Selling a Second Home—at Least a Part of It
With new apps, real estate pros are offering clients a way to buy vacation homes at a fraction of the cost.
Who doesn’t dream of owning a beachfront property or a home nestled in the mountains? For many would-be vacation home buyers, though, that dream is out of reach. That’s why some real estate pros are pitching an alternative: co-ownership. By purchasing just a one-eighth or a one-quarter equity share of a home, buyers can lessen their costs and split ownership responsibilities with others.
Tech startups—like Pacaso, SecondShare, and investor-focused solution Fractional—are helping real estate professionals broker co-ownership arrangements among groups of buyers, who may be family, friends, or even strangers.
SecondShare says co-ownership could reduce the upfront ownership costs of a vacation home by 75%. “Many people can’t afford the vacation home they’d like to own,” says co-founder Patrick Duncan. “For those who can, it often doesn’t make economic sense to own the entire property when they’ll use it for only part of the year. Co-ownership could represent the future of vacation homeownership.”
Josh Dotoli, founder and principal of Compass’ Dotoli Group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., presented the idea recently to one of his buyers. Using the Pacaso platform, his client purchased a one-fourth equity share of a waterfront home. The home would have cost $5 million to purchase outright, but the client purchased a share for $699,000. “Our client got everything he wanted at a price that worked for him,” says Dotoli, who has added a section on his broker- age’s website devoted to co-ownership opportunities.
Real estate pros are a critical part of fractional ownership transactions, says Marnie Blanco, vice president of industry relations at Pacaso. Companies rely on agents to tout the idea of fractional ownership and to represent buyers who enter into these arrangements. Pacaso says 89% of its buyers are buying a second home for the first time, evidence that co-ownership is opening up possibilities to a new segment of purchasers. Agents collect a commission when representing each individual buyer in a co-ownership agreement.
When pitching the idea of fractional ownership, Pacaso, SecondShare, and their competitors realize they must first clear up an ambiguity: They aren’t selling timeshares. Timeshares sell time or are essentially long-term leases, not collective ownership or a piece of a real estate asset. Co-owners share in the equity. Owners can sell their stake in a Pacaso or SecondShare property publicly after one year of ownership.
The tech startups know they need to promote this new class of ownership to get more of the public on board. To do that, Pacaso is partnering with real estate brokerages. Recently, it partnered with Engel & Völkers to sell co-ownerships in Park City, Utah; Aspen and Vail, Colo.; and Malibu, Calif., among other locations. Pacaso also has worked with the Real Estate Standards Organization to help establish co-ownership as a property subtype in RESO’s 2022 Data Dictionary of Industry Standards.
“With RESO’s definition of co-ownership as a property type and our ongoing work to establish partnerships with leading brokerages, we are further cementing co-ownership as a mainstream buying decision,” Blanco says. “We are helping real estate professionals tap into a new group of buyers, those who have always dreamt of owning a second home but were priced out or not ready to commit to the whole.”
Learn more about three fast-growing co-ownership real estate startups:
After launching in 2020, Pacaso quickly earned “unicorn” status as a tech startup with a billion-dollar valuation. In 2021—its first full year in operation—the company sold 400 units in Pacaso-owned properties.
How it works: Pacaso purchases a luxury vacation home through an LLC and then sells ownership shares, oversees management and maintenance, and coordinates time use and payments by owners. It’s in 35 markets in the U.S., Spain, and the United Kingdom, with plans to expand into 30 new markets in 2022.
Property shares: Purchasers must buy a minimum of one-eighth share, which allows them to spend 44 nights a year in the home.
About the homes: Pacaso’s homes are often valued at $1 million or more, located in second-home hot spots, and professionally designed and furnished.
How to finance: Buyers can finance up to 70% of the purchase price. A minimum down payment of 30% is required. Pacaso offers competitive rates with banking partners.
For real estate pros: Agents earn a commission for referring buyers. Pacaso also works with buyer’s agents on homes it purchases.
Founded in 2021, SecondShare offers co-ownership as a service for virtually any home in the U.S.
How it works: It’s a platform that can be used to arrange co-ownership transactions and manages property and ownership details. Co-owners can be matched on the purchase of rental properties or use the service to purchase equity shares of a property for their exclusive use.
Property shares: Co-ownership for vacation rentals is usually sold in one-quarter shares, with a maximum of 50%, to allow each owner 21-plus days of annual use while still allowing enough weeks to generate short-term rental revenue. Co-ownership for owner use only is typically sold in one-twelfth shares, allowing up to four weeks of property use for each owner.
About the homes: The company can arrange co-ownership for practically any home.
How to finance: Buyers can finance up to 70% of their purchase, using cash, a personal line of credit, or financing accessed through SecondShare’s financing partners.
For real estate pros: SecondShare pays commissions to listing agents and to agents representing the buyers in a co-ownership transaction.
Fractional, a member of the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2022 REACH cohort, facilitates investment opportunities.
How it works: Users can create or join existing investment proposals. Once a property generates enough interest and funding, Fractional will make an offer on the property and then form an LLC to divide equity shares among owners. Fractional manages the co-ownership agreements and administrative duties and distributes rental payments among owners. Fractional is primarily in Georgia, Texas, and Florida but can support properties in any U.S. location.
Property shares: The minimum investment amount is $5,000.
About the homes: Co-ownership investment opportunities are available for residential and multifamily real estate, including single-family homes, duplexes, or entire apartment buildings.
How to finance: Fractional’s lending partners provide short- and long-term financing. Interest rates and down payment amounts vary based on location, property type, and loan type.
For real estate pros: The company works with agents to close on its purchases.