It's so hard being a millionaire when you have to look over the fence and see how the billionaire next door is living.
Spying on one particular Lake Tahoe property would be difficult - it includes 11 acres, private gated entrance and a long, long, long driveway off Ponderosa Avenue. If you are unfamiliar with this area of Incline Village, it's studded with getaway luxury condos and multimillion-dollar estates. Included is the $60 million Sierra Star off Lakeshore Boulevard, rated by Unique Homes in 2005 as one of the 10 most-expensive properties in the U.S.
Even at $16 million, 456 Ponderosa Ave. is still out of reach for most (47 million Americans can't even afford health insurance).
This home has five suites, a media room, spa and sauna room, fitness center, scenic fountain and wine-tasting room.
To tour the mansion at an open house last week, interested parties had to prove they had substantial income in the bank. But just enough to buy a piece of it.
The 13,210-square-foot residence is Incline Village's largest, and most attention-getting fractional-ownership property. The owners of this luxury home, Stanton Thomas and the Sierra Horizon Trust, decided the surest way to sell the home is to offer it up in pieces. Not as a time share, in which you buy time at the place, but as real property with a time share sort of feel to it.
There are only 313 billionaires in the U.S. Intero Real Estate Services is just looking for eight multimillionaires.
"Live like a billionaire for a few million," says Bob Wheeler, broker with Intero Incline Village Real Estate Services.
Your one-eighth piece of equity gives you six weeks a year on a rotating basis to enjoy an opulent vacation skiing or swimming, depending on which season you're allotted. Owners can "trade weeks" if one owner is more of a skier than the other.
You have access to a 2007 Hummer, a 29-foot speed boat, wave runner and snowmobile, which are provided through a partnership with Baccara Private Residence Club.
"It comes with a concierge to mediate changes and take care of needs. It's a property manager at a higher level," says Wheeler. "When you come into your home, your private pictures and items will be out."
This high-level purchase can make sense for those who drop thousands every year on an executive vacation and only come home with the T-shirt. Real property appreciates.
Owners will pay about $2,000 monthly to cover maintenance, property taxes and insurance. That's $192,000 total a year for eight owners. But why not buy an adequate, $500,000 vacation home in Truckee and avoid this $24,000 a year drain? You could own all a less-expensive home, not just 12.5 percent.
Wheeler said it's not just about the money. It's that certain feeling that many Americans crave.
"You can have the experience. It can be pristine every time you come. It's a hassle-free vacation."
Are there any takers yet? One buyer is considering three shares. Six local people have qualified, Wheeler says.
The property is listed by Wheeler and Kim Mares. Visit it at www.LakeTahoeLuxuryHome.com The home last sold for $12 million in 2000, according to Washoe County assessor's data.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.