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5 Things You Should Know About Timeshares vs. Vacation Ownership

It's easy to get confused by the timeshare industry as it's common for salespeople to use manipulative tactics during their sales pitch. One example of this is how a timeshare salesperson uses the term "vacation ownership." Resorts often use "timeshare" and "vacation ownership" interchangeably, yet you need to know the difference between the two.

Timeshare developers often use "vacation ownership" to try and make prospective customers feel like they're making an actual investment. But why don't salespeople stick to the term "timeshare"? Well, as the vacation industry has grown, "timeshare" has obtained a bit of a negative connotation.

It's essential to educate yourself on the differences between these terms, so let's explore some critical distinctions between the two. Here are five aspects to compare and contrast between timeshares and vacation ownership.

1. Vacation Clubs

It's easy to mix up a vacation club with a timeshare property because salespeople often try to blur the line between the two. What's the difference? In a vacation club, you're not paying for one particular unit. You're still paying fees, but there isn't a set timeshare week that applies to you. Vacation clubs honestly give travelers the freedom to travel to a variety of destinations within their resort's terms and conditions. You don't have to suffer through exchange programs (e.g., RCI and Interval International) like you would with a timeshare. However, in most vacation clubs, we should note that blackout date restrictions can still apply, and you might have to pay extra expenses to book a hotel during holidays or high-traffic weekends in the summer.

One similarity that vacation clubs and timeshare companies have in common? The never-ending maintenance costs that cost you thousands of dollars over time. Members of vacation clubs still have to pay annual maintenance fees. And while they may not increase as they do with timeshares, they're still a very high annoyance with most vacation club members.

What is the difference between a travel club and a vacation club?

With so many different ways to describe vacationing and the tourism industry, it's easy to get lost in specific terms and what they mean at this rate. So is a travel club all that different from a vacation club? While they do share a lot in common, the most noticeable difference that sets a travel club apart would have to be the all-around experience. Typically, members of a travel club receive additional luxuries like airfare, rental cars, planned off-site activities, or any other travel amenities-opposed to a vacation club, where your membership only covers your stay at one particular vacation destination for a set period of time.

2. Availability

Availability is everything when it comes to making vacations a fun experience. If you can't go when you want to go, what's the point? While the timeshare presentation salespeople may make their availability a huge selling point, that isn't always the case. With many timeshare agreements, some conditions state you have to book at least one year ahead of time. When you buy a timeshare, you're under the impression that you will have a lot of freedom to take family vacations whenever you want. But it usually doesn't take long – for most owners. When trying to book their first week, many typically realize it was all a lie.

In vacation ownership, availability can depend on many factors, but mainly on what kind of agreement you signed initially. Suppose your agreement states that you have a variety of stipulations (holidays, weekends, or certain months) when it comes to availability. In that case, you might be playing the waiting game and having to book for months or even years in advance.

3. Ownership Types

As mentioned above, the agreement you sign can dictate your freedoms as an owner. Whether it's fractional ownership of a particular unit or you being the outright owner of a vacation property, it's essential to understand the details of each agreement. Let's explore the two most common types of timeshare ownership.

Shared Leased Ownership Interest

In a shared leased ownership interest, the owner has a right-to-use agreement that grants them a fixed week for a certain number of years each year. That's an ideal type of ownership for someone who doesn't vacation regularly and does not care about their unit size or vacation season. The main downside to a shared leased ownership interest is that since you're only usually offered a single week, you don't get a lot of bang for your buck. The timeshare management company still holds the title to your vacation property with shared leased ownership.

Shared Deeded Ownership

According to Investopedia.com, a shared deeded timeshare gives each buyer a percentage share of the physical property. So one single unit could have up to 52 different owners if each shared owner is offered a single week out of the year. This type of timeshare ownership is often held perpetually and willed to one's estate after their passing. However, since you will possess the property title, you have the right to resell it in the secondary market if you choose. Unfortunately, many people find the timeshare resale market worthless and even dangerous.

4. Exchange Programs

It seems that anytime consumers are not content with their product, they reach out to the seller in hopes of an exchange. The same happens with timeshares every day. When a timeshare owner realizes they want to go somewhere else but don't have enough credit or points, they can use a timeshare exchange company. Exchange programs offer a great way to take vacations in other destination hot spots, but there's always a catch, right? Yes, more fees!

Exchange fees can easily rival the hassle of your yearly maintenance fee or any other additional payments that drive timeshare owners into near-immediate debt. In some timeshare exchange horror stories, owners have paid their exchange fees but never actually received a guaranteed exchange for a vacation at a different resort in a different location. While timeshare exchange may seem like a simple solution, it usually ends in more money lost for the owner.

5. Lifetime Benefits

Timeshare ownership often gets marketed as an "investment." You'll hear it in any sales presentation you attend. The staff will inform you of numerous different benefits, like the ability to pass down your timeshare to your heirs. That may seem like a fun gift at first, but if you're signing on with a shameful timeshare company, the only thing your children will end up inheriting is debt.

The counterargument to this involves other types of vacation ownership like vacation clubs. If your vacation club membership offers great deals and low annual fees, your kids may not mind inheriting some of these benefits. However, it would be best to speak with your heirs before agreeing to such terms, no matter the situation.

Summary

Timeshare ownership can be very deceptive. Resort management companies earn a lot of money by making their properties look desirable for prospective and current owners. Vacation clubs can be a better alternative to timeshares, but you could still face high annual fees.

It's essential to educate yourself on timeshares and other vacation ownership programs before signing the dotted line and paying the initial purchase price. However, if it is too late and you or a family member already own a timeshare, you should start exploring your exit options. The best way to get out of your timeshare week is to contact a legitimate timeshare cancellation service like Wesley Financial Group, LLC. Be sure to contact the team at WFG to get your free consultation today. And remember, paying money for a cancellation service isn't fun, but continuing to pay for a future vacation you never get to use is much worse.

*Wesley Financial Group, LLC, and its affiliates, successors, or assigns are not lawyers 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 not intended to substitute for professional advice, legal or otherwise.

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