SherpaReport recently spoke to one of the founders of Equity Residences. We discussed the growth, structure and future plans for this manager of shared-ownership, luxury vacation homes.

What makes Equity Residences unique?

Equity Residences was the first luxury real estate fund in the United States to approach the luxury vacation home market as an investment. No other vacation home option allows you to have no annual fees and the opportunity to earn a dividend. Our funds are designed to provide the lowest fees in the industry, long-term investment gains and a defined liquidation and distribution of profits to our investors.

By prioritizing investors over other guests were able to provide industry leading access to our residences while our affiliations with Elite Alliance and ThirdHome provide unparalleled access to hundreds of luxury homes around the world.

Equity Residences Mauna Lani home

How do you keep your fees down?

Our residences are rented to high net-worth individuals when not in use by investors. The resulting revenue is used to offset the operating costs and provide investors the option for no annual fees. We manage the bookings in-house to ensure high-quality standards and market them through sites such as Luxury Rentals from HomeAway.

What is it like to travel with Equity Residences?

We pride ourselves on having some of the most beautiful and luxurious homes in our Equity Platinum Fund, homes we feel are on par with, or superior to other leaders in the industry. However, what makes a stay at an Equity Residences home truly special are the experiences you have with family and friends at the residences and the adventures outside the residences.

How do you find attractive investments?

This is one of Equity Residences core competencies. We do our homework to find homes in amazing destinations that not only provide a top-notch experience for our investors, but also generate strong rental income and have the potential for significant appreciation. These include opportunistic acquisitions such as Rosemary Beach Florida which we closed on in nine days all-cash in exchange for a $200,000 price reduction, negotiating exclusive developer deals such as in the Northstar resort which we acquired for $600,000 below what the prior identical sale closed at, or buying homes at 15-year lows such as in Tuscany where they are still working through their foreclosure crisis and have a number of recent bank rescues. We’re also adept at value-added upgrades to increase home values and boost rental revenues.

Which have been the most popular homes in 2017?

Our Hawaii homes, in general, are in high demand year round. For 2017, the Big Island residence took the top spot from the Maui villa which led the way in 2016. For 2018, we’re adding an ocean view residence in the Maui Lani resort (pictured above) near the private beach club which investors are already starting to book.

What are your plans for growth in 2018?

We expect to add at least seven new residences to our Equity Platinum Fund portfolio in 2018 including beach homes in places like the Florida, Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, Costa Rica and Los Cabos; mountain homes in places like Vail Colorado, Jackson Hole Wyoming and Park City Utah; and leisure homes in places like Tuscany and Napa or Sonoma.

What else is in store for the future?

In addition to showcasing our residences and investments, we want to unlock amazing experiences inside and outside our homes for our guests. We’ll guide you to exclusive events and curated experiences to make your stay both memorable and relaxing. We’ll be expanding in this area throughout 2018.

Have you delivered investment returns?

Our first fund, the Equity Villa Fund, closed to new investors in 2016. The fund residences have appreciated over 50% with some of the homes up over 100%. We’re selectively harvesting gains to distribute profits to our investors. We expect to be the first fund of our kind to distribute profits to investors.