Investors in luxury real estate investment fund Equity Residences recently made their main reservations for the year ahead. SherpaReport caught up with the fund management to find out about the most popular homes.

2018 was a fruitful year for Equity Residences. Last year the funds launched four new homes for the Equity Platinum Fund and opened doors to an Equity Villa Fund home in Mexico. These all added to the vacation options for the fund investors.

Reservation Rounds

Based on input from fund investors, the Equity Platinum Fund offers two formal reservation rounds each year. Plus, investors can reserve homes directly through the internal website or with the guidance of their partner relations manager. This approach of priority reservations for investors, together with a large affiliate network, results in investors receiving access to the homes they want, when they want them, 98.8% of the time.

For the investor priority access, the reservation year runs October 1st through September 30th and is split into two reservation rounds. During round 1, investors can reserve Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and other holiday travel. Confirmations for round 1 are sent out in December, meaning investors can reserve out as far as 12 months in advance.

Round 2, in June, is for non-holidays, including Spring Break. Confirmations are sent out in July, so investors can effectively reserve up to 8 months in advance.
The reservation process was designed to accommodate vacation planners and big families with school-aged children, as well as to give flexibility to spontaneous travelers. Equity Residences works with investors whose travel times are limited by school schedules to get access to their preferred homes in preferred times of the year and in preferred destinations before homes are booked by renters and affiliates.

Last-minute travelers can also book bonus visits to Equity Residences and affiliate homes on short notice.

Most Popular Homes

Based on the 2018 reservation round results, March is the busiest travel month for the Equity Residences investors with children. Especially popular among investors are the beach destinations and ski destinations.

In March 2019, ski homes with overwhelming popularity include Equity Platinum Fund homes in the Northstar Resort in Tahoe and two Equity Villa Fund homes in Deer Valley, Utah.

In 2018, Rosemary Beach house in Florida was the top beach destination among the Equity Platinum Fund investors. It remains an investor favorite, with 15 weeks booked by investors for 2019.

In 2019 investors are also clamoring for the newest homes in the Equity Platinum Fund portfolio. The Potrero Beach house in Costa Rica and the penthouse in Siena, Italy with 11 weeks and 10 weeks booked by investors thus far.

Penthouse Siena, Italy

New Siena Penthouse Proving Popular

Marina Brennan, the Equity Residences marketing manager, told us the Siena penthouse is popular because it was a much-anticipated addition to the Equity Residences portfolio. In a 2016 survey, investors indicated Tuscany as their top desired destination in Europe. In 2017, the Equity Residences team was on the ground exploring options for the new portfolio addition. The timing coincided with an economic crisis in Tuscany when home prices were at 15-year lows in the region, which made buying an investment home in Siena a well-timed and pragmatic decision.

After a lot of research in the region, Greg Salley, the firm’s Managing Director, found a gem in the old walled city of Siena – a penthouse nestled within the walls of a 500-year old building. The building was built in 1492 and it belonged to a noble Italian family. Over the years it changed ownership and fell into disrepair until a prominent Siena developer Marco Paglialunga bought the building and retrofitted its insides.

In March 2018, after 7 months of finishing the penthouse villa and bedecking it with luxurious finishes, such as Tuscan marble, the apartment opened its doors to the Equity Residences guests. It was an immediate success – reservations started pouring in.

Potrero Beach home, Costa Rica

Costa Rica Beach Home

Another popular home in the Equity Residences portfolio is the beach villa in Potrero Beach, Costa Rica. The new addition to the portfolio immediately received strong interest for 2019 with 11 weeks booked by investors. There are really good reasons why – the ocean is right outside of the back door and it is located in a quaint gated community developed by a Canadian transplant to Costa Rica.

The Equity Residences team had been evaluating Costa Rica for investment, and, after exhaustive research and pounding the pavement searching for the perfect house, they bought a home under construction in an up and coming town of Potrero. Joan, the developer of this community, has an eye for luxury. She thought out every detail in the house, from locally carved wooden doors to bathroom tiles. No detail was overlooked.

Equity Residences believes the house is a good investment because it was under construction at the time of purchase, which means the team not only received a discount but also could work closely with the developer to bring the project to the Equity Platinum Fund standard of luxury. Potrero is also developing new infrastructure, such as a new marina that was approved right before Equity Residences signed the contract, promising to further increase property prices in the neighborhood.

The town of Potrero is a small beach town lining the coast of the Pacific Ocean in the Guanacaste Province. It brims with local culture year- round, is a short walk or drive from the most fun restaurants and beaches in Guanacaste. Tourists mingle with locals, creating a unique warm atmosphere infused with local flavor.

Costa Rica is a popular country for the Equity Residences investors for its natural beauty and its hospitality. Before the firm acquired a home in Potrero Beach, Equity Residences investors vacationed in Costa Rica through affiliates Elite Alliance and Third Home. Now, they have their very own house to visit.

Other popular homes for the 2019 reservations year are the Rosemary Beach, Florida house and townhouses located in downtown Park City, Utah.

Sugar-white sands and azure waters of Rosemary Beach, Florida attract Equity Residences investors who reside in the Southwest region of the United States. It’s a short flight or a drive with a family to get to the beach. March, during the Spring Break, is a popular time to go, as well as summer time. This home also tends to book up on short notice.

Equity Residences added the Rosemary Beach home to the Equity Platinum Fund portfolio in 2017. The house proved to be a hit with investors, as well as a sound investment. The fund stepped in to buy a home in a 1031 exchange after negotiating a significant discount and, after completing the transaction, completed a renovation to get the house ready for the investors.

One of our West Coast investors said about the Rosemary Beach home: “when my daughter saw the color of the water she said, ‘I’ve gotta go there for my Instagram!’”

Popular Ski Homes

Deer Valley, Utah townhouse emerged as the most popular ski home in 2019. The house is “enormous and beautiful” in the words of one of the Equity Residences investors. Located close to the Park City ski resorts and a short walking distance to the main street in town, this house is a great place to bring together family and entertain for Spring Break and beyond.

A ski-in/ski-out house in Northstar Resort on Lake Tahoe is a popular destination for the Bay-area based Equity Residences investors. Located right on the mountain in the Northstar Resort, this home is a skiers’ paradise. It’s possible to step out of the front door and hit the slopes, no driving, parking or gondola necessary. Numbers confirmed during the reservation period do not usually reflect Tahoe’s popularity with the Bay Area-based investors. This reservations calendar tends to fill up on short notice, as investors can book it up for bonus use.

Equity Platinum Fund investors have been visiting the house from the day it was added to the fund portfolio and it remains an investor favorite for its location and obvious luxury.