Key West Real Estate — 2023 in Review

Key West Real Estate — 2023 in Review

The good times roll on as Bascom Grooms Real Estate welcomed in 2024 with a New Year Kick Off and Awards Dinner. The team got together over refreshments and a delicious meal to talk story, celebrate the great year just past, share the excitement of a busy year ahead, and highlight our colleagues’ 2023 accomplishments.

The Best of the Best in Key West

2023 was a great year in Key West real estate, and there is no better way to start a review of the year past than by highlighting our Bascom Grooms Real Estate 2023 in-house award winners. It takes a competitive team effort to stay in the upper ranks as one of the island’s top-producing and most trusted small private real estate firms, and this year our top performers include Haydee Stewart at 1st Place in Sales Volume, Ed Salazar at 2nd place in Sales Volume, and Peter Geary at 3rd Place in Sales Volume.

Haydee Stewart and Peter Geary tied for the Most Conversions, Ed Salazar achieved the Most New Listings, and Teo Masters took honors for Top Buyer Broker Agent. The brand-new BGRE Marge Smith Award went to Britannie Wesley for her dedication to consistently going above and beyond for Bascom Grooms Real Estate, the Key West Association of Realtors, and the Key West community at large. A hearty congratulations and thanks go out to all of our awardees and every member of the team that made 2023 an outstanding year at Bascom Grooms Real Estate.

2023 Florida Keys Real Estate by the Numbers

It has been a very solid year in the Florida Keys and Key West real estate markets. On a Keys-wide all property types basis, December 2023 ended with 2,219 closed sales for the year and 1,748 still-active MLS listings. Of those active listings, 596 were in the Lower Keys (Big Pine Key to Key West) as compared to 521 on 12/31/2022.

Now that we have some distance on the pandemic, it is interesting to look back at those years and track the flight to perceived safety beyond urban spaces that affected the Florida Keys just as it did rural areas across the nation. Look at these total sales numbers for the Keys from the past 6 years: 2018—2,734; 2019—2,822; 2020—3,290; 2021—4,325; 2022—2,976; 2023—2,219.

It does not take a professional statistician to see what happened here, and now we have returned to more typical, and frankly more stable and sustainable numbers given the constraints inherent to this unique property market. As of the end of 2023, Florida Keys total listings have risen a bit off a long-term bottom of 1150 hit in December of 2022, but a sustained multi-decade downward trendline in listing numbers is not close to being broken, indicative of the constricting supply conditions for Florida Keys real estate.

Meanwhile, on the Southernmost Island

According to figures from the Key West Association of Realtors, the Key West residential real estate market saw 926 new residential property listings in 2023, down slightly from 975 in 2022. When December 2023 ended, there were 333 active Key West residential real estate listings remaining on the board as compared to 211 at the same time last year.

Regarding total 2023 activity in Key West, of the 1145 residential property listings that were active during the year, 489 had changed hands by year end. This is a substantial drop (-33.3%) from the 733 sales out of 1141 active listings recorded for 2022. While some residual effects of the pandemic-fueled frenzy may have been at work during 2022, the rise in mortgage interest rates certainly played a role in putting a slight damper on 2023 Key West property sales.

In yet another indicator of a cooling market, average days on market (ADOM) increased to 57 in Key West, with a median of 31 days as compared to 43 ADOM and median 18 for 2022. But remember, coming out of the post-pandemic rush, such cooling off has only taken us back near to historical averages. When coupled with another increase—average 2023 sale price of $1,485,467, up 18.44% from $1,254,221 in 2022—the minor upward blip in ADOM is not too concerning.

As indicated here by weekly numbers from the Key West/Lower Keys MLS, the pace of closings remains steady going from December 2023 into January 2024:

  • Dec 1–Dec 10: 15 closings
  • Dec 11–Dec 17: 13 closings
  • Dec 18–Dec 24: 11 closings
  • Dec 25-Dec 31: 11 closings
  • Jan 1–Jan 7: 8 closings
  • Jan 8–Jan 14: 12 closings
  • Jan 15–Jan 21: 8 closings

Recall that the weekly closing numbers for September–October, posted here back in November, were very similar. Steady sales combined with rising values paints an overall picture of a solid, stable bull market in Key West residential real estate.

On a macro basis, most indicators point to no further prime rate increases by the Fed, and possible decreases are on the table as a means to deal with a burgeoning national debt crisis; add easing mortgage rates to high inflation that is making tangible assets more attractive to investors, and prospects definitely remain positive for Key West real estate in 2024.

What About the 2023 ROGO Deadline?

As for potentially market-moving news, perhaps the most important item is a report that the Florida Department of Commerce is considering amendments to the Florida Keys ROGO regulation that was slated to halt the issuance of new building permits in Monroe County as of 2023. According to an article in the Miami Herald, examination of population growth rates for the Keys along with updated hurricane evacuation models is prompting a review that could result in the easing of restrictive building rules.

While the idea of further population growth in the Florida Keys is generating significant pushback due to concerns with environmental impact, quality of life issues, and various other factors, it is a possibility that permits may be issued for the approximately 7,954 undeveloped lots that are currently under ownership. Even a gradual release of half this number of building permits could represent a transformational building boom in the Keys.

Note that Monroe County is incentivized toward amending ROGO. The county and other stakeholders need to find a solution that would prevent exposure to the billions of dollars in law suits that would ensue if landowners are refused the right to develop properties they have been paying taxes on. Stay tuned for developments on this front as concerned officials along with various lawyers and landowners tackle the issue.

Revitalizing Duval Street

Another item concerns a change that will increase the livability and general attractiveness of our small island city: a Duval Street facelift. The community involvement phase of the official Duval Street Resiliency and Revitalization Project opened as planned this month, and complete information is now available at the public outreach website

The project objective is the identification and implementation of improvements that will support the best utilization of the Duval Street corridor as a public space that benefits the Key West community and our visitors. At the same time, the resilience aspect of the project is aimed at hardening infrastructure and buildings in this important historic and economic zone against the risks posed by climate change-driven sea level rise and extreme weather events.

Funded by Federal grants and the City of Key West, redesign and renovation will be carried out over a period of 10 years, with planning and preliminary work already initiated in 2023. Project planners cite community awareness and public engagement as critical to the overall success the effort, and ample opportunities for public input and participation will be provided over the life of the project, beginning with an Open House at the San Carlos Institute at 5 pm on January 31.

Bring Your Best Friend on a Winter Break

Finally, if you happen to be in town with your best friend on Saturday, February 17, Bascom Grooms Real Estate is a Presenting Sponsor of the Key West 5th Annual Pup Crawl. Doggies and their parents will be visiting seven popular Key West entertainment venues, with plenty of fun, games, and gifts for Fido along the way plus lots of adult beverages to keep the humans playful as well. Get more info and tickets at the Pup Crawl website.

Thinking of buying or selling in Key West, the Lower Keys, or the Gainesville area? Call us to discuss the next steps and put a team of local experts on your side.

Bascom Grooms Real Estate—1110 Truman Avenue, Key West Florida—(305) 295-7511—