For most people, buying property abroad entails an awful lot of hard work. From picking the perfect property in the right location to finding people you trust to do the paperwork, many people find the entire process quite exhausting, whatever your budget. But what if there was a company who took care of all the legal requirements, paperwork and permits, while offering part-ownership of fully-serviced properties in 5-star developments in some of the most desirable addresses in the world?

This is a new kind of property ownership, already popular with Americans. Termed fractional ownership, the agreement allows you to ‘have it all’, with a tiny proportion of the stress involved in buying your own property from scratch. Fractional ownership divides properties into five pieces, all sold individually, called pentics. Every part-owner gets ten weeks in the property, either for personal use or to rent out, and, unlike timeshare, each fraction is owned outright, meaning the owner is completely free to sell their share whenever they like.

Best Group, a company pioneering this method of buying in the UK, have put together one of the most impressive packages for would-be fractional owners which serves as an excellent example. Not all fractional ownership deals offer exactly the same package, but many operate on very favourable terms.

From the moment a viewing is arranged Best Group pretty much take care of everything which makes home-buying abroad such a headache. From people to fill n permits and passes, to lawyers familiar with the process, they have people local to each destination who look after any concerns you may have as a buyer, leaving you free to look forward your first stay in paradise. And with developments up-and-running from the Caribbean to Cape Town, paradise is pretty much what you get.

‘Apart from two weeks a year (which the group use for maintenance) the property will be occupied either by other owners, or those renting,’ explains Brad Lincoln, CEO of Best Group. ‘And to ensure everything is properly maintained we employ managers to make sure that the air conditioning and all those little things which are a pain to discover when one arrives at a house after a long journey aren’t broken.’


sugar hillSugar Hill, Barbados

Launching in Cape Town, where property prices have doubled or more in the past five years – St Lucia, and Barbados, Best Group aim to build up a portfolio of houses which take advantage of some of the best sun and snow in the world. ‘Thus in the future one can spend the same amount it would cost to find and buy a top-end single property but have ten weeks in five different places around all over the globe ? giving you more choice about where you want to spend your time,’ points out Mr Lincoln.

The properties in Barbados stand within Sugar Hill, an extremely high spec development right next to the Royal Westmoreland. Just a few minutes’ drive from Holetown, which has the best restaurants and nightlife on the island. The development also has a private spa right beside Mullins Beach, called Sugar Sugar, where residents have complimentary membership.

Set slightly apart from the beachfront, Sugar Hill benefits from the breeze it gets from its elevated status, but at the same time doesn’t compromise on the views. Many well known names own property here: Sir Cliff Richard’s house, in which the Blairs holiday every summer, is here, and one can see why it makes such a fabulous retreat. The houses and apartments are solidly built in a clean, airy style that makes the most of the warm climate. The properties are all very private, and many have views of the sea without the oppressive heat beachfront houses can suffer from. The nice thing is Sugar Hill is also friendly: the bar by the pool in the Clubhouse is an ideal place to grab a rum punch and meet fellow residents.

A two-bedroom apartment Pentic costs from just under £100,000 here: not bad for ten weeks a year and 1/5 of a first-rate property in one of the most sought-after locations in the Caribbean. It is also a sound investment: Sugar Hill has seen returns of over 25% over the past two years, and is set to perform well again in 2007.

For those more interested in investment, or merely getting off the beaten track, St Lucia provides a more rustic option. One enormous, breathtaking volcanic rock a short thirty minute flight from Barbados, this incredible island provides stunning views around almost every corner. As you would expect in a more slowly developing island, the infrastructure is not as advanced as that of Barbados, but this only adds to the island’s charm, and means you can buy property here for more of a steal and expect more dramatic returns as a result.


villas on the greenThe setting for Villas on the Green, St Lucia

The Villas on the Green development in St Lucia is hidden away ten minutes drive from Rodney Bay, the social centre of the island, and just seconds away from a secret beach with an original tourist attraction for a Caribbean island: the discarded thruster from a NASA space shuttle. Sitting at the charming bar on the sand, alternating one’s gaze between the gorgeous blue of the water and a piece of space exploration history which recently washed up on the beach is bizarre to say the least.

Villas on the Green, (the Green being one of the top-ten golf courses in the Caribbean), where Best Group is offering pentics, is due for completion at the end of the year, and a pentic on a 3-bedroom townhouse here costs £95,000.

Membership of the golf course is included, and with London just an 8 hour overnight flight away (which is three films back to back or two and a snooze) the offer looks even more tempting. If you buy now at Villas on the Green you’re guaranteed a rental income for the first two years of over £3000 (which easily outstrips the management fees) while the development is being completed. A completion date for the entire project is December 2008.

Fractional ownership has suffered from association with the idea of ‘time share’ apartments, but owning your share is a hugely different proposition, and with the right package this option can give you the freedom to make money from your investment, or enjoy the benefits of your property abroad without the worry, or both.

To find out more, visit www.bestpentic.com, telephone Best Group on +44 (0)845 652 0771 or email info@bestpentic.com.