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Timeshare's reputation is growing.

Byline: By Jeremy Gates Western Mail

Head for the sunshine coasts of Europe, the Canaries, the US or further afield this summer - and there's a fair chance you will meet timeshare salesmen at their most persuasive.

Although the concept of owning a property for a certain number of days each year is more than two decades old, its reputation has been enhanced lately by the arrival of reputable developers like Marriott, Disney and De Vere.

Timeshare is obviously a way of squeezing added use, and therefore value, from holiday accommodation around the world. The Greek minister of tourism told an Organisation for Timeshare in Europe (OTE) conference that tourism is vital to his economy, and that timeshare can support the expansion of tourism.

The OTE has produced these guidelines to help consumers make purchases they will not subsequently regret:

Is the company a member of OTE, which promotes best practice? You can check by consulting the website (www.ote-info.com).

OTE members must provide a cooling off period of 15 days, while the EU Timeshare Directive provides a minimum 10-day cooling off period, in which it is permitted to change your mind and get your money back.

In practice, the length of the cooling off period can vary. But if buyers are not offered a cooling off period in writing, they should walk away from any deal.

Check the paperwork - the printed agreement or contract will include all your rights and obligations, as well as details of the management company, and whether there is an elected owners' committee, so read it carefully!

Buyers should also remember they invariably make a loss when they resell a timeshare week - because the original price of buying into a brand new scheme includes a large sum spent on marketing.

As a general rule, the cheaper the timeshare, the greater the risks - because ongoing profits for a developer are likely to be lower.

Meanwhile, despite the slowdown in the property market, many landlords are looking at recent gains - from capital growth plus rental income - which far exceed the performance of any other investment, claims the latest survey from specialist lender Paragon Mortgages.

If the market generally is a bit sticky, Paragon's cheerful statisticians clearly haven't heard about it.

Their figures make sweet reading for any landlords borrowed up to the eyeballs. Let's just hope they are accurate.

In the North-West, says Paragon, a buyer at pounds 88,000 just 14 months ago has seen a pounds 36,000 rise in the value of the property and rental income of nearly pounds 6,500. That's a total, gross return of pounds 42,500, more than 48% of the original price.

Second highest returns over the same period have come from Yorkshire, where a property costing pounds 98,000 in June 2004 has gained pounds 30,000 so far and earning pounds 7,300 in rental income to show a 38% gain. In the East Midlands, the return on a property costing pounds 133,000 is nearly 29%.

Returns in other areas are considerably lower: North (25%); Greater London (23%); South West (19%); West Midlands (14%); South East (13%); and Wales (12%).

In East Anglia, investors in June 2004 are facing a sizeable loss: a property costing pounds 126,000 has fallen pounds 18,000 in value to show a pounds 9,000 loss, after allowing for rental income.

Paragon claims the figures look good because rents are steady and rising in most areas.

The figures are also giving landlords the confidence to keep investing: Paragon says prices being paid by landlords for properties are 14% up on this time last year.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 6, 2005
Words:605
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