KEY WEST BECOMES AFFORDABLE IN DOWNTURNED MARKET
With home sales doubled from last year and prices beginning to rise, older “conch houses” in the historic Key West district are selling.
They are wooden homes, sometimes with second-story galleries and gingerbread decorations, brightly colored, and have pretty gardens. Early settlers built their homes out of mortar made from sand, water and lime which was obtained by burning conch shells before being built with wood. Some are set on piers for air circulation, and have sloping metal roofs to reflect heat and to carry clean water from gutters to a storage cistern. Other features that are typical include louvered shutters, porches and verandahs. The tongue and groove wood used in walls, ceiling and flooring give rigidity to resist hurriannes.
Some, however, are not in great shape, need fix-up, and may be hard to finance.
Homes in resort areas, sometimes referred to as “paradise communities,” can be pricey. Due to the approximately 60% price drops for homes, buyers now include teachers, taxi drivers, bank tellers and members of the military stationed at the local Navy base. Some historic properties, however, remain priced in the millions of dollars.