On November 8, annual rankings of the richest zip codes in the United States were announced. And there was shocking news. Sagaponack, which had been No. 1 for five years until it got bumped by Atherton, Calif., to No. 2 in 2018, dropped to No. 3 in 2021.
No. 2 is now Back Bay, Boston.
Considering all that has been done this past year to get Sagaponack back to the top of the heap, this is a sorry blow.
The announcement of this year’s winners was made by propertyshark.com, which looks at the average annual price of real estate transactions in every zip code in the country.
As an official at the Village of Sagaponack commented the other day, “That’s a lot of zip codes. And we’re the best.”
No. Third best.
When Sagaponack first was king, the zip code 11962 appeared on jackets, shirts and baseball caps all around the country. Residents of 11962 were interviewed. The news went viral. The publicity pushed Sagaponack’s average real estate transaction price not only higher, but really higher. And the rest of the zip codes in the Hamptons basked in its glory, each scoring ever higher average prices in all their separate zip codes.
None, however, are high enough to challenge Sagaponack, or its numerous top-end competitors. This year, Water Mill ranks No. 13, Bridgehampton No. 31, Wainscott No. 34, Amagansett No. 37 and Quogue No. 38.
As a result of this troubling news, however, a group of concerned residents of Sagaponack (their group is TCROS, which stands for The Concerned Residents of Sagaponack) met several times this week to consider the problem, take stock of the situation and see what can be done about it going forward.
The meetings took place, appropriately enough, at the Sagaponack Post Office, at first in the little lobby, but then later. as attendance grew, in a larger storage room in the back among the many Amazon boxes. This room was graciously provided by the post office itself, since the meetings took place after the 5 o’clock closing time.
Forty people attended the most recent meeting.
“We did have a lot of high-priced transactions this year,” said Mr. Willis, who headed up the group. “1145 Sagaponack Main Street sold for $19.8 million; 454 Daniels Lane for $10.75 million and 515 Parsonage Lane for $10.65 million. We knew it all would raise our average price considerably, which it did. It rose from the year before more than 28%.”
“But not enough to beat Atherton,” someone said. “And then Back Bay? Who knew? Where did they come from?”
“Who do they think they are?” someone else said.
“It’s ridiculous,” another someone else said.
“I think,” said Mr. Atherton — yes, his name is Atherton — “that we just had too many transactions in the lower million-dollar transaction range. It pulled the average down.”
“We came in with an average home sale price at $5 million,” Mr. Willis said. Atherton, Calif. is at $7.46 million, Back Bay at $5.5 million.”
A discussion then proceeded about the idea of having a $4 million minimum for any real estate transaction in Sagaponack. Some argued it would be unconstitutional. Government couldn’t dictate minimums. People have rights.
After this, there was a long pause while everybody contemplated Alron Porter, who owns a 1/10th-acre sliver of property on Parsonage Lane that couldn’t be worth more than a $1 million.
“Let’s just hope that Alron doesn’t sell next year,” somebody said.
“Anybody else have an idea?” Willis asked.
“I was thinking of Ira Rennert’s house,” said Mrs. Peabody. “If we could get him to sell, it could be a slam dunk.”
A lot of people began nodding in agreement. What a sensational idea.
In 1998, Ira Rennert started construction on a home that might be the largest private home ever built in the United States. As the project proceeded during the years that followed, neighbors quarreled about it. It was felt that the building inspector who approved it should be fired.
“It conforms to the law. It’s a private home. Just very large,” the building inspector had said.
On what had been a 63-acre oceanfront potato farm, nearly a dozen buildings totaling more than 110,000 square feet got built. According to cbsnews.com, there are 29 bedrooms, 39 bathrooms, three swimming pools, and a prayer house. The New York Post reports that there are two outdoor tennis courts, a large pool, a playhouse with basketball court, a gym, spa, basketball court, two bowling lanes, a kiddie pool, and a 20-car garage.
As the project moved toward completion, novelist Kurt Vonnegut, who lived in a small historic saltbox on Main Street, said if the town gave Rennert a certificate of occupancy, he and his family would move away. But when Rennert planted a forest of beautiful bushes and trees everywhere, rendering the project almost completely invisible from any public street, Vonnegut did not move when the time came.
When it was finished, total cost was said to exceed $120,000,000. And so, the Rennerts took up residence. And they’ve been there since then.
With inflation and the rising of the local real estate prices, it is estimated that today it would sell for more than $600,000,000. A sale of that amount would indeed blow the socks off the average real estate transaction price in any other zip code in America.
“But how can we get him to sell?” someone asked. “I’m sure he thoroughly enjoys living here.”
“That indeed could be an issue,” Willis said.
“We could hold demonstrations,” someone suggested. “We could carry signs: ‘Sell your house, Ira.’”
“Where could we demonstrate so he could see it?”
“I don’t know. The beach?”
“If he knew the importance of this…” someone said.
“We could hold the demonstration on Peters Pond Lane, that dirt road still in disputed ownership. He could see us from there.”
“Would we have to personally go out there?”
“No. We’d hire people to demonstrate. That’s done all the time.”
Discussion followed. A vote was called for but got tabled. Maybe there was another idea.
“How about we give Sagaponack a new and classier name? Here’s my idea. Change it to Sagaponack Heights.”
A great cheer went up. That was the answer! And so off they went to see the mayor at Sagaponack Village Hall down the road to get the ball rolling. And Willis, the last out, declared the meeting at an end.
We await further developments.