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What is a floating week in timeshare ownership?

What is a floating week in timeshare ownership?

Once you start the process of buying a timeshare, this question frequently comes to mind: “How are you actually going to use your timeshare?” The answer usually depends on the type of timeshare ownership that you have. 

In a floating week timeshare, you will have the ability to use the vacation property for a week -- or weeks -- during a specific period of 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 open during the busiest times of the year and may need to be reserved well in advance to ensure availability.

A lot of timeshare resort developers tend to set their own rules and regulations as to how far ahead you must schedule or reserve your floating week. In many cases, you need to have all of your fees paid in advance before using a week and reserving your check-in date. 

Floating-week vs. Fixed-week

There are two common systems for usage: Fixed-week and floating-week.

Fixed-week systems

According to Investopedia.com, with a fixed week timeshare, owners have the right to use the vacation property for a specific week (or weeks) every year. The upside is that the owner can have peace of mind knowing they’ll get a particular week every year without having to stress about someone else taking it. There will always be availability. The downside is that it may be very difficult to change or swap the fixed week.

Floating-week systems

If you purchased a floating week timeshare, you will have the ability to use the vacation property for a week (or weeks) during a specific period of time.  Although in theory the floating week might seem to be more flexible than a fixed week, the trouble lies in booking. For example, if your family loves to take a vacation on Memorial Day weekend every year, it could be fully booked and you would have to try and reserve it way in advance. 

What are timeshare maintenance fees?

Every year the resort developer or management group 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, service, renovations, and preservation around the property. Costs can add up quick!

As a timeshare owner, the most important aspect to understand is that there is no way to make sure your maintenance fees 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, when in reality those fees can increase at the resort’s discretion. This is why experts in the travel industry will sometimes say that it is 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. However, in some cases maintenance fees have cost timeshare owners well above that amount. Many times, timeshare owners are in for a surprise when they find out that this annual fee goes up year after year.

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 by an average of 4% every 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.

Are timeshares really worth it?

All timeshares are not created equal. Some timeshare companies have created a trustworthy brand that delivers on their promises. Other timeshare companies don't. 

Advantages

Most timeshares are owned by large companies in vacation hotspots. If you prefer vacationing in a predictable location every year and purchase your timeshare with one of the reputable timeshare companies, you may enjoy owning a timeshare.

Disadvantages

There are several disadvantages that buyers should consider before purchasing a timeshare.

Some of the biggest drawbacks of a timeshare are the ongoing costs. The annual maintenance fees generally increase yearly, with some owners paying thousands of dollars. In addition to these yearly fees, the owner also has to pay their monthly mortgage payment until they pay off the timeshare. The interest rate on the mortgage payments is typically high as well. All of these payments, on top of the up-front fee for the vacation property, make owning a timeshare a large financial expense. Overall, it is much cheaper to stay a week in a comparable resort or hotel in the same location without owning a timeshare.

Another issue with timeshares is they offer little flexibility to alter your dates or book the dates you want in the first place. To get what you want, when you want it, sometimes requires booking 12-18 months in advance.

Even if you pay off your timeshare, you are still required to pay maintenance fees for the rest of the contract whether or not you use the property. Most timeshare contracts are written in perpetuity, meaning there’s no set date for the contract to end. 

It is very difficult and almost impossible to resell a timeshare. Timeshares will also depreciate very fast -- and with a lot of timeshare owners trying to exit their contracts -- it’s very hard to find someone willing to buy your timeshare. 

Cancelling your timeshare

It’s hard to justify making payments on a product you rarely ever get to utilize. You’re constantly losing money and getting zero in return. This is oftentimes the exact problem timeshare owners face on a daily basis. After months of giving up money for a room at a resort where they may only spend a week, timeshare owners start to become disgruntled and look for a way out. 

While some timeshare industry professionals will say that selling is an option for you, it’s not a very viable option. It’s very tough to persevere through the timeshare resale market. Very few people buy their timeshares from previous owners. This is especially true in major tourist locations. With that being said, the best way out of your timeshare agreement is cancellation. 

When it comes to cancelling your timeshare, it’s easiest if you find a timeshare exit company to help you along the way. Exit companies specialize in the process of getting your timeshare cancelled by using a multi-step process which usually consists of communicating with the management company/resort developer. This is how they can express any concerns or broken promises you may have as an owner.

However, you should proceed with caution as some timeshare cancellation companies have been known to scam customers. Given that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, pseudo exit companies have started taking advantage of timeshare owners because they know they’re vulnerable in such a year where finances are tight. 

How will I know I’ve found the right solution?

There are several variables and aspects that make a timeshare cancellation company legitimate. Here are a few of these attributes that you will want to look for in a company:

–An experienced staff 

–Proven client success 

–Industry tenure

–100% money back guarantee

When it comes to contacting someone else to cancel your timeshare, you want to make sure that representative both knows what they’re doing and what they’re talking about. This usually stems from a variety of things, but mostly industry experience. A timeshare exit company’s success will be transparent when it comes to its customers reviews and stories. Quite possibly the most important aspect you should take into account when finding a timeshare cancellation company is the 100% money back guarantee. This means that if for some reason they are unable to terminate your timeshare you will get whatever amount of money you paid back into your pocket. After all, what’s the point of trying to get out of constant debt if you’re just going to lose more money?

Summary

When it comes to vacation ownership you have a choice between a lot of options. Whether you choose a floating week, or a fixed week, or even --for that matter-- a timeshare at all, it's important to do your research. And if you do decide to go through with the process be sure to ask a lot of questions. Units are nice to have, but often owners get swayed into something they have no business buying. Being a member at a timeshare resort can get expensive very fast and if you don't plan ahead, you might find yourself in deep regret.

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