VERO BEACH – Old Riomar, with its quiet, tree-lined streets, is a picture of tranquility.
The setting is easy on the eyes and soothing to the soul for the many who walk, jog, or enjoy a bike ride down streets like Painted Bunting or Club Drive.
Oh, how looks can be deceiving.
One of Vero Beach’s oldest communities, Old Riomar has been the site of dynamic real estate activity since the beginning of the year.
“It is almost a feeding-frenzy in Old Riomar,” said Dale Sorensen Real Estate Agent Lori Davis. “Suddenly, everything is going under contract. It is a pretty pricey neighborhood where homes are now at a realistic price.”
Just three months into 2011, Old Riomar has been the catalyst for the barrier island’s real estate market – even if the banks still are not lending money.
In a market where the barrier island’s mid-range properties were struggling just a year ago, this neighborhood has bucked the trend and almost every mid-ranged listing has recently been sold.
“In (Old) Riomar, almost all of the homes in the $600,000 to $700,000-range have been sold,” said Davis.
“I think there are two left that are listed at under a million. It used to be that the $600,000, $700,000, and $800,000 homes were there, but not anymore. The inventory on the mid-priced stuff is going, and the good values are gone. People think everything is still for sale, and it really isn’t.
“People will call and say they want a four bedroom, three bath with a pool East of A1A and they want it to be newer or renovated. Well, I’ve only got three houses to show you!”
“It is all about getting the price right – value perception,” added Davis. “If they perceive that it is a value, then it will go under contract.”
The early word on 2011 is the market is finally headed back up. This is good news for real estate on the barrier island.
“The fun thing, watching as a Realtor, is people kept thinking the market would go lower. The market is changing,” said Hope Shaw Brovont, who partners with Davis at Dale Sorensen Real Estate.
“There have been as many Riomar homes go under contract in the last three months as there were last year.
“I think it was positive that a lot of (Vero Beach area) homes were selling between $200,000 to $300,000,” added Brovont. “Now homes are selling above $1,000,000. The homes at Old Riomar are unique and have great location.”
Riomar sits between A1A and the Atlantic Ocean, across from Quail Valley River Club and surrounding Riomar Country Club. Built in 1919, Riomar Country Club is Vero Beach’s oldest golf course and its only one on the ocean.
One of the homes in Old Riomar which is pending sale sits right on the golf course, at 2039 Club Drive.
It was the home of the late Norman Boucher, the former chairman of U.S. Senior Golf. Boucher was a member of the Yale golf team and a member of St. Andrew’s Country Club in Scotland.
“When I was a little kid, my dad would come back from a tournament and tell me that he’d played horribly,” said son, Andrew Boucher. “I would ask him where he placed, and he would say, ‘Well I won, but . . . I played (bad) golf!’ Norman was just funny like that.”
The four bedroom/four bathroom, 3,000-plus-square-foot home is listed at $1.1 million and is pending sale.
The home features panoramic living room and family room views of the golf course to the west, and a screened-in pool area on the north side of the property.
Just to the north of the golf course on 720 Painted Bunting Lane is another property listed with Davis and Brovont.
Not only is it Brovont’s listing, it is her home. Listed at $1.325 million, the three bedroom/three and one-half bathroom house features over 4,000 square feet of living space. The very large, fully-updated kitchen is the center of this completely renovated home.
Brovont, a former interior decorator, has the property in model home condition. The rooms are large and the house was made to entertain guests.
“The eat-in kitchen is the center of the home,” said Brovont. “We recently installed all stainless steel appliances, a gas cook-top, granite countertop, and custom cabinetry there. The house has the original 9 foot high ceilings, and a private back yard. The master bathroom is big, and features contemporary marble and high-end fixtures throughout. It’s a his and her set-up, with a double ‘rain’ shower right in the middle of the room.”
A third Sorensen property is Mara McAullife’s 1801 Ocean Drive listing. It is another newly-renovated home, with four bedrooms and four and one-half bathrooms.
Outside, the fenced in back yard property features a pool and a putting green. Inside, there is a library, an exercise room, and a chef’s kitchen.
The home is listed for $1.45 million.
“This is the best street in Riomar,” said owner Marilyn Hollandsworth. “I think we were so lucky to find a house on this street, the people are absolutely wonderful. There’s no traffic, and we wanted privacy.”
Brovont says that Old Riomar is tough to beat for those looking for a house with great location.
“People here can either walk, bike, or take a golf cart almost anywhere they need to go,” said Brovont. “The country club is right here, Quail Valley is across the street, and you are right around the corner from great restaurants and shopping.”