When a Dublin-based couple were looking for their place in the sun, they found their budget wouldn’t quite stretch to the home of their dreams. So instead of buying their own holiday home, which might not quite fit the bill, they opted to buy four – in Chamonix (France) and in the south of the country, in Tuscany (Italy), and the Cotswolds in England – as part of a shared ownership scheme.
Ian and Radka Everitt-Penhale live in Dublin with their two daughters – Alena (11) and Suzanna (8). Their home search started back in spring 2022.
“Ideally, we were looking for a home that was big enough to allow us to invite friends and extended family to join us, and although it was very much a lifestyle/leisure investment, we obviously wanted our purchase to be reasonably secure. But also, our first proper summer holidays in Europe [France] had been quite illuminating in terms of eye-watering costs in peak season, even for relatively modest accommodation,” says Ian.
However, when they were trying to decide where to start looking for a property, they found themselves “overwhelmed with choice”. They also discovered that their budget would only afford them a “modest apartment on a Spanish or Portuguese golf estate” or a “fixer upper” in a more remote location.
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“I actually visited Portugal and looked at a number of properties which looked good on paper, but disappointing in the flesh,” he says. “These didn’t really meet our brief and were not really suitable or appealing enough to invite extended family or friends to join us.
The primary reason for purchasing was to provide us with great family holiday destinations that were easily accessible from Dublin— Ian Everitt-Penhale
“We also became very conscious of the need to balance the capital outlay and annual operating costs with the actual utility we were going to be able to get out of our purchase – in other words, would we get enough use out of it to justify the resources committed. Also, there was the general question of the risks involved, such as, if the development was financially stable, what our legal protections were, if we knew enough about the locality we were investing in and if the costs – such as maintenance, security and taxes – were transparent. I previously owned a holiday home in South Africa, and the costs really do add up.
At some point in this process of online research, the couple came across the co-ownership concept, and initially looked at some single home co-ownership offerings. They then discovered the “August” model, “which really seemed to have great potential to meet our need, with multiple beautiful homes in wonderful locations at a price we could bear”, recalls Ian.
So, together with other stakeholders, they own a share of multiple family homes, in the four locations.
“The primary reason for purchasing was to provide us with great family holiday destinations that were easily accessible from Dublin,” says Ian.
August is a UK-based company which acquires homes in popular holiday spots and then sells on shares in these properties to families. Each family has a 1/21st ownership interest of the properties, their accompanying land and all their contents.
August finds the properties, renovates and manages them, on your behalf, for a fee of about €450 a month, which means the beds are done and gardens maintained before each visit.
The company says it differs from the traditional time-share model, because it allows for real title ownership of the properties, with the properties owned by a UK limited company, while it is also possible to exit the structure when desired.
August is currently offering an opportunity to invest in its Signature Collection for an investment of about €425,000. This gives 12 weeks a year in four- to five-bed luxury homes in Mallorca, Tuscany, Chamonix and in the south of France.
Once they decided to go down this route, Ian says, the marketing and onboarding process was very different to buying a property independently.
“Because you are buying shares in a private company which owns the properties, August’s role is to curate and set up the collections and to bring together like-minded families,” he says. “They also oversee the renovation, furnishing and maintenance of the homes in your collection, as well as managing the allocation of time using a very equitable points-based system amongst the 21 co-owners (who were in our collection). Apart from the capital outlay, there is also an annual fee to cover administration and property upkeep.”
This all happened for the Dublin family last summer, and now the properties have been purchased and are ready or almost ready for occupancy. The family have had video conferences with the other property shareholders to set out a system which enables them all to book available weeks or place themselves on a waiting list for available dates.
The properties, which sleep eight people, have all been recently renovated and are situated in beautiful locations. The couple feel they have made the right decision for their family and their individual needs.
“We haven’t had any hiccups in the process and there isn’t anything I would do differently,” says the father-of-two. “We certainly believe that our purchase is relatively secure, even though everything has some risk, as homeowners can choose to sell their membership either through the company or by identifying buyers themselves.
You need to be 100 per cent clear on what you really want and why,” he says. “Know what is the purpose of the home— Ian Everitt-Penhale
“Like any co-ownership scheme, you may not always get your first choice of destination at the time you want it, and so in terms of expectations you have to be somewhat flexible. There are, however, enough weeks and homes to go round, and the points system is designed to ensure you will get some excellent options.
The family currently has trips planned to three of their new homes – in Chamonix and the south of France, and Tuscany – and are hoping to enjoy them for at least eight weeks per year in total.
“Under the agreement, we aren’t able to let our properties out, but we can invite and allow our friends and family to use them when we’re not able to,” he says.
He would advise others who are considering buying abroad to know what they want and make sure to do research in advance.
“You need to be 100 per cent clear on what you really want and why,” he says. “Know what is the purpose of the home – is it for family and friends too, to generate a rental income, how much time are you willing to spend travelling, and are you happy being tied to one location year after year? Once you’re clear on that, everything else becomes a lot simpler.”
La buena vida
For other sun-chasers, buying their own home abroad is the best decision.
Esther and Michael Reedy are currently in the process of looking for a home abroad. Their children are in their twenties and are relatively “off the books” in terms of financial dependence, and while neither claim to have more than a “modest income”, they have been slowly but steadily putting a little bit of money aside for many years. They now have a substantial five-figure nest egg which they hope to spend on an apartment in Spain.
We can’t quite believe that we have almost reached our dream – in some ways it’s kind of scary as our nest egg will be gone— Esther Reedy
“We have always thought that it would be nice to have someplace abroad where we could go for holidays and maybe retirement,” says Esther, who works in retail. “When the kids were young, it really didn’t seem like it would ever happen, but we have put two of them through college and the third is almost finished, so we’re now at the point that we are about to put an offer in on an apartment near the coast in northern Spain.”
The couple knew the area already, had visited it many times before and were constantly looking at websites to see what was on offer.
“So when we saw this place, we liked it straight away and made an appointment to see it as soon as we could arrange it,” says Esther.
The asking price for the property is €135,000, and the couple are currently in negotiations and hope to settle somewhere a little below it.
“We can’t quite believe that we have almost reached our dream – in some ways it’s kind of scary as our nest egg will be gone – but if we get the place, we can give it a little bit of a cosmetic face-lift, and rent it out during the summer months, which will pay the mortgage, and we may even have a little bit left over to start saving again. It’s daunting, but also incredibly exciting and we can’t wait to get the sale over the line and start enjoying it.”