Time-share vacations

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I'd appreciate your opinion on purchasing time-share, interval vacation homes -- especially new ones that are just starting up and have no facilities at this point, only plans. S. B.

Your two questions need to be separated. The concept of time-sharing makes a lot of sense. Buying into a facility yet to be built makes no sense at all.

The idea of owning an interest -- say two weeks's worth -- in a condominium at some vacation spot allows you to hedge against rising costs of vacation accommodations through ownership. You buy only that portion you can use. By dividing ownership among 20 to 25 owners, the cost for your time- share is sharply reduced.

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While the concept is valid, you should investigate offerings in detail with these points in mind: Do you receive a "right to use" the facilities for 30 or 40 years or do you receive a deed to your time-share condominium certifying ownership for all time? There are advantages and disadvantages to both ideas. Who manages the property? Some time-share organizations include a permanent management group that handles reservations for space, arranges travel, maintains the properties, and ensures continuity. Other time-share condos are managed by owners' associations, and you could be involved. What kinds of interchange, if any, are available? Can you, for example, exchange your time-share interest for somebody else's period in another location, and under what conditions?

As for facilities yet unbuilt, why take a chance? Many good plans are available with facilities built and operating, some with a 10-year history. Actually, accommodations purchased earlier tend to be less costly than those being built at today's high prices.

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