Saturday, November 26, 2005


Intrawest Affiliates With Hilton Grand Vacations Company

Intrawest Corporation and Hilton Grand Vacations Company (HGVC) today announced a new strategic affiliation to enhance their respective vacation ownership networks. As a result, Club Intrawest and Hilton Grand Vacations Club (HGVClub(R)), two of the industry's most compelling vacation clubs, will offer reciprocal vacation privileges to their members.
The relationship gives Club Intrawest members direct access to popular HGVClub resorts and travel privileges throughout the world via Silver VIP Membership in the award-winning Hilton HHonors(R) guest reward program. The agreement also provides preferred members of Hilton Grand Vacations Club with access to renowned Club Intrawest resorts.

According to Jim Gibbons, president of Club Intrawest, "We have created a breakthrough relationship with HGVC. Now more than 2,700 Hilton Family hotels and resorts are available to Club Intrawest members. Plus, for the first time ever, our members have access to air, car and train travel through their Club Intrawest Membership and ExtraOrdinary Escapes."

Kim Kreiger, senior vice president and chief club officer of HGVC, notes, "We are pleased to launch access to the exclusive Club Intrawest resort collection to our Elite status members of HGVClub. These Members will now have the privilege of exploring some of the most desirable ski, golf and beach resorts in the world. The Club Intrawest resort portfolio offers spectacular settings and resort amenities; these destinations are a superb complement to the vacation options currently available through HGVClub membership."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Timeshare Owners Enjoy The Investment

John Smith has spent vacation time at resorts from Cape Cod in New England to the Palm Desert in California, and even a few choice locations overseas.
Thanks to an initial investment to buy a timeshare about 20 years ago, the Mt. Lebanon resident has been able to visit a variety of dream vacation spots, and he says he has thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"For me, it's been very worthwhile; every place I've been has been first class," said the 91-year-old Lore, who has a one-week ownership interest at Fisherman's Village, a resort complex in Punta Gorda, Fla.

He also is a member of Interval International, a Miami-based organization whose members have the opportunity to trade their timeshare weeks for stays at other locations.

In the years since, they've found it's been "a great and economical way" to spend a vacation with their two sons, aged 12 and 5.

"Usually, we spend our vacations there, but on occasion we have traded for another location," she said.

A timeshare is an arrangement for sharing ownership in a real estate property -- usually an individual unit such as a house, hotel or condominium -- at a resort that gives any of the joint purchasers the right to occupy the unit during a specified period each year.

According to the American Resort Development Association, there are 5,425 timeshare resorts worldwide, including 1,590 in the United States; Florida, with 366 resorts, is the leading state, followed by California, with 125, and South Carolina, with 119.

The association also says more than 6.7 million consumers worldwide own timehares, including 3 million in this country,

Cost of a timeshare varies; the association says the average price for a week of timeshare use worldwide is $10,600. In the United States, the average is $14,500.

And after that initial investment, owners normally are required to pay an annual maintenance fee. That can range from about $350 to $450, the owners said.

Lore estimates the price for a one-week timeshare ownership that he has seen ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, although he was able to secure his one-week ownership at a "bargain" price of only $2,000 when it became available 20 years ago.

And in addition to the yearly maintenance fee for his own timeshare unit, he must pay an exchange fee when he trades his week there for one in another location.

"We don't charge a member for listing a unit with us in order to offer it for use by another timeshare owner," said Josie Wales, a spokeswoman for Interval International in Miami. However, members who want to use that unit pay a $121 exchange fee. For members who seek an overseas resort, the fee is $149.

According to the Resort Development Association, exchange fees average $325 worldwide, $385 in the United States.

Interval, with a membership of more than 1.5 million families and 2,000 resorts worldwide, has an annual membership fee of $79, Boesch said.

Besides providing timeshare units for members, Interval can provide airfare accommodations, rental car assistance and other services, she added.

Also, industry officials said, some timeshare developers, besides selling units, offer programs that work using a point system that can either be used to stay in a resort or to offset the cost of flights, rental cars, or other services.

Nancy and Owen Kilbane of Mt. Lebanon also are satisfied owners of timeshares.

Besides owning two weeks in Florida, they own one week in Las Vegas and share two weeks in Cape Cod with a friend.

"We have rented our timeshares, allowed relatives to stay there and have allowed newlyweds to use them for their honeymoon," said Nancy Kilbane, a retired school teacher.

For a number of years during the Easter season, she and her husband and their two children, now 21 and 17, would head to Orlando and Disney World to take advantage of their timeshare condo.

The Kilbanes are members of Interval International and RCI, another company that handles exchanges.

RCI provides services to its members similar to those of Interval, said David Jimenez, manager, corporate communications.

The Kilbanes also have been able to take trips to such locations as Vail, Colo., and Palm Desert, Calif., through exchanges.

They purchased their weeks at prices of from $3,000 to $8,000, Nancy Kilbane said. Their yearly maintenance fees range from $350 to $450.

Normally, travel agencies do not get involved with timeshare travellers, said Colleen Peterson of Port of Call Travel in Greensburg.

She feels timeshares are in competition with travel agencies because the owners do not use agencies to arrange vacations to visit the timeshare locations.

"Some of the people we know who own timeshares have enjoyed their vacations there initially, but after a number of years, they felt they were locked into the site," she said. "The property loses its value to them, unless they are able to trade off for another location."

Monday, November 21, 2005


Florida Tops Nation In Timeshare Developments

Florida's timeshare industry leads the nation, according to a study released Wednesday.

The state is the site of 366 timeshare developments with 27,700 units, said the study done by a consulting firm.

Timeshares are units at a vacation resort that are sold like real estate for a specific period of time each year, typically a week. Buyers share their unit with owners of other time periods the rest of the year. Units can usually be exchanged for stays at other timeshare resorts.

Florida accounted for 21 percent of the nation's timeshare inventory in 2002, the year studied by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The study was commissioned by the research arm of the American Resort Developers and Real Estate Association.

That far outpaces the second state on the list, South Carolina.

But visitors to Hawaii timeshares spent more than in Florida, and therefore support more jobs. The study attributed the presence of 59,300 jobs in Florida to timeshares, and said $2.3 billion was spent in 2002 directly by visitors.

On average, a party visiting a Florida timeshare includes 3.8 people who spend nearly $2,400 and 7.2 nights at the resort.

"Timeshare purchases, combined with other expenditures and owner and guest spending during vacation, generate tremendous income as well as a ripple effect through other parts of the state's economy and real estate," said Pricewaterhouse partner Scott Berman.

Visitors to timeshares in Hawaii spend an average of $5,056 per party. "Hawaii is a more expensive place to travel to," said Adam Schwartz, a spokesman for Fairfield Resorts, an Orlando-based timeshare firm that has four properties in South Florida.

The number of timeshare units in Florida is more than double runner-up South Carolina, which has 12,100 units. California is third with 11,900 units.

Other states included in the study were Arizona, Nevada and Virginia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Melbourne Hotel To Become First CBD Timeshare

MELBOURNE'S CBD is set to get its first timeshare, with Accor Premier Vacation Club's $11 million purchase and refurbishment of the Grand Mercure Melbourne in Flinders Lane.

APVC chief executive Marty Kandel said the boutique hotel was being renovated and its 59 suites would be fitted out with kitchens to cater for vacation club members.

Mr Kandel said timeshare was back in vogue internationally after the tarnishing of its image in the 1980s by undercapitalised operators.

Top-end accommodation companies such as Disney, Marriott, Hyatt, Accor and Hilton now dominated the industry, he said.

APVC, a joint venture between Melbourne developer Becton Corporation and Accor Asia Pacific, is also establishing a Sydney CBD timeshare, a block away from Darling Harbour in the Pinnacle hotel on Pyrmont Bridge Road.

While timeshare has traditionally been associated with beach or alpine locations, Mr Kandel said the international trend for a city-based vacation club had emerged over the past two years and it was now in New York and London.

He said the Melbourne timeshare was aimed at tapping into the growing trend of Victorian residents coming to the city for a two- to three-day shopping excursion.

Mr Kandel described the vacation club as a lifestyle product where owners bought points that provided, in the case of APVC, four-star accommodation for 80 years. Points were allocated on whether holidays were taken at peak times, and the size of the unit. Points did not have to be used on a yearly basis, and could be held over.

Since APVC was launched in November 2002, it had become Australia's fastest-growing timeshare company. In May this year it had more than 8500 members, Mr Kandel said.

It has 10 club resorts in Australia and access to more than 2000 resorts overseas.

The average price for membership is $17,000 and the minimum membership is $10,000.

In 2005 APVC invested $71 million in property acquisitions and this year has committed $40 million to acquisitions, including the $6.9 million purchase this week of 18 five-star Forrest Resort villas in Victoria's Hepburn Shire.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Timeshare Resales - How To Buy Smart

There are several key factors you must consider in order to avoid overpaying for timeshare resales. In this article you’ll learn the steps necessary for you to learn how to minimize your costs - yet still buy a timeshare that has powerful exchange value through RCI and Interval Int'l.

1. Understand Resort Ratings.

If you want to get the most timeshare for the money do NOT insist that the resort be rated Gold Crown or 5-Star.

Contrary to popular opinion, a resort rating of Gold Crown or 5-Star has little to do with exchange power. Why pay more than you need? Non rated resorts in high demand areas will trade just fine into Gold Crown and 5-Star resorts.

There is a myth out there that you have to own Gold Crown or 5-Star to exchange for same. This is not true. In fact ownership in rated resorts can actually LIMIT your exchange!

2. Buy in a High Demand Area.

By far the single most important factor in determining trade power is location, location, location!

Remember that past demand for a particular resort is the key factor built into the exchange company software which determines what you will be offered in exchange.

Examples of high demand areas are Hawaii, California Coastal, Palm Springs Winter, Florida Coastal and Orlando, the Caribbean, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, ski areas, - in short, any area that is short of timeshare space relative to a high number of people wanting to vacation in that area.

3. Buy Prime Season

If you buy prime season, you won't be restricted as to what time of the year you can request to exchange - you can request any time of year for your destination resort.

4. Buy in a Resort That Has a Reasonable Maintenance Fee.

Since maintenance fees go on forever, don't buy in a resort with an extra high maintenance fee. (Unless perhaps you can buy truly below bargain-basement price.)

5. Buy as Inexpensively as Possible.

Remember that your goal is to minimize your cost; It is easy to lose focus and start assigning importance to features that have nothing to do with how well the timeshare will exchange.

You may not even like the timeshare, but who cares?

If it is located in a hotly-demanded area and you buy inexpensively, it will serve well to trade you into the finest resorts. When you save thousands of dollars by buying it, you can trade for may decades before the exchange fees would equal what you saved by buying right in the first place!

6. Buy Through a Licensed Real Estate Broker.

It can hardly be imagined the number of problems and challenges that come up in performing what would seem to be a very simple transfer of ownership.

A licensed Broker has a lot to lose if dealing fraudulently with the public, unfortunately the same cannot be said if you deal with individual sellers or non-licensed companies, so why do it? Be sure all funds are held in a Trust Account until closing.

7. Receive Title Insurance, If it Is Available.

Title Insurance is available on most deeded timeshare purchases. It is your assurance that you are receiving clear title with no liens or judgements attached to the property.

8. Verify the Details of Your First Year's Use.

Many misunderstandings in a timeshare purchase center around as to when the buyer can first use the timeshare, whether the week is banked, and many other details. Whatever your understanding is, have it verified in writing with the exchange company, the resort management company, and the seller.

9. After the Sale Closes, Verify That the Change of Ownership Gets Done on the Resort Computer.

This is a crucial step, because it is common for the resort to either take a long time, or forget entirely to make the ownership change on the computer.

A separate concept not addressed in this article, involves buying where the intention is to primarily use the timeshare in a very select upscale luxury system of resorts, which warrants paying far higher prices. These and other issues are covered in the Timeshare Resales blog. You’ll also learn what the Gold Crown rating means and how it affects your buying logic.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


LeisureLink Vacation Timeshare Rental Network Gives East West Electronic Global Reach

East West Resorts, a provider of premium resort lodging properties, this week selected LeisureLink as their timeshare rental inventory distribution partner. LeisureLink is the first global distribution system developed specifically for the vacation rental industry, providing suppliers global reach to both online travel sites and traditional travel agencies.

"We selected LeisureLink for the simplicity of managing our electronic
distribution channels through a single interface," said Tish Palmer, Director
of East West Resorts' Timeshare Operations. "LeisureLink brings us the tools
to assist us in booking rental reservations for our timeshare managed resort

LeisureLink has developed a reservation system for the vacation rental
industry that displays all the unique aspects and features of a vacation
rental property. "Property managers using LeisureLink are noting a tremendous
increase in bookings as travel agents and consumers are able to find and book
vacation rentals as easily as major hotels," stated Kelly Tompkins, Founder
and President of LeisureLink. "East West Resorts' timeshare division is a
great addition to LeisureLink's portfolio of properties and we look forward to
working with their team to make this partnership a success."
"Our business model is predicated upon delivering value to property
managers," said Tompkins. LeisureLink does not charge setup or reoccurring
fees and only generates a fee when a booking is transacted through the
network. "Our technology and wide distribution combined with revenue
management and marketing support services gives property managers the tools
they need to maximize revenues," added Tompkins.

About East West Resorts
East West Resorts is a hospitality industry leader with property
management expertise in hotel, timeshare and wholly owned properties located
in California, Colorado and Montana. East West offers great mountain vacations
to consumers worldwide. Their business philosophy is to provide unforgettable
vacation experiences.

About LeisureLink
LeisureLink Inc. connects owners of vacation rental properties with a
broad distribution network of travel agencies and online travel sites
worldwide. The LeisureLink solution includes distribution, revenue management,
marketing support, 24X7 customer support and payment processing. Having this
array of sophisticated tools and distribution enables vacation rental property
managers to achieve higher year-round occupancy and revenues.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Finding And Keeping That Second Home In Mexico

In 2003, the National Association of Real Estate Editors held its spring conference in San Diego. That conference included a bus trip southeast of the central core of Tijuana, Mexico, where Casas Geo, one of Mexico's largest residential developers, was building El Dorado, a 4,500-unit condominium project.

For $30,000 U.S., a buyer could get a 460-square-foot, three-room timeshare with the basics: overhead light and electrical outlet in every room, a kitchen, and a bathroom.

Casas Geo's target buyer -- a worker in a factory owned by a multinational corporation -- earned $550 to $1,100 a month. The typical monthly payment on a $23,000 mortgage is $150.

At the same time Casas Geo and other residential developers have been working overtime to bridge the affordable housing gap for Mexico's citizens, Americans began looking south of the border for a less-expensive warm-weather retirement than was possible in Florida or California.

What started as a trickle has turned into a flood, with a large percentage of the one million Americans who are buying timeshare in other countries heading to Mexico, not only Baja California, but Bahia de Banderas and Manzanilla and a number of other destinations.

Until about six years, it was easier and safer buying a timeshare almost anywhere else. There wasn't much information available to buyers, who tended to have to take the word of often unscrupulous sales agents and developers, resulting in well-publicized cases in which Americans lost their money.

What has made ownership easier, is that the Mexican market has become more accommodating to buyers north of the border.

Mexico's real estate markets have changed, real estate agents have developed a mindset favoring security and disclosure for purchasers and American buyers have become much better informed and educated," say veteran real estate writer and radio host Tom Kelly and Mitch Creekmore of Stewart International, a recognized expert in on Mexican property.

The changes have been brought about primarily by the Mexican dependence on tourism and foreign investment in real estate, Kelly and Creekmore say. Real estate deals have become more transparent, shifting from "that's the way we do business here" to using extended title searches, issuances of commitments for title insurance, third party escrow and closing rights, "and ultimately, title insurance policies guaranteeing one's right of ownership, whether fee simple in Mexico's interior regions or entitlement via the bank trust or a Mexican corporation for foreign purchases in a restricted zone."

The two men also think we've gotten smarter as buyers, owing to how important real estate is to our financial health and that of the economy.

Why is Mexico so attractive? Life can be laid back and relatively inexpensive.
But although buying in Mexico is becoming easier, the nuances aren't all that obvious. You may be able to speak high-school Spanish, but, as with English, words can have more than one meaning, and those meanings can reflect the effects of the culture.

Take the word "ejido," which means "communal." The ejido is an old communal farm formed when farmers in every Mexican village were given property to form a co-op. Under the Mexican constitution, the ejido is worked by everyone and owned by no one, which means that a foreign buyer cannot own it because the individuals who have a beneficiary interest in the land can't legally sell it.

A constitutional amendment allows the ejido to be converted to private land for sale that would benefit all of the users, or ejidatarios. The problems for American buyers occur when an ejido that hasn't been privatized properly is sold. The buyer has simply bought property that shouldn't have been sold in the first place, and the investment is lost.

Kelly and Creekmore guide you through the nuances of ejidos and other legalities peculiar to Mexican real estate investments. They also present real life experiences of American buyers, both good and bad, and serve as tour guides to popular destinations to help you make an educated decision.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Looking Out For Timeshare Traps

Timeshare properties represent for many Americans an opportunity to own a piece of the good life. It's like owning a summer cottage in your dream destination, except that you don't have to assume the financial responsibility of a mortgage, utility bills and maintenance hassles. Major timeshare corporations such as Resort Condominiums International (RCI) have enjoyed tremendous success. Consumers who invest in reputable timeshare properties literally have the world at their fingertips; they enjoy the option of trading out their timeshare for other properties in every corner of the world.

Timeshare properties are offered to consumers in two different forms: deeded and non-deeded. Deeded timeshare requires that you purchase ownership interest in a piece of residential real estate property. Non-deeded timeshare requires owners to purchase a club membership, license or lease that gives them access to a property for a specific amount of weeks each year for a predetermined number of years. How much you pay depends on how many weeks you want to spend in your timeshare property, as well as the time of year during which you want to use it. Choose the season heaviest for tourism in any region, and you're going to pay more for the privilege of using your timeshare property. And yet, a well-managed timeshare property offers owners the flexibility of swapping weeks according to their schedules, the option of dining in their own home while on vacation (a money-saver), and a more comfortable, relaxed atmosphere for their vacations (especially if children are present).

Sound too good to be true? That depends. There are, indeed, pros and cons to timeshare ownership. Before you sign on the dotted line, you'll want to consider the following guidelines as recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

As with any purchase that costs thousands of dollars, you should understand what you are getting before you sign any papers or pay any fees. The general information here should be accompanied by careful analysis and possibly professional advice concerning all aspects of a particular timeshare purchase.

The Federal Trade Commission suggests that you consider several points before you purchase any type of timeshare:

Are you able to plan your vacations several months in advance without risk of cancellation due to last-minute changes? Because you're sharing your property with many other owners, you must secure your preferred weeks well ahead of time. If you tend to travel at the same time each year, timeshare is better-suited for your lifestyle. But if your vacations vary in length and in season from one year to the next -- and are subject to 11th-hour changes that could drastically alter your plans -- you may want to think twice before signing a timeshare contract. Even if you plan to use your timeshare in a single location -- for example, in the mountains of Colorado -- find out where the timeshare company maintains other properties. You should have the flexibility of using your membership in other locales. Ask how many units the management company has at each location. While the company may speak highly of its geographic diversity, if you consistently find yourself shut out because of a shortage of units, that diversity is hardly an advantage.

Demand all costs in writing. Sure, timeshare sounds like a deal -- and it often is -- but you may be surprised at how high your "expenses" are. As a part-owner, you're required to foot the bill (along with the other owners) for maintenance. Maintenance fees average anywhere from $300 to $500 per year and up, and can increase according to fluctuations in the economy, or as the exclusivity of the area in which you own your timeshare increases. Before you commit to a timeshare property, ask if the management company has placed a cap on maintenance fee increases. Ask for a detailed report of exactly what services your maintenance fee covers. If any of these services aren't performed to your satisfaction or they're not performed at all, what will the management company do to correct the problem? You may also wish to compare the costs of investing in a timeshare property in your preferred vacation spot with the cost of simply renting a property in the same destination and the same season for the duration of time you'll be on vacation.

With all of the information floating around on the Internet, consumers have a near-limitless amount of data at their fingertips. Consumer protection sites are growing in number on the World Wide Web, and the Better Business Bureau holds a wealth of eye-opening information. Use this to your advantage, and investigate the performance record of your prospective management company -- as well as the property developer -- before you commit to a timeshare property. Even if you hear glowing reports about the property, don't commit to ownership sight unseen, if you can help it. Visit the property, walk around and talk to owners. Ask them about the responsiveness of management to maintenance requests.

If the property is still under construction, obtain a written document from the timeshare seller that the facilities will be completed by the date promised to you, in the condition promised to you, and with all of the amenities promised to you. According to the FTC, consumers who are considering purchasing timeshare in an unfinished property should allocate a percentage of their money for escrow, which could offer them some protection in the event that the developer defaults on the property.

Don't give in to pressure. Any representative who presses you to sign on the dotted line quickly is worthy of your suspicion. If, ultimately, you decide to sign, ask your representative if you have a grace period during which you can cancel the contract, should you have second thoughts. According to the FTC, most states in which timeshare properties are present have instituted "cooling off" periods for consumers which guarantee a refund if a consumer changes his or her mind within a specified period. If management representative tells you that there is no grace period, you don't necessarily have to run in the other direction; just be aware of the permanence of the commitment you're preparing to make. And read every last term of the contract before you sign it. If the representative has made any verbal promises to you, get them in writing; some of those "carrots" may contradict the terms of the contract, and therefore wouldn't hold weight in the event of a dispute.

Find out your rights as an owner if either the builder or management company defaults for any reason. Read your contract carefully for one of two key terms: "non-performance" or "non-disturbance." A non-performance clause allows a consumer to retain all ownership rights in the event of default. Your rights to ownership stand even in the event that a bank or other third party must buy out your contract. A non-disturbance clause guarantees that you will continue to have access to your timeshare property after a default, and even if a third party makes claims against the developer or management firm responsible for your property.
When purchased wisely, timeshare properties open a world of opportunity to aspiring second-homeowners. One of the easiest ways to determine with whom to place your trust remains talking to family and friends who have invested in timeshare. Take your time in your decision, and you'll choose a well-managed property that will create a pleasant vacation for you and your family will enjoy for many years. And you'll have the assurance that if you trade your weeks for a property in another region of the world, your experience will be much the same.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


The Vacation Ownership Industry / Timeshare

The vacation ownership industry, a wonderful euphemism for "timeshare" resorts, got a much needed boost today as Sunterra Corp. (NYSE: OWN) gained $1 13/16 to $11 3/8, Vistana Inc. (Nasdaq: VSTN) shot up $1 1/16 to $13 3/16, Fairfield Communities (NYSE: FFD) rose $1 5/8 to $11 7/16 and Trendwest Resorts (Nasdaq: TWRI) moved up $1 1/8 to $11 3/8. Silverleaf Resorts (NYSE: SVR) was the only "loser" on the day, off slightly $7/16 to $13 9/16, but this came after a nice gain of 17% on Wednesday -- in conjunction with the release of its second quarter numbers. Both Sunterra and Vistana reported their third quarter financial results in the last 24 hours, and apparently investors are liking what they see

The advent of exchange networks and numerous points-based timeshare programs, as well as the entry of many reputable "brands" (like Marriott, Four Seasons, and Hilton) into the business, has really invigorated the vacation-ownership industry -- in addition to helping eliminate some of the more sordid associations that consumers have with timeshare operators. Yeah, the hard sell is still there, but the price/value proposition is becoming increasingly compelling for many buyers (despite some of the nasty fixed rates).

Just how compelling is it to own a timeshare? In 1980, only 155,000 households owned a timeshare week, and there were only about 500 time-share resorts worldwide. At latest count, there are now over 4 million timeshare owners and more than 4,000 resorts in 80 countries -- that translates into a compound annual growth rate in sales for the industry of 16% for the last 27 years. In the last year alone, the business grew its sales by 25%.

In a very similar fashion to the auto industry (build the car, sell the car, and finance the car), vacation ownership companies finance a large amount of their sales (build the resort in saleable chunks, sell the resort, and finance the sale). When these companies sell the vacation intervals, they usually finance 80-90% of the sales in-house after receiving a 10% deposit from the customer. This financing generally bears interest at fixed rates and is collateralized by a first mortgage on the underlying vacation interest.

Timeshare companies derive income from their financing activities because their borrowings for initial resort construction usually bears interest at variable rates, and the firms' loans to vacation intervals purchasers bear interest at fixed rates. This shows up as "interest income" on an itemized revenue account on the income statement. The firms bear the risk of an increase in interest rates with respect to the loans they owe to lenders, so they often engage in interest rate hedging activities to reduce the risk and impact of potential increases. Despite the potentially favorable spread characteristics over the long term, timeshare firms often securitize their mortgage receivables (especially in a "show me the money" environment, and to allay investor fears about debt loads) -- which represents cash flow derived from a financing activity but shows up in part as a recognized "gain on sale of receivables" in yet another itemized revenue account on the income statement.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this; it's simply a part of doing business. Investors that want insight into the exact nature of these movements should take a closer look at the cash flow statements. Sunterra was up today on news that it came in with Q3 EPS of $0.38, up from $0.27 last year and a penny above estimates. As well, operating margins improved to 27.5% from 22%, and the top line grew 33.7% year over year. Reserves for receivables matched the prior two quarters at 6.3%, and defaults increased to only 2.5%, from 2.4% in the second quarter. In the quarter the company successfully completed its second securitization (of roughly $100 million) in what can only be characterized as "volatile" market conditions -- which says a lot about the quality of their receivables. Looking at Sunterra's cash flows for the first six months of the year, a number of considerations come to the fore, though.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Murphy's Law For Sellers

Murphy's Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Problems in any real estate transaction are inevitable. If you are prepared, you won't be so shocked when they do. Here are some suggestions:

Understand That Your Timeshare May Not Be Worth What You Think: The biggest shock most sellers face is what buyers think their Timeshare is worth. Sometimes sellers can be pleasantly surprised, but the reality is that markets change, and home values rise and fall. Many subjective factors such as floor plan, condition, updates and drive-up appeal affect values. The truth is that buyers will determine the worth of your home, in this market, at this particular time, and that has very little to do with what you need to get out of the timeshare.

People Won't Love Your Timeshare Like You Do: You love your timeshare and expect others to appreciate the same qualities in it that you do, but buyers have their own lifestyles, preferences, tastes and attitudes. The chances of finding a buyer who will want your home "as is" are slim to none.

In fact, buyers will look at your timeshare with an eye to how they can make it suit themselves. Remember, your timeshare is competing against other homes with updates and features your home may not offer. Your timeshare has to withstand the glare of scrutiny, so you must make it as competitive as possible within your means. Put it in good repair, and make sure it is spotless and clutter-free.

Sooner Or Later You Will Lose Your Temper: Your relationship with your buyer will be one of love/hate. The buyer is an adversary because s/he wants to pay the least possible, while you want to net the most possible. The buyer, in order to improve bargaining leverage, may pick your timeshare apart. Don't let your feelings fester.

Buyer Rudeness: Poor manners is rampant in our society. So why be surprised when buyers visit your timeshare and leave their McDonald's cup on your coffee table? Or leave the cabinets and closet doors open wherever they looked? Or miss their appointment, expecting you to reschedule at a moment's notice?

Inspections: Inspections kill more deals than any other single factor besides overpricing. All older timeshares have some minor and some major problems, so address the problem before it becomes a problem. Get a seller's inspection, and you'll have advance knowledge of any problems that must be fixed. A buyer who sees a favorable inspection report as part of the home marketing materials is more likely to make a fair price offer. (Note: Buyers should always have their own inspections performed.)

Last Minute Problems That Delay Closings: Service providers, from lenders to inspectors to closing agents, may cause problems, sometimes without meaning to. In some areas, closings are happening at such a rate that all service providers associated with the real estate transaction are on overload. So schedule all steps in the transaction early.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Want A Ferrari? Try A Timeshare

Can big boys learn to share their toys?

That's the hope of the Scottsdale-based Van Horssen Group, which is launching an exclusive club for fast-lane men and women featuring fractional- or shared-use of 30 exotic cars with a combined valued of $7.5 million.

Members can drive a $277,000 Ferrari Maranello one week, and slide into a Bentley Flying Spur the next.

These are cars fast enough to blur a snapshot or luxurious enough to chauffeur Diddy in correct style.

"We strip away all of the hassles of owning an exotic car, the care and feeding of it," company founder Ron Van Horssen said.

The sharing concept follows a shift among the superrich away from acquisition to fractional use of corporate jets, yachts and vacation homes.

Instead of buying a quarter-million-dollar automobile, Van Horssen Group members pay a $7,000 annual fee and a weekly charge of $2,200 to $11,800 to drive the cars. They also gain access to a futuristic and ultra-chic hangar and lounges at Scottsdale Municipal Airport, where the cars are pampered.

The V-12 Ferrari Maranello, with a top speed of 202 mph, and the Aston Martin Vanquish S, the model James Bond drove in Die Another Day, both start at $4,500 a week.

A lead foot-note: Members pay their own speeding tickets. Just loke maintenance fees at a timeshare.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Time Share In Mexico

Timeshare as a means of use of real property is recognized in Mexico. The two federal laws that directly cover this topic are the Federal Consumer Protection Law and the Official Mexican Norm number NOM-029-SCFI-1998 (Commercial Practices - Informational Requirements for the Commercialization of the Time Share Service). The State of Sonora (a northern state of Mexico) has also created a state level legislation regarding time share and its' sale with that state (there are some other states in Mexico that have their own state law regarding timeshare).

Please remember, that when purchasing timeshare in Mexico, the Federal Consumer Protection Law provides the buyer a 5 day right of recission (right to cancel and get his money back). Even if the selling agent gets you to sign a waiver to the 5 days, you still have the five days (they are not waivable)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


ULI Endorses Timeshare And Resort Investment Conference In Dubai

A broad range of delegates from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Region attended a recent ULI-endorsed a conference in Dubai on Timeshare and Resort Investment. The September event was co-ordinated by Interval International, a leading timeshare exchange company.

Timeshare has yet to make a significant impact on real estate sectors in the region, largely owing to a lack of familiarity with the concept and the absence of an appropriate legislative framework.

A panel of experienced speakers, including senior management from Interval International, Marriott Vacation Club International and local development companies, provided a thorough introduction to the timeshare concept; the economic benefits associated with both the sale and operation of timeshare; the role of exchange programmes; and case study examples of successful operations. In addition, and of particular relevance given the development context in the GCC Region, Tom Bell, Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs at Interval International, highlighted the need for, and key characteristics of, balanced timeshare legislation.

The conference was well received and spawned a lively question and answer session at the end of the day. It became clear that not only are leading developers in the region already starting to think about incorporating a timeshare component within their schemes, but several of the world’s leading branded timeshare operators are also looking seriously at opportunities in the market.

The current lack of appropriate legislation for timeshare is holding the sector back, and there was a consensus at the conference that all parties should make every effort to apply appropriate pressure and expertise to encourage the foundation of a balanced legal framework for timeshare in the region; namely, one that provides flexibility for the developer whilst protecting consumer rights.

A general sense of optimism pervaded the conference, with most delegates agreeing that quality timeshare would have a significant role to play in the future, as destinations like Dubai continue to nurture consumer-orientated mixed use real estate schemes on a grand scale.

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