What is a Timeshare

Many people are still unsure just what a timeshare is. They have a vague impression that a timeshare allows you to go on holiday for the same week or two every year, to the same place, but have no real idea about any more than that. This is a brief guide to just what exactly a timeshare is.

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At its most basic, a timeshare is a purchase of a proportion of a property. Rather than owing a percentage of the freehold, the owner `owns` the property outright for a set week or more every year. The week(s) that are owned depend on the initial purchase, so if someone has bought into a timeshare for, say, two weeks in August, they have that right to use that property for those two weeks every year. Aside from the initial outlay, the owner will usually have to pay a maintenance fee to the resort in which the timeshare property is based and this helps ensure that the property is kept in good repair.

Many people like timeshare as it gives them certainty in their holiday every year without the downsides of outright property ownership. But in more recent years, the benefits of owning a timeshare have increased even more. Most of the benefits come from participation in an exchange system, which makes timeshare ownership much more flexible and more akin to taking a `regular` holiday.

Exchange clubs have opened up the holiday market for their members, allowing people to `barter` with their holiday time in order to travel to other resorts and at other times. This is what effectively turns timeshare into the more common style of holiday, in that club members can visit resorts all over the world at any time of the year, rather than being restricted to one resort for the same week(s), year in, year out. The most popular form of exchange club allocates points to its members, which vary according to time of year and popularity of resort. So a timeshare owner who has a peak season week in a very popular resort will have more points with which to barter than someone with a timeshare at a less popular time/location. Many exchange systems allow for points to be saved for a couple of years, or for points to be `bought`, allowing for even greater flexibility. Being a member of an exchange club also offers other benefits, which vary from club to club and even from resort to resort.

There are many reasons why an owner would choose to sell timeshare, be it for practical or financial reasons and recent years have seen an increase in the number of companies and individuals purporting to specialise in helping people sell their unwanted timeshares. As with other businesses, there are good companies and bad, but a little careful research will help to separate the wheat from the chaff and ensure that the experience of selling the timeshare is as simple and straightforward as buying it was in the first place.

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