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Thinking of Buying a Condo Hotel? Here Are 20 Things You Need to Know!
1. What is an apartment hotel or aparthotel?
Think of an apartment hotel (sometimes called a condotel or hotel apartment) as buying an apartment, even though it is part of a four-star hotel. So, as an owner, when you’re on vacation, you’ll enjoy more than the 4-star service and amenities of a typical condo.
2. What types of services and amenities does the aparthotel offer?
If you can imagine the sophistication of a high-end hotel, you can imagine an apartment hotel. These amenities often include resort-style swimming pools, full-service spas, state-of-the-art fitness centers, fine dining restaurants, concierge and room service.
In some places, like Las Vegas, you’ll find aparthotels with their own casinos, retail areas, and entertainment venues. In places like Orlando, you’ll find condo hotels with their own water parks and meeting facilities.
3. What is the difference between an apartment hotel and a traditional apartment?
The biggest difference between hotels and aparthotels is that hotels usually have only one owner, either an individual or a company, but aparthotels are sold on an individual basis. Thus, a 300-room aparthotel may have as many as 300 owners.
4. Do hotel guests know if they are staying in an apartment hotel or a traditional hotel?
Hotel guests may never know that a hotel has multiple owners, as the property is run like a traditional hotel and is often managed by a well-known hotel company such as Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, Trump or W. In addition, each individual aparthotel unit looks identical to each other in design and decor, just like in a traditional hotel.
5. Who usually buys aparthotels?
They are primarily sold to people who want a vacation home but don’t want to deal with the hassles usually associated with second home ownership, such as maintaining the property or finding renters in the off-season.
6. What are the demographics of the typical aparthotel buyer?
The range of apartment hotel buyers is quite broad. Some families wish to have a second home in a resort. There are Baby Boomers who are in or near retirement and want somewhere they can “winter.” There are also plenty of investors who buy a condo hotel unit with no intention of using it; they are in it for the potential appreciation of the property.
7. Can you live in an apartment hotel?
Aparthotels are not usually offered as primary residences. In fact, many of them limit the unit owner’s use of the condo hotel unit (typically 30-60 days per year) because the unit is expected and needed in the hotel’s nightly rental program, available to guests and generating income.
8. Who gets the money when your apartment hotel is rented out?
The hotel management company splits the rental income with the individual apartment hotel owners. While the exact percentage varies from property to property, typical rent splits are in the 50%-50% range.
9. Who finds the hotel guests and then cleans and maintains the condo hotel units?
Hotel management companies market properties and book hotel guests. It also maintains equipment and ensures the smooth functioning of all hotel services and facilities.
10. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying an apartment hotel compared to buying a typical rental property?
· Easy owning; no landlord issues
· Rental income to offset some or all of ownership costs
· A fantastic holiday home that is ready for you to use
· Investing in real estate at a time when other investments seem less attractive
· High possibility of appreciation
· Pride of possession – “I own a piece of Trump”
· Annual cash flow may be equal to or less than annual cost of ownership
· Pets are generally not welcome.
· The owner’s condo-hotel unit can be rented out as and when the owner needs it, so advance reservations are required to guarantee availability.
· Aparthotel units are subject to the same market troughs that affect all hotels in a competitive market: hurricanes, terrorist threats, mild northern winters, gas prices, etc., all of which affect the occupancy rate of a unit and the amount of revenue it generates.
11. Is financing difficult for aparthotel units?
Not at all, but they usually take a 20% down payment, and condos can be purchased with much less cash down. It’s also important to make sure that the mortgage broker you use has a history of successful condominium financing transactions. Many banks still don’t do this, but as aparthotels become more popular, more and more banks are getting involved.
12. How long has the aparthotel existed? Where are they located?
Apartment hotels have existed for decades, but the proliferation of four- and five-star apartment hotels across the country began around 2000 in the Miami area. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale area still has the most condo hotels, but areas like Orlando and Las Vegas are developing condo hotel properties at a faster rate and may soon overtake South Florida. Other emerging regions include the Bahamas, Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada and Dubai.
13. How much does an apartment hotel unit cost?
It’s like asking how much a car costs. There are apartment hotels of varying quality. Obviously, some people need more money than others.
There are cheap apartment hotels out there for as low as $100,000. These are often found in properties converted from existing hotels to uses. They’re the size of a hotel room and lack kitchen facilities, luxury franchises, and other top-notch amenities.
Then there are four-star and higher properties, which can start at $300,000 to $400,000 but can go as high as $800,000 for a studio. One- and two-bedroom units cost much more than studios. Of course, a studio apartment does come fully furnished and is much larger than a typical hotel room, and may attract guests because it has a name like the St. Regis, Ritz, or W Hotel.
14. What is the typical maintenance cost?
The average is about $1.00 to $1.50 per square foot, but in the most luxurious properties, the range can exceed $2.00 per square foot.
15. Do you buy the condo hotel units after construction or can you buy the condo hotel before construction?
Unless you’re in a rush to start your vacation or need to complete a 1031 exchange, it’s best to buy a pre-construction condo hotel as early as possible. That’s when prices are lowest and unit selection is greatest. You may wait two years or more to close and own your condo hotel unit, but you’ll lock in the price and reap the most from appreciation.
16. Is there anything else investors want to know about aparthotels?
There is so much more to buying this type of property than the old adage “location, location, location.” While most apartment hotels are in ideal resort and business district locations, what counts are good franchises with strong reservation systems.
Also, don’t be fooled by aggressive rent splits. Either way, the developer of the property will have to staff, maintain and operate the hotel and its services, such as the restaurant, bar, spa and pool, from his share of the proceeds. He’s also more likely to charge you a higher monthly maintenance fee if he’s giving you a very favorable rent share. Of course, this goes both ways. If the provided maintenance split is closer to 50-50, then your maintenance should also be more reasonable.
17. Do you have any suggestions for investors to choose which apartment hotel to buy?
Get good advice. This means you don’t want to rely solely on the hype provided by the condo hotel’s field salesperson. You want to speak with a broker who specializes in aparthotels and who knows and understands the entire aparthotel market, not just the facts pertaining to individual properties. He or she will listen to your needs and then advise on which properties would best meet your requirements. You’ll have the opportunity to compare shops and consider the pros and cons of each available property.
A good broker can make the difference between buying a condo hotel that is questionable and doesn’t live up to your expectations, or one that will give you years of great vacations, good annual income, and a nice profit when you sell it.
18. Is it more expensive to use a real estate agent to buy a condo hotel than to buy the unit myself?
Won’t. When it comes to new aparthotel properties, the price is always set by the developer, and it will be exactly the same whether you buy directly from the hotel’s on-site salesperson or through a broker.
The broker’s commission is always paid by the developer and is already included in the price, regardless of whether an external broker is involved in the sale. Since broker representatives are free to buyers, it does make sense to enlist their assistance and benefit from their advice before making a purchase.
19. How do prospective buyers find a good condo hotel broker?
Ask a friend for a broker recommendation or search online for “apartment hotel brokers.” Visit an apartment hotel broker website to see if they are comprehensive and unbiased. If their website seems to be focused on selling homes or office space and the aparthotel information seems like an afterthought, steer clear. Your best bet is to work with a dedicated apartment hotel broker.
20. How can buyers find out about new condo-hotel properties coming to the market?
Apartment hotel brokers can be great sources of information, as they often learn about properties before releasing them to the public. Another option for them is to subscribe to an aparthotel newsletter, such as ours called “Aparthotel Property Alerts”. We offer it for free on our website http://www.CondoHotelCenter.com, each edition has a different condo hotel property listing.
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