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Timeshare Maintenance Fees: What Are They and Why Are They So High?

It seems the older we get, the more everything seems to cost: the cost of living increases, insurance payments, and possibly a second mortgage or a monthly rental payment on a vacation property. If you happen to be in the timeshare vacation ownership industry, you may see that many of these "additional" costs are everywhere! And oftentimes, come out of nowhere. It seems every week, you're getting a new invoice for some maintenance fee you don't remember being a part of the original assessment costs. And yet, the fees just continue to increase year after year.

Maintenance fees are integral to the timeshare industry's financial manipulation tactics. Unlike a standard rental property like an apartment or rental home, timeshare's often lacked the benefits of having onsite maintenance that comes at no extra cost. Like an amenities bill (water or electricity), maintenance fees are often tacked on during the common billing period. These "service charges" are often said to cover the upkeep and preservation of the property.

Unfortunately, as a timeshare owner, there is no real way of ensuring your maintenance fees will stabilize. Some people may end up having to spend hundreds of dollars to even thousands of dollars in order to upkeep their vacation home. As maintenance fees continue to rise, there is only one guarantee: the cost of owning your timeshare will only become more expensive than the original upfront purchase price.

Increased annual payments and thousands of dollars of debt are just a few of the many problems that timeshare owners face today. What once was a shining light for future vacations at a once favorited vacation spot is now a reminder of financial ruin. What was once an amazing vacation experience is now a financial nightmare!

How much do timeshare maintenance fees cost?

There is no set number for how much maintenance fees will cost you. Oftentimes variables such as resort location, travel times, inclement weather in the area, standard amenities upkeep pool cleaning, or even necessities like air conditioning can affect the price of annual maintenance fees.

The takeaway is that timeshare maintenance fees will likely increase every year. Your timeshare floor plan, how often it rains, gets windy, or even the rate of inflation can cause these fees to rise unexpectedly. Without a proper management company working alongside timeshare owners or setting laws about the rate at which maintenance fees can increase, there is no way to protect timeshare owners from the increase of cost over time.

However, if you're lucky, you may scrape by having to only pay a few hundred dollars. Unfortunately, that just isn't true for many timeshare owners.

Will these fees increase over time?

Since the first timeshares hit the scene in the 1970s, maintenance fees have increased year after year. Sometimes it can be challenging for timeshare owners to forecast just how high their fees will be a specific year, but one thing they can predict is that they will increase, and usually, it's a rude awakening.

When you decide to sign a timeshare agreement, you must know what exactly you agree to. It's tough to plan financially for a cost that's hard to predict when it comes around every year. Before officially signing any documents that make you an owner, there is one thing you can do: Ask the sales representative of that particular resort for a copy of last year's maintenance costs for other owners. This could give you an idea of what kind of fee you will expect moving forward.

What happens if I miss payments on my maintenance fees?

Many timeshare owners don't know that they agree to pay maintenance fees so long as their name is on the timeshare agreement or making loan payments. Yet, if they fail to make a payment or miss a payment, it could increase their debt even more and be detrimental to their future finances.

In many cases, when you default on a monthly payment, the timeshare resort and management (resort developer or a homeowners association) will revoke a grace period and demand payment immediately. If not, a collection agency may be hired to begin seeking repayment.

If this takes place, your credit score could be negatively affected, and your ability to finance major purchases like vehicles could be significantly damaged.

Another factor in play here is your interest rate on your timeshare mortgage. It could potentially spike your total amount due, making it nearly impossible to pay off anytime soon.

Something else to think about is if you can't manage your maintenance fees, another owner might have to pick up the tab. In some cases, at lesser and cheaper resorts, the owners have reserves and will sometimes cover the fees for you if you are in a financial situation where you can't cover them. While this is a rare occurrence, it could happen if you're fortunate enough.

Where do my maintenance fees go after I pay them?

When timeshare owners pay these rising maintenance fees, they often ask themselves: Where and what is my money going towards? These fees usually go towards the preservation and servicing of the facilities on the property. This means your money could be going to things like resort developments, utilities, amenities, or regular upkeep like landscaping.

Most customers usually want to see what their money is going towards. Some resorts will itemize your maintenance fees, showing exactly why they're charging you a certain amount and what it's going to fix or help around the property. However, this isn't always the case. Many timeshare owners will get a total amount due and never know where their money is going.

No matter how your bill is presented to you, the general cost of your fee will go towards all of these items.

Summary

In all reality, you have to make the best decision for the future of your vacations. A timeshare is a long-term commitment; it's not planning a short holiday weekend vacation.

Maintenance fees should be fully considered when you sign on to purchase a timeshare. These fees can add up to cost you a lot of money over time, and if you aren't ready for them to increase each year, it can be a substantial financial burden.

Be sure to read the paperwork before signing on your timeshare and go over the details of your maintenance fees, like when they'll be due and how much they could increase every year. It's never fun to go on vacation and have attractions or amenities closed or not in operation, and that's why these fees were created in the first place. Sometimes though, the amount due by owners doesn't seem realistic. Do your homework, and you'll be in the clear.

*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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