New way to go with Hideaways
The idea of owning a luxurious holiday home on a championship golf course in the sun is an appealing one, but for most people it remains nothing more than a dream. There are many obstacles to turning that dream into reality - cost being the most obvious hurdle.
Furthermore, even if you have the money, do you want to tie up large amounts of capital in a property that remains empty for most of the year, have all the worries that come with owning and managing an overseas property, and feel you have to go back to the same place every year to justify your investment?
But now there is an alternative to owning your own home that gives you both an investment opportunity and the use of a wide portfolio of homes around the world for a fraction of the cost of buying your own property. Rather appropriately, it's called fractional ownership. For a fraction of the cost of one house, you buy an equity investment in a portfolio of properties. As a shareholder you stand to benefit from any future capital growth in value, as well as having the use of all the properties in the portfolio at a greatly reduced cost.
The leading fractional property company in Europe is The Hideaways Club, which has a selection of properties in some of the best golf destinations around Europe and further afield. As well as the obvious favourites like the Algarve, Sotogrande,Mallorca, and the South of France, Hideaways have recently added properties in exotic destinations such as Cape Town, Mauritius, Morocco and Turkey.
One of the directors of the company is a former winner of the European Masters, Chris Moody. "The principal of fractional ownership is that you buy a share equivalent to the amount of use you're going to get from a holiday home," he explains. "Most holiday homes sit empty for the majority of the year, but the owner is paying 100%of the bills.
"As a member of The Hideaways Club, your share is a fraction of the cost of buying your own home, and your annual costs are a fraction, but you have access to a huge selection of beautiful homes all over the world. You get up to six weeks in the properties annually, depending on the share that you buy, and can purchase more time if you wish. It gives you the advantages of owning your own home overseas, and some major benefits in addition, but it costs a lot less."
Moody adds: "We maintain a ratio of only six members per property, so there is always lots of availability. There is much more to the club than appealing to golfers, of course, but the real advantage for them is that the golf season is usually away from the peak holiday weeks of July and August.We have memberships specifically for off-peak periods, which makes the club even better value."
For some people, the concept might initially send out alarm signals, sounding like a new version of the much-maligned timeshare. Moody suggests that impression could not be further from the truth.
"It is in fact the exact opposite of timeshare. The problem with timeshare was that you didn't really own anything except the right to use a property. With fractional ownership, you own the underlying asset. If the properties increase in value, so does the value of your share. You can sell it after three years, or keep it and pass it on to your children.
"Not only that, but the club manages the properties, so you have none of the hassles of looking after an overseas property. We have a full concierge service to take care of all the planning and managing of your holiday. Each property has a local concierge, too, who will do the shopping, stock the house with your favourite wines, book a rental car or do anything else required."
The current market is apparently proving a plus for Hideaways. Even the most high-profile destinations are experiencing the effects of the credit crunch - reduced demand and falling prices .While few people are willing to take the plunge and buy overseas properties at this time, Moody says: "We are cash buyers, so we are able to negotiate strongly and buy better properties at greatly reduced prices, which means the quality of the properties is getting even better and should mean even better returns in future for our members. For example, we recently paid €1.2 million for a beautiful villa in a prime location in Ibiza. It had been on the market for €1.7 million. Such a deal would have been unthinkable a year ago."
The Hideaways Club was launched in 2007, with an initial portfolio of five houses. The entry price for a full share was £190,000. The portfolio has since grown to over 20 villas and chalets, and they have just passed the milestone of 100 members. The same full share now costs £235,000, so even in difficult times for the property market, Hideaways members have seen notable returns on their investment.
Says Moody: "Fractional ownership is rapidly establishing itself as the sensible way to own property overseas - people no longer want to tie up cash in high-cost assets that they hardly use. But it's not all about the investment. Most of our members want to enjoy a luxurious holiday with family and friends, to stay in beautiful properties that feel like home, and enjoy a wide variety of desirable destinations. With fractional ownership they get all that, plus they have the chance to make good returns on a relatively modest investment."
If you think the concept might be for you, you can visit www.thehideawaysclub.com.