I recently attended a luxury real estate conference on Oahu and enjoyed a presentation by Michela O’Connor Abrams, President and CEO of Dwell who discussed lifestyle home ownership trends. She mentioned that many of the people purchasing second homes were people in their 40’s and 50’s making over $200k a year. This group did not want the McMansions of yesteryear, saw the value of smaller homes and wanted a more nimble lifestyle.
After her talk, I spoke to some of the luxury Realtors in the room and asked them about their second home clients. Many said their clients were on the verge of retirement, enjoyed active lifestyles and liked to take their families with them or have space for them to visit. Then I met a few people who were retired and actually “followed the seasons” by owning three or four homes around the country (some around the world). These lucky people have an incredible lifestyle sitting on a beach in the winter, enjoying the mountains in the summer, and having the ability to play during the best time of the year to be there. They enjoy the benefits of gaining equity, but are tied to the responsibilities of homeownership.
So, I started thinking, how could I create a business opportunity that would allow people to follow the seasons, enjoy the lifestyle of their favorite areas during the climate they enjoy most, vacation in smaller more affordable homes, connect with like minded folks, and mitigate the responsibility of owning multiple homes? Could I create a business model that would help people pool their financial resources together and purchase vacation properties in great locations and share in the equity and time in the home without having to be responsible for the individual upkeep and mortgages of multiple homes? Kind of like an Uber for homes, but with an equity stake. Was there an app for that?
I found myself in New York City at the Inman Connect Conference in January and was discussing this idea with an angel investor, and right behind me was Drew Meyers. I told him of my idea and he said, “I think my Horizon app could be a good starting point for what you are thinking”.
The Horizon app links people who are already connected through social networks together for home swaps, either a couch, a room or the whole house. The app also has the ability to connect people together through shared interests or home styles through categories such as “Photographers” and “Tiny Homes”. Instead of a member fee, which other home swap websites are touting, Horizon asks for a small fee when you swap which is donated to Kiva to help fund small business ideas, so not only are you using the app to help you find a place to stay, but it helps fund good ideas, too.
This may not yet be my “Uber of vacation home and equity investment” idea in an app, but through Horizon, I can find a network of like minded travelers who have homes all over the country, which will help me obtain my personal goal of “following the seasons” either with my family or alone in an affordable manner and meeting people who may be interested in a “vacation home pool”.
Keeping Horizon in mind, I recently approached a real estate broker friend in Silicon Valley who owns property in Santa Cruz, San Jose and Lake Tahoe. I used to live in Kona, Hawaii and am getting my Hawaii real estate license to be able to work there and in Lake Tahoe and do referral business. We were talking about creating a brokerage catering to home buyers who saw the value in home swapping. By using the Horizon app we could connect our California and Hawaii homebuyers so they too could swap their homes in a protected environment, make new friends and have the personal expertise and local connections from the people who lived in these communities.
I look forward to creating a new business around connecting adventurers, travelers and people who love to live life to the fullest through a mobile app and real estate. Want to join in?