Coasters Retreat luxury holiday home views
  • A first for Australia, the Ko proptech platform answers holiday-home gridlock.
  • Owners can keep using their property while liquidating the 80% unused portion.
  • Buyers can opt out of short-term rentals and invest in luxury holiday homes.
  • Ko manages the whole process for seamless holiday property maintenance.

New and innovative ways of buying and owning property are emerging worldwide. One of the most exciting developments in this area is co-ownership, and the company at the forefront of this movement in Australia is new PropTech disruptor Ko. 

Ko addresses the current property crisis in Australia by offering a new approach to holiday home ownership and utilization: a platform that allows multiple people to own a single holiday property.

For most of us, holiday homes are increasingly costly to buy and maintain, and short-term rentals are problematic to manage for those who wish to keep their scarcely-used property. The company aims to offer an alternative to spending millions of dollars on a luxury holiday home that sits unutilised for a large portion of the year. 

A first for Australia, the Ko platform also answers the gridlock faced by those who can’t justify the purchase of a holiday home to enjoy with their families or escape to and work remotely from, yet are tired of using expensive short-term rentals.

One of the luxury properties available for co-ownership through Ko IMAGE Ko
One of the luxury properties available for co-ownership through Ko IMAGE Ko

An opportunity for disruption 

Co-Founders CTO John Hanna and CEO Ryan Fritsch worked together at a leading Australian e-commerce business prior to starting Ko. Fritsch approached Hanna for advice with the concept for a PropTech platform where the property asset is not owned by the platform, but utilised and managed by the platform for the co-owners. 

Fritsch had gained interest in the co-ownership concept after seeing the rise of Pacaso in the US. Fritsch was a holiday-homeowner himself, with a schedule that didn’t allow for more than a few weeks of usage each year, and he predominately utilised a short-term rental service. 

Fritsch said, “Pacaso offer a lower-entry price point and then stress-free ownership.

“Coming from the viewpoint of an existing owner I thought, ‘This makes an incredible amount of sense.’ I paid attention to them, and they exploded.”

Ko CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Fritsch
Ko CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Fritsch saw how co-ownership could be a game-changer for both existing owners and prospective buyers.

Hanna and Fritsch jumped on the opportunity to launch a co-ownership model in Australia, covering key travel destinations in APAC. In late 2022 the Ko MVP officially launched, listing holiday homes in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan and Australia. 

Fritsch said, “We found a huge appetite for co-ownership, not only from incoming buyers, but existing owners like me who see an opportunity to have a smaller portion of their holiday home. That’s how we kicked off.” 

Ko – a seamless ownership experience 

Hanna and Fritsch said the Ko goal is, “to provide a seamless and dream-like experience for the co-owner”. 

Fritsch stated, “Our directors are either very passionate and very active in their own real estate investments, or directly work in hospitality and development, so this is near and dear to all of us. We want to make sure the existing owners have a fantastic experience with us if they work with us.”  

John Hanna, who has managed several residential constructions himself, believes that the traditional real estate market is too focused on sales. Hanna was very interested to develop a platform addressing the entire property lifecycle, especially utilisation. 

Rather than just a sale, the Ko platform focuses on a flexible, cost-effective, and hassle-free experience for both existing homeowners and new holiday homeowners, and the team believes that this is the key to the platform’s success. 

Key Ko benefits for owners and buyers 

John Hanna commented that “Ko looks to help mitigate concerns for both existing owners and prospective buyers. 

“Existing owners have the option to sell only a portion of their property to capture liquidity, and retain the rest, meaning they can sell down the remaining equity at a later date if they so choose,” he said.  

Ko provides owners with a new and innovative way to market their property. By offering co-ownership opportunities, they can reach a wider audience. 

Hanna said, “Prospective buyers looking at a holiday home are only purchasing the amount of equity that is appropriate for them, meaning less of their net worth is tied to that property, giving them access to their dream holiday home now.”

Ko CFO and Co-Founder John Hanna
Ko CTO and Co-Founder John Hanna said “Prospective buyers… are only purchasing the amount of equity that is appropriate for them.”

With Ko, buyers can purchase a property and share the costs of insurance and maintenance with other co-owners.

The model can fit with different segments of the market, from babyboomers who want to downsize, to extended families who want to purchase their dream holiday house together, to younger buyers who want flexibility and options.

A symbiosis with real estate agents 

The main focus of the business is to provide a fair and equitable experience for everyone involved, and to maintain the quality of the properties listed on their platform.

Fritsch and Hanna see real estate agents and vendors as stakeholders in the Ko ecosystem

Working closely with real estate agents to market their properties effectively also enables Ko to access a range of properties for their buyers to choose from. 

Fritsch stated “I am getting a significant inflow of enquiries from existing owners. I also hear from agents who have talked to owners of off-market properties, who are interested in the concept. 

“They’re bringing properties to me to discuss after they’ve had a chat with a prospective client or a friend that has a holiday home that’s largely under-utilised. It’s a perfect partnership because it opens up the market dramatically. 

“We’re not just talking about properties that want to sell, it’s that luxury house that has the lights off 80 per cent of the time, and it just makes sense to have more people enjoying it, to maximise that asset” he said.

What kind of properties are right for Ko? 

Ko is focused on luxurious properties that are well-located and highly desirable. The properties should have a distinct “wow factor” that sets them apart from competitors. 

This could include traditional holiday home locations within a two-to-three-hour drive from major cities, larger homes with four-plus bedrooms, waterfront penthouses, architecturally designed properties with beautiful views and amenities, and upper-end properties with a boutique hotel feel. 

Each of the properties selected so far is special, says Fritsch. For example, their luxury Coasters Retreat property is particularly unique as it’s so remote. Only accessible by boat, the stunning house is surrounded by a national park with breathtaking views overlooking the water.

Views from the luxury 'Coasters Retreat' holiday home available for co-ownership IMAGE Ko
Views from the luxury ‘Coasters Retreat’ holiday home available for co-ownership IMAGE Ko

Meanwhile, “Poppaea” in the NSW Southern Highlands is an architecturally reimagined farmhouse that is unparalleled in style, with picturesque views of the rolling country landscape only an hour drive away from Sydney.

With the combined benefits of traditional property ownership with the principles of the sharing economy, Ko is a more accessible option for Australian buyers and sellers alike. And following the trend towards more sustainable living, Ko is poised to make a significant impact in this real estate market in the coming years. Watch this space. 

Read more about Ko.

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