Timeshare Terminology from A to Z

With next year right around corner and the summer 2015 holidays already on a lot of people’s minds, now is the time to take advantage of the best flight prices and resort options available if you’re planning a couple of getaways next year.

Timeshare is one of the most economical ways to holiday if you have a large family, and interestingly a growing number of younger families are buying timeshares these days.

If you’re thinking about buying a timeshare soon, it’s important to ensure you understand the terms, conditions and entire agreement before you sign  on the dotted line. There can be a lot of “timeshare terminology” involved, so keep this guide to hand as we walk you through from A-Z, starting with Part 1, A to M Part 2, N to Z follows next month.)

Timeshare Terminology, Part 1 (A-M)

Accrued Weeks – These are any unused weeks from the previous year that have been banked and can now be used this year.

Banking or Deposit – This means depositing your timeshare week into an exchange system or inventory pool. When your week is banked, it’s important to remember you can’t use it – you’ve banked it into the pool so that someone else can.

Biennial – “Every other year” – in other words, being able to use a timeshare week every other year. You will be either an “odd” (e.g. 2015) or “even” (2016) year owner.

Developer – The developer is the company that has built/owns the resort, and has constructed all the timeshare accommodation and facilities on site.  The developer will also be selling the product – the timeshares.  If you want to resell yours at the resort at a later stage, it’s always worth asking if the developer has an in-house resale service which is a good place to start when the time comes when you decide you want or need to sell.

Exchange Company – RCI www.RCI.com, Interval International www.intervalworld.com and DAE (www.dialanexchange.com) are global leaders in the holiday exchange specialist industry.

Holiday exchanges involve a system that allows timeshare owners to trade the accommodation they own for alternative (comparable) timeshare weeks or travel-related services – e.g. exchanging your week in Tenerife for a week in Malaga.

Most resort companies are affiliated with an exchange company such as RCI or Interval International and many resort companies offer an internal exchange mechanism that allows owners to exchange to resorts within their company’s portfolio of resorts – this is one of the advantages of owning with a larger developer which offers a wide range of resorts in many of the world’s most sought-after locations.

Fixed week – The original timeshare “week”, and no longer the only option available – timeshare has come such a long way from its roots back in the 1960s.  But many owners still like to stick to a fixed week – this is a type of timeshare ownership in which usage rights attach to a specific week of the year each year in perpetuity.

Floating week – More flexible than a fixed week, a floating week gives owners the right to use timeshare within a particular season (summer or autumn, for example) or even throughout the year.

A year-round “floating week” is often found in resorts with similar seasons, with little variation in the weather, like Hawaii or the Caribbean.

Fractional Ownership – Not the same as timeshare, this involves holiday property  real estate sold in “slices” or “intervals”  – often quarters (25%) of more than one week and less than whole freehold ownership. Fractionals tend to be linked to luxury holiday properties, often within 5 start resorts – retreats in Tuscany or full-service, full amenity hotels and spas in the Caribbean, for example.

When you buy a fraction, you are buying the bricks and mortar (deeded share) of the property you’ve bought into, and quarters, eighth or twelfth shares are among some of the most common “fractions” on the market.  This is different to timeshare where you are simply buying “time to share” – weeks, or points to be used towards weeks – you don’t actually own, in the full sense of the word, the property you take your timeshare holidays at.

So for a fractional property, e.g. if you have bought a 25% share in a villa on the Algarve, you will be entitled to use it (during pre-determined weeks/seasons) for your designated time periods, while three other owners will use it at different times during the rest of the same year.  To make sure everyone gets to holiday at peak school holiday times – e.g. August, or Christmas/New Year – a rotating calendar is often used so that each family gets to use the property at peak times during their tenure.

Home Owners Association (HOA) – This is the group of owners who collectively administer the rules and regulations of a resort, how it is run, etc.

Home resort – This is the resort you originally bought at, or your “home” resort, where you own your week.  Ownership is usually tied to this home resort and you generally will have priority reservation rights at that particular resort, wherever it may be.

Interval or a weekly interval – These terms refer to vacation ownership which is measured by a set number of days and nights of annual use, usually one week, two weeks and so on.

Lock-off – These can be a useful feature of your timeshare accommodation – basically this means a flexible type of timeshare unit consisting of multiple living and sleeping quarters.

If you have a lock-off apartment it can be one large unit or split up and “locked off” into two or more smaller units.  This allows owners to split their timeshare holidays into multiple stays or if they prefer they can bank just a portion when they want to deposit their accommodation and exchange with another one at a different resort.

For more information on holiday exchanges, see www.RCI.com , http://www.intervalworld.com/ and http://www.dialanexchange.com/.  There are various timeshare consumer guides on the GoTimeshare website, too, which cover some of the most frequently asked questions about buying and selling safely, and how to deal with cold callers.


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