Timeshare: Should You Buy One?

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Fred liked the sea bass. Helen loved the sound of the ocean. They came to the coast once a year starting back when the kids gave them a trip for an anniversary present. Now Fred was about to retire and here they were again. They just loved to vacation here. Now they were faced with a decision. Should they keep renting this little beach house or do what their neighbors, Ed and Francine finally did and buy a timeshare. It was a tough decision.

There are some things to consider. Timeshares were started by a French real estate developer in the 1970’s when he decided to sell off different shares of his condos instead of try to get rent for them. The idea hit is big and was a raging success in the 1980’s. The simple version of this idea is that people pay an upfront fee, and own a piece of the property. For this upfront fee, of maybe 10,000, people have a guaranteed place to land at their favorite resort destination.

Buying a timeshare typically works for people who have either one location they know they frequent for travel- like their favorite ski-resort in the winter, or who are retired and spend the bulk of their time traveling around.

The original idea of a timeshare was that you perhaps bought 1/52 of the purchase price of the facility, and so you were given a deed for that fractional amount of the property. Those still exist. There are also clubs now that run multiple timeshares and so the up front fee gives you access to the club’s multiple properties. Some of these clubs even have point incentive programs, much like frequent flyer mile programs we have seen in the past. This appeals to some people because some of the clubs even allows participants to exchange timeslots or properties with other participants. When that works out everyone wins.

The challenge to owning a timeshare can be if you don’t fit the classic model of the person always going to one place or the jet setting retiree with a wide open calendar. Timeshare properties charge maintenance fees to all their participants. Depending on the club someone is using, there may be a fee to exchange either properties or time slots. So if you don’t fit that classic model and you don’t visit one place every year, then the timeshare just ends up costing you the various fees without you getting the benefit of the vacation. Likewise, if you stop using the club’s services to visit various locations, you have the fees on your hands without the benefits.

Use caution when considering buying a timeshare. Even though high pressured salesman may try to liken timeshares to other real-estate investments, they just aren’t an investment opportunity. A timeshare is strictly a more convenient way to travel if you like having full facilities and the predictability of your favorite tourist destination being open. The chief complaint of people is that once they stop using the unit, they have a very difficult time selling it on a market that is flooded with timeshares. You also have to read the fine print on some of the club set ups, because even though they have increased flexibility, many times they have fees that increase as the years go buy.

So, if you’re like Fred and you love the sea bass at one particular tourist destination year after year, it may be a good choice, since Fred doesn’t want to buy an entire house there just to enjoy a couple of weeks. But even with Fred and Helen, they need to consider if the 10,000 they pay up front for a timeshare will outweigh all the hotel accommodations they will pay for the next few years, knowing that they may be stuck with the timeshare, or maintenance fees. For many people it works out because they can afford the fees, and they can offer the timeshare as a gift to relatives and friends. You just need to look at your own travel needs and figure out what is best for your life.

What do you think about timeshare? Would you get one?

18 COMMENTS

  1. I’d steer way clear of any timeshare offer. I think they’re very, very dangerous for the average consumer. Even if you like staying at the same place every year, I think you are better off from a financial perspective to just get a hotel, rent through AirBnB, etc. Plus, tastes change over time. The place you like vacationing now might seem boring after the 10th time you visit.

    • That is so true! I’ve been for two years in a row in a vacation at the same hotel and the second year was a lot more boring because there no longer was that excitement you get from discovering the new things the place has to offer.

  2. My dad purchased some time share properties in the 90’s and it ended up being a huge money loss for them, b/c of course they couldn’t sell when they wanted to, but of course, the mgmt. company bought them back for pennies on the dollar. Seems to me timeshares are mostly good for the timeshare companies, but not so much for the consumer.

  3. I’d avoid them at all costs. Or at least avoid buying them directly from the timeshare. You can go on eBay and buy them for pennies. Not pennies on the dollar but literally pennies.

    The maintenance fees are outrageous. Most are more than $1,000/year for every week you own. If you annualized that cost you’re looking at $52,000 a year in maintenance fees. It’s a huge rip off.

  4. We like to have the FREEDOM to travel anywhere we want to. This is why we’d rather consider an RV than a timeshare (and are actually planning on getting one when the kid will be 4-5 years old). This way we can travel more freely. I wouldn’t sink money into a location though, since that would mean we’d spend most holidays there, instead of being able to travel like we do.

  5. Times shares are a big waste of money including the annual maintenance fees. When the economy tanked people were listing time shares for $1 (you needed to sell a timeshare because you couldn’t give it away.) No one would buy them. It’s cheaper to pay for an annual vacation.

  6. Thanks for the insight!
    I tend to not like time-shares. It is like a tariff, it is good for the sellers and bad for the consumers.
    However, if you get a good deal on one, then it is definitely worth it in the long run.
    Thanks,
    David

  7. you guys all missed the main point. Timeshare is good be acuse you get to travel in good quality suites (not regular hotel rooms)for 4 persons, by only paying a small fee lets say 350 euro for 7 nights 8 days in world class destinations like Greece, Italy, France , Spain, Caribbean , Alpes, etc… So for let’s say 10 weeks of 350 each that allows me and my family to stay in an apartment that costs anywhere else 1000 euro or more per week, I would pay a membership of 6000 euros. Intelegi, domunl C ?

    • If we’re not talking about used timeshares, you won’t find one for 6,000 euros, but for something closer to 9,000. Also, there is an yearly maintenance fee that you have to pay, which is a minimum of 200 Euros (again, sometimes getting over 1,000). So even with a 6,000 Euros time share, in 10 years, you would pay a total of 8,000 Euros with the minimum maintenance fee.

      IF your calculated prices are correct, this means that by paying the same amount of money, you would go to a similarly equipped apartment for just 8 years (without owning a time share). So you win two vacations. However, you won’t have the freedom to change the country and not even the resort you’re visiting in the case of a timeshare, which for most people doesn’t sound that good. Still, if you really love the destination and you are sure it’s the only place where you want to spend your yearly vacation (or one of your vacations every year) for at least 8-10 years in a row, then it might work.

      • bro, Im selling timeshare , points and fractional ownership for the last 5 years in cancun. even it at the end of the calculation, you win only a few vacations, remember that normal hotel prices will go up over 50% in the next 10 years Unless you buy a really bad timeshare where the maintenance goes up an up every year, you re covered . there is another thing about exchange.. it’s being part of the club.. book a few months in advance and you get really good properties.. and I did not mention the getaways witch you can find them for 150 euros for the whole week in a suite!!! there are 1 be suites in mama is for 2000 euro per week .. that’s bull***t. if Phoenicia would have had timeshare you could get the 1 bedroom suite ocean front for 400 euros per week… it’s a matter of what you want for your money… and a 9000 euros /13000 use should be plenty of weeks for more then 10 years price per week drops a lot . salutari.

      • TS is seek like a business for the families who love vacations(every year). There is a number of questions which must use for define TS : nr of bedroom ,location and airport , season and standard of accommodation. When buy TS units seller ask you how about your suit how many member of family goes on vacations. You need bed for 2 person 4,6 8 or12 . It is diferent cost of week for diferent no. of bedroom . One appartment have bedroom living-room bathroom kitchen balcony. in some unit can have 2bedroom for 4 persons but you can accomodate 6 or 7 persons. you could bring friends. TS unit is one in51 weeks in year. You can own max of 31 or36 weeks in an resort. The season of weeks made its value(and no. of bed and the areal). Value of weeks is important for exchange. Usual resorts limited check-in visitors more than 2 years consecutive and for owners more then 5 or 8 years in a row. After 5years or don.t go at all (and receive some money for your weeks)either ask for exchange(whit pay) . Usual members of Club Med or RCI members have a plenty offer. For the begining of year owners call the exchange agency for announce TS unit which own and gets offers of other resorts depent of value of weeks sometimes receive 2 weeks for1. Some resorts have medical facility for retaired or olds or child or pet allowed. there is no need to ask permision for pool entrans like other because you are owner or in caffe club cause you are member. A good value ofTS is for4 ,5 star or Gold Crown accommodation quality standard .this member could become a RCI members. Ifyou have kids or a big bag on paunch and neckpoch or retier or pension and spend some money in your travel this kind of trip rise your vacation quality. If you have no money unemployed young student sport performer freeruner biker or caring backbag on mountaine aclivity this sistem is not for you
        The construction range get advans and create a lot of reasorts forse the market company to push saleforce to overreact.
        unfortunately seller
        sistem in for ’70 saleforce with stimulent for sels for this reason they try to sel anyway to anyones and this create bad feedback and bad goodwill.

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