Success Stories 2: Investing in Key West & Don’t It Feel Good!

Christie came to Key West and was Walking on Sunshine in no time…

It was a warm summer evening, the refreshing breeze rolled off the Atlantic as Christie took in the breathtaking view from Neptune’s Penthouse, a condo managed by Last Key Realty in the 1800 Atlantic building. Christie had come to Key West to enjoy some fun in the sun and to look at real estate around the island, but upon seeing this stunning view she knew that 1800 Atlantic is where she wanted to be.

The view from Neptune’s Penthouse…

While the purpose of Christie’s visit to Key West was to find a piece of property that she could use for both investment purposes and her family’s personal use, she could not have found her condo without the help of Last Key’s Andrea Leskova Otava, a fresh-faced Realtor at the time. Andrea’s expertise in the vacation rental Real Estate market paved the way for Christie to confidently pursue, and ultimately purchase, her Key West investment condo.

Prior to Christie’s arrival in town, her and Andrea had a few conversations about the tricky Key West Real Estate market, what Christie’s investment goals were and how Last Key could help her achieve those financial goals. Andrea helped Christie narrow down her search to a few choice properties with a transient license, including an available unit at 1800 Atlantic.

The living area of Christie’s unit, Walking on Sunshine

The first property they looked at turned out to be the only one Christie needed to see. “When I saw the view, I was sold.” 2 days later, they were under contract on the condo that would become known as Walking on Sunshine.

Over the years Andrea and Christie’s relationship has grown, Andrea has even recently helped Christie acquire her second investment property at 1800 Atlantic. “I love working with Christie,” Andrea said with a big smile. “I had the pleasure of meeting her kids and her parents too. I love seeing a family come together to work on a property.”  Christie’s new penthouse unit will surely be another jewel in Last Key’s collection!

The stunning view from Walking on Sunshine!

You can be Last Key’s next Success Story! Reach out to us at 305-292-6266 to speak with one of our knowledgeable and friendly agents today.

Transient vs Monthly Rentals: What’s the difference??

The number one question we get at Last Key Realty, from both our vacation rental guests and our real estate clients, is what’s the difference between transient and monthly rentals?  We’ve put together this quick informational guide to help you better understand how renting a home in Key West works.

What’s the difference between rental types? Read on to find out!

What is a transient license?

The answer is pretty straightforward – properties with a transient license are authorized by the city to be rented for less than 29 nights; those without this license are restricted to be rented by the month.  That’s it, one piece of paper that makes a big difference.

Why can’t I rent this property for less than 29 nights?

If a property isn’t fortunate enough to have one of these highly coveted transient licenses, then according to strict Key West ordinances, the property legally can’t be rented for less than 29 nights — under any circumstance.  If we were to write a lease for a monthly property for less than 29 nights, that would be illegal and we could lose our license.  We like what we do, and want to keep doing it, so we have to adhere to these ordinances.

And before you ask, there are no exceptions to this rule.  Ever.  If a property doesn’t have a transient license (aka a monthly rental) it legally can’t be rented for less than 29 nights.

We wish we were able to rent out the Polynesian House for less than a month!

Why such a big price difference?

Transient rentals on average generate about 3x more income per month than a monthly rental.  This is due to their higher nightly rates. As a result, a monthly home might actually cost less for a month than a transient home of the same size for just two weeks!

Homeowner Associations (HOAs)

While we’re talking transient rentals, we have to touch on the various HOAs with transient rental licenses that exist around the island.  These HOAs can have their own requirements, and the majority of them do.  Most only allow for weekly rentals, but some have their own special rules altogether – like Truman Annex.

View from the widow’s walk at Noona’s Mansion in Truman Annex

Truman Annex

Let’s talk Truman Annex – the Truman Annex HOA regulations are stricter than most, they require rental properties to be rented for a minimum of 6 nights, have no more than 8 guests occupying a rental (no matter the size of the property) and can only be rented for a maximum of 26 weeks a year.  This is why these rentals are usually more costly, since they can only be legally rented for half the year. Explore our Truman Annex Rentals.

*** Ask us about the monthly rental discount in Truman Annex!  Must be booked direct to receive these significant savings ***

How can I get a Transient License?

Decades ago, the city of Key West issued a limited number of transient licenses. And they haven’t issued anymore since.  And probably won’t issue them ever again. 

These coveted licenses currently sell for $300,000 to $400,000, and that’s if you can find one.  (That’s just the price of the license, no property attached to it!)

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, knowing how to navigate the unique Key West market is the difference between success and failure.  Having folks you can trust and rely on is vitally important, which is why you have us. 😀

View all of our beautiful Key West Vacation Rentals by Last Key Realty.

Success Stories: Keeping Up with the Joneses

So you’ve been to Key West and fell in love with the island, and now you’re considering purchasing an investment property in paradise.  It’s very likely this idea has popped into your head more than once.  If you’re like most people reading this, it’s probably the second or third (or more!) time you’ve entertained this thought.  Let’s be honest, there’s a reason you’re reading a premiere boutique real estate companies blog 😉

In this series, lovingly dubbed Success Stories, we’ll share a few inspirational stories to help nudge you in the right direction and help solidify that gut feeling you’ve had about owning a vacation rental in Key West.  Our first success story stars Mr. & Mrs. Emil Jones:

The Joneses, a family from Virginia, fell in love with Key West while vacationing on the island in 2014 and considered purchasing a vacation rental of their own.  The Joneses are well aware of how lucrative the vacation rental industry is, they own several successful vacation rentals in North Carolina and decided they would explore purchase options in Key West. This decision was made much easier as they knew and trusted Last Key, having stayed with us as vacation rental guests for many years.

Gulfside Vistas – The favorite Last Key Realty property the Joneses stayed in

During their most recent stay at Gulfside Vistas, the Joneses were introduced to Rodney Culiver – Last Key’s Marketing Director and one of our fabulous Realtors. Rodney got to know this family well and guided them through the purchase process – educated them on the Key West vacation rental market, provided extensive financials, and established expectations for owner operations. After discussing their goals and needs, they identified a home to operate as an income-generating vacation rental (and to stay in with their family a few times a year) that would be a perfect fit… The home they chose was our very own Seventh Heaven at 62 Front Street in Truman Annex.

Seventh Heaven – The Joneses amazing new property at 62 Front St

This home has been operating as a successful vacation rental with Last Key Realty for a number of years, with dozens of 5-star reviews and a jam-packed calendar of confirmed future reservations. Helping the Joneses realize the equity they would be stepping into and the immediate return on investment they would see was an integral part of this transaction. The fact that the home is beautifully maintained and located in the most exclusive gated community on the island didn’t hurt either 😉 The Joneses successfully closed on 62 Front Street and have already hosted a few guests!  We’re happy to welcome them to the Last Key family.

2020 taught us many things, but the most apparent in Key West is that hotel demand is being replaced by vacation rentals.  The demand for vacation rentals is sky high and based on our reservations already on the books for next year, it’s not looking to slow down anytime soon.  Look at the Online Travel Agent business as a whole, AirBnB and VRBO have increased their market share year after year, growing in popularity as vacation rentals become more of the norm.  When the last recession hit, people still flocked to Key West.  And they will continue to come to Key West. 

We’ve also noticed another positive trend, more and more of our past guests are becoming vacation rental homeowners themselves.  And Last Key has helped them every step of the way.  It makes perfect sense if you think about it, who better to help you purchase an investment property than the people who will be managing that very investment?  We know the market, we know our clientele, and we know what makes a successful rental.  Last Key Realty will be with you from your first stay as our guest, to help with your home purchase, and for years to come profitably managing your rental. Experience the Last Key difference.

Last Key Realty… The Accidental Business

It’s no secret Last Key Realty has set the standard for luxury vacation rentals in Key West.  The thousands of guests that have stayed with us over the years, along with our happy homeowners, will be the first to tell you that.  But few know the story of how this titan of real estate came to be.  Until now.

Founder Chris Santry & COO Alex O’Donnell celebrating Alex’s 3rd (!!!) baby on the way

A Retirement Cut Short

If you ask our founder Chris Santry how Last Key came into being he’ll tell you just like he told me in my job interview, it was completely by accident.  He had no intention of creating a vacation rental company, the island demanded it of him.

Chris and his wife Sharon retired to Key West in 1999 and planned on renting out several properties they’d acquired… doing little more than floating in their pool and hanging out at La Te Da.  After dealing with another vacation rental company in Key West for a couple of years, Chris decided he would be better off renting his homes himself.  So that’s exactly what he did.

Conch Casa Grande – One of the 1st homes under the Last Key umbrella, and still with us!

Last Key Realty is Born

Over the next few years, Chris and Sharon did so well with their homes that other homeowners asked if they could be a part of the program. By 2008, they were managing a dozen homes, and the couple decided they needed to actually be a company. Thus, Last Key Realty was born.

The next decade was a period of steady growth and expansion. And we’re happy to report that many of those original owners are still part of Last Key Realty’s rental program.

The view from the living room at Noona’s Mansion, a long time Last Key favorite

Key West Awesomeness

So what sets LKR apart?  There are plenty of vacation rental companies in Key West, either locally based or part of a worldwide conglomerate.  With so much competition how have we grown so steadily?  The answer is simple – we care about our guest’s experience, that’s what it’s always been about.

We do everything we can to ensure our guests get a taste of the Key West Awesomeness we’ve grown to love.

Last Key Realty has the largest vacation rental staff, at least triple any competitor in Key West. Each member of our staff is dedicated to enhancing our guest’s experience.  We love Key West and want to show off the Key West Awesomeness that keeps drawing people to our little island year after year.  And we do everything in our power to ensure our guests find that awesomeness, whatever their idea of it may be.

The Polynesian House is a great representation of Key West Awesomeness…

It’s no coincidence the most notable luxury vacation homes in Key West are with Last Key.  We have a strict set of standards for our homes and we ensure those standards are met for every single guest staying with us.  You read that correctly, we check our properties before every stay to make sure everything is top-notch for you.  One of the most common phrases guests use in their reviews is “nicer than the photos.”

Buy Key West

We’ve even helped a bunch of our guests become locals.  The reason our guests trust us in the search for their own vacation home is because we don’t simply sell them a house… We act as consultants to help them find their dream home. 

Whether you’re looking to stay for a week, or a month… or the rest of your days, look no further than Last Key Realty to ensure you find that Key West awesomeness you’ve always desired.

What to Expect in Key West – Spring 2021 Vacation Rentals

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  The biggest question we’ve been asked over the past year is ‘What’s Key West like right now with COVID-19 restrictions?’  It’s the same lovely weather, terrific food and fantastic live music you’ve come to expect.  So what’s changed?  The city has implemented a mask mandate that we take seriously and folks stay a bit further apart.  What’s that mean for you?  Probably nothing you aren’t already used to where you are from.

The Royal Compound – Located at 101 Admirals Lane – Available Nightly (6 night minimum)

Renting Properties in Key West

Key West was actually pretty busy during 2020 as most people learned that ‘work from home’ is a whole lot more fun when your home is in Key West.  We’ve helped many guests come stay for a month or two, a few even decided not to leave.  All of our Key West house rentals include high-speed WiFi so when you open your Zoom call everyone can see your stunning view.  And you can rest easy, all of our reservations are 100% refundable outside of 21 days of your arrival.  We understand how quickly things can change and we’re here to help you in any way we can.

Bird of Paradise – Located at 1514 Patricia St – Available for Monthly Rentals

The Atmosphere in Key West

One of the reasons people have been flocking to Key West (even more than usual!) is because businesses of all kinds, from the bars & restaurants to public transportation to your friendly neighborhood vacation rental agency, have taken steps to ensure our guests feel comfortable, safe and healthy while enjoying the much-needed reprieve Key West provides.  Don’t worry, Duval St is open, musicians are still playing, the restaurants & bars are still serving (dine-in or take-out) and there’s never been a better time to get out on the water.

Avalynn House – Located at 522 Emma St – Available Nightly (6 night minimum)

Here at Last Key we’ve gone above and beyond to ensure you have a safe and healthy stay.  We’ve implemented extra cleaning of our properties, we have contactless check-in, grocery delivery if need be, and a full concierge service that can assist with any special request you may have.  To see all of the steps Last Key has taken to make sure you have a safe trip, click here:

As the vaccine rolls out, the demand for Key West is climbing even higher.  Lots of travelers are looking to escape to our island, so if you’re thinking of joining us start planning your trip early.  Give us a call at 305-292-6266 or search for vacation rentals to see what we have to offer.  Whether you just need to get away or are looking for a new locale to work from home, Key West has what you’re searching for.