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Owning a Timeshare: Pros, Cons, and Forms of Ownership

Timeshare resorts are popular among vacation-goers in the United States. That's because they offer a chance to own a vacation property for a portion of the actual cost. Through fractional ownership, traditional timeshares make owning a vacation home more accessible. One concern is whether timeshare owners have the same rights and benefits as typical real estate transactions. 

That depends on whether the timeshare is considered real or personal property. First, understand the type of ownership you purchased. Different ownerships decide if you or the timeshare company possess the deed and, therefore, own the timeshare property. Continue reading to learn more.

What Is a Timeshare Property?

A timeshare is vacation real estate utilizing a fractional ownership model. Multiple owners per unit share these fractional properties, each receiving an allotment of usage, often on a one-week per year basis. Timeshare developers can be found anywhere from an exotic beach resort to a mountain ski resort but have become so popular that this vacation ownership model now works with apartment units and campgrounds.

How it Works for Timeshare Owners

Timeshares are not traditional real estate, and who owns the property is often up for debate. When you buy from a timeshare resort, you purchase the right to use that property unit for a specified time each year. You don't own the property outright, and while you may have a title deed, it is for a small percentage. For instance, buying a one-week increment equates to 1/52 ownership of the unit. Buying a two-week increment equates to a 1/26 right, and so on.

The Different Ways to Use Timeshares

Initially, timeshares offerings were restricted to a routine basis where owners had little say in scheduling their stays at the property. Today, there are various ways to use a timeshare, whether you want the planning to be predictable, flexible or something in between:

  • Fixed-Week Timeshare: The timeshare industry standard permits owners to stay at their property every year on the same week(s). The fixed-week format makes planning future vacations easy since they're always in the same place and same time.
  • Floating-Week Timeshare: This flexible option is for prospective buyers who don't want their vacation time restricted to the same time every year. A floating-week format keeps you at the same resort property, but you choose the week(s) you want to visit.
  • Points-Based Timeshare: Popular recently, this option gives a prospective timeshare owner a predetermined number of points to spend in exchange for annual vacations. With a points system, you can choose between locations and times of the year for your stay.

RIGHTS TO THE VACATION PROPERTY DEPEND ON THE TYPE OF TIMESHARE OWNERSHIP

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So, how to determine whether you own your timeshare property? Check the paperwork!

There are two standard ownership agreements in the industry, deeded and non-deeded. Under the law, these timeshare agreements allow different property types with separate privileges. To determine the ownership rights of a particular timeshare, look at the property type it's classified as.

Real Property vs. Personal Property

Timeshares can be either real property or personal property. Therefore, the ownership rights can differ from one buyer to the next. There is a distinction between real and personal property and what rights they contain.

Real property is actual land, which often falls under real estate law. It includes everything attached to the land, like a house, and all rights of ownership for it–meaning you have the right to sell, lease, or occupy the property. Personal property consists of movable items that are not attached to real estate. These items have fewer ownership rights, such as cars, boats, furniture, and others.

Deeded Timeshares

With a shared deeded timeshare purchase, owners receive an actual percentage of real property. The title deed gets based on the number of weeks you purchased. Since deeded ownership is considered real property, these agreements are often written perpetually and give potential buyers many advantageous rights.

Deeded owners often have the right to sell, rent, and bequeath their timeshare units to other estates. However, you can expect more financial responsibilities since you own part of the property with deeded timeshares. For example, deeded agreements often have a higher initial purchase price, and you also pay property taxes.

Right-to-Use Timeshares

With a shared right-to-use timeshare, you buy a leased ownership interest in the property while the developers retain the deeded title. Timeshare lease agreements can last between 10 and 100 years. With a non-deeded deal, owners have the right to use the property for an allotted period of time each year until the agreement expires.

As personal property, leased timeshare agreements offer few other ownership rights. A right-to-use timeshare is tough to resell, rent, or transfer to another party as deeded timeshares can. Without a legitimate ownership share, non-deeded timeshares often get sold at a lower average cost and without real estate taxes.

CONSIDER THE INVESTMENT VALUE OF TIMESHARES BEFORE PURCHASING

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Assess the financial obligations and investment value, no matter the type of ownership. Timeshares seldom live up to be real estate investments. The timeshare's value depreciates as soon as it's purchased. Not to mention, the maintenance and exchange fees become more tenfold expensive over time. If owners cannot fulfill these ongoing costs, they may risk foreclosure. Buying a timeshare can lock you into a lifetime commitment.

How to Get Rid of a Timeshare if You Already Have One

Just because you have the ownership rights to resell or rent out your timeshare doesn't mean it will be simple. A vacation rental's income is minuscule compared to the expenses, and the timeshare resale market is full of desperate owners. For many, getting rid of a timeshare is a burden in and of itself.

Below are three of the least stressful ways to end your timeshare ownership:

  • Rescind Your Timeshare Purchase: Timeshare buyers have 3-15 days after the initial purchase to rescind it and receive a full refund. After this time period expires, your timeshare company may make it difficult for you to cancel.
  • Give It Back to the Resort: Reach out to the resort developer and inquire about selling or giving the property back. If you have paid off the timeshare mortgage and are up to date on the annual maintenance fee, the vacation resort may accept the offer.
  • Timeshare Cancellation Company: If you were lied to or misled by salespeople, hire a team of timeshare exit strategists to help you. This company will represent you in its efforts to end your timeshare agreement outright.

Wesley Financial Group, LLC* Is Here to Help

Consider reaching out to Wesley Financial Group, LLC ("WFG") to learn more about a timeshare cancellation. Sitting at the forefront of the timeshare exit industry, WFG made a name for itself in the last decade by canceling over 16,000 agreements and eliminating thousands of dollars in timeshare mortgage debt. Current owners who feel misled into an unfair ownership agreement with a timeshare provider can schedule a free consultation with WFG today! 

*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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