Parceling out paradise

Time-share on a whole new level.

If owning a $2-million to $3-million home complete with tennis courts and a waterfront location in Cabo San Lucas sounds appealing, Calgary-based M Private Residences has a deal for you. Think of it as a time-share on a whole new level. “We specialize in the shared ownership of luxury vacation properties around the world,” says co-president Paul Poscente. “The word 'ownership' is key and differentiates us from time-shares. Each investor actually owns an undivided interest in our properties and gets the luxury of travelling to those properties.” In other words, this investment property doubles as a getaway home.

Currently, there are 12 luxe homes in M's stable. By the end of the year, there will be 13 homes in six countries. There are two types of shares: class A and class B. When the company was founded in September 2004, A shares were going for $340,000. They're now up to $465,000. Investors who go with the premium shares are entitled to 60+ days of time per year at any one of the homes, explains co-president Ken MacLean. They also pay $20,000 in annual dues for maintenance fees and elaborate concierge services. Class B shares go for $265,000, with $12,000 in annual dues, and allow for 21+ days of use per year. “You're allowed to book a month of time up to two years out,” explains MacLean, “excepting Christmas and Easter, which is lottery-based.”

Douglas Gray, a former real estate lawyer and author of 23 books, including Making Money in Real Estate, says M's business model is intelligent and eclectic. “They've taken the best of all the investment options out there and blended them into this opportunity,” he says. “It's a natural evolution. It will be a good fit for a select group of sophisticated investors.” So far, about 90% of M's clients are Calgarians, but the company is expanding east. As the number of investors grows, so does the portfolio. “For every six shares we sell, we buy a house,” says Poscente. What's the latest location under review? A property in Italy with its own olive grove and vineyards. “In the morning, you go and test your grapes,” says Poscente. “It's living the dream.”