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Old 03-25-2015, 05:01 PM
 
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This is another thing to keep in mind for those planning to buy down here (and in Florida in below-flood areas in general). This is why I urge against buying "pre-firm" houses - because this rate is going to keep going up, and the more of your house is below flood, the more that's going to hurt you - come storm time, or come time to pay the flood insurance bill. If you can afford it, buy above flood. The next best thing to that is a stilt with no living space underneath - but even with a stilt you will have to pay a small amount of flood insurance because the pilings are the most important part of your house.

Check out the article (which does have a predictably anti-insurance premium bent to it, as is characteristic in the Keys - temper that with the consideration though that Florida HAS been hit by major hurricanes in the not-too-distant past, and will be again. I don't think it's necessarily fair to say we're funding Katrina and Sandy any more than other states funded Andrew, for instance...):

Flood insurance rates rising again | News | KeysNet
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:42 PM
 
Location: Heartland Florida
9,324 posts, read 23,794,610 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
This is another thing to keep in mind for those planning to buy down here (and in Florida in below-flood areas in general). This is why I urge against buying "pre-firm" houses - because this rate is going to keep going up, and the more of your house is below flood, the more that's going to hurt you - come storm time, or come time to pay the flood insurance bill. If you can afford it, buy above flood. The next best thing to that is a stilt with no living space underneath - but even with a stilt you will have to pay a small amount of flood insurance because the pilings are the most important part of your house.

Check out the article (which does have a predictably anti-insurance premium bent to it, as is characteristic in the Keys - temper that with the consideration though that Florida HAS been hit by major hurricanes in the not-too-distant past, and will be again. I don't think it's necessarily fair to say we're funding Katrina and Sandy any more than other states funded Andrew, for instance...):

Flood insurance rates rising again | News | KeysNet
I saved a fortune living 20 years in Key Largo by not having homeowner's insurance. The chance of a major hurrucane hitting the keys is a lot smaller than hitting the mainland.
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tallrick View Post
I saved a fortune living 20 years in Key Largo by not having homeowner's insurance. The chance of a major hurrucane hitting the keys is a lot smaller than hitting the mainland.
For those who can afford to buy a house in cash without a mortgage, self-insuring is definitely the way to go. Major hurricane hits may be relative to other areas in Florida or the Caribbean, or along the Gulf, but their chances are by no means small as compared with a non-hurricane zone! Either way, the chance is still there for damage - and that chance is very high in a below-flood dwelling, which is likely to be damaged/flooded even in tropical storms without a true hurricane classification.

For the majority who live here, cash purchase is not an option - all the more so as the prices soar over what they were decades ago. Certainly though, cash buys are far more common in the Keys than they are likely to be in most other markets due to the county drawing interest of the wealthy worldwide - during the recent economic crash, they made up some 50% of sales. If you need a mortgage, constantly rising insurance costs are going to affect you - especially given that only the govt is willing to insure in Monroe County now for either flood or wind. There is no choice but to pay, or be immediately considered in default of your mortgage and foreclose.

People moving down here with the hope to buy need to carefully consider this, and purchase a sturdy house that conforms to local laws so you can easily and quickly sell if should it ever become too expensive to keep. Those houses with illegal enclosures sit on the market for years at a time until they come way down in price - often at a loss.
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Old 03-26-2015, 09:30 PM
 
Location: Heartland Florida
9,324 posts, read 23,794,610 times
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Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
For those who can afford to buy a house in cash without a mortgage, self-insuring is definitely the way to go. Major hurricane hits may be relative to other areas in Florida or the Caribbean, or along the Gulf, but their chances are by no means small as compared with a non-hurricane zone! Either way, the chance is still there for damage - and that chance is very high in a below-flood dwelling, which is likely to be damaged/flooded even in tropical storms without a true hurricane classification.

For the majority who live here, cash purchase is not an option - all the more so as the prices soar over what they were decades ago. Certainly though, cash buys are far more common in the Keys than they are likely to be in most other markets due to the county drawing interest of the wealthy worldwide - during the recent economic crash, they made up some 50% of sales. If you need a mortgage, constantly rising insurance costs are going to affect you - especially given that only the govt is willing to insure in Monroe County now for either flood or wind. There is no choice but to pay, or be immediately considered in default of your mortgage and foreclose.

People moving down here with the hope to buy need to carefully consider this, and purchase a sturdy house that conforms to local laws so you can easily and quickly sell if should it ever become too expensive to keep. Those houses with illegal enclosures sit on the market for years at a time until they come way down in price - often at a loss.
Very good advice for those looking to buy in the Keys. I built my own home along with my dad, and he got the land cheap in 1972 from friends we called the "boat people". almost 2 acres for 10.000 with a small amount of mangrove ocean frontage. Mosquitoes and flooding lowered the value of the land, and it was only hippies in that area. My home is on 12 foot columns and the shop is ground level with jalousie windows. I never believed in mortgages or any personal debt. My new home I built in 2010 is also free of a mortgage or insurance except for a very cheap liability policy. I did add liability insurance as soon as I leased my old home out to a good friend though.
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Old 03-26-2015, 10:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tallrick View Post
and he got the land cheap in 1972 from friends we called the "boat people". almost 2 acres for 10.000 with a small amount of mangrove ocean frontage. Mosquitoes and flooding lowered the value of the land, and it was only hippies in that area. .
My, how things do change!

It's too bad most builders here opted for a quick buck, rather than building houses to last. Simply putting them on stilts (where below-flood), and using solid construction, makes a world of difference!

Today, most undeveloped lots with any ocean frontage, even significantly smaller, are at least $250k. They'll find a way to get permits for a bridge/t-dock or something else to bypass the mangroves, and start building. No hippies can afford it, and mosquitoes are not a deterrent (not until after they buy, anyway!).

What we lack here are safe homes, built to last. Especially those built prior to 2002 - the majority took the shortcut instead. But they still try to charge prices for some ramshackle 1980s trailer like it was made of concrete and above flood. Waterfront is everything to people here, no matter what they have to sacrifice to get it. And people with cash come in and pay that $500k for a moldy 650sqft single-wide on a canal, without realizing that waters could rise that very summer and make waste of their "investment." If you don't care it's all cool, but if that was all you had, or you really thought you were going to make a profit on it, chances are it will be a pretty painful and expensive choice to have made.
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Old 03-29-2015, 08:43 PM
 
Location: OCNJ and or lower Florida keys
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"And people with cash come in and pay that $500k for a moldy 650sqft single-wide on a canal"

for 500k in the keys you could choose from many newer modular and stick built homes in the 1000 to 1500 sq ft range on a boating canal.
If per say I had 500k to spend, I could include the 191k purchase price of my canal front lot with a 1967 modular home and stick build or modular build a new 1000 sq ft home on my 60 by 100 foot lot and have about 70k left over for a boat out back! I would still be able to hire a general contractor to run the whole job. All this can be done for 500k If i wanted the hassle of having to be the general contractor which would save me another 20k to 35k

I would venture to say at least 35% of all boating canal front homes in my Eden Pines neighborhood are worth less than 500k at the present time.
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Old 03-30-2015, 08:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bigh110 View Post
"And people with cash come in and pay that $500k for a moldy 650sqft single-wide on a canal"

for 500k in the keys you could choose from many newer modular and stick built homes in the 1000 to 1500 sq ft range on a boating canal.
If per say I had 500k to spend, I could include the 191k purchase price of my canal front lot with a 1967 modular home and stick build or modular build a new 1000 sq ft home on my 60 by 100 foot lot and have about 70k left over for a boat out back! I would still be able to hire a general contractor to run the whole job. All this can be done for 500k If i wanted the hassle of having to be the general contractor which would save me another 20k to 35k

I would venture to say at least 35% of all boating canal front homes in my Eden Pines neighborhood are worth less than 500k at the present time.
But I'm referring to a very specific segment of our real estate market who do not try to get the deal, who come in with a lot of cash and usually don't even visit before plunking down whatever will guarantee them the property. These types of cash buyers routinely inflate the local market - particularly for the better waterfront locations, simply because they do no research. If the market were reliant on the value placed on below-flood trailers based on a primarily mortgage-driven real estate economy like in most other places, such trailer lots would not cost more than 20k above the lot value. No one can get a mortgage for such trailers, and they are not safe living spaces during the hurricane season. But many people do continue to swoop in and pay cash well above market, which gives some the impression (I think a false one) that these trailers are a good investment in themselves. The lot is what is worth money.

Point remains though that it is below flood. You can't legally build/improve onto a below-flood structure - they won't permit it. So you put all that money in cash - however much money it may be for a particular neighborhood - and then it floods out or worse. Or, you buy the lot and wait the year or two for the permits to come through to demolish and rebuild and make an above-flood house to new building code - which usually is a great investment if you can afford it, and it is done right. It's just that a lot of people with the Keys dream can't afford that.

There is no doubt that there are many many people who have the money to gamble with and are willing to take the risk of a below-flood trailer on the water. I am simply trying to caution newcomers as to the reasons why they should look carefully into what they are buying - trailers, and houses that are "pre-FIRM," are right in the path of flood waters. Even if you can get flood insurance for your mortgage on a pre-FIRM, that is a simple technicality that they currently allow it, and it certainly looks like all it would take is another 1 or 2 catastrophic hurricanes anywhere in the country before they will seek to change that law and not allow any below-flood living of any date of build, because it simply costs the community too much money in damage and debris filling the streets and slamming into other houses. I saw the damage first-hand in the NY neighborhood I was living in during Sandy, which was only a few blocks from the water. It was an absolute disaster, and totaled many houses. The street even to this day has remnants of what happened. That was not a major hurricane by any means - but it does not always take a major hurricane to cause utter destruction to below-flood communities.

New people need to know that there is a major risk in buying a pre-firm house, because those prices to maintain flood insurance are just going to keep going up. No matter what the price of the house and lot may be, you need to budget not only for the damage and the possibility that you will need to live elsewhere while you continue to pay mortgage and insurance on an unlivable house post-storm, but also you need to budget for flood and probably also wind insurance to keep rising. It has already gone up significantly twice in the past 3 years. That's how a lot of people buy themselves into their Keys dream, and end in foreclosure just a few years after. You really need to have a tight budget, a lot of savings, and not rely totally on a local job - especially if you are buying a house with any below-flood living space.

The lure of the Keys dream is strong. So people need to know the practical side of it too, that there are some major downsides - especially if you buy below-flood. Even the above-floods are not necessarily safe in a storm, but you don't want your house to be under 6 or more feet of rushing water... that kind of damage is pretty hard to come back from (more so if you bought in cash and have to self-insure). And consider, these are the insurance prices we pay when we HAVEN'T had a local storm hit for a while. Imagine how the insurance prices will skyrocket when we actually get hit and there is real damage to claim. People need to plan ahead and expect insurance prices to rise for ALL Keys houses, but all the more so for the pre-FIRM ones.
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Old 03-30-2015, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Inland FL
1,246 posts, read 716,998 times
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The Florida Keys in general suck. Yes, you have close access to the beaches and the ocean but the cost of living is sky high and there are a lack of high paying professional jobs. Many jobs are service and tourism oriented jobs that pay at or just above minimal wage. There is a lack of medical services, many people from the Keys travel to Miami or one of the major cities on the mainland to get medical care. Most of US-1 is only two lanes, which can make for some terrible traffic, especially during hurricane evacuation (thankfully the Keys and the rest of the state have been lucky for 10 years). I don't think it's worth it to spend $500,000+ on a small house and spend tens of thousands of dollars on insurance per year on top of that. The cost of some of the rental properties can be outrageous as well. I've seen apartments the size of a shoe box in Key West going for a thousand dollars a week! That's asinine! Nobody except for the wealthy can afford that.

I moved away from the Keys nearly 8 months ago and haven't been back since then. I do miss the Keys sometimes, especially because my family and friends are there and I miss the ocean and the beaches. However, there are so much more opportunities on the mainland especially for young adults.

If you're wealthy, retired, love fishing and the ocean then the Florida Keys are perfect for you, but everyone else has to struggle. Sad but true.
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Old 03-30-2015, 03:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by floridarebel View Post
Yes, you have close access to the beaches and the ocean
I miss the ocean and the beaches.
WHAT beaches?

In 130 miles of road, your only choices are Bahia Honda State Park, Sombrero Beach, and Smathers Beach - none of which are anything like the size someone would expect in the rest of the state of Florida. Technically there is also Harry Harrison, but it's man-made and not that great.

Just something I wanted to clarify for those looking to move down - if you don't live near one of those beaches, there ARE no beaches, and unless you have waterfront or pay for a marina slip, your only water access is boat ramps. The Keys are not made of sand, these are coral rock islands. Plenty of coral to cut your foot on, not much in the way of beaches to walk into the water on.
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Old 03-31-2015, 01:25 AM
 
Location: OCNJ and or lower Florida keys
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Originally Posted by StarfishKey View Post
WHAT beaches?

In 130 miles of road, your only choices are Bahia Honda State Park, Sombrero Beach, and Smathers Beach - none of which are anything like the size someone would expect in the rest of the state of Florida. Technically there is also Harry Harrison, but it's man-made and not that great.

Just something I wanted to clarify for those looking to move down - if you don't live near one of those beaches, there ARE no beaches, and unless you have waterfront or pay for a marina slip, your only water access is boat ramps. The Keys are not made of sand, these are coral rock islands. Plenty of coral to cut your foot on, not much in the way of beaches to walk into the water on.
your right not a lot of beaches along US1. if you are willing to drive to the end of the road key west has a lot of sandy beaches on the one side of the island including ZT state park but between bahia honda and key west you want a free public beach the closest you will get is the swimming hole on ramrod key
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