Having worked in the luxury and finance industry for some years now, I’ve worked with a number of property companies. A lot hit the mark and offer you and your companions access to properties in the far-flung reaches of the world. Many, however, are middlemen offering luxury villa bookings as a go-between. The reality is that only a few stars shine brightly. Finding a company that is right for you takes time and will no doubt become your lifelong travel consultant. In our quest to bring you the best of the best, The Review sits down with what we consider to be one of the best luxury property provider and investment company in the world.
Last year, when investigating property investment and luxury escapes in Belize, we came across a property consultant with an altogether different approach to the luxury market. Wolf Worster is the CEO of Wolf Worster Associates, Inc., a leading luxury villa and resort development consultancy. Having spent his early career building his agency into a market leader in its field, Wolf now focuses on his property investment and development advisory. With a selection of developments at varying levels of completion from Cannes to the Caymans, what does it take to lead an industry?
Wolf, can you tell us a how you got into the luxury villa market and how that in-turn developed into property investment?
We started over ten years ago in marketing luxury chalets in Europe [Verbier, Zermatt, Courcheval, etc] and over time, we expanded to other destinations.
About two years into the business, some of our private clients starting asking us to assist them in their vacation home purchases, which ultimately led to the expansion into marketing of entire overseas developments.
How did you go about building a team for a global property portfolio and choosing locations?
In North America, we are referred to as “project marketers”. We take on an entire development, whether it’s a hotel, a condominium tower, or a complete villa development, and operate as the master agency.
It took considerable time to find experienced, knowledgeable property professionals with the skillset and commitment to work overseas. We have implemented full time sales and support staff in Belize along with a high street office. Our next project is to duplicate this infrastructure in Argentina with our new projects in Mendoza and Cordoba.
As far as selecting new markets, we typically base it on the following criteria:
- •-Must be considered a “high growth tourism destination”
- •-Country must have political stability which safeguards the interests of investors and provides secure property titles with straightforward ownership procedures for foreigners
- •-Countries which can be supported by the international market as well as the middle-upper class local market
We are constantly reviewing and analysing all development applications and permits and in each region.
What you would say are three most desirable areas to buy in at the moment?
Placencia, Belize; British Coumbia, Canada; Sayulita, Mexico.
Many of our readers have built their portfolios on savvy property investment, but for those who haven’t, what are the basics as you see them?
Develop a strategy – what are your goals? Consider what structure you want to use – a trust, a self-directed fund. Get tax advice before you buy. An experienced property management company can save you considerable money in the long term
Upfront purchase costs, such as stamp tax and legal fees, need to be considered. Depending on the growth potential on the destination and type of property, expect to hold between five and eight years.
We have two types of portfolios – both turnkey. Hotel Residences Portfolios starting at $915,000 USD (three available) and Luxury Villa portfolios starting at $1,495,000 USD (6 available)
Do you have an atypical client base, or are all clients unique?
We have a mix of British, American and Canadian and clients.
Is there a particular region you are advising your clients to consider over the next three years – or anywhere in particular to avoid?
Definitely consider Belize – currently going through a land investment boom, which is comparable to Costa Rica in the 1990s. The country also offers a Belize Retired Persons (Incentives) Program with numerous tax benefits.
It’s very simply. Avoid buying in countries which are not politically and economically stable. Obviously stay away from countries with no legal system which safeguards the interests of investors, or has a clear system which provides secure land titles.
We know it is a little gauche, but you obviously represent a number of artists and global magnates. Who might our readers be in the company of?
We have our share of Wall Street CEOs, ‘new’ and ‘traditional’ billionaire status families, and a number of leaders from the entertainment industry.
For those of our readers who already own several vacation properties, how does someone get onto the Wolf Worster Book? The properties in your brochure really are special. How do you choose who to represent?
At the moment, there is a year-to-eighteen month wait for any new properties to be considered for our luxury rental division.
What does 2015 have in store for Wolf Worster?
We are expanding our ‘property project marketing’ with the management of new developments in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. Of course, Belize will still be the biggest opportunity for us and investors, through to 2017.For further information on Wolf Worster Associates, or to register an interest in any of the development properties, please visit wolfworster.com, or call UK: 0808 169 6526, Vancouver 604 324 8895.