Timeshares — or “vacation ownership” in the language of timeshare companies — are marketed to the public as a way to invest in your future vacation plans. Sure, the thinking goes, you may plunk down $20,000 now, but think about all the years of fun once you have bought a unit in your favorite vacation spot! Won’t that be grand?
Perhaps it would, but the people selling you this vacationing fantasy often fail to give you a complete picture of what a timeshare purchase actually looks like. Had you bought a home in the destination of your choice, you wouldn’t expect to just pay the purchase price. You’d have to pay property taxes and hazard insurance. You’d also have to pay all the other normal bills.
In this small aspect of “paying for ownership” then, a timeshare isn’t that different from owning your own vacation home. There is still a big distinction, though. With a timeshare, you are paying a middleman to take care of utilities, taxes, and maintenance of the property.
You also don’t have a say over the day-to-day decisions the middleman makes about how to spend your money on the property. Does your timeshare resort really need a new swimming pool, or is that an unnecessary expense? It’s not your decision, unfortunately, but under most timeshare contracts, you are going to have to pay for it anyway.
This article will take a look at the bottom line: What is your real timeshare price when you consider all the nickels and dimes you have to pay in addition to the purchase?
First, we’ll discuss the price of your unit, along with costs for the mortgage that many people have to get. Next, we’ll look at ever-increasing annual maintenance fees. Finally, we’ll examine the dreaded special assessment: extra amounts that your resort will probably ask you to pay at some point for a variety of reasons.
The first part of any timeshare price is the amount that you pay to acquire the unit. Most people that get timeshares do it because, they reason, the purchase price for a timeshare would be less than buying a vacation home outright. Usually, that is the case. But keep in mind that timeshare costs are still pretty expensive.
According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), the average purchase price for a timeshare unit is $22,942. That is a hefty chunk of change, but it’s not all that would be included in the purchase price. Just like with the purchase of any other real estate, there will be closing costs.
Those costs will be there regardless of whether you are purchasing a fixed-week timeshare, floating-week timeshare, or a more modern arrangement where you purchase a number of points for a vacation club. They can include:
(Note: The failure to take some of these necessary steps makes any attempted timeshare resale through less traditional channels, like eBay, very risky. Deeded timeshare interests, like other property interests, should be handled in writing by a qualified attorney or escrow company, depending upon your state.)
Depending on the exact deal you make, you could end up paying for some or all of these services. They can add anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars onto that $22,942 purchase price.
Chances are, you don’t just have $20,000-$30,000 sitting in the bank for a timeshare purchase. If that is the case, you will need to get a loan to pay for your timeshare. When you go mortgage shopping, though, you may be in for a nasty shock because most banks don’t give loans for timeshare purchases for any amount of time.
So, where do you get a mortgage? From the timeshare company directly, of course. But be ready to pay for the privilege. While a homeowner’s 30-year mortgage rate in 2021 may be around 3-4%, that’s not how timeshares work. Get ready to pay around 14% for a 10-year timeshare mortgage, according to ARDA statistics. It’s also common to see rates around 16%.
Rates commonly go even higher, to 20% and beyond, depending on the product, your credit, and the desired period of time of the loan.
To illustrate, let’s say you want to purchase a $20,000 timeshare and put $2,000 cash down. You get a 10-year, 20% loan to pay back the remaining $18,000. Assuming you make the minimum payment every month, you will pay over $12,000 in interest over a number of years. That means your timeshare price just more than doubled, from $20,000 to $43,743.23!
Even assuming that you have the purchase price and closing costs under control, you should be prepared for one of the biggest costs of timeshare ownership: annual maintenance fees. According to ARDA, be ready to pay out here too: You’ll be paying an average of $1,000 every year to the resort. Got a bigger unit? You’ll be paying closer to $1,300 per year.
And if you don’t like the sounds of those numbers, it gets worse. Expect those fees to rise every year by 4-5% or so. (ARDA has since lowered the expected rate to 2%, but this is a very low-end number.)
In the 10 years you’ll be paying off your mortgage, your annual fees can rise from $1,000 to $1,200. Assuming that you have a mortgage as discussed above, the total 10-year bill for your timeshare will come to nearly $55,000!
That amount of money by itself could pay for a great seven-day annual vacation and a luxury hotel with a cost of over $750 per night! With a timeshare though, it’s just what you pay to keep the lights on.
Special assessments may sound nice in the abstract. If your resort is trying to charge you one, they may reason that you will get a new swimming pool out of the deal. Or maybe the dining room is being remodeled. But, these kinds of improvements are expensive.
Many of us go without making them in our own homes for years due to budgetary reasons. Resorts, however, are all too happy to spend your money and charge you an extra $200 per year to indulge their improvement whims. This often results in a situation that is neither fair nor economical for timeshare owners.
And if there is a natural disaster or other event that requires repair for the vacation property? You’ll probably get stuck with an assessment bill there too. “But doesn’t the resort have insurance?” you might ask. Sure, but the resort isn’t about to pay its own self-insured retention or deductible. That cost, unfortunately, is going to be passed on to owners like you.
Timeshare prices only look low when the salespeople are touting them. The true cost to you and your family won’t become apparent until long after you’ve left that room. Likely, it won’t even be clear until after your contractual rescission period ends. If you find yourself in this situation, it can be easy to despair. But there are ways to get out of your timeshare and turn things around.
Centerstone Group is a company of professionals with combined decades of experience in the timeshare industry. We are a trusted timeshare exit company accredited by the Better Business Bureau with numerous reviews from satisfied clients.
Using our proprietary strategies, we can engage your timeshare resort in negotiations and pressure campaigns to try and get you out of your unit as quickly and painlessly as possible. And if we need to, we’ll work with our legal partners to pursue solutions.
If you need help getting out of your timeshare, don’t delay. Contact Centerstone Group today for a free consultation and case evaluation.