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What is the Difference Between Timeshares and Vacation Ownership?

What is the Difference Between Timeshares and Vacation Ownership?

 

What is the main distinction between the two? Vacation ownership is a broad term used to sell more consumers on the idea of a timeshare. It’s used to perceive timeshares as a financial investment, even though timeshares are the furthest thing from a good investment for any owner. While vacation ownership is just another term for talking about timeshares, sales teams will use it in their pitches so clients feel better about the decision they’re making. The word “ownership” would make anyone more confident with a selection they’re on the fence about. 

Timeshares and vacation ownership can offer access to popular destinations around the world, but many vacationers have mixed emotions in regards to this aspect due to not wanting to spend a lot of time in places that are packed with tourists. This is especially true during certain seasons. While one plus might be that you don’t have to perform maintenance work for timeshares, the maintenance fees can increase annually. This becomes a large financial obligation that’s hard to plan for if you're already a property owner in the first place.

One of the reasons so many vacation sales teams like to refer to timeshares as vacation ownership is because it's easily confused with vacation clubs. This makes avid travelers and future timeshare owners feel like they're making a good investment as opposed to just throwing their money down the drain. 

Vacation Clubs

In vacation club membership, club members buy points that they then use later to purchase vacations at certain resorts around the world that are a part of the club's affiliation. However, there is a catch. If you're wanting to spend a vacation at a very popular time of the year, it could be hard to find availability. Vacation clubs can provide more options than that of a traditional timeshare. Not to mention the long list of destinations and the option to book as many rooms as you want, which is a big plus for vacation club members that have a growing family. 

Certain vacation clubs and their terms may allow members to save the points they don't use for one year and roll them over to the next. However, this isn't always the case and sometimes it may come as a fee. Much like timeshares, vacation clubs can come with a long list of fees like annual dues, management fees, and other facility fees. These fees are also not set-in-stone and are prone to increasing each year. This is why some members tend to feel that vacation clubs slowly take more and more money from them. While their vacation club membership looks appealing at first, in the end, it starts to fade away.

Travel Clubs vs. Vacation Clubs

With so many different variations of vacationing under a certain type of program, it can get tough to discern what the differences are. One common grey area is the difference between travel club memberships and vacation club memberships. Though similar in many ways, a travel club usually provides members with more of an all-around experience. For example, in most travel clubs it is customary for members to receive accommodations such as discounted airfare, car rental, and access to amenities and attractions. 

On the other hand, vacation club membership usually involves more of an exclusive focus on resort experiences. Meaning, your travel or means of getting there isn't a part of your membership. Much like travel clubs, membership to vacation clubs differs depending on the father company. However, if you're more into someone doing the entirety of planning for your vacation, a membership to a travel club is probably one of the better ownership options for you.

What is fractional ownership?

According to wikipedia.org, fractional ownership is a method in which several unrelated parties can share in, and mitigate the risk of, ownership of a high-value tangible asset, usually a jet, yacht, or piece of resort real estate. 

This means that you're essentially sharing your time spent at your unit with other people who also get to use the same space at different times. Hence the name, timeshare.

Fractional ownership entails the following aspects:

  • A right to use policy
  • Multiple weeks at your vacation home/resort property where you have your fractional ownership
  • Increased maintenance fees, due to more time spent at your unit and generally higher-end features and amenities
  • The possibility for exchange either internally or externally through a third party exchange company 

Within fractional ownership, there are usually two types of ways to go about owning your unit, shared deeded ownership or shared leased ownership.

Shared deeded ownership or “fee-simple” timeshares give the buyer a share of the ownership. 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 – allows the buyer to use the timeshare for a predefined period of 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

According to Investopedia.com, a shared deeded timeshare gives each buyer a percentage share of the physical property. For example, a timeshare unit that is 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 week or floating week (or weeks) each year for a certain number of years. The issue with this is that vacation time is usually cut very short since you're only offered a fixed week or floating week each year. With shared leased ownership, the timeshare company still holds the deeded title to the property.

Timeshare Exchange

One way sales teams try to make timeshare ownership look attractive is by telling their clients that they can trade with other timeshare owners in order to gain access to other resorts and vacation clubs. This happens through exchange programs. Timeshare exchange programs provide customers with a third option between the pros and cons of timeshares and vacation clubs. It all begins when the owners of a timeshare deposit the fixed week and/or floating week of the year that they own for a different timeshare of equal value. This is done through a third-party company, which then uses a point system to calculate the value of the timeshare and what its worth is in terms of other resorts and vacation periods. This creates a whole catastrophe of owners seeking more points solely because the timeshare industry told them that they had to get that next best vacation.

After the exchange companies find an equivalent match, the swap can be made and each owner can use the unit. The catch is that this all comes at a cost. Timeshare exchange companies usually charge a hefty fee just for travelers to sign up for their program. Though certain properties may make it seem like they have the best deals for you available, you're only losing more money in the long run. However, in some cases, timeshare owners are fortunate enough that the resort developer will cover these costs for their first year.

What are timeshare maintenance fees?

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. 

Annual maintenance fees for a timeshare are usually collected by the resort developer or timeshare management group for the sole purpose of covering upkeep, service and preservation around the property. 

As a timeshare owner, the most important aspect to understand is that there is no option to make sure your maintenance fees won’t increase. You can’t make sure it’s set-in-stone or 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 timeshare. 

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.

What is the best vacation ownership program?

While they do exist, moral vacation ownership and timeshare companies are hard to spot. This is why it is stressed that any owner interested in vacation ownership must do extensive research. A lot of timeshare vacation ownership programs are set up in ways that only hurt owners rather than help them. For instance, a lot of owners are given a list of so-called benefits during a high-pressure sales pitch before they sign up. It isn't until a few months later, or when owners use the unit, that they begin to realize these benefits are nowhere to be found and/or offered.

How do I cancel my timeshare?

Owners everywhere begin to start looking for ways out of their timeshare agreements once they realize just how much money they're throwing away. Units can cost owners thousands of dollars, and the worst part is that most of them rarely ever get to take advantage of their vacation properties. So just how can they exit their timeshares and never have to think of them again?

Some owners attempt to put up their timeshare for sale. The problem with this is the timeshare resale market is a tough niche to break into. When most consumers go through a timeshare purchase, it's usually not with a previous buyer. The majority of the time, it's with a timeshare resort or club that has found a way to get them in for a sales presentation on their timeshare programs. Being that not very many vacationers buy from previous owners, putting your timeshare up for sale is a tough task to accomplish in the vacation industry.

One of the worst ways that an owner can attempt to exit his or her timeshare is to simply stop paying for it. What most of these owners don't realize is that timeshare clubs and resorts are treated just like real estate. If you stop making payments a collection effort will be made and it could end in foreclosure. This only hurts you more in the long run.

The most effective solution to getting rid of your timeshare is to find a legitimate timeshare cancellation team to help terminate your timeshare agreement. This way, you’re able to seek third party assistance rather than just trying to take on the cancellation yourself. Not to mention, the staff you sign up with will be able to help communicate with resorts and their properties to help you exit any sort of program you've been stranded in for years. It is important to remember to look for a cancellation team that offers industry experience and a 100% money back guarantee. In this course of action, if your timeshare isn't canceled within an agreed-upon period you receive all of your money back.

Summary

Timeshare ownership can be very misleading. Resorts and their properties love to make vacations look attractive for any member. While membership to a vacation club or travel club can be a better alternative, being a member of either one still has its downsides.

If you're trying to enter the timeshare resale market it's important to remember just how hard of a time you might have due to there being very few buyers. Putting your unit up for sale can take years to finalize. Your best option for terminating your agreement with a resort is to find a cancellation team with excellent customer service. Paying money for a cancellation service isn't fun, but continuing to pay money for vacation time you never get to use is much worse.

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