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5 Things You Should Know About Timeshares

Many people are attracted to the idea of a timeshare, and that lengthy sales pitch meeting tends to present all the benefits of “owning” to potential timeshare buyers. But what exactly is a timeshare all about and do timeshares work? The idea of timeshare ownership and the ways they are sold has changed over the years, so we’ve decided to break down the details of what exactly a timeshare is as well as some other details. This will help you fully understand the misconceptions behind timeshare ownership and details just what you need to know in case you're thinking about buying a timeshare yourself.

1. The Basics of a Timeshare

The function and purpose of timeshares can be broken down into three categories: Fixed Week, Floating Weeks, and Points systems. These systems depend on quite a bit on how much you plan to use the timeshare and your planned vacation time. Let’s look into them a little further: 

Fixed Week: Fixed week timeshare options allow owners to reserve one week every year with a timeshare resort property that is available. This is the “original” idea of a timeshare, but the annual fees and other expenses are just as expensive and troublesome as the floating week and points timeshare options. 

Floating Week: Floating week(s) timeshare options are usually only available within a certain time frame for owners, but they are presented as offering a bit more flexibility when attempting to take a vacation. Owners can reserve on a weekly basis or weeks at a time, depending on the timeshare package that you initially purchased. 

Points: The points system is one of the newest, yet most popular timeshare options from many companies. It allows both internal exchanges within a timeshare management company and external exchanges with other companies. However, this popular form of timeshare sales can sometimes deceive owners that it is more flexible when it, in fact, is not any more flexible than the traditional fixed or floating week options. Many owners will find issues attempting to use the property.

2. The Types of Timeshare Ownership

Timeshares are sold based on two vacation options: Shared Deed Ownership and Shared Leased Ownership Interest. Timeshares are sold like this as viable options for consistent, reliable vacations for families. 

Shared Deed Ownership alots each owner a percentage of the timeshare. That percentage of ownership typically depends on the total number of that timeshare’s owners. If a timeshare unit has 52 “owners”, then you would probably purchase your fixed week along with 51 others to total the year’s availability. 

Shared Lease Ownership Interest serves as a “right to use” specific timeshare properties and is less defined by a physical property or timeshare management company. In this case, the property deed is still owned and held by the timeshare company itself. This type of ownership is similar in nature to the “points system”, as the vacation industry has become more about wide travel to new destinations rather than regular, consistent travel to the same area.

3. What are the Costs of Owning a Timeshare?

Fees are an inevitable part of timeshare ownership, but unlike a traditional property mortgage, the fees associated with timeshares can include a variety of line items that aren’t fully disclosed to you until you purchase the timeshare package. Let’s break down some of the most common timeshare fees:

Mortgage/Upfront Fees are those most often charged at the initial purchase transaction of a timeshare. A “mortgage” on a timeshare is not usually funded by traditional lenders (banks, credit unions, etc.) like a home or property mortgage would be, so many timeshare companies finance the mortgage fees and other fees in-house. Other upfront fees might include closing costs on the timeshare as well. 

Maintenance Fees are ongoing fees that are monthly or annually charged depending on your timeshare agreement. Just like traditional property, a timeshare also has included maintenance and upkeep with the ownership. However, unlike a traditional property, a timeshare’s maintenance fee can extend well beyond the day of which you might “pay off” the mortgage--that is, your maintenance fee associated with the timeshare does not necessarily end once the mortgage might. These same maintenance fees usually rise in price annually. 

Additional Fees typically include exchange fees (for purchasing more points to upgrade your timeshare options), HOA community fees, and any other “special assessments” for repairs made to your timeshare unit. 

4. Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Owning Timeshares

There are quite a few people who will tell you that they’re happy with their current timeshare and fully utilize it as a vacation home when they want it; however, the number of customers dissatisfied with their timeshare is significant enough for companies like Wesley Financial Group, LLC, to have been formed in the need to help those people cancel their timeshare agreements. 

There are some factors that could be considered advantages when it comes to owning a timeshare. One of the factors that most owners consider an advantage is that they have a reliable vacation location each year where they might be familiar. The reservation process can offer a predictable process and expectations for timeshare owners, which is one of the reasons that many individuals choose to purchase a timeshare.

Most disadvantages of owning timeshares often heavily outnumber the advantages. Some significant disadvantages of timeshare ownership typically include:

  • Ongoing Costs: These costs include monthly or annual maintenance fees (including interest rates), mortgage, and other community-related costs (HOA fees, repair costs, etc). For the maintenance fees in particular, the fees continue to increase regularly (usually on an annual basis), and these fees continue in perpetuity after the timeshare is paid in full. The interest rate fees themselves can usually account for thousands of wasted dollars throughout the life of a timeshare mortgage. 
  • Little Booking Availability: Most timeshare companies have a “window” for you to make reservations, and this is sometimes required 12-18 months in advance! Any later than that, and you risk not being able to reserve until the following year. But guess what still arrives in a timely manner? You guessed it: the mortgage payment and maintenance bills. 
  • Difficulty to Terminate or Sell Timeshare: The timeshare agreement that you sign when purchasing is a binding agreement; therefore, don’t expect the termination for said timeshare to be an easy one. A quick search on eBay shows that timeshares sell for pennies on the dollar, and there are steps beyond the actual sale of the contract. The process to terminate the timeshare agreement is just as troublesome and tricky (if even possible).

5. Other Considerations Prior to a Timeshare Purchase

Some final considerations that one should put in perspective prior to purchasing a timeshare might include:

The fees and related charges that you will inevitably incur when you own a timeshare typically include the interest rate, loan payment and maintenance fees, but that list of owed charges can quickly expand depending on your timeshare company ownership. 

Your personal health is also a major factor to consider when deciding to purchase a timeshare. Can you physically handle the amount of time needed to travel to the timeshare property when the resort is thousands of miles away? Can your family realistically find the time to travel together for a week when you might have grandchildren during future vacations? If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then you should probably reconsider the idea to purchase a timeshare for you and your family.

Ridiculously “nice” incentives that are offered might seem shiny and enticing during that sales presentation, but it’s good to ask yourself this question: If the timeshare option is a good investment, why are all of those extra goodies being offered on top of the timeshare purchase? “Good investments” usually have a short supply and don’t require “extras” to be sold! 

Timeshare contracts are binding. There is no easy way out of the contract, and most companies constantly pressure you to upgrade your current timeshare in order to extend your payment obligations and manipulate you.

Summary

There are plenty of vacation options that timeshare owners can utilize, and some timeshare owners do not have many problems with their timeshare. However, many timeshare options are very convoluted, and those that purchase them can sometimes face unforeseen challenges when trying to book their vacations. While there are some advantages to owning a timeshare, it’s hard to debate the large amount of disadvantages presented here. 

If you are not happy with your timeshare and are looking for a way out of your agreement, be sure to do your research and find a legitimate, reputable timeshare cancellation service to assist you every step of the way through your termination process. A few options you might have to cancel your timeshare agreement are: 

  • Attempt to cancel the agreement with the timeshare company itself
  • Hire legal counsel
  • Sell or rent your timeshare property online (for pennies on the dollar typically)
  • Use a reputable timeshare cancellation company

If you are overwhelmed by timeshare costs and the money involved with keeping or exiting your timeshare, it might be best to hire a timeshare cancellation company to assist you through the process. Some companies and law firm options to exit your timeshare agreement tend to be vague and do not include you in the cancellation process, and so you are left feeling as lost and confused as you were with the timeshare resorts! 

Consider a highly-ranked, effective timeshare cancellation company like Wesley Financial Group, LLC (WFG), to assist you through your timeshare exit journey. They have thousands of reviews from verified customers, they offer a 100% money back guarantee if they are unable to help you, and their CEO has firsthand knowledge of the timeshare industry.

Wesley Financial Group, LLC, and/or its affiliates, successors, or assigns are not lawyers and/or a law firm and do not engage in the practice of law or provide legal advice or legal representation. All information, software, services, and comments provided on this site are for informational and self-help purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, legal or otherwise.

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