What’s the Difference Between a Timeshare and Fractional Ownership?

When you think of a vacation home, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A white, sandy beach? Maybe a crisp, clean house with clear access to water so blue that it doesn’t seem real?

You don’t necessarily have to buy a house to enjoy having an ocean-front property all to yourself, even if it is only temporary! In fact, there are plenty of alternatives to home ownership, particularly when it comes to your vacation experiences.

But because you do have so many options, deciding which is the best one for you and your family can be a bit confusing. One question we’ve heard a lot in recent years refers to the differences between timeshares and fractional (or partial) ownership. Both of these relate to some form of shared responsibility and rights to a house, and can look similar on the surface, but there are several differences that most people aren’t aware of at first pass.

Not familiar with the terms, either? Don’t worry – your local experts on the Michelle Clark Team have a few details that should make things a little clearer! Then all you’ll have to consider is how you want to invest in those priceless family getaways.


By definition, a timeshare purchase gives multiple buyers the right to use a certain property for a specified length of time. This is usually – but doesn’t have to be – one or two weeks each year, and the buyers work out a rotating schedule. Timeshares appeal to a lot of avid vacationers because the system often allows them access to the same vacation home for roughly the same exact weeks each year with no reservations or booking hassles.

The main thing to remember is that though several people can have a buy-in on this house, the title remains in the primary property owner’s name. Meaning that while each of these individuals has an equal claim to use the home as directed in the buyer’s contract, none of them are considered the homeowner in the traditional sense.

Fractional Ownership

When you enter into a fractional ownership contract, you actually sign on for a similar agreement as a timeshare, with a few major differences. The first is that, instead of a separate principal owner, everyone in this agreement buys into equal shares of the property’s title. This form of ownership gives each buyer a stake, without the headache of shouldering every expense like taxes and maintenance costs. They even still have all the benefit of working out a fixed schedule for vacation planning purposes!

Of course, as any homeowner will tell you, there will always be challenges that come with the fun. But just like buying a permanent residence, the value on a fractionally owned property tends to rise, while a timeshare will either remain stagnant or even depreciate with time and use. So the more you invest into this property, the more return you can expect to see, rather than leaving repairs and improvements up to the primary owner of a timeshare.

You know the old adage, “you get what you put into it?” That’s what the decision to invest in either a timeshare or a fractional ownership agreement basically boils down to. If you’re willing to step up to the plate as an involved homeowner, then you’re ready to share that responsibility with a few other like-minded buyers. If you want something more low-key, we recommend you investigate a few timeshare opportunities within your budget so you can still get that amazing vacation experience without the same level of responsibility.

Stay tuned to our blog for more helpful homeowner insights and explanations to come!