Early last year Equity Residences offered a trial membership program for a few months, and this year it’s back on offer. This was largely in response to requests from interested investors, who wanted to try the Equity Platinum Fund vaction homes, before fully investing.
Equity Residences told us that the reasons for trying the fund varied based on individual circumstances. Some interested investors wanted to experience the reservation process, try the concierge services and see the quality of the residences themselves before fully investing. Others were waiting for a liquidity event, such as a business sale that would give them access to more cash, but still wanted to travel in the meantime.
Managing Director Greg Salley noted that “the program was well received” and as a result, Equity Residences is bringing it back for Q1 2020.
Trial Offer Program Overview
The offer is simple. An interested investor pays a deposit equal to 10% of the share price and is then fully onboarded by the concierge team and can immediately book trips and travel.
At the end of the trial period, if the investor decides to fully fund the balance of the investment, they simply pay the 90% balance. Alternatively, if they decide the fund is not right for them, Equity Residences keeps the 10% deposit and applies it to the fund’s rental income balance.
Equity Residences is offering the full investor experience by giving trial participants a full allocation of the fund credits for the reservation year to start booking residences right away. Trial participants also partake in the annual reservation process along with full Equity Platinum Fund investors.
2019 Trial Offer Results and Feedback
One of the investors, Brian, who participated in last year’s trial offer and then fully invested, said “I had looked for about ten years at different programs. There wasn’t a good equity club. It was a vacation but no ownership. I was looking for the equity side.”
He continued about his experiences during the trial period “I was able to join during a 10% down promotion…I had the chance to go on a couple of trips to test out the fund. We went with friends to Akumal, Mexico for a week and of course the Park City trip for a week.”
In September 2019 Brian sent his in-laws to Italy for their 30th-anniversary trip to stay at the fund’s Siena penthouse. Brian also sent his sister on a honeymoon in St. John, USVI where she vacationed through the Equity Residences affiliate ThirdHome.
In addition to an opportunity to experience the Fund, Brian appreciated an opportunity to vote on the next acquisitions during his trial period: “It is great having a say. I like that Equity Residences allows the investors to vote on where the next properties will be. I like having my input heard.”
Greg Salley told SherpaReport that last year’s trial offer participants took several short-notice trips through Equity Residences and its affiliates ThirdHome and Elite Alliance. All these were a bonus on top of their planned trips and they gained significantly more value out of the offer then their deposit. There are usually hundreds of short-notice trips available through the affiliates, allowing investors to take bonus vacations valued at $6,000 - $9,000 for only $600- $900 a week.
Investors also booked Fund residences well in advance, making their reservations as far as 12 months ahead.
The program resulted in double the number of investors quartering Q1 2019, which is a win-win situation for both the trial offer participants who experienced the Fund before fully committing and the Equity Platinum Fund investors, since the funds raised enabled the management to purchase more luxury homes in highly demanded locations like Turks and Caicos and Hawaii.
What Is Different This Year
The Equity Platinum Fund is completing its fundraising this year and will then close to new investors. Last year trial offer participants had until September 2019 to fund the balance of the investment. This year, the window shrinks by two months. The trial offer participants have until July 15, 2020 to make up their mind and fund the balance. The trial offer this year is available through March 2020, and Marina Brennan is the person to contact at Equity Residences.