Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fractional ownership of second homes as a business

Consumers who want the luxury of having a second home at the beach or in the mountains, but don't have the money to plunk down on the choicest properties, now have an appealing alternative: half ownership. Like other shared ownership ventures, gives customers the chance to get a piece of the good life, but at a much lower cost. Unlike traditional timeshares, which pioneered the concept of fractional ownership, buyers aren't purchasing time in a hotel or resort, but an actual home—and all the benefits that go with owning it. Along with sharing costs, buyers share profits if the value goes up. And depending on the terms both owners agree to, the property may generate rental income, too.

Getting started is as easy as logging onto, where members can browse listings of available properties throughout North America. can match them with other prospective buyers based on tastes, backgrounds, interests, hobbies and lifestyles through the Buyer Match Plan. Potential co-owners can arrange to meet one another online, by phone or in person to determine if they’d make a good match. Once buyers select a property,'s Tenants-in-Common Agreement takes care of all the details, formalizing legal concerns and each owner’s rights. “It spells out what is expected in terms of financial arrangements, seasonal time sharing, rental revenues, re-sale, property maintenance and repair, among other pertinent details.”

Although the real estate market is currently in a bit of a slump, demand for sandy beaches, mountain air, cultural attractions and picturesque scenery isn’t likely to wane any time soon. Which means that making vacation homes affordable, fraction by fraction, could be a worthwhile start-up in almost any region frequented by tourists looking to make themselves at home.

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