by Kimberley Lovato
Alvaro Ortega always wanted to own a vacation home in Indian Wells, a destination he frequently escapes to from Long Beach for relaxation with friends and family. The father of two young children says he’d flirted with the idea of buying in the sunny Southern California resort town since 2014, but rising real estate prices kept his dream out of reach.
Then, Ortega heard about a vacation home brokerage company called Pacaso offering a chance to co-own a piece of a luxurious 4,000-square-foot home at a fraction of the cost. He bought two shares in December 2021 and says he and his family can hardly wait between their visits to the desert.
“The first time we toured the house, we were impressed with the design and attention to detail,” Ortega says. “We loved the spacious and private backyard with pool, hot tub, fireplace, outdoor kitchen, and views of the mountains. Even though we are just two hours away, the home gives us the opportunity to disconnect from our normal busy lives and connect as a family.”
Despite what sounds like an innovative and more accessible way for buyers like Ortega to afford getaways in desirable destinations, fractional vacation home ownership has become a real estate piñata targeted by residents and city governments in such destinations as Carmel-by-the-Sea, California; Nantucket, Massachusetts; and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Ortega thinks these towns and residents attacking fractional home ownership misunderstand the business model.
“We are families just like yours,” Ortega says. “In less than a year, we have become great friends with the neighbors, and our children have local friends to play with every time we are there. I’ve asked our new friends if they’ve had any issues with any of the owners, and they said, ‘Never.’”
Pacaso co-founder and CEO Austin Allison doesn’t understand the anger over making it easier for people to buy a vacation home. He blames much of the pent-up frustration on the nationwide ire over short-term renters through companies like Airbnb and Vrbo. The horror stories of destroyed houses and endless parties have neighborhoods on edge.