Shedding Light on Key West Real Estate & COVID-19
April 15, 2020
COVID-19 Hits the Florida Keys Hard
It’s nearly impossible to overstate the impact that the coronavirus and COVID-19 disease have had on the Florida Keys and Key West economies. The Keys island chain is literally closed to visitors and the beating heart of Key West is all but silent. Coming so soon in the wake of the 2017 Hurricane Irma, the coronavirus pandemic may appear to be relatively inconsequential. However, while the damage is not nearly so visible as that caused by the Irma catastrophe, this pandemic is nonetheless a disaster of major proportions.
U.S. Highway 1 through the Keys is closed by checkpoints at mile marker 112 and on Card Sound road. Access to points south is limited to those who can prove homeownership or residency in the Keys. Passengers on all flights into Key West and Marathon International Airports face COVID-19 screening and then must “isolate or quarantine at that person’s own expense for a period of 14 days or the duration of that persons stay in the County, whichever is shorter.”
As per an executive order issued by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, all bars and nightclubs in the City of Key West ceased operation from 5 p.m. on Tuesday March 17th, 2020. Restaurants shifted to take out and delivery only, with no on-site dining or consumption allowed. On March 22nd, hotels, guest houses, short-term rentals in RV parks, and vacation rentals closed. Current guests had to leave and no new reservations are being taken. All Key West parks, public facilities, and non-essential businesses remain closed at this writing (April 10, 2020).
Key West Real Estate: What Buyers and Sellers Need to Know
At first glance, things look pretty grim for the Keys. But again, we ask you to remember Irma and the many other hellish storms and also plagues that have swept this island chain throughout history. We Conchs are a tough crew, well-experienced with adversity and naturally equipped to rally and rise to the occasion when needed.
Concerning island real estate, while the national housing market and real estate business are already suffering some impacts from the pandemic and lockdowns, the Key West market is resilient and, much like the island locals, will weather the storm and come out stronger. Nationwide, buyers are still buying homes and sellers are still selling, while steps are being taken to ensure that the normal processes move along smoothly with an eye to maintaining safety for all parties involved.
Life in the Key West real estate markets goes on. Here at Bascom Grooms, we are fortunate to have fully embraced technology long ago. Our beautiful website is fully stocked with the latest and best listings. Powerful display and search tools along with plenty of photos and videos make it easy for sellers to market their properties digitally, and it is lots of fun for buyers to shop Florida Keys real estate online. Our team members can easily arrange virtual showings. Online conferences, consultations, and Q & A sessions are held with no problem at all via easy-to-use technology that most people are already familiar with.
Actually, digital tools can let sellers get more exposure and buyers see more properties in a much shorter time than was possible in the old days. And when it is time to for our buyers take a look at some favorite homes in person, that can be arranged while maintaining social distancing, following recommendations to wear masks, and taking all other smart precautions. If you are not already present in the Keys or able to get here, we can work with you to narrow down a list of favorite properties so you get maximum efficiency from your home touring time once the Keys reopen.
The Way We Do Key West Real Estate is Changing
COVID-19 is also causing some changes to occur on the business end of real estate transactions. The number of people present at in-person closings is being limited, and when possible, face-to-face work is eliminated or reduced to the minimum. Guidelines from the federal government and the World Health Organization suggest that sellers along with their agents and attorneys sign all closing documents electronically.
Settlement agents who must meet with buyers or their representative are being careful to wipe down surfaces, limit personal contact, use disposable pens, and reduce the physical exchange of paperwork. Many buyers and sellers never leave their homes – they handle everything online and simply give their real estate agents temporary powers of attorney for the few critical items that must be taken care of in person.
Even before coronavirus, closing real estate deals at a distance was common practice, and it can honestly be said that the pandemic is merely accelerating advances that were already underway. If you are considering buying or selling property in Key West, there is no reason to let the current situation cause undue inconvenience. Simply get in touch with us here at Bascom Grooms Real Estate and we can take you through the process safely and smoothly.