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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

St Andrews timeshare tees up massive profit

ST ANDREWS (SCOTLAND): For £775,000 (RM5.3 million) it has to be one of the most expensive timeshares in the world. But for the devoted fan, the view it affords of one of golf’s most hallowed sites is worth every penny.

Five local businessmen have clubbed together to sell what has been called “Scotland’s most expensive house”– a three-storey refurbished Victorian townhouse overlooking the 18th hole of St Andrews’ world-famous Old Course.

They are looking for 12 buyers to purchase an equal share in The Residence, 9 The Links, St Andrews, which will net the sellers £9.3 million, nearly £5 million more than the previous record
for a house in Scotland and £6 million more than the price they paid for the house.

Those persuaded to part with their cash will have access to the 3,000 sq m home for four weeks of the year and, thanks to the property’s third-storey balcony, a bird’s eye view of the first and final hole of the course. The town’s equally famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club, West Sands Beach, and the Swilken Bridge are also all visible from the house’s balcony and bay windows.

At £3,100 psf and an additional £12,000 annual service charge, the property is only within reach of the super-rich and the amenities on offer bear testimony to the type of customer the property developers are hoping to attract. Aside from the lavish decor, designer kitchen and in-house Bang & Olufsen sound system, an on-site chef and butler are available to provide guests staying in the house’s five rooms with the type of pampering most of us could only dream of.

The house’s promotional website emphasises that St Andrews can be easily reached by private jet through nearby RAF Leuchars. John Coleman, of the agents Knight Frank, said: “The property is targeted unashamedly at the very top end of the second-home market and buyers used to the very best will not be disappointed.”

The idea of fractional ownership is a relatively new phenomenon in Britain but is extremely popular in the United States, where the rich often buy shares in luxury second homes. The phenomenon began to take off a decade ago in North American ski resorts after property prices rose dramatically, pricing many out of holiday home market. If all the shares of the St Andrews property sell for their asking price, the building will have become a remarkable money-maker for the businessmen who bought it.

They acquired The Residence earlier this year for just under £3 million after it was repossessed and selling it on a fractional basis will earn them considerably more than if the property was sold outright.

“This is obviously a very high-end product aimed at the luxury market, but the concept is the same for any house,” said Toby Pocock, managing director of Fractional International, which advises people how to sell their properties on the fractional market. “Buying shares of holiday homes is very popular in the States and I think it won’t be long before it catches on here.”

Shares in the St Andrew’s house are most likely to be bought by businesses looking to find an unusually exclusive place to indulge in corporate entertainment or by wealthy foreign private buyers with a penchant for golf. Did anyone say Donald Trump?

By The Independent

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