When you sit down for a timeshare presentation, they sell you an experience. You’re shown pictures of beautifully furnished apartments with spectacular views. You’re shown resorts with immaculate swimming pools, gyms, and other amenities. And you’re told that this is all a part of something called “vacation ownership.”
But what do you “own” about a timeshare, exactly? The answer is more complicated than the timeshare sales staff want you to believe. In no case are you just buying a condominium in Hawaii, Las Vegas, or Florida. In reality, you may just be buying a small piece of that condo. Maybe you aren’t even getting that.
Sometimes you are only buying a single week every year at one of these homes. In those cases, you get a deeded real estate interest, just like you would have for a house. But that kind of contract has fallen out of favor lately.
With the rise of point systems (like the one used by Marriott Vacation Club) and timeshare exchange programs (like RCI or Interval International), more and more timeshare companies are moving towards right-to-use (RTU) timeshares. Though these timeshares might look like real estate, they’re not.
This article will look at the differences between traditional deeded timeshares and the more modern trend of non-deeded timeshares, like those with points systems. First, we’ll take a look at the legal differences between owning deeded real estate and the RTU timeshares. Second, we’ll look at the consequences of having one or the other.
Finally, whatever kind of timeshare you have, you’re probably not thrilled about constantly increasing annual maintenance fees and other steep costs of ownership. Thus, we’ll talk about ways Centerstone Group can legally and ethically help you get out of your timeshare contract.
American property law divides property ownership into two categories. The first, real property, refers to land or interests in land. The other, personal property, refers to most everything else: books, cars, and even your pets.
The difference is important enough that laws quickly sprang up emphasizing how important real property is. For example, you can’t buy or sell it without a written contract.
More importantly, real property ownership is recorded in a central place, like a county recorder’s office, which says exactly what you own and makes sure no one else can steal it. That recorded document is a deed.
A deeded timeshare (or fixed-week timeshare) is the more traditional form of timeshare ownership. Think of it like this: If you buy a condo in Orlando, you will have a recorded deed for that condo that gives you the exclusive right to use that particular condo forever.
When the condo becomes a timeshare, that deed is “split” into 52 smaller deeds — one for each week of the year. If you have one of those deeds, you have a right to use the timeshare property for the week that is on your deed. Fifty-one other owners have the exact same right for their respective weeks. Each owner has the real estate for one week of each year.
RTU timeshares, on the other hand, are not ownership interests of any part of a property for any time. In real property terms, they are more like easements: They give you the right to use a given property for a certain amount of time, but they don’t confer any ownership at all.
It’s likely that the person selling you a timeshare did not explain the difference between these two kinds of timeshares. But an ownership deed can make a difference in a big way when you are trying to get out of your unit or sell it on the timeshare resale market.
In terms of value and what you can do, deeded timeshare interests are very different from other kinds.
Many timeshare salespeople refer to timeshares as an “investment.” That’s always wrong, but it’s even worse when you don’t have a deeded timeshare. If you have a deeded property interest, it is usually permanent. That is, you have it until you sell it or otherwise give it away. If you are trying to sell one of these, there is some value in that “forever” interest.
If you have vacation club points or another RTU timeshare, though, that right to use often expires after a certain time, perhaps 20 or 30 years. Therefore, the longer you hold on to one of these non-deeded timeshare interests, the less valuable they become. (And they weren’t even all that valuable to begin with.)
Even apart from resale value, deeded timeshares have value in their consistency. If you own one week of the same timeshare, you know exactly what you’re getting every year. With a points or exchange system, though, you have to book a property when you want to take a vacation, and there’s no guarantee that what you want will even be available.
Exiting a timeshare is never easy in even the best of circumstances. Timeshare contracts are designed to make it as difficult as possible for you to cancel or resell your unit. That said, not having a deeded timeshare interest can make getting out that much harder.
The resale market for timeshares is famously bleak, with many selling for pennies on the dollar and some even listed on sites like eBay for $1 — and seldom sell for even that due to the high maintenance fees and no value in consumers’ eyes. If you don’t have a deeded timeshare, you will almost certainly be in the latter group, if you can get a sale at all.
Also, because you don’t actually have a real estate interest to use as a bargaining chip, non-deeded timeshares can cost you more if you have a messy exit. If the resort forecloses on your timeshare loan, for example, the higher value of real estate with a deeded timeshare means the resort is less likely to come after you for a large loan balance.
Looking at these facts can be a grim experience, but don’t let it get you down. At Centerstone Group, we have decades of combined experience in the timeshare industry, and we are devoted to helping unhappy timeshare owners get exits from even the toughest timeshare contracts.
We can look at your situation and, depending on the type of timeshare and other factors, we can work with realtors, attorneys, and your timeshare resort to manage an exit that will give you the freedom you crave without breaking the bank.
Putting up with the never-ending cost of a timeshare contract is bad enough in and of itself. It adds insult to injury when you learn too late that the timeshare contract you signed didn’t give you the property interest that you thought you were getting.
But now that you know, you have a better idea of what your options are. In no situation do you have to take on by yourself. All you need is an experienced, committed professional by your side to go over the facts and help you figure out the best options for you, no matter what your timeshare contract looks like.
Centerstone Group has helped many people just like you. As a business accredited by the Better Business Bureau, we are proud of our reputation as one of the best timeshare exit companies. We would love the chance to help you with your problem. Contact Centerstone Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.