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How much do timeshares cost?

How much do timeshares cost?

When looking at the cost of a timeshare you have to evaluate a few variables before you can estimate the cost of your unit. The first aspect that could judge the price of your timeshare is the location of your property. For instance, a timeshare located in a hotbed for tourists is going to be more expensive than one located in a remote area in the mountains. Another factor to take into account is the amount of rooms your unit holds. Larger families tend to like multiple bedrooms, which means the price of their timeshare could be exponentially more than it would be for a family of three. Lastly, the timeshare management company you sign on with could dictate your price more than most people think. Timeshare prices tend to fluctuate depending on the company, meaning that one year company A might be cheaper than company B, but the following year company B could be more affordable than company A.

How do timeshares work?

Timeshares give owners annual exclusive use of a vacation property for a defined period of time or defined number of points. Timeshares typically use one of the following three systems:

Fixed Week

With a fixed week timeshare, owners have the right to use the vacation property for a specific week (or weeks) every year. There are advantages and disadvantages to this system. The upside is that the owner is guaranteed an annual vacation at the same time every year. The downside is that it may be very difficult to change or swap the fixed week.

Floating Week

If you purchase a floating week timeshare, you will have the ability to use the vacation property for a week or weeks during a specific period of time.  Although in theory the floating week might seem to be more flexible than a fixed week, the trouble lies in booking when you desire. The week you would like to book may not be available during the busiest times of the year and may need to be reserved well in advance to ensure availability.

Points

Points are the newest system within the timeshare industry, and many timeshare companies only operate on a points system. The points system can be best described as having a form of currency (points) that allow you to “buy” time to use at a resort property. The amount of points you have to use to book a trip varies based on the vacation property,  location of the property and time of availability. Timeshare companies use a points based system to allow timeshare exchanges either within their own timeshare resorts (internal exchange), or with other resorts (external exchange). While the points system allows owners to have more choices of where they want to vacation, it can also limit users ability to travel when and where they want to travel. This means points do not come with a set week or location, so trying to use points to book a vacation can be difficult if the resort you want to stay at is booked up to two years in advance.

Types of timeshare

There are typically two types of timeshare:  shared deeded ownership or shared leased ownership.

Shared deeded ownership, or “fee-simple” timeshares, give the buyer a share of the ownership.  According to The World Tourism Organization, around 90 percent of timeshares are fee-simple or shared deeded ownership.

Shared leased ownership —or right-to-use contracts —allow the buyer to use the timeshare for a predefined period of time. This is different from shared deeded ownership, in that you don’t own any portion of the property. Ownership reverts to the original owner at the end of your term.

Shared Deeded Ownership

A shared deeded timeshare gives each buyer a percentage share of the physical property. For example, a timeshare unit that is sold in increments of one week can technically have 52 total deeds. That’s to say:  buying one week in this particular resort condominium unit would result in a one-fifty-second (1/52) ownership interest in the unit. These types of timeshare ownership are often held in perpetuity and can be willed to one's estate.

Shared Leased Ownership Interest

Shared leased ownership interest allows the owners the right-to-use a specific vacation property for a fixed or floating week (or weeks) each year for a certain number of years. With shared leased ownership, the timeshare company still holds the deeded title to the property.

What are timeshare maintenance fees?

When it comes to the timeshare industry, these added costs are everywhere and sometimes they’re hidden. Every year, the resort developer will send you an invoice for additional fees known as maintenance fees. The timeshare maintenance fees are usually collected by the resort developer or management company for the sole purpose of covering upkeep around the property. 

As an owner, the most important aspect to understand is that there is no way to make sure your maintenance fee won’t increase. You can’t make sure it’s set-in-stone and not going to continually rise over the next decade of owning your timeshare. This is why a lot of people either can't afford their annual fee or simply want to stop paying it.

Many resorts take maintenance fee obligations very seriously and consider them to be on the same level as timeshare mortgage payments. This means that if you don't stay up to date on your maintenance fees, the resort developer or timeshare company could foreclose on your unit. This of course, will hurt your financial status greatly and could affect your ability to make future purchases like financing a vehicle or home.

If my timeshare is paid off, do I have to keep paying maintenance fees?

Unfortunately, you still have to pay your annual maintenance fees regardless of whether your timeshare mortgage is paid off or not. Timeshare management companies treat maintenance fee dues with the same priority as they do regular unit payments. 

What tends to drive timeshare owners away from maintenance fees is how high they can increase every year. Some owners feel that once they’ve finished paying off the thousands of dollars they owe on their timeshare, the maintenance fees should disappear. But, resort developers claim that they need said money to keep amenities up to date and make repairs around the resort. 

This is why if you try to avoid maintenance fees, then a collection effort could be made by your resort ownership. If you continue to avoid your maintenance fees, the resort and/or collection agency could escalate your case to the point of foreclosure. Either way, your credit could be affected if you try to steer clear of paying any maintenance fees. 

Watch out for fraud

It can be easy to be deceived by a fraudulent timeshare exit team. They have seemingly popped up everywhere. Given that we’re in a tough financial year – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – timeshare exit scams have started to realize they can trick even more people into paying money to exit their timeshares. 

If you’re skeptical about a company, make sure none of the below apply to that company. Here are the three red flags that tend to give away timeshare exit scams:

  • Little to no timeshare cancellation industry experience 
  • Outsources cases to third parties, such as law firms 
  • Doesn’t offer any sort of money back guarantee programs

Yes, it is understood that every company has to start somewhere, but a lack of experience and/or knowledge of the timeshare industry is a dead giveaway that a company could be trying to scam you out of more money. It can be a copycat industry, so sometimes this is hard to figure out, which is why there are other aspects to look for as well. 

Another obvious indication that a company could be trying to cheat you out of your money is the way it operates in order to rid you of your timeshare. If it immediately turns around and sends your so-called case to a third party law firm, it means it isn’t doing any actual work to try and terminate your timeshare. This should be evident when you inquire about the cancellation process. 

Lastly, should your timeshare not be successfully cancelled, it’s important to ask ahead of time about the pricing and/or refund policy. If a company doesn’t offer a 100% money back guarantee or tries to change the subject of conversation, it could be a sign that they’re just in the business for the money and not to help alleviate the struggles caused by your timeshare. 

Summary

It's hard to say just how much a timeshare will cost. But with data that shows average costs for timeshares and the additional fees that come along with them, it's easy to see just how expensive buying a timeshare can be. Be sure to do your research. Depending on what you're willing to sacrifice, you might look into a timeshare resort as opposed to a vacation home. However, if you do find yourself stuck with increasing fees and timeshare debt, make sure you find a timeshare cancellation company with a 100% money back guarantee. Reviews and client testimonials can be a great way to make sure you're choosing the right company. 

 

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