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Time-Share Ownership Variations

Advice to Help You Buy the Right Time-Share

Technically, owning a time-share means that at a specific 'time' you have access to the 'share' you own in a property. Time-shares have been sold for cruises, recreational vehicles, campgrounds and many other types of properties, but their most popular use is for shares in condominiums at large time-share resorts. There are many flexible ownership variations that prevent you from being committed to one time-share destination and one specific time of year.

Time-shares became popular in Europe in the 1960's when escalating property prices made it nearly impossible for most people to afford a full-time vacation home. By creating a shared ownership, developers were able to reduce the costs for each owner, allowing them to successfully market and sell properties to a greater number of clients.

Time-Share Costs

Time-share owners pay for their unit. Financing is available for new time-shares sold by developers, but most resales–units purchased from individuals–are paid for in cash.

Time-share owners share maintenance fees, management fees and costs to upkeep common areas such as pools and tennis courts. Fees vary and should be disclosed to you when you buy a unit.

Types of Time-Shares

There are many time-share ownership variations and a few are described below. Your ownership might differ or it might be made up of a combination of plans.

Fixed Unit, Fixed Week, Deeded Time-Share
You receive a deed that states you own a specific time-share at a specific time each year.

Floating Time Agreement
The dates you can use your time-share are flexible. Reservations are on a first-come basis, since all owners likely have the same option.

Right-To-Use Time-Share
This variation is a lease. At its end you no longer have any rights to the property.

Vacation Clubs or Points-Based Programs
Time-share owners choose from a variety of vacation destinations. Each stay uses points, which vary for the time-share unit and season purchased.

Buying From a Time-Share Developer

Developers are the people who build and sell new time-shares. In the U.S. their sales practices are usually controlled by state laws. Become familiar with time-share laws in the state where you plan to buy by searching the real estate commission Web site for the state where the development is located. Agent pages are often the best places to find information about laws that govern the initial sale of time-shares.

Be sure that you understand time-share laws that apply to purchases made outside of the U.S. before you buy a unit.

Buying a Time-Share Resale

Pre-owned time-shares, or resales, can typically be purchased for a small fraction of the cost of a new unit.

Do your homework. Understanding the variables and all of your rights as a time-share buyer will give you more confidence when negotiating for the property.

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