Brian is a financial consultant and an investment adviser from Houston, Texas and an Equity Platinum Fund investor.
He joined Equity Residences relatively recently but has already booked four trips for himself, one for his in-laws, and one for his sister.
Brian makes his traveling choices fast. He does not hesitate to book the homes he wants at the time he wants to schedule his trips.
We sat down with Brian to ask him how he decided to invest in the Equity Platinum Fund and what his future travel plans are.
Since it seemed like he made his investment decision swiftly and took advantage of an opportunity to experience the Fund with a 10% deposit, we wanted to find out how long it took him to research the Equity Platinum Fund investment.
ER: How did you find out about Equity Residences?
Brian: “I have looked at many vacation clubs and Sherpa Report over the years. I almost joined one of the vacation programs back in 2009. I almost pulled the trigger then, except there were complications with the plans. The real-estate market was struggling. I wanted an equity program and the old models, such as vacation clubs, were not equity-driven. It was more like a club where you put the money in and get a week’s vacation. Same location every year and that was not what I was looking for.”
Brian stresses that he prefers ownership in the underlying real estate, as opposed to getting purely usage rights, as is common with vacation clubs.
“I 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. The others required you to make a commitment upfront but did not provide ownership benefits.”
“I was always looking at it from the investment side of things. Finding a somewhat affordable equity club was not easy at that time. For me, there had to be more than a vacation. When Equity Residences came up, I started to research from there.”
“I wish I could have found Equity Residences sooner. I was looking for a long time.”
Brian’s travel style changed from an adventure traveler to a family traveler over the years. As a financial adviser, Brian has a flexible schedule. He travels 4-5 weeks a year and can work remotely.
“I have done some very enjoyable travel over the years. My situation is changing. Now my priority is to travel with my wife and kids. It’s not the same as packing up to go on an adventure trip.”
“We were looking for family travel options. Investing with Equity Residences allowed us to combine nice homes with family travel. Putting the two together is important. We still look for chances to experience some of the adventure travel I like to do.”
Brian’s background as an investment adviser informs his decision-making when it comes to investments.
“We are always preaching diversification to our clients. Looking at my portfolio, I wanted the same thing.”
“If you have significant money in the stock market, you want non-correlated assets, that’s where alternative investments come into play. A diverse real estate portfolio is one of them. Diversification outside of the stock market is a plus.”
“Equity Residences lets you diversify a real estate portfolio. It’s not one property in one location such as a condo as an individual investment. The Equity Residences program allows you to pool together with others. It’s like a mutual fund in the market. You pool with other investors and diversify your portfolio across several properties in different markets and locations. This is exactly what I was looking for.”
Combining a diversified investment portfolio with taking family trips is something that got Brian’s attention.
“Diversification is one reason to invest as an individual. The other reason is that we like family travel. I can include my wife and kids when we get up and go.”
“So far I have stayed in two properties in the Equity Villa Fund. For instance, this summer we were able to stay in Park City for a week. Our group included my wife, the kids, my extended family, and friends. Altogether we totaled 14 people.”
Brian has fond memories of his Park City vacation. “The location of the Park City property is incredible. It is across from the Main Street. We were there over the 4th of July. People are busy coming in to see the festivities and we are staying across the street.
It is a great location for that time of year. It was great to be with our family. We were looking exactly for this kind of opportunity to travel. We wanted everyone to be together. Our group included parents, siblings, kids, and friends as well.
Family travel was a key reason for us to invest. The equity piece and the real opportunity for family travel are an ideal combination.”
ER: Tell us more about your family
Brian has three children, which is what is driving his decisions to book larger homes for his vacations.
“I am married and have three daughters. I have an 11-year-old daughter, a 2-year-old daughter, and an 11-month-old daughter. It is quite fun to travel with them. When it was my 11-year old daughter and wife, it was easy to stay in a hotel. It was the three of us. But now with an expanded family of five, it is a little different. We wanted nicer accommodations. The larger homes are more comfortable for the family.”
ER: What was your due diligence before investing?
Brian is a “numbers guy”. So, he put the Equity Residences homes to the test both by experiencing them, as well as running investment calculations.
“I was able to join during a 10% down marketing promotion so I may be a little different than some of your other investors. 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 we are sending my in-laws to Italy for their 30th-anniversary trip. They’ll have the chance to experience Siena as part of the trip.”
“What helped me was to put pen to paper. Run the numbers because the math backs up the investment side of it. If I have the option to take part of my portfolio and it gives me a place to stay and take a vacation that is the perk of it.”
“I work with numbers every day. Sit down and do the math. Look at the investment and the potential return of the investment. Add in the ability to stay in a property, the weeks that you get, and the credit system looks quite good.”
“I liked that I was able to diversify some of my funds and put them into an investment that gives a return potential. I am much better off staying in the properties. I am putting my investment to good use.”
ER: Did you calculate the potential vacation value of your investment?
“Yes, I have a spreadsheet. I looked at the investment and then looked at the market value of staying at properties like this through VRBO and Airbnb compared to what I would spend at Equity Residences with a return factor of 1.25%. If I end up getting the projected 1.5X return, it will be even better.”
“I am creating memories for my family and kids as opposed to watching the market every day.”
To put things into perspective, by booking the Park City, Utah home, the Akumal Beach, Mexico home and the Siena, Italy penthouse, Brian was able to take advantage of $21,000 worth of vacations in four months. And he has more trips scheduled already with his family.
Brian cites that one of the reasons for making an investment decision was an ability to participate in voting on the next acquisition as an investor. He cast his vote in the survey asking where to acquire the next property for the Equity Platinum Fund.
“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.”
Every year we ask our investors where they want to see us buy the next homes and add to the Equity Platinum Fund portfolio.
This year, the Caribbean including Turks and Caicos and St. John are on the list of most-desired locations. On the East Coast, New York City and the Florida Keys are also popular choices for investors.
Since Brian has had a chance to book both the Equity Platinum and the Equity Villa homes, we asked him how he would describe the Equity Residences credit system to new investors.
Equity Residences credits and travel you can do with the credits
We asked Brian to explain how many weeks of vacation investors can expect in the Equity Platinum Fund and how he can explain credits to new investors:
“One-unit investment (120 credits) gives you 1-3 weeks. My experience as a one and a half – unit investor with 200 credits, is that I can get 2 to 3 weeks a year. I am planning to take three trips this year and still have credits left to use. Next year I have 3 solid weeks including Costa Rica, Rosemary Beach, Florida, and Lake Tahoe, California.”
“My sister is getting married, so she is taking my ThirdHome keys to go on her honeymoon to St. John.”
“The following year we will have 2 weeks. Cap Cana resort for a week, and Mauna Lani resort in Hawaii for a week. If you use the credits right you can do a lot of traveling. I reserved three different properties and got them during the week I wanted for each. I have not had a problem with getting the properties I wanted when I wanted to travel.”
ER: What are your impressions about the homes?
“The Park City property location is great. The property was very nice.”
“We are active travelers. This format lets us have our adventure travel. Since we have an extended family with us, it is like having babysitters. It’s no problem to sneak off for a morning of trout fishing.”
“Having a caretaker and a chef at Akumal was very nice. We went as a large group and having someone stay there cooking dinner for all of us every night allowed us to get out and enjoy the day without having to worry about these things.”
“We were able to take fishing trips, kayaking trips, and explore the nearby towns. So, this was a big selling point for the Akumal home.”
ER: What are your future travel plans?
“As I mentioned we have several trips coming up. Costa Rica in January. Rosemary Beach Florida will have us 100 steps from the beach for a Spring Break in March. There is also a plan to visit Lake Tahoe California with family and friends in June.”
“To sum it all up. The Equity Residences program combines an investment opportunity with travel. We can make lasting vacation memories for my family and friends.”