If you’re looking into purchasing a timeshare, or considering the resale market, you may have come across the term ‘fractional ownership’.

But what does ‘fractional ownership’ mean?

Basically, the premise of fractional ownership is this: you buy the fraction of time you wish to spend in a destination. This can be anything from 4 to 13 weeks of use sold in one quarter to one twelfth shares.

If this sounds a bit too similar to the old original timeshare model, it is not. As you’ll have spotted already from looking at the figures, timeshare has evolved on a basis of 52 owners per unit, one for each of the 52 weeks of the year. Fractional ownership is based on only 16 to 4 owners per unit. This has an understandable lessening on the sheer footfall and wear and tear that the property undergoes. Following on from this fact, timeshare owners would typically have bought one, or at most, two weeks’ vacation time per annum, whereas fractional owners purchase up to twelve weeks of vacation.

What are the benefits of fractional ownership?

The consequences of fewer people coming and going all the time do not just have practical physical considerations. The atmosphere is less frantic, without a stream of arrivals and departures, and staff at a resort come to know their owners better when they spend much more time with them. Thus service is improved and personalised, and again, this lends an enhanced ambience of conviviality and charm.

What sort of timeshare units are fractional ownership properties?

Fractional ownership is not cheap. Those who can afford it are likely to be in the top 5% earning bracket. Private residence clubs, which are the epitome of the fractional ownership amenities, are usually a deeded property. These places have exceptionally high-spec and five-star facilities and service. Even when fractional owners and timeshare owners are sharing the same resort, the fractional places will be in the best location within that resort and have a higher standard in all aspects. Fractional owners have a higher financial stake in their property and, most probably, a high disposable income, so they expect their properties to be kept in immaculate repair.

So, what’s the difference between standard timeshare and fractional ownership?

Essentially, the two things sound so similar but in fact are really quite different. Fractional ownership is really an alternative for wealthy individuals who can afford to buy a second home, but see the sense in only buying the time they will spend at that luxury residence. Timeshare is for those who see it as a way to enter a holiday exchange programme, as insulation against future price rises prohibiting an annual vacation and as a money-saving alternative to costly hotels.

When it comes to resale, timeshare resales and fractional resales continue to differ. As fractional is deeded property it is more akin to the whole ownership of a primary residence, while timeshare resales are more similar to taking title to a new car.