Tarek Fadel, a longtime Chicago resident, has dreamed of escaping his city’s bitter winters for years. But it was only after he sold his education software company three years ago that he was able to pursue the plan. Undecided on whether to uproot his family from Chicago entirely, he settled on a compromise: Earlier this year, he bought four one-eighth shares in three separate Southern California homes where he, his wife and their three-year-old son will spend three months each year.
Fadel’s vacation homes, located in Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and San Diego, are not timeshares. Rather, his piecemeal ownership is made possible by Pacaso, a San Francisco startup that buys luxe, multimillion-dollar vacation homes, turns them into LLCs, and sells equity stakes for between $240,000 and $2.2 million apiece to as many as eight separate owners. In exchange for their money, buyers are granted an allotted period of time at the residence each year, proportional to the size of their stake.
Pacaso appealed to Fadel for a number of reasons: He liked the sleek, Restoration Hardware–outfitted interiors. He liked the thoughtful amenities in each home, like the espresso machine and closet filled with beach toys at the Santa Barbara property. He liked the sense of ownership. But most of all, he liked having access to a particular type of experience—living in California as a part-time resident—without renting an Airbnb.
This type of shared ownership is the aim of a new wave of startups that are reimagining what it means to own a home. Some, like Pacaso, envision a future in which many people will share secondary and even primary residences. Hot on its heels are companies like Kocomo and Altacasa, startups based in Mexico and France, respectively, which also sell fractional shares in opulent vacation properties. Kocomo’s founder, Martin Schrimpff, sees the traditional fractionalized housing industry—a real estate model popularized in the 1960s with timeshares–as “ripe to disrupt,” especially with the seismic changes resulting from the pandemic and the end of the Fed’s easy-money era.
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