Fractionals, also called private residence clubs, are sometimes compared to luxury timeshares, however, it’s important to understand the differences between the two types of investments before you can decide which one is right for you.
Fractionals Are High-end Luxury Homes for the Privileged Few
The most significant difference between fractionals and timeshares is the level of exclusivity and luxury. Fractionals tend to be far more exclusive and include many more luxury amenities and services than do timeshares. They are usually larger homes, often full-size houses with two to five bedrooms. Most timeshare units have just one to two bedrooms or just a hotel room.
Because there are fewer owners for fractionals, usually eight to twelve for each fractional unit vs. timeshare units which can have up to 52 different owners (one per week), there is a feeling of exclusivity at private residence clubs. The atmosphere is more like that of a very high-end private country club. For the same reason there is a sense of pride in ownership among the owners of fractionals that just doesn’t exist among timeshare owners.
Weeks vs. Months
Timeshares are typically for one to two weeks per year. The price of the timeshare is often based on the specific week chosen. That is, popular vacation weeks such as the week of July 4 or Labor Day, cost more than say a week in the middle of April.
Fractionals, on the other hand, are for two to 13 weeks. For example, a one-eighth undivided interest gives you a guaranteed six weeks. Four to five weeks is usual. Best of all, those weeks don’t necessarily have to be consecutive. Owners can cherry pick the weeks they want. Furthermore, they don’t have to use the same weeks every year. Working within their fractional’s reservation guidelines, they can simply book the weeks they want.
You will find timeshares in virtually every vacation community in the world. Not so with fractionals. Part of the appeal of fractionals is their supreme locations. They are generally located on ultra-prime real estate in the most exclusive ski resort, golf resort and beach resort locations around the world. Oftentimes, hotel and resort developers like to piggyback residence clubs with their full-service hotels. Florida, Colorado and select countries in the Caribbean currently have the most fractionals.
Certainly one of the main differences between timeshares and fractionals is price. You can buy timeshares for as little as $5,000. Even high-priced timeshares are generally under $50,000. Fractionals, on the other hand, are more expensive. Prices start at $100,000 and can go on up to $1 million plus. For that high price, you are considered a deeded owner of the property and most likely, you are one of only eight to twelve owners of that property.
Financing a timeshare with a bank or mortgage company loan can be difficult. Rates generally are high, regardless of how good your credit. That’s because most timeshares depreciate over time.
Conversely, banks and mortgage firms consider fractionals to be appreciating assets and will often treat them like any other second-home purchase. Interest rates will usually be comparable to any other typical home mortgage.
Fractionals tend to appreciate while timeshares often fall short of realizing their optimistic appreciation potential. There are a couple of reasons for this phenomenon. With fractionals, more of the buyer’s dollar goes to high quality finishes and “bricks and mortar.” With timeshares, a large percentage of the cost goes to sales commissions which can be as high as 40%-50%.
Furthermore, industry experts say timeshare resale values have historically been poor because of the large number of timeshare resales on the market and a continuous stream of new developments competing with them. Also, the secondary market for timeshares has never taken off. The fact is, most people who buy a timeshare will have it for life, whether they want to or not. Conversely, there are a very limited number of fractionals on the market. Most likely, that number will stay small because of the emphasis placed on building in only the very best, most highly desirable locations. The result is that demand outpaces supply, resulting in property appreciation.