Buying a Vacation Home

Why Pay Full Price for Part-Time Use?

If the idea of renting your vacation home is not appealing, and you cannot see paying for it all yourself, consider these other options.

Time Shares

What exactly is a time share? You are essentially buying a week or two of ownership, or usage, of a particular unit in a resort location annually. These units are usually condominiums that you will be obligated to pay maintenance fees on in addition to the price you pay for the time share. Time share prices are marked up by sales commissions, administrative costs, and profits for the time share development company.

Time shares promise you hassle-free trading of weeks at different resorts. This isn't always accomplished so easily at unpopular resort locations. If you plan on swapping, make sure you buy in a popular area during a popular season.

Before you buy, find out if the property is properly managed. Consider the following:

  1. How often are furnishings replaced and units redecorated?
  2. Talk to current owners about the developer's reputation.
  3. Ask for a copy of the maintenance budget.

SUGGESTION: Consider buying a used time share. You may be able to pick one up at a decent price from someone who is willing to lose money just because he or she wants to sell out.

Buying a Vacation Home with Family or Friends

This may seem like the answer to affording the place you really want, but it can also be a nightmare. Things can get sticky anytime you team up with family or friends in situations involving money. Lay out some rules and put them in writing. Consider the following issues before going forward:

  • What proportion of the purchase price and ongoing expenses will each partner pay?
  • Who will be responsible for maintenance and general upkeep?
  • If you are renting the property, who will assume landlord responsibilities?
  • Who will handle the financial record keeping?
  • How will you allocate personal usage of the property for each partner?
Besides these issues, decide if you really want to jeopardize your relationship. Many of the most solid relationships have been destroyed over such joint arrangements. If you feel confident that this won't be a problem, it might make sense to do it.
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