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The vacation home alternative

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How many times have you seen this one? A client’s retirement portfolio performs like a well-oiled machine until they suddenly “fall in love” with some astronomical vacation residence.

Before you can say “shopping spree,” they spend $750,000 to $1 million on full ownership of a two-bedroom unit for part-time vacation living in (pick one): Playa del Carmen, Hawaii, Fort Lauderdale. Their assets have been drastically reduced, meaning portfolio income and performance begins to sink like a stone. At the same time they’ll statistically use the place for only two to four months a year. Then it sits, gathering dust, taxes and monthly fees.

The result gives many an advisor gray hair as this poorly performing asset devours other investment potential. The good news is that I recently learned about an alternative called a PRC.

A PRC is a very affordable version of the “private residence club.” But before you tag the PRC as even a distant cousin of the dreaded time-share, take a closer look. A PRC holds value, offering an affordable alternative to full/fractional ownership while eclipsing the notorious time-share altogether.

The affordable PRC is a fast-emerging vacation home alternative. A prime example comes in a delightfully intimate resort I just heard about called Sueno del Mar, on Ambergris Caye, Belize.

As I found with Sueno Del Mar, the real power of PRCs, unlike the uncertainty of weekly time-share allocations, is buyers enjoy the stability of owning the same location for a fixed, long-term period every year.

Again, PRC buyers won’t drain their portfolios for an oceanfront condo. Instead, they’ll enjoy the same two to four months of residency without the hidden expenses of tropical absentee ownership, and they can even leave personal items on sight for storage.

Some even offer “legacy” residence memberships, which may be deeded to future generations. Clients meanwhile get a fixed-cost vacation home for a fraction of the investment risk.

When you consider that one out of every two boomers is a woman and that women are the decision makers in 80 percent of the nation’s households, mentioning a PRC as an option certainly offers advisors a great opportunity to shine.

Some other points of interest for you to keep in mind: Today the financial status and savvy of women are radically different than in recent decades. In 1970, 43 percent of women (ages 16 and older) worked outside of the home. By 2000, that figure skyrocketed to 60 percent. Over this period boomer women, who were at the leading edge of this massive movement into the work force, have become successful business owners, corporate executives and professionals. As such, their salaries, benefits and overall net worth, as well as their financial independence, have grown dramatically.

Though they continue to cope with many gender-related inequities, boomer women are clearly the wealthiest and most economically powerful female population segment the nation has ever seen. Advisors who don’t cultivate this clientele early on are likely to miss one of the biggest marketing opportunities of their careers.


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