Mélie Dunod and Nico Watzenig spent years helping clients acquire and renovate vacation homes throughout Europe. Traveling between France, Spain and Italy, they realized how limiting owning one home can be, especially with so many beautiful destinations to discover. This mindset inspired August, a co-ownership model that allows you to own the equivalent of 1/21 of five homes in five different destinations in Europe.
Founded in 2018, August was built on the idea that the average owner spends just 35 days in their vacation homes per year, and the home sits empty for roughly 11 months.
“The more we assisted clients with finding their dream homes, we realized that owning a single holiday home outright in Europe was very limiting, wasteful and full of dichotomies,” says Dunod. “Similarly, no one wants to spend such significant amounts of money on a property they will use for only a few weeks a year, yet they want a home they will be proud of and that is at least as comfortable as their primary residence. We created a model where you own not one but multiple homes in Europe’s best locations, homes all renovated to the highest standards where every single detail is thought through, and for a fraction of the price of buying one home.”
August has a variety of collections, including the Premium, Signature and Pied à Terre Collections, that offer varying home sizes and destinations for 1/21 ownership. There are also single-family homes with 1/8 ownership offerings. Multiple collections are launched each year; for example, buying into this year’s Premium Collection (the largest property option with four or five bedrooms) gives you access to abodes in the French Alps, French Riviera, Mallorca, Tuscany and the English Countryside for $630,000 (€600,000). The Signature Collection usually offers the same destinations for a smaller home at a lower price. There’s also the Pied à Terre Collection with residences in Cannes, Barcelona, Paris and Rome.
If you want to sell, August can handle sourcing another buyer to purchase your piece of the pie. Also unlike a timeshare, you’ll have real title ownership with appreciation of value. The selling price is set by the owner and in dialogue with August, who is able to make a recommendation based on market demand. August has a liquid secondary market and expects to always have buyers waiting to enter a collection who are ready to start using right away, and they pay a premium for this. Each home is 100 percent owned by you and your fellow landowners, not August; however the company will manage every aspect of the home, from maintenance to dealing with local taxes and laws to designing the new properties.
August also has a point-based booking system that lets you equitably choose the weeks you’d like to spend in the homes. You can plan a year in advance or book spontaneous trips if your points allow. While in the summer months, destinations such as the South of France are the most popular, August aims to combine buyers who might be interested in the homes at different times of the year. You can also purchase multiple shares in one collection—up to four—to increase the amount of time you’re spending in each location. There’s also a monthly fee that covers maintenance, taxes and gardening.
Dunod and Watzenig have more than 30 years of real estate and interior-design experience. When they purchase a home, each is planned to exacting standards with a high-end slant to ensure the best product offering. In terms of destinations, the duo choose locations based on proximity to international airports, year-round offerings and places that have strong and stable real-estate markets and luxury home offerings.
“When you rent, you need to plan in advance: How many bedrooms do I need, do I want to invite guests? This often leads to people holidaying less,” Dunod says. “With August, families have guaranteed homes that they want to go to, and the common feedback is people spend many more holidays together and the kids are eager to join.”