real estate

Should you buy a time share now?

If you still think a time share is right for you, now may be a good time to buy. "Prices have never been lower," says Rogers.

Kozlowski says she's seen more buyers than usual because of price reductions. Consequently, it's currently a buyer's market. "Sellers are seeing reality."

The best buys are in the resale market, and many can be found on eBay, Timeshare Users Group, or TUG, and Redweek.com, says Rogers. There are hundreds of resale sites, he says, filled with listings from people who want to get rid of their time shares at bargain prices. "I've never seen prices on the resale market where they are now," he says, noting that time shares currently are listed at 75 percent to 99 percent off what the owner paid for the time share new from the developer. "It's almost not possible to go any lower."

In some cases, though, purchasing a time share for even $1 might not be a good deal, he says. "Remember, you're buying something for life."

Buying a property on the Internet will take some work. Collura cautions that while there are many seemingly "good deals" on the Internet, buyers should make sure they understand exactly what they're getting and be able to "match apples to apples." A good time share real estate broker can guide you in making the proper comparisons, he adds.

Schreier also recommends that individuals work with an independent consultant in the same way they work with an agent when purchasing a house.

However, if you choose to go it alone, she says, do "lots of comparison shopping." Also, think about how you'll use it, she says: "Do you plan on using this time share more as the home resort or more to exchange?" For example, if you purchase a time share in Alabama, it will have far less trading power than one in, say, Las Vegas, or Christmas week in Vail, Colo., she explains. Location is the key to trading power.

When it comes to financing a time share, loans are available, says Collura, but most are personal loans and a buyer needs a good credit rating.

Almost every time share developer will offer "convenient" financing for a period of seven to 10 years, says Schreier. That convenience comes at a price, normally 15 percent to 19 percent interest, she says. Years ago, consumers could get a home equity loan to cover the time share, she says. "Those days are over."

Ultimately, she says, if consumers can't afford time shares, they shouldn't be buying them.

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