By Andrew Housser
Timeshare ownership can provide several benefits: a guaranteed place to vacation every year; national (or sometimes global) locations to choose from; and for some people, perhaps even something to pass down to your children. However, buying a timeshare is a major financial decision, so it is important to carefully weigh these pros and cons before making that decision.
1. May save you vacation dollars. When you buy ownership in a timeshare, your one-time purchase fee customarily entitles you to a vacation week every year (or sometimes every other year) at a destination. Over the years, a timeshare can save money when compared to the rising costs of hotel rooms.
2. Access to many locations. Even if your timeshare was purchased in a specific location or with a certain resort chain, you most likely have the option to swap out for a different destination or resort nationally or globally.
3. More space. Unit sizes range from studios to four bedrooms, with sleeper sofas in living rooms, which means there's ample space for large families and groups. You can also save money by having access to a kitchen and washer and dryer.
4. Less expensive than a vacation home. Vacation homes can come with significant cost. Plus, you're solely responsible for all of the maintenance and upkeep. If you can only take vacation a few weeks out of the year, a timeshare can make more sense than owning a vacation home that sits unused much of the year.
5. Potential money maker. If you're unable to use your timeshare, you can sublet it to others. And you can pass down deeded timeshares to your children.
1. No appreciation in value. The average cost for lifetime use of a one-week timeshare is around $20,000. Although a timeshare is like deeded real estate, it doesn't appreciate in value the way your home does. In fact, it's more like a car in that its value often depreciates.
2. Difficult to resell. You're unlikely to recoup your investment, but if you must sell, review your original contract carefully. Some developers require that they get first rights of refusal or commissions on your sales price (even if they don't sell it for you). Some restrict your ability to sell on your own. Never pay an upfront fee to an agent or company to sell your timeshare.
3. Extra, annual fees. Expect to pay annual fees for maintenance expenses, such as grounds and housekeeping, utilities, insurance, real estate taxes, appliance repairs and replacements. In addition, assessment fees can be charged for unexpected expenses, such as a new roof, or damages resulting from a hurricane or other storm. Fees vary based on the timeshare, unit size and amenities, and can increase every year along, with the cost of goods and services.
4. Limited options. Floating timeshares offer more flexibility on when you can use our timeshare, but availability is given on a first-come basis. Snagging prime summer spots or holidays can be difficult.
5. Your money is tied up. When you buy a timeshare, you're basically prepaying for vacations you'll take years down the road. You may lose money if you're unable to vacation a certain year or can't rent out your share. And unless you can pay for your timeshare upfront, just like with a mortgage, you'll need to make monthly payments -- with interest.
If you're in the market for a timeshare, beware of the many "deals" companies offer "only if" you buy on the spot. A purchase like this requires careful consideration. Attend several presentations to get a sense for what you want in a timeshare. Talk to some current owners. Check with your bank or other lenders about a loan (loans from timeshare companies tend to charge extremely high interest rates). If you do decide to purchase, also evaluate buying "used" from an existing owner -- you could save thousands of dollars. Finally, if and when you've made a commitment to buy, relax and enjoy your vacations.
1720 Valley View Drive