Great response - and funny - I, too, am "spawn of an RCI owner." My parents are the real owners, I just use their account, too! HAHAHA! Difference is - I'm required to pay their maintenance fee (pro-rated) for any points I use. So - the SSR 1BR for the week I'll be there is 41,000 RCI points - just under half of their points - so I owe them $350 for the annual maintenance on those 41000 points, $250 for the exchange fee, $$ for the guest certificate and then, since they're really not my points, I also pony up $60 for the points protection (to protect their points in case of cancellation). Add to that $95 from DVC upon check in and you get to my $800-ish figure, still a deal!!!
Ongoing Search - yeah - we had one in place for over 1 year. We actually removed OKW/SSR from the search at one point because it's all that popped up, and I was getting annoyed constantly having to decline the search result. Instead, what I did (don't laugh) - every single day for 1 full calendar year, I looked at what RCI had available on the Quick Search Results and recorded the results in a spreadsheet. If a 1BR unit was found (example) at SSR the week of 11/12-11/19, I recorded the date it first appeared - and later - the date it disappeared. It gave me an idea of which weeks are the most-prevalently available vs. the ones that don't appear often. I can use this in future years to figure out whether a week I'm targeting should include SSR in the ongoing search, or whether I can just grab an SSR 1BR unit later if I want it.
At about 80 days to our desired check-in, we added SSR back to the Ongoing Search. It hit 4 days later. We took it, and then I created a new Ongoing search for just WL, AKL, BLT, BC and BW. If something hits on that (doubtful, but you never know) I'll cancel SSR and take it. It takes 7-10 days for DVC's RCI department to key in the RCI reservation into the DVC system - so I'll cancel that ongoing search 3 weeks before my trip and resign to be at SSR.
Based on my spreadsheet, the average lead time in terms of when a week appears available to RCI owners is 50-60 days (Magic), 60-70 days (Dream), and 70-100 days (Choice/Adventure). I never noticed any weeks available for what DVC considered Premier - which didn't surprise me.
The longest lead time I've seen for the entire year was 182 days - it happened ONCE out of over 600 total resort week hits I saw/recorded. Over 150-days less than 20 of those 600+ hits! This means we're stuck getting ADR's at 180-days from each individual day on our trip, vs 180+10 days (from check-in). That sort of stinks, too ...