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3rd Home website helps rich swop stays at members’ holiday villas

Just how do the super rich fit within the sharing economy?

It is built out of reclaimed teak and boasts a chef’s kitchen and a private infinity pool. In front is a beach where you’d often find yourself the sole visitor. On cinema night, popcorn is served while classic films are shown on an open-air screen.

This holiday villa, with views of Con Dao – one of the hottest destinations in Vietnam – sounds like it’d cost a fortune to rent, but, if you’re a member of an exclusive club, it’s yours for next to nothing.

The idea behind 3rd Home is simple. Like the Singapore-based owner of the villa, you list your empty vacation property for other members to use. In return, you have access to a shared collection of properties to stay in on your next getaway.

The website’s currency is the “key”, and how many you earn/spend depends on commonsensical factors like the value of your/their pied-a-terre or chateau and the desirability of the season in which you/they have made it available. There’s an initiation fee of US$2,500 (S$3,500) that is often reduced and a minimum “exchange fee” of US$395 per week on top of the required keys, but, otherwise, no other charges apply.

Think of it as an Airbnb for the rich, free of stained sheets or dodgy neighbourhoods. Eligible homes must be a secondary residence worth at least US$500,000, furnished with the best fittings and located in a holiday hotspot.

There are 5,000 homes in the database, averaging US$2.4 million in value. The firm, set up in 2010 in the US, has been flying under the radar in South-east Asia, with just 11 members in Singapore. Apart from Vietnam, they have second homes in Thailand, Indonesia and France, and have recently used properties in Italy, Costa Rica and New Zealand.

Giles Adams, a partner in the business, says in an e-mail interview that he hopes to attract more clients here with an awareness campaign. He says: “Asia is great opportunity for us. There are a large number of people living in the main metropolises who have beautiful second homes throughout the region in Bali, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Malaysia. The demand for luxury Asian properties continues to grow.”