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How much do timeshares cost?

When looking at the cost of a timeshare, you have to evaluate a few variables before estimating 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 will be more expensive than one located in a remote area in the mountains. Another factor to consider is the number of rooms your unit holds. Larger families tend to like multiple bedrooms and tend to need higher accommodations per night, which means the price of their timeshare could be exponentially higher than that of a family of three or a single person. Lastly, the timeshare property management you sign with may have the ability to change your payment and maintenance cost more than you'd think. Timeshare prices tend to fluctuate depending on the company, meaning that an annual membership may be cheaper for company A might over company B, and vice versa the next.

How do timeshares work?

Timeshares give owners annual exclusive use of a vacation property for a defined period or a limited 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 challenging 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 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

Club points are the newest system within the timeshare industry, and many timeshare companies only operate on a points system. The points system is described best as having a form of currency (points) that allows you to exchange points for time to use at a resort property. The number 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 exchanges within their timeshare resorts (internal trade) or other resorts (external exchange). While the points system will enable owners to choose where they want to vacation, it can also limit users' ability to travel when and where they want to travel. What many fail to mention in a points-based sales pitch, is the ability for most people to utilize their points to schedule a vacation becomes complicated if the resort is booked 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 deed. 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 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 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. The timeshare company still holds the deeded title to the property with shared, leased ownership.

What are timeshare maintenance fees?

When it comes to the timeshare industry, these added costs are everywhere, and sometimes they're hidden. The resort developer will likely send a demand for annual payment along with an invoice for accrued 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.

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

Many resorts take maintenance fee obligations very seriously and consider them 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 significantly 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 make regular unit payments.

How high they can increase every year tends to drive timeshare owners away from maintenance fees. 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 they need the 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 prevent your maintenance fees, the resort 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
  • It doesn't offer any guarantee programs

Yes, it is understood that every company has to start somewhere. Still, a lack of experience 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, so there are other aspects to look for.

Another obvious indication that a company could be trying to cheat you out of your money is how it operates 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 canceled, it's essential to ask about the pricing or refund policy ahead of time. 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.

How Much is a Timeshare?

It's hard to say just how much a timeshare will cost. But with data showing average costs for timeshares and the additional fees that come 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 instead of a vacation home. However, if you find yourself stuck with increasing fees and timeshare debt, make sure to 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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