Take a pass on fractional ownership

The New York Timesreports that fractional ownership of real estate -- which the newspaper calls a "step up from timeshares -- is gaining popularity among home owners desperate for cash. You get to keep living in your house for at least part of the year, reduce your debt load, and pocket some cash.

But there are big drawbacks too. The Times reports that "Preparing to sell a portion of a house isn't as seamless as putting the entire house on the market for whole ownership. For one thing, insurance can prove difficult to obtain from an existing provider, so sellers may have to shop around for a new policy. There are also local, state and, in the case of foreign countries, national laws to contend with when breaking up a property for sale.