Timeshare is when a number of people share ownership in a piece of real estate. Unlike individual home ownership where an individual or a corporation owns the entire property, timeshares are always owned by a large number of different people, and just like any other real estate, the portion that they own can be sold or passed on to their heirs. Timeshare started as fractions of deeded real estate, mostly sold as weeks. Today the concept has evolved into other hybrid versions such as point systems and vacation clubs, but all forms of timeshare work basically the same, allowing you to use the time you own once each year.
Where did timeshare start?
The idea of timeshare ownership originated in Europe in the 1960s when a failing ski resort in the French Alps came up with the idea of splitting the ownership among several families. The idea caught on and soon developers worldwide were converting motels, hotels and excess condominiums into timeshare properties. Today there are approximately five million households in the U.S. that own one or more weeks of a timeshare.
How is timeshare sold?
Timeshares are usually one to three bedroom condominiums with full kitchens and they are sold in units of weeks. The weeks can be the same fixed week every year or they can be what is called floating weeks, which allow the owner to select a different week each year, usually within the same season. Each year the owner can choose to use his week at his location, gift or rent his week out to someone else, or exchange his week with another timeshare owner for a different location.
What is a timeshare exchange?
The ability to trade your week with another owner is one of the major attractions of timeshare ownership. By investing in one location, an owner can trade on a yearly basis to a different location in the world every year. This trade is usually handled by one of two major exchange services, either RCI or Interval International. The popularity of the location that is owned and traded affects the availability and quality of the trade. The more demand there is for the location that is owned the easier it is to trade for other highly desired and in-demand locations.
Today almost all of the major hotel chains offer a timeshare ownership program to their hotel customers and there are currently over five thousand timeshare resorts in more than one hundred countries. They are found mostly in resort areas and vacation destinations around the world. So, is buying timeshare a good idea? There is no doubt that as an alternative to vacationing in hotels, timeshare ownership is an option that is here to stay.