime, and you're responsible for the attachment through your property - the govt. only oversees the part once you connect to the street. So look for a house that already has sewer if you can, or ask what the cost and process is in your prospective neighborhood. Although this is being handled Key by Key, many houses that have not hooked up are already being assessed daily fines for having missed their deadline, and that may have resulted in a lien on the house you're considering. The fines will continue until you complete your hookup, which by the time a house closes could be considerable.

Just some things to think about.
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:48 PM
 
Location: USA
17 posts, read 20,780 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
Was also thinking, you can have a lot of privacy and quiet even on busier Keys by buying a property on a single-street offshoot from the highway. There are a number of streets for example Oceanside, where you could buy the last house, and there are only maybe 10 houses on the whole street, and the street connects directly to the Overseas Highway in a quiet part of the stretch. I can think of a number of streets like that in Tavernier, for example. The last house Oceanside would face the water, not the street, so generally the lot would be large and there would be a lot of privacy, and the street is too short for an HOA. Such houses tend to have large concrete waterfront stretches with big davits, etc, and have deep water with direct and easy Blue Water access.

Haven't looked at Tavernier yet, just finished looking at Key Colony and reading their rules. A few nice homes, but I still need to check on the MLLW depths and then the route and MLLW of the 'shallow water' en route to the Bluewater. That's where I am running into trouble. I found 2 homes in Key Colony that were perfect as far as shelter and dockage. Just need to look at the depths.

However, we are on the same sheet of prayer music as far as looking on Oceanside streets. Will look at Tavernier next!


If you were open to such houses, that would greatly open up your range of what is available all the way from points in Key Largo to the Lower Keys. If you have the davits and they can handle your boat, you can hoist the boat up out of water yourself before storms. I don't know if anyone's ever tried it, but I wonder too if one could use davits to hoist up a car in the air, and wrap it in tarps - "desperate times...." after all!

If you're planning on being on the boat daily, though, have you considered just legally mooring slightly offshore and not bothering with the house purchase at all? During the hurricane season you could just head for safer waters and have a bit of adventure in new ports if you didn't want to give it to a marina or boat transporter to handle for you.

Quickest way to get your boat stolen by rouges. At best, they will strip your electronics all gone when you are away. At worst, they watch for you to leave and then your boat isn't there when you get back. Doubtful I could get any insurance at all, regardless of deductible. I don't mind sleeping on the boat a few days like a run to the Tortugas or into the Gulf, but I'll take terra firma for a steady diet. I'll be on the boat enough fishing!

I must say, there is a lot to consider with such a purchase, and given that you haven't been here at all in some 40 years, I would strongly recommend that you rent down here for a year prior to purchase, or consider living in the boat for a while while you look on land for a house. If you will have a ton of savings even after the purchase of the house, it's less critical, but life here is so different from pretty much anywhere else in the US and there are so many things that could go wrong with a purchase of the house when you don't know the area or have local ties, it would make the likelihood that you would choose the right neighborhood, Key, and house for you a lot higher. Tons of people move down here every year and leave within a year because they realize they hate the reality of long-term life here - it's not like the vacation at all. Many people who have been here for decades are also moving because they hate how much the Keys have changed, and will continue to change. The environment has significantly changed due to pollution, so the types and amounts of fish are nowhere near what they once were in the 70s, and there is a lot of reef bleaching. There are just a lot of things that have changed since you were here last, and perhaps your memory would be more ideal for you than the current reality.

Not a problem - but remember, nowhere in the US is like it used to be 45 years ago! Its all a matter of comparison. And, I would look at it like what Flip Wilson used to say, "the Church of What's Happening Now." Sure things aren't like they used to be, but are they any better than where you are coming from? If the answer is YES, then that's where you belong. I'm in no rush and can stay down in the Islamorada-Marathon area as long as I need to so I can fuind what I want, and ignore what I don't want of doesn't conform.

It doesn't take a lot to make me happy. I haven't lost my old abilities to catch fish or pilot a boat. So I can find the fish, just maybe a little more diesel will be required. I am not a diver, so while its unfortunate the bleaching is taking place, it is also doing the same on the Great Barrier Reef. Like Walter Cronkite used to say, That's the way it is.

I was recently out to Monument Valley, and talk about pollution - its really bad - worse than it was in 2010 when I was there last and it was bad then, and much worse than it was in 2005, and 2000. You can blame California, as that's where the majority is coming from.

So, in the final analysis, its all relative. But I left my rose colored glasses somewhere (I don't remember where), and I'll look at anything in the present tense.


One other local thing you might not know about, is that all Keys houses are not required to hook up to sewer. It's a big headache if you buy a house that has not hooked up yet. It will be on your dime, and you're responsible for the attachment through your property - the govt. only oversees the part once you connect to the street. So look for a house that already has sewer if you can, or ask what the cost and process is in your prospective neighborhood. Although this is being handled Key by Key, many houses that have not hooked up are already being assessed daily fines for having missed their deadline, and that may have resulted in a lien on the house you're considering. The fines will continue until you complete your hookup, which by the time a house closes could be considerable.

I spotted that, and thanks. There was a home in north Islamorada that I was crazy about - and read all the stuff on the Islamorada website about that. What tipped me off was one (and only one) of the real estate sites noted the house was on septic. And the other thing that tipped me off was it was listed "as is." Talk about red lights and sirens going off..................

Previously I had noted Duck Key has just switched over - so I was on the lookout for that. And noted the fines and liens. I also noted that many homes in Islamorada are vacant that are for sale. Haven't been able to get that wrapped around my brain. I'm not talking about the obvious 9 BR rental house either.... Its a real brain buster.

Obviously I would offer less for a home that was not hooked up, like the less being what it would cost to hookup to the sanitary sewer!

Also, maybe you can give me some insight on this. When I check on a house I think may fit my needs, I always check how long its been on the market. I've run into a LOT of homes that have been on the market almost a year, and many others that have been on the market almost two or more years. Any idea what that's all about???

Just some things to think about.
Keep it coming! You have no idea how much your insight is helping! And let me repeat, THANKS MUCHO!!!!!!!

Crabcake

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