Q&A with Wealth Advisor & Summer Member, Adrian Colarusso
Summer member Adrian Colarusso has a passion for helping families protect and grow their wealth. Prior to joining Target Rock, Adrian spent 10 years at BlackRock, where he developed deep investment knowledge. As an expert in his field as well as a proud Summer member, Adrian tells us what drew him and his family to Summer in the first place.
How and when did you first hear of Summer, and what attracted you to the Summer model as opposed to the traditional pathway to vacation-home ownership?
We became serious nature-lovers during the pandemic and found ourselves spending time in the Catskills. A vacation home has long been a financial goal of ours, but we were keenly aware of the downsides – big responsibilities, tied-up cash, and the feeling that we’d have to use it a lot to justify the purchase.
Ultimately, we came around to the benefits of putting down second-home roots: building memories as a family while our kids are still young, investing in long-term improvements, and always knowing where the spatulas and wine openers are. My wife and I found ourselves very aligned on the purpose of this purchase. We sketched a vision of owning a cabin in the woods, somewhat close to skiing and civilization, but more importantly, ensconced in trees and in close proximity to water. We had a loose idea of renting out the home to defray costs, but hadn’t worked out the details. A local realtor began showing us listings. A few weeks later, Father Algorithm connected us to Summer on Instagram.
"We believed Summer would help us make smart, data-driven decisions when renting out the property, and make our own vacations as stress-free as possible."
A conversation with Woods, one of Summer’s cofounders, convinced us that the Summer model made perfect sense for what we were trying to accomplish. The fact is, this purchase is both an indulgence and an investment. To pull off that tricky balance, we needed experts who knew the hospitality and short-term rental businesses intimately. We believed Summer would help us make smart, data-driven decisions when renting out the property, and make our own vacations as stress-free as possible.
Your Summer home, the Lanesville cabin, was the first home in the Summer network (affectionately dubbed "Our Baby Lanesville" by the team). What were some highlights throughout the process of working with Summer to make Lanesville feel like home?
The Lanesville Cabin is truly magical. In the spring, we planned a long weekend to look at homes with our realtor and had the opportunity to use the Lanesville Cabin as our home base. The first day, we drove up from our home in New Jersey and saw several houses straight away. All were contenders, but none really stood out as “the one”.
After a full day of driving with two young kids (lots of buckling and unbuckling car seats), we pulled into the driveway of the Lanesville Cabin and it took our breath away. The weathered wood façade with the turquoise window trim against the lush mountain background – my goodness. We heard the stream rushing in the backyard. My wife and I walked in the front door, the kids exploded past our legs inside, and we gazed around the first floor until our eyes met, saying the same thing: should we cancel the rest of our viewings?
We didn’t cancel anything. We stuck it out and built our conviction in Lanesville by seeing a lot of other homes. We looked for a few more weeks, including another home already in the Summer network (The Woodland Valley Cabin, which is also stunning). The best part of the experience was Summer’s impartiality. They had no reason to care if we bought a home out of their existing inventory or partnered with them on the acquisition of a new home to add to their network. We saw other homes that were close to beating out the Lanesville Cabin; Team Summer was right there with us analyzing the opportunities deeply (and quantitatively) with totally aligned incentives. Ultimately, we found that Summer had already acquired exactly the property we were looking for.
"Team Summer was right there with us analyzing the opportunities deeply (and quantitatively) with totally aligned incentives."
From the perspective of a wealth advisor, how do you think about second home ownerships as an investment and as part of a broader wealth-building plan?
There are so many emotional and financial factors to consider. The “Big Question” families should ask themselves at the decision point: do these dollars serve their highest purpose invested in a second home, or would they better serve us elsewhere?
The answer boils down to return on investment. The tricky part is combining the dollar returns with the emotional returns. You should have a broad perspective on what the alternative uses for that money might be. You’ll know it’s a stretch if any other key financial goals like retirement or kids’ college could be impaired by allocating money to an asset where a meaningful portion of the return takes the form of the 40 nights a year you stay there, and not investment dollars that can compound. And since buying real estate can be risky and “sticky”, you’ll need confidence that once you’ve made your bed, you’re prepared to sleep in it. Prices for second homes can go down as well as up, and rental revenue can fluctuate. You’ll need cash reserves for unexpected expenses and vacancies, especially if you have a mortgage payment to cover. Don’t forget about property taxes and insurance.
"For us, it was all about sharing intimate proximity to nature with our children. The Summer model has many interesting features and options to design the purchase around your family’s unique situation."
By lessening the upfront commitment and supporting their members with their extensive expertise – and, in many cases, a revenue guarantee – Summer lowers the hurdle for families to say yes to a second home. Then the devil is in the details. Some questions you might want to answer: How much of our net worth should the purchase price represent? How much do we put down versus borrow? Are we selling stocks or other assets to buy the home? What kind of loan should we take on? How will this affect our tax returns?
And lastly, how do we infuse our family’s purpose and values into a purchase? For us, it was all about sharing intimate proximity to nature with our children. The Summer model has many interesting features and options to design the purchase around your family’s unique situation.
When it comes to the future of the business, how do you see Summer changing families' lives as we continue to expand?
Summer has a very clear mission that I’ve personally seen articulated and demonstrated – to make second home ownership more accessible to more families. And it’s not just about affordability, but stress-reduction as well. There’s no shortage of people who would love to own a second home, but recent inflation in prices has made even primary home ownership challenging to achieve for many families.
"Summer’s purpose is to reduce the two-way miss out there; they’ll help the timid dip their toes in the water, while at the same time provide the “stretchers” a chance to pull off second-homeownership with a more reasonable amount of risk."
The two-pronged revolution of the short-term rental economy combined with our pandemic-spawned culture of geographic flexibility creates a unique opportunity for people to pull forward the goal of second home ownership. This reminds me of that scene in It’s a Wonderful Life – “Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them?” Many families still won’t pull the trigger on a second home because they’ll never muster the financial confidence they should or could have. Others will still stretch beyond their means, misalign their purchase from their values, and regret compromising other financial goals for a poorly conceived pipe dream.
Summer’s purpose is to reduce the two-way miss out there; they’ll help the timid dip their toes in the water, while at the same time provide the “stretchers” a chance to pull off second-homeownership with a more reasonable amount of risk.
To learn more or get in touch with Adrian, visit his website.
Disclosure: The opinions expressed here are Adrian’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of his firm, Target Rock Wealth Management. Comments were written in September 2022 and reflect information available at that time. No statement should be construed as financial advice. Adrian was not compensated for providing his comments and has no referral relationship with Summer, but is grateful for this forum to share his professional insights.