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Are Timeshares A Lifetime Investment?

Timeshares do not always live up to the hype. Many consumers are left feeling underwhelmed, whether it is too difficult to use or costly to maintain. The final straw for the timeshare industry for some, though, comes from finding out how long their purchase agreements last. 

Leaving many of us to wonder, are timeshares for life?

You've probably asked this question before if you're a timeshare owner. Please continue reading below, where we’ll discuss how long you may be on the hook for your timeshare purchase and what alternative options you have to get rid of it.


First, let's cover the basics. With timeshares, you're paying to reserve your future vacations at whatever today's average sales price is. They are a type of vacation ownership system that has risen in popularity over the last few decades. The increase in popularity is primarily due to their alternative approach to an annual vacation. Oh, and perhaps some deceptive sales practices as well.

What separates timeshare resort companies from other vacation options is the "fractional ownership" aspect of their units. This type of ownership means several different buyers share one timeshare unit. Having multiple owners means the time spent on the property is shared, as are the membership expenses.

The industry standard is a one-week timeshare interval, where each owner receives one week out of the year to enjoy the resort. Essentially, that means one timeshare unit can have up to 52 different owners. Still, there are other options offering more flexibility than this fixed-week method, such as a floating-week or points exchange system.


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Frequently touted as once-in-a-lifetime deals, many prospective owners are left oblivious to how long these agreements last. The truth is that timeshare agreements too often have perpetuity clauses that hold the owners financially responsible forever, or at least for a very long time.


It makes sense to think that the constant barrage of bills from the resort would finally cease by paying off your timeshare mortgage after years of putting your hard-earned money into it. Unfortunately, these fees don't stop. That's where timeshares differentiate themselves from other types of real estate.

Depending on which type of timeshare ownership you signed up for, it could require you to make payments for the rest of your life, even after paying off your timeshare loan. Here's a look at each type of timeshare ownership and what subsequently happens after paying each of them off:


A deeded timeshare means the owner outright possesses the ownership deed. Deeded timeshares have great perks. However, they also have a downside. For instance, they often get written in perpetuity, which means they last indefinitely, as do their expenses.

Having a deeded timeshare means you are held responsible for the annual maintenance fees even after paying off the mortgage, with no expiration date in sight. Making matters worse, when a timeshare owner passes away, their deeded unit becomes a part of their estate. Therefore, it falls into the lap of their beneficiaries and leaves them to handle all future expenses.


On the other hand, a right-to-use timeshare is an agreement in which you only buy the right to use the property. The timeshare developer itself will retain the deed and ownership while you, the "owner," rent it out. While not always the case, right-to-use timeshare agreements are often not in perpetuity but instead leased out for any period of time between 20 to 99 years.

Owners remain liable for any timeshare expenses, including the annual maintenance fee and special assessments, until their agreement term ends. At that point, they can typically negotiate a repurchase with the resort or walk away from their agreement.


Your timeshare agreement will likely last forever if left up to the timeshare company. However, there is a tiny sliver of hope for owners with buyer's remorse. As with almost all significant purchases, there is a rescission period known as the cooling-off period. Rescinding is the only way to walk away from it and still receive a full refund.

But there's a catch.

Timeshare rescission periods are notorious for their brevity, ranging from 3 to 14 days. Blink, and you might miss your window of opportunity. Rescission laws will vary from state to state, so it's essential to refer back to the agreement paperwork and also any state laws of relevancy. Click here to learn more about how timeshare rescission works.

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Timeshare

Understanding that there are benefits, as well as drawbacks, of owning a timeshare is essential.

What are the benefits of owning a timeshare?

  • Timeshares are a billion-dollar industry: Timeshares often include top-of-the-line amenities and accommodations such as fitness centers, tennis courts, swimming pools, hot tubs, on-site restaurants, and spacious living areas. The timeshare industry appears to be doing alright.
  • Vacations are "guaranteed": Timeshares can be a good purchase for people who vacation regularly and want to own their own vacation property. Alas, guaranteed trips may be limited to the same location or certain destinations. 
  • Potential long-term savings: Timeshares can be a good way to offset the cost of vacationing compared to other methods. Still, they should not be considered a primary investment due to their lack of flexibility and market value.
  • Ownership does not have to maintain it: As a timeshare owner, your hands stay clean. Property developers take care of everything from regular upkeep and cleaning of your unit to repairs and improvements to the resort.
  • Easy to attain: Timeshares are found everywhere today, from luxury hotels to more local properties like a condo. Not only that, but the average timeshare salesperson is more than eager to get you involved.

What are the drawbacks of owning a timeshare?

  • Timeshare salespeople have a poor reputation: Despite the accommodations these resorts offer, many merchants continue to stoop down to the level of deception during the sales pitch.
  • The ownership expenses add up: According to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), the average cost of a timeshare is over $20,000. On top of that, the average annual maintenance fee for timeshares is $1,000.
  • Property value decreases: Timeshare properties often lose their value over time. After 20 years, the average timeshare is worth just 20 percent of its original value.
  • Difficult to use: Only 10 percent of timeshare owners use their timeshare each year, and the average owner visits their timeshare unit for just three to four days a year. That is due to how challenging the resorts make it to book and schedule your timeshare visits.
  • Even more difficult to get rid of: A timeshare purchase could last a lifetime, making it a tricky escape. While you can try to sell it, the resale market has a low chance of success with a high risk for scams. On average, when reselling a timeshare, the owner receives at most 50 percent of the original purchase price.


Because timeshare agreements can be a lifetime commitment that is nearly impossible to get rid of, it is impressive how successful resorts are selling them. So what is their secret? How do these timeshare resorts continue to pull in more customers left and right?

The answer is timeshare salespeople. They paint a perfect picture of what they are selling, even though it is often not an accurate depiction. A timeshare presentation can be pretty deceptive, even to the point of leaving out vital information like the agreement being in perpetuity. Because of these deceptive sales tactics, timeshares continue to be top sellers in the travel industry. As a result, many individuals and families are left in distress.


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Coming to terms with the fact that your timeshare expenses may never end can be a disturbing realization. After missing the short window for rescission on a perpetual deal, you might feel as if you missed your only chance of escaping.

Don't wave the white flag yet, as you may still have a chance. Due to the constant rise in unhappy owners, timeshare cancellation is taking the vacation industry by storm. Here are a few timeshare exit methods recommended to owners who no longer have the right to rescission:


Your first option is to see if the original resort that sold to you will accept it back. However, owners should not set their hopes too high, as the typical timeshare company can be troubling to work with. Nevertheless, it is still worth a shot. If you have paid off your timeshare mortgage, reach out to the resort developers and see if they would be willing to take the property back.


Instead of getting rid of your timeshare, resorts recommend that owners rent out the vacation property to help cover maintenance fees and other expenses. While salespeople contend that owners can make more than enough money by renting out their timeshares, this rarely proves to be true. Also, not all owners are eligible to rent, so check with your resort beforehand.


Without help from the resort, you may have to do some heavy lifting yourself. The resale market seems like the perfect place to offload an unwanted timeshare onto someone else. However, resellers should not expect to make back what they originally invested in the timeshare property, or anywhere close to its purchase price, for that matter. Those in the secondary market typically are just looking for a way out of future maintenance fee responsibility.


An alternative exit option that has risen in popularity over the last few years is hiring a timeshare cancellation company. You have probably seen or heard advertisements for these companies. What they do is help those who get unknowingly misled into lifetime timeshare commitments. Since cancellation companies are still a new concept, it's critical to only work with a legitimate business and avoid potential timeshare scams.

Wesley Financial Group, LLC is a perfect example of a reputable timeshare cancellation company.* They have proved their legitimacy with an exit process that has canceled thousands of timeshares over the past decade. Founder and CEO Chuck McDowell even faced off in court against one of the largest timeshare companies in the world, further cementing themselves as cancellation experts.


Timeshares often get sold under the impression that they are financial investments helping you and your family save money on vacations for years to come. The average sales agent may fail to mention that a timeshare agreement is an expensive lifetime commitment. Truthfully, vacation goers may save more money in the long run by buying their own vacation home or just sticking to hotel rooms. Research beforehand what vacationing method works best for you.

*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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