Thursday, December 01
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The Luxury Home Market in Sagaponack

Although potato farming originally put Sagaponack on the map, its name comes from the Shinnecock Indian Nation word for the “land of the big ground nuts.”

Luxurious beachfront properties in Sagaponack, a village in the town of Southampton, tend to command some of the Hamptons’ highest prices, which makes it an exclusive and highly desirable area. Propertyshark, in its annual calculation of the most expensive zip codes in the United States has ranked Sagaponack no. 2 on 2018’s list, with a median sales price of $5.5 million, behind Atherton, CA, whose median sales price was $6.7 million.

But even as property values have soared and houses have expanded in size, little has changed in the village. One of the last remaining one-room school houses is still in use, and Sagg Main Street still has just one store and a small post office.

Mansions with ocean and farm field views

Originally settled in 1653, Sagaponack retains some of its old charm in the farmhouses close to its tiny main street. Farther out, however, those historic farmhouses have been replaced by mansions with sprawling lawns. Sagaponack is actually home to the largest private residence in the county, industrialist billionaire Ira Rennert’s 63-acre oceanfront estate. The village has been called home by CEOs, musicians, famous authors, and celebrities, including Jimmy Fallon. An undisclosed hedge fund firm rented Elie Tahari’s 4,500-square-foot oceanfront estate at 135 Crestview Lane in Sagaponack for $800,000 last July and August. The home has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and sits on a two-and-a-half-acre lot. Outside, there’s 250 feet of private beachfront and a 60-foot lap pool. [NYP]

The charm of this area of the Hamptons is a mix of seclusion, natural beauty, and exclusivity. Although it is increasingly being developed, there are also extensive protected farm reserves and open vistas. Potatoes, vegetable crops and wine grapes are grown in Sagaponack. Farmland preserved and protected by the efforts of the Peconic Land Trust ensures that some family farms will remain as demand for luxury housing increases. Today some of the old barns in the area that are no longer used by farmers have been turned into modern residences that retain their historic character and details while providing state of the art amenities.

The world-famous Madoo Conservancy, the garden of the late painter Robert Dash, is open to the public on summer weekends and offers a number of programs and events. Wolffer Estate Vineyards offers live music on weekends at their winery and also outdoors in summer at the Wine Stand on Montauk Highway. The estate also operates equestrian facilities. Other popular destinations in Sagaponack include Town Line BBQ on Montauk Highway, and Poxabogue Golf Center across the street, which has a nine-hole public golf course, driving range and putting green, offers lessons and summer camps, and includes a pro shop and a restaurant. 

In some senses, it’s as though time stood still in Sagaponack. The zoning never permitted commercial development, and the Sagaponack General Store and post office were all that were needed to service the rural farm community. The lack of commercial development allowed for more of an open space and big sky feeling. This is the appeal that continues to attract buyers who love the feeling of wide-open landscapes with access to one of the most beautiful ocean beaches in the world.

Go Natural

The beauty of a Hamptons home comes not just from the architecture and décor but from the space around it. The area’s rich ecosystem allows beautiful plants, native to the region, to grow, and Hamptonites are taking note for landscaping inspiration. Black-eyed Susans, dogwood trees and native shrubs add harmony and balance to the landscaping of many of the homes in Sagaponack.

When asked how are buyers’ wants different from several years ago, Joe Farrell of Farrell Building Company says people are looking for simplicity. “They aren’t looking for as big of a house. Other than that, it’s the same basic stuff — nice basements, high ceilings, high bedroom count, outdoor space, a covered porch, a nice open floor plan and modern finishes — no heavy moldings anymore, lighter floors, lacquer kitchens.”

The Market

As in other regions of the Hamptons, sales of homes in Sagaponack priced between $5 million and $10 million surged in the last few years, while the cheaper segment of the market slumped. 2016’s federal tax overhaul also could be playing a role, as luxury home sellers and buyers alike try to figure out what impact the changes will have on their bank accounts, brokers said. Tax rates have fallen, giving a boost to those with high incomes. Another undeniable draw of Sagaponack: lower property taxes than neighboring towns.

Limited Development

Although many of the farmlands have been preserved, the Sagaponack Village Board last month gave Kenneth Schwenk, the owner of a large parcel of farmland a somewhat reluctant nod of approval to move forward with plans for a 9-lot housing subdivision that will split one of the largest swaths of contiguous farmland on the South Fork.

The Schwenk plans will leave about 27 acres of the plot as farmland, and will leave the family farmstead standing. The nine house lots—each a little more than an acre—will be clustered along the southern edge property, abutting the rear property lines of homes on Parsonage Pond Lane. The lots will be connected to Montauk Highway by a road that will bisect the farmland, along Mr. Schwenk’s western property line. The Village Board’s approval included a caveat that the road not be lined with trees, or any other landscaping that would inhibit views across the remaining open fields.

Although development is inevitable, new construction is extremely regulated and limited, thus preserving the openness and sprawl of the land, the open sky and the oceanfront beauty that is Sagaponack.