Timeshares can be an enticing option for those that routinely vacation in the same locations year over year, have a favorite trip location, or people that want to add some simplicity to lodging arrangements for their vacations.

For starters, what is a timeshare?
A timeshare is a vacation property with multiple owners. These owners have a share in a unit that is typically an apartment, condo or villa at a resort-style property, usually in a desirable vacation location. Ownership in a timeshare guarantees a specific time for the owner to use the unit each year.

The Perks
The main perk of a timeshare is the reduced cost in “ownership”. When owning a vacation property outright, you are be the sole owner and have the rights to use it 365 days a year but you also are responsible for the full value of the property and all the maintenance costs. With a timeshare, the cost of ownership is considerably lower, and while a portion of your fees might go toward maintaining the property, the actual maintenance is handled by an HOA or the resort property.

For example, an avid skier or snowboarder might “own” a 3 bedroom timeshare unit in Vail, Colorado for the 3rd week in January every year; this would guarantee the vacation spot every year without the hassles of owning and upkeeping a mountain condo year-round.

What to Know about Ownership
There are two different types of ownership for timeshares. The first is “deeded,” meaning that the owner has the rights to the property for given dates until sold. These types of timeshares can be rented out, given away or passed down through an estate. The second is “right-to-use,” this is the type that most people think of when they hear “timeshare,” these properties are under contract for a specific timeframe that the owner has rights to the unit – typically 10+ years.

Within those ownership options, there are different ways to enjoy the timeshare itself. There is fixed week ownership, as mentioned above, where an owner has access to the property on the same week every year, this is most common among timeshares. Next, there is floating week ownership where multiple weeks are owned and at least one is in peak season with the others spread throughout the rest of the year. Finally, there is rotating week ownership, this means that in year one, an owner might have the unit for a week in March, but by year ten of ownership, they could have a week in September. This allows people to have opportunities to enjoy the property during peak seasons at some point during their ownership.

The Modern Timeshare
There is also a more flexible timeshare option for people who want vacation options at a fixed rate. A lot of timeshare properties belong to families of resorts thereby allowing greater flexibility in vacation options. At these types of timeshares or “vacation clubs”, owners pay for an allotment of points or credits, they can then use those credits to book at a number of property options in several locations. Something to consider though, is that high demand locations, dates/times of year, and property sizes will carry different point weights, but the flexibility of booking afforded to owners is appealing to a lot of people.