Inside America’s Priciest Resort, Where the Cheapest Homes Cost Millions

Sea Island’s 31561 ZIP Code is so exclusive that properties trade without ever having hit the market

Located about halfway between Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla., on Georgia’s Atlantic Ocean coast, is a family-owned resort called Sea Island. It was established in 1928 with the opening of the Cloister at Sea Island hotel, around which lots were sold and a residential community emerged. Today, in addition to the Cloister’s 265 guest rooms, the resort has about 600 private homes and 250 condo units. With a median home listing price of $5.499 million in March, Sea Island’s 31561 ZIP Code has the U.S.’s priciest residential real estate within a vacation resort as ranked by median listing price, according to Realtor.com. (News Corp, owner of The Wall Street Journal, also operates Realtor.com.) “It’s an understated community with gentility and civility,” says Scott Steilen, Sea Island’s president and CEO, who jokes that he is the island’s unelected mayor.

“Like a lot of resort communities, we went through the buying frenzy when the pandemic started,” says Patrick Dunn, a sales associate at Sea Island Properties. “In 2018, we had roughly 90 homes of our 600 homes listed for sale. During the pandemic, we were down to four or five houses for sale.” As a result, Dunn says Sea Island has been handling demand through an off-market approach. Today there are five single family homes currently listed.

Dunn says the entry-point for a single family home is $4 million; the record sale is $27.5 million. “Values are very dependent on location,” says Dunn, noting that there are lots with ocean frontage, marsh frontage, interior views, golf course views and lake frontage. Dunn says properties start around 4,000 square feet with four bedrooms and go up to about 9,500 square feet with seven bedrooms. “Typically you’ll see a little larger square footage on the ocean and marsh frontage,” he says. No single property can exceed 10,000 square feet.

Read the full article in the Wall St. Journal