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What Timeshare is All About

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With timeshare the use and costs of running the resort are shared among the owners. While the majority of Timeshare resorts are condominium vacation resorts, developers have applied the timeshare model to houseboats, yachts, campgrounds and motor homes.

History of Timeshare

The notion of a timeshare was originally created in Europe in the 1960s. A ski resort developer in the French Alps innovatively marketed his resort by encouraging guests to "stop renting a room" and instead "buy the hotel". The developer was successful in increasing occupancy and the idea spread worldwide.

Timeshare Methods of Use

Timeshare owners may elect to:

    * Use their usage time
    * Rent out their owned usage
    * Give it as a gift
    * Exchange internally within the same resort or resort group
    * Exchange externally into thousands of other timeshare resorts

Timeshare owners can elect to stay at their resort during the prescribed period, which varies depending on the nature of their ownership. They can rent out their week or give it as a gift to friends and family.

Timeshare offers owners the possibility to exchange their week, either independently or through several exchange agencies, to stay at one of the thousands of other resorts worldwide. The two largest exchange agencies are Resort Condominiums International (RCI) & Interval International [II] and there are several independent exchange agencies. RCI and II both have resort affiliate programs and members can only exchange to affiliate resorts. It is rare to find a dual affiliate resort, it is more common for a resort to be affiliated with only one of the larger exchange agencies. RCI is the largest with over 3,800 resorts split between its weeks and points programs. II has more then 2000 resorts. It is important when considering timeshare ownership to consider which locations and resorts you may want to travel to before making your purchase, because the timeshare resort you purchase at will determine which of the major exchange companies you can exchange through. Both RCI and II charge membership fees and exchange fees. They also bar members from renting weeks they have exchanged for.

Timeshare owners may also arrange a direct exchange, this requires locating a timeshare owner with the location and weeks both mutually desire. This form of exchange is rare but since it can save in exchange fees it is often sought after.

Color Time

Color time refers to the travel season for any given resort. For RCI, the designations are:

    * Red: high demand season
    * White: intermediate season
    * Blue: low demand season

For II, the designations are:

    * Red: high demand season
    * Yellow: intermediate season
    * Green: low demand season

Types of Ownership

    * Fixed, Floating and Rotating Weeks

Ownership is often sold as weeks, the use of these weeks can be fixed, floating or rotating weeks.

    * Fixed Week Ownership

The most basic timeshare unit is a fixed week; the resort will have a calendar enumerating the weeks roughly starting with the first calendar week of the year. As an owner you may own a deed to use a unit for a single specified week. For example week 26 normally includes the Fourth of July Holiday. If you owned Week 26 at a resort you could use your week every year.

    * Floating

Sometimes a timeshare is sold as floating weeks. The ownership will be specific on how many weeks you own and from which weeks you may select for your stay. An example of this, a timeshare may be a floating summer week where the owner may request any week during the summer season generally weeks 22 through 36. In this example there would be competition for prime holidays such as the weeks of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. The weeks when schools may still be in session would not be so high in demand. Some floating contracts exclude major holidays so they may be sold as fixed weeks.

    * Rotating

Some timeshare is sold as rotating weeks. In an attempt to give all owners a chance for the best weeks the weeks are rotated forward or backward through the calendar so one year the owner may have use of week 25, then week 26 the next year and then week 27 the year after that. This method does give each owner a fair opportunity for prime weeks but it is not flexible.

    * Deeded vs. Right to Use

A major difference in types of timeshare ownership is that between deeded and right to use contracts. With deeded contracts the use of the timeshare resort is usually divided into weeklong increments and these are sold as fractional ownership and are real property. As with any other piece of real estate you may use your week, rent your week, give it away, or leave it to your heirs.

With right to use, the timeshare purchaser has the right to use the property in accordance with the contract but at some point the contract ends and all rights revert to the property owner. In other words, the right to use contract grants the right to use the resort for a specific number of years. In many countries there are severe limits on foreign property ownership so this is a common method for developing timeshare resorts in countries such as Mexico. Disney Vacation Club is also sold as a right to use.

    * Vacation Clubs

Vacation clubs are organizations that may own timeshare units in multiple resorts in different locations. They are sold both as deeded or right to use and club members may reserve vacation time at any of the owned resort units based on availability.

    * Points Programs

Resort based points programs are also sold as deeded and as right to use. Points programs annually give the owner an amount of points equal to the level of ownership. The timeshare owner in a points program can then use these points to make travel arrangements within the resort group. Many points programs are affiliated with large resort groups offering a large selection of options for destination. Many resort point programs provide flexibility from the traditional week stay. Resort point program members may request from the entire available inventory of the resort group.

Exchange company point programs are not a method of ownership nor are specifically associated with one resort or resort group. With the exchange company points programs the members may be limited to exchanging for weeks deposited by other members.

A points program member may often request fractional weeks as well as full or multiple weeks stays. The number of points required to stay at the resort will vary based on a points chart. The points chart will allow for factors such as:

    * The popularity of the resort;
    * The size of the accommodations;
    * The number of nights;
    * The popularity of the season;
    * and the specific nights requested.

There is flexibility as well as complexity in point programs.

Important Note on Ownership

    * With any of the above mentioned ownership methods, a timeshare owner is legally and contractually tied to that ownership.
    * A timeshare owner has rights, responsibilities and legal obligations. Once the timeshare contract is made it is not easily ended.
    * These contracts and obligations belong to the timeshare owner until the timeshare is sold or ownership is transferred through some other means.

Rescission Period

In many developer contracts (and often required by government statutes and/or regulations) there may exist a Rescission period. The Rescission period outlines how many days after a timeshare purchase, from a developer, that a buyer has an opportunity to change their mind and cancel the purchase. The Rescission period is usually only a few days long and the buyer must follow the cancellation procedure exactly or risk the request to rescind being ignored.

Types and Sizes of Timeshare Units

Timeshare properties tend to be apartment-style units ranging in size from studio units (with room for two) to three and four-bedroom units. These larger units can comfortably house large families. Times

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