More often than not, the only newsworthy stories to hit the papers (or nowadays the internet) are the horror stories of timeshares gone wrong. But the truth is if you know how to actually work it and plan ahead, you can very easily be a happy timeshare owner and make the most of your own vacation time each year. The trick is to know what you’re looking for and refuse to settle on anything less. Follow these tips to invest in a timeshare you’ll actually be happy you have.
Most resort salespeople suggest, or even affirm, that timeshares are firm financial investments that will increase in value over time. That implication is far from the truth, being that most timeshares sell at significantly less than the owner’s original investment. So before you invest in a timeshare, be sure to consider all of the financial allocations of the timeshare.
The cost you are quoted for your timeshare upfront is just for the share itself. As one of the owners, you’ll also be required to pay into annual maintenance fees that will only go up over time. Over time, you’ll likely also be responsible for covering “special assessments” that cover the costs of repairs and upgrades completed at the resort’s discretion.
Unless you are a frequent international traveler, you’ll likely want to bid on resale options rather than retail shares. The difference? Working with an independent exchange network and current owner of timeshares versus the developer generally means a cut in price of at least 75 percent on the unit. While some individuals do prefer the perks of a resort developer’s exchange, such as points and upgrades at other affiliated properties, for the common vacationer, resale is the way to go.
It may seem counterintuitive to go into a timeshare planning on getting out, but the truth is doing so will help you make a wiser financial decision. Before biting the bullet, at least take a look at the resale market to see what you can expect to get back should you sell. This will help you determine if you’re overpaying for a unit and keep in mind that a timeshare is not an investment.
If you’ve considered all of the financial implications and are ready to put your money down on a property, just be strategic in the way you go about it. Don’t just buy the first timeshare that you see.
Don’t fall into the trap of “trading up” when it comes to your timeshare. Chances are high that if you don’t really want to vacation where the timeshare is, others won’t either. Choose a location that is desirable to you even if it means putting down a little more money.
Figuring out the nuances of each timeshare can take some effort. Some resorts boast of their point systems that provide owners the opportunity to vacation last minute, but reality is that you have to book 9 to 12 months ahead of time to get the best deals. So consider the extra bonuses of different options, but remember they may not be guaranteed.
If you really want to get a feel for the benefits and drawbacks of a timeshare before you make a long-term commitment, try renting first. Most owners actually rent their allotted weeks on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and others. Snatching up one of these deals will give you the chance to stay a week at a resort and chat with other owners about the benefits and drawbacks of ownership.
As nice as the flexibility of a floating-week or even point system may sound, you may end up out of luck if you don’t want to trade for another property. If your weeks aren’t fixed and you haven’t reserved ahead of time, you may lose out on prime vacation time or need more points to actually book. If you opt for fixed-week shares, you’ll at least be guaranteed your initial investment.
With the negative press that timeshares often get, it can seem undesirable to invest in one at all. While a timeshare can be a bit of a gamble, if you know how to do it right, you can end up with a great vacation spot that’s guaranteed to be yours. Follow these suggestions to make the wisest financial decision regarding a timeshare and be one of the happy owners instead.