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What are timeshare maintenance fees?

What are timeshare maintenance fees?

It seems that the older we get, the more we begin to realize that everything comes with added costs. When it comes to the timeshare industry, these added costs are everywhere and sometimes they’re hidden. Every year the resort developer will send you an invoice for additional fees known as maintenance fees. The worst part? These fees tend to increase year after year. 

The annual maintenance fee is usually collected by the resort developer or timeshare management company for the sole purpose of covering upkeep and service and preservation around the property. 

As a timeshare owner, the most important aspect to understand is that there is no way to make sure your maintenance fee won’t increase. You can’t make sure it’s set-in-stone and not going to continually rise over the next decade of owning your timeshare. This means that 15 years from now, your timeshare's annual fee could be increasingly higher than it was in the beginning when you first purchased your unit. 

This is the exact problem that a lot of timeshare owners are currently facing right now. Having signed up for a timeshare thinking the maintenance fee was a flat rate every year, until year two or three comes along, and the fee has increased exponentially. This is why sometimes experts in the travel industry will say it’s cheaper just to rent out a hotel resort room for two weeks every year rather than own a timeshare and pay the fees attached to it. 

How much do timeshare maintenance fees run?

This is a question that can be very hard to answer and honestly it depends on your resort’s location and what type of attractions and amenities the property offers. What's important to remember here is like mentioned above, timeshare maintenance fees can increase over the years. The reason that maintenance fees vary greatly from resort to resort mainly depends on a few variables like where the resort is located, how big or small the resort is, and the size of your personal unit. For example, if a timeshare owner has a two bedroom unit, they will probably have steeper fees than their neighbor who only has a one bedroom unit. 

If you’re fortunate, some fees could be only a few hundred dollars, but in some cases maintenance fees have cost timeshare owners well over one grand. Many times timeshare owners are in for a surprise when they find out that this annual fee goes up as the years go by. 

Will these fees increase over the course of time?

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

When you decide to sign on with a timeshare contract, it’s important to know what exactly you’re agreeing to. It’s awfully hard 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 past year’s maintenance costs for other owners. This could give you an idea of what kind of fee will be expected of you moving forward.

What happens if I miss payments on my maintenance fees?

What a lot of timeshare owners don’t know is when they sign the final contract on their timeshare, they’re agreeing to pay maintenance fees so long as their name is on their unit. If they miss payments, it could increase their debt even more and or be detrimental to their future finances. 

In most cases, after you miss your first payment, a collection effort will be made by either the resort developer or homeowners’ association.

By this taking place, your credit score could be affected in a negative way and your ability to finance major purchases like vehicles could be damaged greatly.

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 in the near future. 

Something else to think about is if you can’t manage your own 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, if you’re fortunate enough it could happen. 

Where do my maintenance fees go after I pay them?

When timeshare owners pay these rising maintenance fees, a lot of times they ask themselves: Where and what is my money going towards? These fees usually go towards preservation and servicing to 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. A lot of 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.

When you sign on to purchase a timeshare, maintenance fees should be fully considered. 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 huge financial burden. 

Be sure to read your contract 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.

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