A timeshare (sometimes called vacation ownership) is a property with a divided form of ownership or use rights. These properties are typically resort condominium units, in which multiple parties hold rights to use the property, and each owner of the same accommodation is allotted their period of time. The minimum purchase is a one-week ownership, and the high-season weeks demand the higher prices. Units may be sold as a partial ownership, lease, or “right to use”, in which case the latter holds no claim to ownership of the property. The ownership of timeshare programs is varied, and has been changing over the decades.
Used as the basis for attracting mass appeal to purchasing a timeshare, is the idea of owners exchanging their week, either independently or through exchange agencies. There are several exchange agencies, but only two are frequently mentioned in the industry. They are the two largest: RCI and Interval International (II), which combined, have over 7,000 resorts. They have resort affiliate programs, and members can only exchange with affiliated resorts. It is most common for a resort to be affiliated with only one of the larger exchange agencies, although resorts with dual affiliations are not uncommon. The timeshare resort one purchases determines which of the exchange companies can be used to make exchanges. RCI and II charge a yearly membership fee, and additional fees for when they find an exchange for a requesting member, and bar members from renting weeks for which they already have exchanged.
Owners can also exchange their weeks or points through independent exchange companies. Owners can exchange without needing the resort to have a formal affiliation agreement with the companies, if the resort of ownership agrees to such arrangements in the original contract.
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