Travel: Time Share Time

Here's a new vacation motto: never pay retail again. There's a glut of time shares, and that means deals for folks who buy one-week resort stays from previous owners instead of arm-twisting developers.

"You can buy a resale for 50 cents on the dollar, but some areas will go for far less," says Bill Rogers, founder of Timeshare User's Group (tug2.net), a site where owners share price data and trade weeks. The time shares are much improved from the industry's early days.

To find the best deals, look for real-estate agents near your target resort and haunt sites like redweek.com, timeshares togo.com, eBay (ebay.com) and Timeshare User's Group, which is worth its $15 membership fee. Call the resort to be sure the person selling the time share really is the owner.

Budget for extra expenses. Time shares carry maintenance fees of $200 to $900 a year. It will cost about $200 to do a closing through a company like Prodox (prodox.com) that specializes in transfers. If you want to trade, spend $85 or so to join one of the big trading exchanges, Resort Condominiums International (rci.com) or Interval International ?(interval world.com). That should still leave you enough for sunscreen. Or another week.