One alternative is fractional ownership, which is quite different to the discredited timeshare model of the past. In fractional ownership, one home is shared between several buyers. This is a relatively new idea in the UK, but long established in the United States. Operating models vary, but generally owners have an outright share of the property.
Kim Goddard, who sells fractional villas at Royal Westmoreland in Barbados, says: “Our clients want to control their lives, but often aren’t ready to commit to one location for a second home. Shared access to luxuries such as cars, private planes and staff is growing exponentially and our fractional ownership fits in with these trends.”
Remember to look carefully at on-going maintenance costs and investigate fully any restrictions on selling the fraction. For buyers who proceed with care there are interesting worldwide options for this method of purchase.
Barbados: an eight-hour flight
Royal Westmoreland — an established, well-maintained, 750-acre gated golf and leisure resort two miles inland from Barbados’s exclusive west coast — has been selling property to holidaymakers, including sports presenter Gary Lineker and England football star Wayne Rooney, since 1994.
Starting prices for full ownership of apartments and villas are £253,700 and £738,500.
In December, Royal Westmoreland launched its first fractional option, calling it a “stepping stone” to full ownership for its many repeat, time-poor buyers who spend only a few weeks there each year.
Two- and four-week fractions in five new four-bedroom, sleekly contemporary villas, each with private pool and garden, are priced from £34,500.
Maintenance charges, which include all gardening, pool care, internet and insurance, amount to £1,500 per week. Sales have gone well with 34 different buyers, the majority from the UK.
Fractional villas at Royal Westmoreland are held freehold in a third party trust and governed under UK Commonwealth property law, with the ownership share fully transferable.
Italy: a two-hour flight away
Deep in agricultural, unspoilt Tuscany on the lower slopes of Monte Amiata, two hours from Florence, Rome and Pisa, Terre Gialle offers a lakeside view for £19,000.
That buys four weeks each year in perpetuity in a fully kitted-out, new one-bedroom apartment on a gated 20-acre holiday resort with pool, tennis court and on-site management. Annual maintenance charge is £900.
Terre Gialle has 42 older apartments available to rent and 14 newly completed one-bedroom fractional apartments with plans for further two- and three-bedroom units in a later phase.
“Timeshare has a bad image, but this is so different,” says Simone Rossi of Terre Gialle. “It is yours for four weeks forever and we provide membership of RCI and Hutchinson & Co, two leading holiday exchange companies who have inspected Terre Gialle thoroughly. This allows you to swap your weeks in Tuscany for hundreds of other destinations.”
Future plans at Terre Gialle include building a restaurant and indoor pool and spa. Rossi points out that early buyers are protected because their money goes into a secure escrow (third party) account until 40 per cent of the fractions are sold. Then it will be released to complete these facilities or otherwise be returned to buyers.
Terre Gialle is five minutes from Castel del Piano, a charming town with a population of 4,750, seven churches, a hospital, shops and schools. It has the impressive distinction of being the only Italian town besides Siena with an annual Palio, a festive and exhilarating horse race around the town square dating back to 1402.
North Cornwall: five hours by car
Above the beach at New Polzeath, with direct access to the sands, surf schools and restaurants below, Atlantic House is being built to replace a former family-favourite hotel.
The new, modern Atlantic House is due for completion next spring and will have 14 hotel rooms and nine two- and three-bedroom apartments for sale on a fractional basis on a 999-year lease.
The apartments average 1,100sq ft, all with balconies facing the beach, and will be sold fully furnished, priced from £105,000 to £145,000 for five weeks spread throughout the year.
Annual service charges are £1,500 and owners can rent any weeks they do not use. Nearly half of the available fractions have been snapped up, many by nostalgic families with an attachment to the original hotel.