When you think to yourself “I want to buy a timeshare” what is it that you really want? Do you want a vacation property to come back to every year? Do you want a reason to travel more? Are you tired of staying in expensive hotel rooms and want a more permanent place to stay?
Whatever your motivation is, vacation ownership is a much bigger commitment than anyone selling timeshares would have you believe. It’s not just a one time down payment and a few annual upkeep fees. It’s a huge responsibility and financial burden that should be taken as seriously as any other real estate purchase.
The reason why so many people don’t put enough thought into timeshare purchases is because they aren’t informed about the drawbacks. If you are in the market for a timeshare and are wondering what to consider before taking the leap into timeshare ownership, consider these three reasons NOT to buy a timeshare first.
A timeshare company will usually sell their timeshares as flex or fixed weeks. Fixed week timeshares are only available one specific week of the year. Timeshare buyers cannot change these dates even if they are unable to visit during this time period.
Flex weeks allow owners to choose which weeks to visit their timeshare properties. Most of the time, people with flex weeks have the ability to book their visit within a range of one to three months.The downside of the weeks system is it limits when you can stay at your timeshare. Additionally, most timeshare companies will not reimburse the annual fees you’ve paid even if you’re unable to stay at your timeshare within the week or weeks provided.
Some timeshare companies use a points system for booking vacation spots. So rather than using weeks, customers are given a certain amount of points each year and can use these to stay at timeshare properties.
The added perk of the points system is that customers can exchange points to stay at a different location every year. The motivation behind the first timeshare exchange company, Resort Condominiums International (RCI), was to maximize how many timeshare stays they could offer and how many customers they could sell to.
By selling points instead of weeks, RCI no longer had a limited number of timeshare units and weeks. They could essentially sell an unlimited number of points to an unlimited number of customers.
So what’s the downside of the points program? Even if you hypothetically have all this flexibility to book your vacation wherever and whenever you want, the points system often causes competition to stay at the most desirable locations.
It can be impossible to stay at a summer timeshare in Hawaii, a Las Vegas timeshare during New Years, or an Orlando timeshare near Disney World during Spring Break. This is because thousands of other people are competing to stay at the same spot as you. RCI was even involved in a class-action lawsuit for committing consumer fraud by failing to give points-owning customers adequate access to RCI timeshare resorts.
If you’ve ever been to a timeshare sales presentation, you may have been told that one of the major benefits of owning a timeshare is that it can save you money. They’ll tell you that if you’re a frequent vacationer, owning a timeshare would spare you tons of dollars on lodging fees. They may have even said that you’ll eventually be able to sell your timeshare. But are either of these things true? Not for the vast majority of existing owners.
Unlike buying a home, you usually can’t pay off a timeshare. Timeshares have ongoing monthly expenses, annual maintenance fees, and assessment fees that don’t go away no matter how long you’ve had your timeshare. And these fees are licensed to change each year. So the maintenance fees you paid when you originally bought your timeshare will be minuscule compared to what you’ll pay 10-20 years later.
As far as making money on timeshare resales, a quick glance on eBay’s secondary market for timeshares should tell you that turning a profit isn’t very likely. Timeshares almost always decrease in value after you purchase them.
And even if a timeshare’s resale value is worth more than what it was originally purchased for, most people who try to sell timeshares on the resale market end up giving away their share for free, and most have no market, so even that is impossible for most. Forget about salvaging the initial purchase price. Most Timeshare owners are just relieved to get out of their contract and no longer have to pay expensive maintenance fees.
Most people who come out of a high-pressure timeshare sales pitch with a new timeshare don’t foresee how long they’ll actually want to own this property. They’re too busy riding the high of being a new timeshare owner that they neglect to think about the future.
What if they lose their job and are unable to keep up with annual maintenance fees? Or they have a baby and won’t have the time to take a week-long vacation for a few years? Or they end up moving farther away from their timeshare and do not want to pay for expensive airfare every year? Regardless of why, life changes and the perks of owning a timeshare may diminish as money and time becomes less disposable.
So what’s the big deal? If you no longer want to own your timeshare, can’t you be upfront about it with your timeshare company and cancel your contract? If only it were that simple. The reality of vacation ownership is that you can either cancel your timeshare within the 3-10 day rescission period after you’ve signed your contract, or you’re likely stuck in your contract for life.
Timeshare contracts are lengthy, extensive, and hard to understand without the help of a lawyer. However, they are legally required to state every policy that your timeshare company has on owning, renting, selling, and cancelling your timeshare.
These contracts can have harsh binding policies that, if you were informed of them during the timeshare sales process, you would never agree to. But since most timeshare salespeople are not required to relay this information during the sales pitch, many people sign their contract without knowing they’ve been involved in a scam.
For timeshare owners who’ve been manipulated into an impossibly binding contract they can’t find their way out of, not all hope is lost. If you’ve been a victim of fraud, high-pressure sales tactics, or misrepresentation during the timeshare sales process, Centerstone Group is on your side. Centerstone is a full-service advocacy group that specializes in navigating timeshare exit. Our 3-pronged approach to contract resolution can offer you the best success rate and value within the relief industry.
Do you regret the day you told yourself “I want to buy a timeshare”? Have you come to realize that it’s impossible to book a stay at your timeshare resort, your points system is a scam, your annual fees are too expensive to manage, your timeshare purchase was a bad investment, and your timeshare company has tricked you into a contract that’s impossible to get out of? If any of these situations sound familiar, contact Centerstone to see if you qualify for our services.