…or If I’d known then what I know now!
I’ve been a timeshare owner* since 2007 and I am getting tired of answering the same questions by people who do not understand what the term means and how you can make it work for you. Oh and by the way, I am not in the business of selling timeshares, I simply enjoy having them and want to break the myths surrounding this topic (all prices quoted are in $USD).
Some basic things before we get started: no timeshare these days means owning a week at a particular resort that you have to go back to each year, unless you want to trade with someone else –that is straight out of the 70s and that’s not how this works anymore. Timeshares these days resemble hotel chains where there are liaisons between at least a couple of the major players compiled into each membership, where you book a stay with points, without any transaction fees, or with a modest fee if you book with resorts outside that “core group”-usually through a trading company, such as RCI and Interval International.
Timeshares have been getting a bad rep out there due to people not understanding what they are getting themselves into right off the bat. First off, if you have less than 2 weeks to travel per year, don’t bother. Hotels,private villa rentals, home exchange and pre-packaged vacations are the way to go in this case.
For everyone else, with flexibility of when and for how long they want to travel, let’s carry on:
Here are some secrets and shortcuts that I’ve gotten to know through owning 3 timeshares over the last 8 years and using them for 95% of my travel needs, averaging out to over 40 days of vacation per year.
First of all, no timeshare will redeem its purchase value in less than 5 years (that I know of)-so understand that you’re in it for the long haul.
Typical revenue return times are 10 years plus!
Understand that your maintenance fees will go up, so ask yourself, is the price you’re agreeing to your top price, or can you afford a max. of 20% increase over the next 10 years? Does maintenance fee cost justify how much usage you will get out of your ownership? Typically, I try to keep my maintenance fees under 500$/year-that way I know that even if I only take 1 vacation per year with this timeshare, it will still give me a return value of at least 700$ for a 2Br unit for a week, thus I am still saving money in the long haul.
Title on the deed: specify right away if adding a second person (be it your parent, child, niece, etc) is free- then consider the value: they will be able to travel and book separately, split the cost of ownership and maintenance and down the road, if you are no longer interested in using the timeshare, then can take over completely. It is usually much easier to ADD a person when initially purchasing the timeshare than to later amend the title, as it usually incurs extra costs.
Buying timeshares second hand. Here’s the deal: I haven’t done this, as I typically prefer to negotiate down to a price I am comfortable with at the sales centre (this way you get the 14 day buyer’s remorse grace period), you get access to everything almost right away without complications of lawyers and title transfers. However, from what I’ve gathered, if you know which timeshare you would like to own, it can be beneficial to at least first search on the second hand market (there are plenty of websites offering timeshare resales as well as kijjiji and craigslist)-it helps if you’re familiar with some of the broker and legal terminology to sort through all the paperwork, or hire a broker to that for you, to make sure there are no back owed membership fees, title is clear of any liens, etc. From what I’ve seen, some people are so desperate to get out of their timeshare they’ve owned for 20+ years that they are selling them for 500-1000$ as long as you can take over the maintenance fees. So, it is a worthwhile endeavor but will require some research.
Why be a timeshare owner at all versus owning a vacation property somewhere or simply renting it (pay-per-use)? The simple answer would be: flexibility. With timeshares, you get into a resort, with all the amenities, concierge desk, clean unit that you don’t have to worry about when you’re not there. The flexibility to stay at resorts all over the world, from 2 nights to 2 weeks, you can use the system like a hotel chain, taking advantage of the cheaper nights (sun-thurs) to extend the value of your points, or simply move around and not be stuck in once place for a whole week.
Excellent cancellation policy: for only 50$ Shell and Bluegreen allow you to purchase a protection plan that you can utilize up to 5 pm of the day of check-in, if for any instance you decide not to travel, find a better deal elsewhere, etc- with no re-booking fees. That is better than most hotels, especially Airbnb and Flipkey policies.
Convenience.Staying in hotels can get tiring. Hotels are fine for getting some rest before/after the flight right next to the airport, staying a couple of nights during a conference, but if you’re a) travelling with kids or b) like the comfort of making your own breakfast/snacks, having a sitting area, balcony, etc- then spending a week at a hotel is just troublesome. And if you’ve ever tried to book a 2Br hotel room (let alone with a full kitchen, directly on the beach), you’ll quickly learn that anything above the standard will cost you an arm and a leg.. and that’s when that timeshare will come in useful!
You will get the best usage out of an ownership if:
- You’re flexible with your dates
- You can travel last minute (45-60 days before check in) or plan well ahead
- You have more than 3 weeks per year to travel
- You’re located near a major airport or within driving distance to the places that you’d be visiting most
- You have a large family (4+ people) or like to host family get-togethers
- You like vacationing and seeing new places