Friday, December 29, 2006

Like Pizza, Slice of Vacation Home Better Than None

Once upon a time, even the most mid-level middle-income folks could afford a getaway shack, cottage or cabin on a lake, by the seashore or near the mountains. The place I owned in Snowmass Village in the 1980s cost us only $100,000 for a 2-bedroom condo at one of the nation's great ski resorts. Now, the same kind of money will get you only a few weeks -- a timeshare, or fractional ownership, as the sales crowd likes to call it.

There were 188 "fractional interest" projects in the U.S. in 2005 with $2-billion in sales, a 28 percent jump over 2004, according to NorthCourse.com, a research firm that keeps tabs on the market. A newspaper article recently spotlighted a California family that paid $56,000 for the use of a two-bedroom, furnished home in the Old Greenwood development (photo above) at Truckee, near Lake Tahoe, for at least 21 days a year. With their purchase of a slice of the house comes membership in the Tahoe Mountain Club, which includes access to private restaurants and recreational and spa facilities. And of course owners can take a tax deduction on the mortgage interest.

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