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Trading spaces: buying a time share for travel
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Some other things to consider:

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  • Does the area have an abundance of time-share properties?
    Some destinations, such as Orlando, have tons of units, says Rogers. That means if you're trying to trade your Orlando condo for a week in a popular or less-developed destination, you may not have as much leverage, he says.
  • Is your property recognized as desirable?
    Forget what you hear from the people who are selling the property. Go online to sites where owners are trying to trade, and "start reading where everybody wants to go," Rogers says. "And if I were buying for trading purposes, those are the ones I would buy." Call owners who have traded to get an idea of your potential property's trading value. What's their experience when they try to trade? Are they getting destinations and properties that you'd enjoy? Most important, do your homework "before you buy, not after," says Rogers.
  • Is your time in-season or off?
    "Off-season never trades well," says Rogers. Instead he recommends looking for the popular, (usually) red weeks. But that hot-color designation is no guarantee of a hot trading option, he says, pointing out that Orlando, for instance, is always red. In reality, "there are different shades of red," he says.
  • How large is your time share?
    "If you want to trade for a two-bedroom, you have to have a two-bedroom," says Rogers. "If you have a one-bedroom, you're not supposed to be able to ask for a two- or three-bedroom."

    But Bansmer disagrees that time-share size is a salient factor. "The community could be very popular," he says. "It depends on demand."
  • What is the resort's status in the exchange system?
    For example, RCI sorts resorts into various categories, says Bansmer. Ask what rating category your resort has earned, he says. And look at other properties in that category to see if you'd be happy with that exchange.

Tricks of the trade
There are also a couple of other ways to scope out the potential trade value of a property. For many properties, exchange companies will assign the time period a number of points, giving it a comparable value within that system.

"With points, the exchange companies have basically thrown open the books on all the trading power of the resorts," says Rogers. "Points are equal. And the more points it takes, the higher the demand for a particular resort or unit."

But exchange groups don't use points for every property. Instead, sometimes they look at swapping a week in one time share for equal time in another, says Bansmer. In those cases, when it comes to trying to divine a value, "there's a bit more art there, if you will," he says.

Another trick to gauging time-share value: What's the rental rate? "Most resorts rent out extra rooms that they have," says Rogers. "You can compare one resort to another, in season and out."

Rogers contends that consumers can pick up a property to trade and travel if they do their homework ahead of time.

"Like anything else," says Rogers, "it takes a little education."

Dana Dratch is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Aug. 16, 2004
 
 
More stories by Dana Dratch
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