The Fractional Life: In their own words

Published: 31st December 2011
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Mike Stern and Bridget Mullen have a life to envy. This husband and wife team live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and together run their oral & maxillofacial surgery practice, he as surgeon, she as nurse office manager. Several days a week they ski in the morning and work in the afternoon, as Mike says, “we work hard, but we play even harder.”

In addition to their love of skiing and the great outdoors, they share a passion for Paris. Bridget and Mike have been owners in Fractional Paris’ Rue Malher project in the Marais area of Paris since January 2009. They recently sat down with Laura Sanders, Director of Sales and Marketing for Fractional Paris, to speak about what fractional ownership is like. In their own words:

How did the concept of fractional ownership first appear on your radar?
We first heard about it from reading a New York Times article about fractional ownership on the plane back from Paris actually. We’d been going to Paris once a year for over 15 years. I thought what a great idea and started googling what was out there as soon as we got home. We then planned a visit to specifically visit projects. I think we saw five; we really wanted a one bedroom, but we were so blown away by rue Malher that we decided to cough up the extra money.

Finding a great place in Paris, even to own outright must be really impossible, unless you’re there for like a whole year and you speak French. We really like that fractional takes all the headaches away. I’m not sure what the premium is, maybe double, but it’s all shared and the expenses are all shared. There’s just so much less hassle, and all the other owners seem to have the same crazy love of Paris that we have, it’s nice to have co-owners who have the same philosophy. We’re just thrilled about the whole deal; within a month of leaving, I’m absolutely ready to go back.

Had you entertained the idea of purchasing previously?
No, not at all, and until seeing article we didn’t even realize this could be an option for us. I really see fractional ownership as a great way to diversify my portfolio, not only is it a real estate investment, but it’s denominated in euros. I see it like a bond that pays a divided with the ability to use the place 4 weeks a year. I put down, what €130,000, the euro goes up, the real estate value goes up and the dividend is that I get to use it. Also, the cost on a yearly basis is less than I was spending previously, and unlike a car or boat, other enjoyment purchases, is doesn’t depreciate immediately, and the value vary well may go up, even a lot.

And what made you go for it? What made you move forward with purchasing?
When we initially went in, we thought we were just going to look, and that we weren’t going to purchase, but the apartment was just so great. We thought clearly this is the nicest one [of the five we visited]; we just had to have it.

Did you have any fears about jumping in?
We had a fear that it was a scam, you never know. I believe the names of some of the owners who were already in were somewhere on your site, so I called and spoke with some of the other people about what their experience had been like thus far, and everyone was really happy. Also, Andy Sirkin’s name on the legal documents also made me feel good since we used to live in San Francisco and we knew him from there so there, so there was some level of reputation already established.

What’s your experience been like thus far – likes, dislikes, what would you change?
Well, perhaps we would like more kitchen space since we’re used to a large, professional kitchen at home, but we know it’s Paris. Otherwise we think the structure is fantastic with both fixed and rotational weeks so you can plan on your fixed and then you also get to experience other times of the year as well. And the trading system has worked fantastically for our group it seems. I personally have no desire to go in July and August, but I know teachers love that time of year. I think everything balances out quite nicely and knowing the future schedule inperpuity is excellent. I really like the structure from that standpoint.

Do you have any advice for others that are interested in fractional ownership?
I would recommend that you get on a plane and go look, take a trip, look at 3 or 4 properties at the same time. I’m assuming that these people will know Paris know well, so they’ll know the neighborhood that they want. We knew we wanted the Marais, we just loved that neighborhood. We really, really wanted to be there though we have friends that are obsessed with Saint Germain. Speak with other owners, I know that’s what put my mind at ease. See it and then speak to people who are already living it, and then go for it. Enjoy!

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