How Pacaso created a new approach to second home ownership
Published Date: January 5, 2023
In 2014, Several years before Austin Allison came up with the idea for Pacaso, he and his wife bought a second home in Lake Tahoe. Owning a second home was a lifelong dream for Austin, co-founder and CEO of Pacaso, but it was a stretch financially, and challenging to manage. “We were like most families who aspire to own a second home but could not easily afford it at the time,” he said. “The only way we could make it work was to rent it out when we were not there. We felt privileged to own the home, but the stress and hassle of managing a rental to help pay the mortgage was burdensome.” He wondered if there could be an easier way to own a second home, and that idea stuck with him in the years that followed.Austin grew up in Cincinnati in a working-class family. His father was a carpenter, and Austin was entrepreneurial from a young age — his first business venture was building and selling birdhouses to families in the neighborhood when he was a kid. Not long after, he became interested in real estate, buying his first house at age 17 and getting his real estate agent license just a year later. Soon, his ambitions expanded, and he founded his first company, dotloop, in his hometown. Dotloop, a real estate transaction company, caught the attention of Zillow executives and was acquired by Zillow Group, where Austin began working with then-CEO of Zillow Group Spencer Rascoff. It was prior to this acquisition that Austin purchased his second home. Although he was running a successful business, he was not in a position to buy a whole house outright, and the cost to own another home was significant. He and his wife were thrilled to own a special place in a beautiful location that they loved, but it seemed like second home ownership should be easier and more accessible. “I felt like I’d achieved a dream,” recalled Austin, “and I wanted to make that possible for more people.”After leaving Zillow Group, this kernel of an idea started to develop. Austin and Spencer began brainstorming ideas for startups that would combine their shared passions for real estate, travel and tech innovation. They gravitated toward the concept of making second home ownership more achievable for more people, of “right-sizing” ownership by allowing people to buy only the amount of a home that they’ll actually use, and enabling true ownership with far fewer hassles. Austin believed that a co-ownership model would not only lower costs for owners, it would create a more sustainable housing market in vacation home communities. By consolidating multiple owners into one higher-priced home, these buyers would not be competing for much-needed middle-tier inventory. When Austin discovered that most second homes are vacant 10-11 months each year, he also felt confident that co-owned homes, with a small owner group, would help keep second homes occupied year-round, bringing more consistent economic activity to local businesses. Co-owners purchase the amount of home that meets their needs, and Pacaso handles all the management and maintenance — while communities benefit from invested owners who support local businesses. It was the better way of owning a second home that Austin had imagined was possible. So that’s how Pacaso came to be. And in case you’re wondering why our name sounds like a famous artist, it’s no coincidence. We are inspired by Pablo Picasso’s revolutionary thinking and the way he challenged norms in early 20th-century art. He is credited with co-creating cubism, which brings together individual elements to create a new and innovative whole. That resonated with how we’re approaching second home ownership. We chose the name Pacaso to honor Picasso's legacy of innovation.Watch the video to hear from Austin and learn more about the origin of Pacaso.