Fractional ownership is a method in which several unrelated parties can share in, and mitigate the risk of, ownership of a high-value tangible asset, usually a jet, yacht or piece of resort real estate.
It can be done for strictly monetary reasons, but typically there is some amount of personal access involved.
One of the main motivators for a fractional purchase is the ability to share the costs of maintaining an asset that will not be used full time by one owner.
Every fractional endeavor requires some sort of management, to administer the rules and regulations (which are agreed upon before the fraction is purchased) and maintain the asset to the degree laid out in the ownership documents.
Generally, management will oversee the daily operation of more than one property, although it is not necessary.
A single fractional asset may be managed by a single entity.
Each owner is guaranteed a prescribed amount of access to the asset, which typically can be used or offered to the public as rental or charter, the income is usually split between the management company and the fractional owner, unless the owner finds the renter himself.
Additionally, each owner pays a portion of the annual management fees and maintenance, relative to the percent of ownership.
While Richard Santuilli is generally credited with launching the concept for business jets, individuals have been setting up LLCs to buy boats or planes or “a little cabin in the woods” for decades.
Michael Aumock was instrumental in setting up fractional devices in the yachting and superyacht industry.
In business, fractional ownership is a percentage share of an expensive asset. Shares are sold to individual owners. Typically, a company manages the asset on behalf of the owners, who pay monthly/annual fees for the management plus variable (e.g., per-hour, per-day) use fees.
For rapidly depreciating assets, the management company may sell the asset and distribute the proceeds back to the owners, who can then claim a capital loss and optionally purchase a fraction of a new asset.
Whether fractional ownership provides a financial advantage over renting is an ongoing debate, and some countries and regions have tax laws that provide additional benefits for owners, such as capital-loss allowances, while others might penalize ownership over renting.