|Fractional vs Direct & Indirect Ownership
|Shared ownership among multiple investors
|Sole ownership by an individual or entity
|Ownership through securities like REITs or stocks
|Lower due to shared costs
|Higher, as the owner bears the full cost
|Varies; can be low with the purchase of shares
|Managed collectively or by a management company
|Full responsibility for management and upkeep
|Managed by a third party; no direct involvement
|Shared pro-rata and pre-scheduled
|Potential rental income that depends on the usage agreement
|Full rental income potential subject to owner decisions
|Income through dividends or share value appreciation
|Varies; can be lower due to shared ownership agreements
|Higher; asset can be sold or financed
|High; securities can be quickly bought or sold
|Depends on co-owner agreements and market conditions
|Directly tied to property value and market conditions
|Dependent on the performance of the managed portfolio
|Owning a share in a vacation home
|Owning an entire apartment building
|Investing in a REIT that owns multiple properties
Minimum investments, ownership caps, and shareholder requirements differ substantially across fractional platforms and assets.
Pros and Cons of Fractional Ownership
Pros and Cons of Fractional Ownership
Lower financial commitment
Shared costs and responsibilities
Access to higher-value assets
Potential for appreciation and income
Advantages of fractional ownership
Fractional ownership has several advantages. A primary benefit is the lower financial commitment required. This approach makes it feasible for individuals to take a stake in high-value assets that might be financially out of reach if the only option was full ownership. Another significant advantage is the sharing of costs and responsibilities. The maintenance and management of the property are divided among the owners, reducing the individual burden and expenses.
This model also allows for diversification. When used for investing, individuals can spread their risk by owning fractions in different types of assets, from luxury real estate to high-end yachts.
Fractional ownership grants partial direct ownership and access to higher-value assets, enabling individuals to co-own properties or other expensive items that could be unaffordable. There is also the potential for appreciation and income.
In real estate, for example, fractional properties can appreciate in value over time, and when they are not in personal use, these properties can be rented out for additional income. This combination of lower upfront costs, shared responsibilities, investment diversification, access to high-end assets, and potential financial returns can make fractional ownership an attractive option.
Disadvantages of fractional ownership
Despite its benefits, fractional ownership has disadvantages. A significant drawback is the limited control and flexibility that you have. Decisions about the property must usually be made collectively or by a managing partner, which can lead to complications if owners have differing opinions or objectives.
Another challenge is the complexity of exiting from fractional ownership. Selling a fractional share is more difficult than selling a fully-owned property, especially if there are specific restrictions or a limited market. Being dependent on co-owners is another factor. The financial health and decisions of other owners can directly impact the overall investment, posing risks in cases of financial difficulties or disagreements among co-owners.
Shared-deeded timeshares are a popular form of fractional ownership, where buyers purchase the right to occupy a unit of real estate over specified periods. These can typically be passed to heirs.
Real Estate and Fractional Ownership
You can buy fractional ownership in real estate like apartment buildings, vacation homes, self-storage units, and other assets. This provides exposure and ownership in areas that would normally require large outlays of capital.
Residential Real Estate
Vacation Homes: Fractional ownership or timeshares in vacation units allow you to share the ownership of a property, typically located in sought-after vacation destinations. Each investor owns a part of the residence and is allotted a specific number of days or weeks per year for personal use. The maintenance and upkeep are usually managed by a professional company, ensuring that the home remains in excellent condition for all owners. In addition, when not being used by the owners, these properties can perhaps be rented out, providing a potential income stream.
Property managers for timeshares might have a network of properties they oversee across different locations. They might offer fractional owners the option to exchange occupancy in each other’s property. For example, a fractional owner with a percentage ownership in a home in the Caribbean might want to spend time on the coast of France.
Each property or management company restricts how much time a fractional owner may spend at the vacation home. It is not required that fractional owners use all their allotted time themselves. They could let family members, friends, business associates, and even employees use some of their time. Fractional owners might rent out their remaining time to other owners or make that time available for third parties who are not owners.
Urban Residential Properties: In expensive urban areas, fractional ownership opens up opportunities for investment in residential properties like apartments or townhouses. This offers a more flexible approach to property acquisition in major cities without the total commitment and responsibilities of outright ownership.
It also aligns with emerging housing trends like co-living spaces, where fractional ownership can be viable. Online platforms like Lofty.ai offer those with as little as $50 to earn usage rights or rental income. On the other end of the spectrum are luxury residences open to fractional ownership.
Commercial Real Estate
Fractional ownership in commercial real estate involves office buildings, potentially located in prime business districts. This type of investment allows individuals to earn rental income from businesses that occupy the space. Besides providing a steady income, commercial properties in good locations can appreciate in value over time, offering long-term financial benefits to the investors.
The scope of fractional ownership in commercial real estate can also extend to retail and industrial properties, including shopping centers, warehouses, and industrial complexes. However, these investments can be sensitive to economic cycles, impacting both rental income and property values.
Shared Deeded TimeShares
Shared-deeded timeshares are fractional ownership since they involve purchasing a part of a property, usually in a vacation destination. Owners hold a deeded share of the real estate, which grants them usage rights for a certain period each year. For instance, in a resort condo sold in weekly timeshare segments, there could be up to 52 separate deeds. This type of ownership generally lasts indefinitely and can be sold or willed to heirs. Acquiring one week equates to owning a 1/52nd interest in that unit. Owners also gain a proportional stake in the property’s equity. If the property appreciates, the fractional owners benefit from this increase. In addition, fractional ownership typically involves fewer owners per property, leading to more usage time and more influence over the management of the property.
In contrast to shared deeded timeshares, shared-lease timeshares grant you usage rights to a specific property for a set or variable period each year over a defined number of years. The timeshare developer keeps the property’s deed, and you don’t obtain fractional ownership.
Real Estate Fractional Ownership Structures
Fractional ownership in real estate can take different forms, each catering to diverse investment preferences and objectives. Understanding these structures, along with their respective pros and cons, is important for making informed investment decisions.
Real Estate Syndicates
Real estate syndication involves pooling funds from multiple investors to purchase a property. A lead investor or syndicator manages the investment, handling acquisition, management, and eventual property sale. It’s important to note that real estate syndications are generally only available to accredited investors, typically individuals or entities that meet certain financial criteria, such as having a high net worth, significant annual income, or professional investment experience. These criteria are set to ensure that investors have the financial ability to understand and bear the risks associated with these types of investments.
- Access to larger deals: Investors can participate in larger, potentially more lucrative real estate deals that would be unaffordable individually.
- Passive investment: It offers a passive investment opportunity as the syndicator handles all operational aspects.
- Expertise: Syndicators often bring significant experience and expertise to the table, potentially leading to better investment decisions.
- Limited control: Investors have little to no say in the management of the property.
- Dependence on the syndicator: The success of the investment heavily relies on the syndicator’s skills and integrity.
- Illiquidity: Investments in syndications are typically illiquid, with funds locked in for a set period.
- Large investment amount: Syndicates are only open to accredited investors, and minimum investment sizes can range from the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.
Equity sharing is a partnership where one set of parties provides the capital for buying a property and another manages the property. When sold, the profit or loss is split according to set terms. In some ways, it mirrors the “sweat equity” structure found in some startups.
- Reduced financial burden: Manager-investors can enter the market without bearing much of the financial burden.
- Shared risk: Risks are shared between the capital providers and the management.
- Potential for higher returns: With good management, equity sharing can lead to substantial returns on investment.
- Complexity: Structuring fair and effective equity-sharing can lead to complicated agreements.
- Dependent on managers: The success largely depends on the skills of the managing partners.
- Profit erosion: Investors must share profits with managers, which can be significant if the property appreciates greatly.
Online platforms enable investors to buy fractional shares in a property through websites and apps. Real estate crowdfunding works by pooling small amounts of money from many people to fund real estate investments. These are often available to non-accredited investors.
- Accessibility: Lowers the barrier to entry for real estate investment to a broader audience.
- Diversification: Allows investors to diversify across several properties with smaller amounts of capital.
- Transparency and convenience: Online platforms should have greater transparency in transactions and convenience in managing investments.
- Platform dependency: Reliant on the platform’s stability, reputation, and vetting of projects.
- Limited influence: Investors have minimal influence over property management decisions.
- Risk of platform failure: The platform’s failure can pose significant risks to the investment.
- More speculative: Smaller and riskier deals from less seasoned sponsors may appear on these platforms.
Other Assets with Fractional Ownership
Fractional jet ownership enables individuals to purchase a share of a private jet, sometimes starting at 1/16th interest. This grants access to private aviation at a fraction of the cost of full ownership, which requires buying and maintaining an entire jet.
There are several leading providers of fractional jet programs:
- NetJets: The largest player, it offers fractional shares on everything from small four-seat planes to jumbo jets. Share prices vary from around $250k for 1/16th of a small jet to over $10 million for an international flying marquis jet.
- Flexjet: Offers fractional ownership models for lightweight jets and mid-size cabin aircraft. Minimum shares tend to be 1/16 at $165k to upward of $800k+.
- Wheels Up: Originally a jet card model where you buy flight hours in bulk, they offer fractional shares called UPSHOT. Share minimums are around 1/8th to 1/16th interests.
Fractional jet owners pay a monthly management fee and an initial stake. These cover costs like storage, maintenance, pilots, etc. Owners also pay an “occupied” hourly rate when they use their jets. This averages around $2,000 to $5,000 per flight hour, depending on the aircraft type, pilot experience, destination, fuel prices, and other factors.
While not cheap, fractional shares lower the barrier to private jet travel compared with full ownership.
Fractional yacht ownership follows a model similar to jet ownership. Investors can buy multiweek shares in a luxury sailing or motor yacht. Providers manage all crew, maintenance, docking, and other costs during unoccupied times.
During reserved weeks, owners pay the operational costs like fuel, food, and labor. This can offer huge savings Compared to owning a 75+ foot yacht that runs $5-million-plus. Here are additional benefits, though the concept hasn’t yet proved popular:
- Access to luxury boats like catamarans, normally charterable for $25k-$100k+ per week
- A multiweek share averages around 1-2 weeks per year
- Shares often start at 1/8th to 1/10th ownership; some now offer 1/16th shares.
- Minimum investments begin at about $200k to $800k, depending on the size, amenities, and usage weeks
Fractional investment platforms have opened up many alternative assets for smaller investors, including:
- Fine art: Contemporary and classical artworks easily sell for seven to eight figures at major auctions. Fractional shares bring down this high barrier to entry. Platforms like Masterworks, for example, let investors buy equity in paintings or galleries by artists like Basquiat and Warhol.
- Rare collectibles: Rare artifacts like signed memorabilia, vintage cars, musical instruments, watches, and wine and whiskey collections are available for fractional ownership. For example, Rally Rd offers a platform for fractional investing in collectible automobiles.
- Racehorses: A top thoroughbred can sell for upward of $5 million. By pooling capital, platforms like RaceShare and My Racehorse enable fractional racehorse ownership starting at about $5 to 10K per investor. Owners participate in breeding fees, race winnings, and any profit from selling their interests.
- Sports teams: It takes billions in net worth to become a majority owner of a professional team. Fractional ownership of a sports team could be an interesting option for certain sports fan investors.
While risky and volatile, fractional exotic deals let almost anyone participate in extremely high-end asset ownership. Instead of entire collections worth tens of millions, investors can own a piece of fine art works, vintage cars, or thoroughbreds for the cost of partial shared interests.
Tax Implications of Fractional Ownership
Legally, fractional ownership agreements must be clearly defined and documented. These agreements typically outline the rights and responsibilities of each co-owner, usage schedules, management and maintenance policies, and procedures for resolving disputes. Depending on the jurisdiction and the nature of the property, there may also be additional legal requirements such as registration of the ownership agreement, compliance with local real estate laws, and adherence to zoning regulations.
From a tax perspective, fractional ownership can have several implications. For instance, income generated from renting out the property is usually taxable, and each co-owner handles their share of the income on their tax returns. Property taxes are also a consideration and are typically divided among the owners based on their ownership percentage. In addition, if the property appreciates in value and is sold for a profit, capital gains tax may apply. The tax treatment of expenses related to the property, such as maintenance, repairs, and improvements, can also be complex, as these may be deductible depending on the specific circumstances.
It’s important to note that regulations and tax laws vary by country and from one jurisdiction within a country to another, so the implications can vary. Therefore, investors should consult with legal and tax professionals who are familiar with fractional ownership and local regulations.
Factional Ownership: Condos and Coops
Condominiums (condos) and housing cooperatives (co-ops) are not typically considered forms of fractional ownership, although they share some similarities regarding shared property and collective management.
- Condos: In a condominium, individuals own their specific unit, along with a proportional interest in common areas like lobbies and gyms. This ownership is exclusive to the interior space of their unit, and condo owners hold a title to it. They pay monthly fees to a homeowners’ association for the upkeep of these common areas. While condominiums exhibit elements of shared responsibility akin to fractional ownership, the key difference lies in the individual ownership of each unit. Condos allow for independent buying, selling, and mortgaging of each unit, distinguishing them from the shared asset model typical in fractional ownership.
- Co-ops: Cooperative buildings, meanwhile, use a collective ownership model. Here, the entire property is owned by a cooperative corporation, and residents own shares in this corporation rather than their individual units. The number of shares a resident holds usually reflects their unit’s size and location within the building. Residents are granted the right to occupy their units through proprietary leases or occupancy agreements rather than deeds. Co-ops require residents to participate in collective decision-making for building management and to contribute to maintenance and other shared expenses through shareholder fees. Unlike fractional ownership, which involves shared rights to a single property among multiple owners, co-op residents own shares in an entity that owns the property, which comes with a different set of legal rights.
Is Fractional Real Estate a Good Investment?
Determining whether fractional real estate is a suitable investment depends on several factors. If you’re looking for a lower-cost entry into real estate investment, are comfortable with shared decision-making, and don’t mind having limited personal use of the property, then fractional ownership might be a good fit. It’s also well-suited for investors seeking portfolio diversification.
However, if you prefer having complete control over your investment, require more immediate liquidity, or are uncomfortable with the potential complexities of co-ownership, traditional real estate investing might be more appropriate. Note that fractional real estate investing can still require a significant initial investment.
Can Fractional Ownership Be Financed, or Does it Require a Cash Purchase?
Yes, fractional ownership can be financed, but the process may differ from traditional real estate or business financing. Some fractional ownership arrangements allow for mortgage financing, where each co-owner secures financing for their share of the property. However, not all lenders offer mortgages for fractional properties, and the terms may vary greatly from standard home loans. Prospective buyers should consult with financial institutions or mortgage brokers with fractional ownership experience to understand the available financing options and terms.
How Is the Re-Sale of Fractional Ownership Handled?
Reselling a fractional ownership share can be more complex than selling a wholly-owned property. The process typically depends on the terms of the ownership agreement. Some agreements may require offering the share to existing co-owners first (right of first refusal) or may have stipulations about how and where the share can be marketed and to whom. The resale value can be influenced by the property’s market value, the desirability of the location, and the terms of the fractional ownership agreement. It’s advisable to work with brokers experienced in fractional ownership to navigate the resale process effectively.
The Bottom Line
Fractional ownership offers opportunities for those seeking to own a share in high-value assets like vacation homes, luxury yachts, and fine art. This approach enables individuals to pool resources, providing access to markets usually reserved for those with higher capital. Investors benefit from usage rights, potential income sharing, and lower initial investment costs, making it a viable option for diversifying investment portfolios. However, fractional ownership comes with shared decision-making and management responsibilities, leading to possible limitations in personal use and flexibility.
While fractional ownership lowers financial barriers and offers shared cost benefits, it presents challenges like limited personal control, complex resale processes, and depending on co-owners. Legal and tax implications also vary, requiring professional consultation. Prospective buyers should weigh these factors carefully against their financial goals and risk tolerance to determine if fractional ownership aligns with their needs.