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Timeshare Guide: What It Is, Important Things To Consider + Pros and Cons

Brandon Dale
May 8, 2024
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min read

Table of contents

What is a timeshare, and how do they work?

Timeshare is a vacation property concept that allows multiple people to hold usage rights to a property for specific periods, usually one week per year. This shared ownership form offers a way to enjoy luxurious accommodations without the financial and maintenance commitment of owning a vacation property outright.

Types of Timeshares

Fixed Timeshares

  • Consistency: Guarantees the use of the same unit, at the same week and location, every year, offering predictability and security.
  • Stability: Perfect for owners who prefer returning to the same place and value familiarity and consistency in their vacations.

Floating Timeshares

  • Variety: Allows choosing the week of use within a defined timeframe, usually classified by season, offering more flexibility.
  • Structured Flexibility: Ideal for those with flexible vacation dates but who still desire the stability of a known location.

Points Timeshares

  • Flexibility: Offers the flexibility to use accumulated points to book stays at various locations and times of the year.
  • Planning: Suitable for those looking to diversify their vacation experiences, allowing the choice of different accommodation sizes and lengths of stay.

How much does a timeshare cost?

Purchasing a timeshare involves various costs that vary depending on the location, size, and luxury of the property, as well as the season of use.

Initial Purchase Price

According to data from the American Resort Development Association, the initial investment to acquire a timeshare can be substantial, reflecting the average value of nearly $23,000. This price can increase for more sought-after destinations and higher-standard accommodations, where demand is high and facilities are more luxurious.

Annual Maintenance Fees

Maintenance fees are recurring and cover the operational and maintenance costs of the resort or complex. These fees, averaging around $1,000 per year, can increase depending on the specific features of the property, such as its location and size. These fees are mandatory, regardless of whether the owner uses the timeshare that year or not.

Additional Fees and Considerations

Timeshare owners may also face additional fees, such as costs to exchange usage periods between different properties or to access special amenities. These extra fees can add a significant cost to the overall timeshare investment.

Timeshare Pros

Access to Luxury Properties

Timeshare ownership provides access to luxury resorts and vacation residences, typically reserved for the financial elite. This includes properties in exclusive locations like private islands, cultural capitals, and picturesque mountain retreats. Timeshare owners enjoy first-class facilities and services, such as spas, golf courses, concierge services, and gourmet dining experiences, in globally renowned destinations. The timeshare model makes vacation dreams in places like Aspen, Tuscany, or Bora Bora a reality, which would otherwise be inaccessible due to the prohibitive cost of outright ownership in such locations.

Cost-Effectiveness

The cost structure of timeshare is attractive because it allows individuals to enjoy the benefits of owning a vacation property without the total financial commitment. For example, instead of spending millions to buy a vacation home, timeshare owners pay only a fraction of the price, corresponding to their usage time. This makes luxury accessible and eliminates the financial concerns associated with full ownership. Moreover, sharing the operational and maintenance costs with other owners results in significant savings, allowing for luxurious annual vacations at an affordable price.

Professional Maintenance and Management

One of the biggest advantages of timeshare is the professional management and maintenance of the properties. The companies managing these timeshares specialize in maintaining high-quality standards and offering a worry-free vacation experience for the owners. This means that upon arrival for their stay, owners find the property in impeccable condition, with all amenities and services functioning perfectly. This professional management eliminates the burden of property maintenance, a common concern in self-owned vacation properties. Thus, timeshare owners can simply relax and enjoy their vacations, knowing that all aspects of the property are taken care of by experts.

Timeshare Cons

Limited Flexibility

Timeshare ownership typically involves fixed usage periods, meaning owners have access to the property during a specific week of the year. This predetermined schedule may not align with changes in personal circumstances, travel preferences, or unexpected commitments, limiting the flexibility and spontaneity of vacations. Additionally, if owners wish to travel on a different date than their designated period, they may face difficulties in exchanging or modifying their reservation, especially in high-demand locations and times. If you're looking for greater flexibility and longer vacation periods than a week, you may want to consider fractional ownership. To learn more about this ownership model and discover its advantages, check out our blog post Fractional Ownership Guide.

Difficulties in Resale

Selling a timeshare can be challenging due to market perception and an abundance of available units. Timeshares tend to depreciate quickly and lack the vibrant resale market that traditional vacation properties have. Many owners discover that their timeshare's resale value is significantly lower than the original purchase price. This issue is often compounded by contracts that favor developers, making it difficult to sell or transfer the property. Moreover, the interest from buyers in the secondary market is generally low, leading to a saturated market with limited offers. For a deeper understanding of these challenges, refer to the Finn Law Group's analysis on the difficulties of timeshare resale.

Recurring Costs

Timeshare owners face annual recurring costs, such as maintenance and association fees, which can increase over time. These fees are charged regardless of whether the owner uses the property during the year or not. The increase in these fees over time can make timeshare ownership less financially attractive, especially if the costs start to resemble or even exceed the cost of renting comparable accommodations on an ad hoc basis. Additionally, some timeshare properties may impose additional fees for services, improvements, and renovations, further increasing the financial burden on owners.

Timeshare vs. Other Ownership Types

Timeshare vs. Fractional Ownership

Timeshare Fractional Ownership
Right to use for a specific period each year. Real ownership of a fraction of the property.
No gain from property appreciation. Benefit from capital appreciation.
Restricted to specific periods and locations. Greater flexibility and rental possibility.

To get more answers to your questions, check out our blog post Fractional Ownership vs Timeshare

Timeshare vs. Vacation Home

Timeshare Fractional Ownership
Right to use for a specific period each year. Full ownearship of the property.
No gain from property appreciation. Potential for capital appreciation.
Restricted to specific periods and locations. Total flexibility in property use.

Timeshare vs. Vacation Rental

Timeshare Fractional Ownership
Right to use for a specific period each year. Temporary use, paid for the stay period.
No gain from property appreciation. No investment or capital appreciation.
Restricted to specific periods and locations. High flexibility in choosing properties and dates.

Key Aspects of Timeshare to Consider

Contract and Legal Terms

  • Understanding Your Contract: Reading and comprehending your timeshare contract thoroughly is vital. This will clarify your rights, responsibilities, and any restrictions, helping you avoid unexpected issues with fees, exchanging times, and selling your timeshare.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with a legal expert can help ensure that the contract's terms are clear and beneficial to you.

Evaluating Long-Term Implications

  • Beyond the Initial Cost: Look at the bigger picture, including ongoing costs, how you can use the timeshare, and its resale potential. The market for selling timeshares can be tough, so think about whether this investment fits your long-term vacation goals.
  • Exchange Opportunities: Explore the options for swapping your timeshare weeks or locations. Some programs enhance the flexibility and value of your investment by allowing exchanges.

When considering acquiring a timeshare, it's crucial to assess which type aligns best with your travel preferences and lifestyle, in addition to understanding all the legal terms and the long-term value of the investment.

Timeshare FAQs

Q: How much do timeshare maintenance fees cost?

A: Maintenance fees vary depending on the location, size, and luxury level of the timeshare property. They cover costs such as repairs, cleaning, and onsite services, and can increase annually.

Q: Can I easily sell my timeshare if I change my mind?

A: Selling a timeshare can be challenging due to the abundant supply and limited demand in the secondary market. Many owners turn to specialized companies for help in selling, but they should be prepared for potential financial losses.

Q: What happens if I can't use my timeshare in a specific year?

A: Some timeshare properties offer the option to "bank" your week for future use or exchange it through timeshare exchange networks. However, this may require additional fees and be subject to availability.

Q: Do timeshares offer any type of insurance or guarantee?

A: The details vary among properties, but some timeshares may offer insurance or guarantees to cover certain aspects of the property or the usage experience. It's important to review the timeshare contract to understand what protections are included.

Q: How do timeshare exchange programs work?

A: Exchange programs allow timeshare owners to trade their weeks or points for stays at other properties affiliated with the exchange network. This offers greater flexibility and a variety of locations for vacations, but generally requires the payment of exchange fees.

Q: Is there a "cooling-off" period after purchasing a timeshare?

A: Many countries and states offer a rescission period during which you can cancel the timeshare purchase without penalties. This period varies, so it's crucial to check the specific laws applicable to the timeshare contract.

Is Timeshare Right for You?

Timeshares can be an excellent way to ensure luxury vacations every year, but it's important to consider the pros and cons.

The right choice depends on your personal preferences, travel needs, and financial goals. We encourage you to carefully consider all aspects before making a decision. Remember, the final decision is yours, and it should align with what you value most in your vacation experiences and investment preferences.

Ready to explore more about vacation properties? Complete our Assessment Form and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you assess how different vacation solutions can fit into your travel plans and meet your vacation expectations.

Brandon Dale
11 Jan 2022
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