Key West beach life lures couple to fulfill real estate dreams

Host Cheryl Casone joins Orlando and Shirley on their search for ‘heaven on earth’ in…

When I found out that one of my first trips for Season 2 of “American Dream Home” was taking me to Key West, Florida, I felt like I was living a dream. 

It was a cold, dreary day in New York, and the lure of the white sand beaches and colorful buildings was a wonderful prospect. 

It’s no wonder the Keys in general are one of the hottest real estate markets in the country right now. 

The median listing home price last month was a cool $1.1 million dollars, according to Realtor.com — a jump of 33.3 percent year over year.  

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As for sales, which are different than listing prices, the median home closed for $871,500. Key West continues to be a seller’s market, with more people looking to buy than homes available.  

Still, the average time sitting on the market for listings is 55 days. 

Key West beach

Fort Zachary Taylor State Beach on Key West, Florida, is shown during a spring break weekend. (AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images / Getty Images)

That’s not that different from many other markets across the country right now, and perhaps a sign that the real estate market in Key West is starting to cool just a bit.

In this episode, we followed Orlando and Shirley as a new job opportunity brought them to Key West. 

“They love their neighborhood and love the Keys lifestyle. They are becoming great kite boarders!”

Real estate agent Jennifer Stauffer was featured in the Key West episode and said the couple are doing great. 

“Shirley and Orlando love their home! They love their neighborhood and love the Keys lifestyle. They are becoming great kite boarders!” 

Key West streets at night

A stretch of a Key West street is shown at night in January 2015. 

As for the current state of Key West real estate since interest rates began to rise, Stauffer says things are beginning to change. 

“There is still low inventory and high demand, but we have noticed things start to cool off a bit. Nevertheless, prices are still high and homes are still moving.”

Key West is a tourist destination and a popular retirement destination as well.  

She added, “Yet the higher interest rates have definitely caused some buyers to back off, specifically new homeowners. People still aren’t selling because they don’t know where they will go and also where to go and not have to pay a crazy amount!”

Homes going over asking price comprise 21.1% of sales, a jump of 16.5%, according to Redfin. This, as interest rates are already above 5 percent nationally, meaning many of those first-time buyers are starting to get priced out.  

house sold

In Key West, Florida, homes going over asking price make up over 21% of sales right now, according to Redfin. 

The big difference — and what makes Key West so unique — is that it’s a tourist destination and a popular retirement destination as well.  

Those two factors will continue to keep this market strong, even as, if Stauffer told me, things are slowing down. 

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It’s also popular for investors. Monthly rentals offer an excellent investment option, as there is limited space. 

Florida home with pool

A pool is shown outside this Florida home. Monthly rentals in Key West can be found in residential areas that are quiet and away from main tourist areas.

It’s a small island with limited properties in general. Short-term rentals are usually found near downtown, while monthly rentals can be located in residential areas that are quiet and away from the main tourist area.

The constant demand for a variety of buyers tells me a cool-off does not mean a slowdown.  

The buyer is also very different due to the uniqueness of this location.  

The soon-to-retire crowd has the income and the savings to afford a luxury home — and this group creates competition for those looking to buy vacation homes or seasonal homes.  

Cheryl Casone

“American Dream Home,” hosted by Cheryl Casone, airs Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m. ET on FOX Business. 

That constant demand for a variety of buyers tells me a cool-off does not mean a slowdown.  

I think Orlando and Shirley not only found their American dream home — they also made a very wise long-term investment.

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To learn more about the couple profiled in this story, watch the video at the top of this article, or click here to access it.