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RISMEDIA, June 7, 2007-(MCT)-Billy Joel bought a house in Sagaponack, New York, as a surprise for wife? Katie Lee, who likes the village’s genuine charm, his real estate agent said after the closing.”Sagaponack is the last vestige of authenticity in the Hamptons,” said Biana Stepanian, the Sag Harbor-based Corcoran Group agent who showed the singer several East End properties and brokered other deals for him. “His wife is so down-to-earth . . . that I’m not surprised she wanted to be in Sagaponack.

“She first mentioned it to him, sort of like, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be great to live in Sagaponack? It’s so beautiful there and so authentic.’ The whole thing was a surprise for her.”

In the closing, the singer paid $16.75 million for a five-bedroom home owned by “Jaws” actor Roy Scheider, who had it listed for $18.75 million. The two-story house overlooks the ocean and borders farmland, but the beach there needs regular replenishment because of erosion and storms.

Two years ago, Scheider and others along the shore got state permits to stack sandbags outside their homes as a barrier against flooding and erosion during a nor’easter. Scheider is staying at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor while his new house is being built.

Stepanian said she showed Joel several properties in Southampton and Bridgehampton but he kept coming back to look at Scheider’s home.

“The whole thing, from beginning to end, was almost more than smooth, almost meant to be,” the agent said.

To those who know him, Joel is a savvy real estate businessman also, buying property that seems sure to increase in value. He has another home in Sag Harbor, about five miles from Sagaponack, as well as a Centre Island estate he’s trying to sell for $32.5 million.

His latest purchase is in a village that’s currently shaping its zoning code, including restrictions on building sizes. In much of the East End, which used to be farmland, many developers have come in and left after making their profit, and megahomes are not what many Sagaponack residents want to see.

Many of the village’s buildings have been recognized by the state and federal government as historic landmarks.

“It’s open space and farmland that gives you a feeling of maybe the way it used to be,” said village trustee Joy Sieger.

As for Joel, she said, “I don’t think it’s a big deal. I’m glad he’s here. He deserves his privacy.”

Copyright © 2007, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.