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Are Timeshares Worth It? A Comprehensive Guide

08/14/2023

are timeshares worth it

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It’s safe to say the travel industry is back in business. Experts are calling 2023 the year of “revenge travel,” with many vacationers booking trips to make up for the lack of travel during pandemic-related lockdowns.

Of course, given the high price tag of annual vacations, you might start to wonder if alternative options could help you save a bit of cash. Timeshare representatives love pitching this idea to you while you’re in a good mood on vacation, especially while your defenses are down.

Are timeshares worth it? Will splurging on a higher upfront cost now help you save money over time?

Before you head off to a timeshare presentation, here are a few reasons this vacation plan may not be worth the investment.

What Are the Pros of Buying a Timeshare?

Let’s start by jumping into some of the benefits your timeshare rep will likely advertise.

For the right buyer, a timeshare can look appealing on the surface. These properties have a few obvious perks over other types of vacation properties:

Convenient Travel

If you travel to the same favorite destination year after year, a timeshare can make your trips a breeze. Planning becomes a no-brainer, as you won’t have to go through the headache of booking or worry that the hotel rooms you want will be sold out. For travelers who enjoy the routine of heading to the same destination and lodgings each year, timeshares can seem like a big win.

Added Space

If you’re used to traveling to hotel rooms, you might feel the extra space in your timeshare will be well worth the cost. These properties are often larger than hotel rooms, making them ideal for anyone who travels with a large crowd of friends or kids.

Amenities

Unlike your standard hotel room or vacation rental, timeshares have on-site amenities. Many boast pools, restaurants, bars, golf courses, spas, and other nice perks. In many cases, these amenities are more in line with those of a resort.

Additional “Benefits”

It’s worth mentioning that timeshare reps will also boast about the additional benefits of a timeshare. However, many of these benefits are similar to those of any other vacation experience.

For example, timeshare reps love to explain that you’ll have access to properties all over the world with the timeshare’s trade program. However, you would already have this flexibility by booking a vacation rental on your own.

They also like to mention that you can use point-based plans for flexible scheduling, allowing you to take a vacation whenever you like. This, of course, is something you could do with just as much ease by booking your own hotel room on your own schedule.

As you listen to the timeshare rep’s spiel, remember that these kinds of “benefits” are not unique to timeshare ownership!

What Are the Cons of Buying a Timeshare?

On the flip side, timeshares have a host of disadvantages. Here are a few things to factor into your decision:

Scheduling Hassles

With some timeshare management companies, it’s harder to book the week you want than you’d think. Most vacationers are hoping to spend the summer months on the beach or winter on the ski slopes, so competition can be high. In these cases, trading for a favorable schedule can be difficult.

High Costs

The costs of owning a timeshare add up fast. In addition to your monthly loan payment, you’ll have annual maintenance fees and other miscellaneous fees. You may also have to pay “one-time” assessment fees for property upgrades or damage after major weather events.

If you opted for a short-term personal loan through the timeshare company, you’ll also have to factor the high interest rates into your costs.

Depreciation

Like a car, most timeshares begin to depreciate the second you sign on the dotted line. It’s rare for timeshares to maintain or grow in value.

Difficulty Renting or Reselling

If you’re hoping to recoup the cost of a timeshare, think again. Few people want to buy on the secondary market, which makes it tough to resell.

Even renting can be hard. Many companies don’t allow this at all, and others will charge fees or commissions for the “privilege.”

Paying for Disuse

Do you plan on skipping your usual vacation to head to a new destination? You’ll still be on the hook for your regular payments and fees. In essence, you’re paying for two vacations every year that you don’t use your timeshare.

Lifetime Ownership

Are you sure you’ll want your timeshare for a decade or more? What happens when you have kids, change jobs, or grow older? It can be hard to have long-term foresight when buying a timeshare you’ll own for years or even a lifetime.

Management Issues

Buying something for a lifetime sounds great in theory, but what happens if the timeshare management company goes out of business? Make sure you’ve read the fine print!

Do Timeshares Have Any Investment Value?

Based on what we’ve already stated above, it should be clear that timeshares have no value as an investment. Don’t treat them the same way you’d treat stocks, your retirement fund, or even traditional real estate.

When you own a secondary piece of real estate, you can often make money by renting it out as a source of passive income. You may buy it with plans to resell it down the line, which can often earn you more than what you paid. You can renovate or modify it as you see fit.

Depending on the property, you may also get tax breaks out of the bargain.

Timeshares don’t work this way. You are not buying a property; you are buying the right to use a property for a specific period of time.

Your timeshare will not appreciate in value. In most cases, selling on the secondary market will earn you far less money than you paid. Worse, it’s difficult to sell a timeshare at all: buyers can be scarce! Many timeshare owners resort to gifting or transferring them instead.

In other words, timeshares are a purchase that can be hard to make liquid.

Passive income is also out of the question. Though you may be able to rent yours out in rare cases, timeshares don’t usually generate any income at all.

At the end of the day, timeshares are not worth the cost as an investment property.

How Much Will a Timeshare Cost You?

According to the American Resort Development Association, the average timeshare transaction costs $23,940.

Keep in mind that this cost can vary a great deal. Factors like the location, unit size, deed, and contracted time period will affect the price tag.

Certain timeshare or vacation club companies will demand even more. Popular companies like Disney Vacation Club or high-end brands like Ritz Carlton Club may charge thousands above this average asking price.

Don’t forget that you’ll also have other expenses. Timeshares may incur interest rates and property taxes, for example.

Some of the most expensive fees to consider are the maintenance fees. Your timeshare company will expect these fees each year for things like landscaping, repairs, and property maintenance.

On average, you’ll pay around $1,000 in annual maintenance fees. However, these fees rise each year, often faster than inflation, meaning that you could be paying $1,480 per in maintenance fees by your tenth year of ownership. The only way to avoid these fees is to get out of a timeshare.

Are Timeshares Worth It?

All things considered, are these properties worth it? For most travelers, the answer will be a resounding “no.”

As a Financial Investment?

As mentioned, timeshares are expensive properties you don’t own outright. They don’t appreciate or generate income, and they’re hard to sell. They’re not a solid financial investment, though some vacationers might argue that they’re an investment in your enjoyment and well-being instead.

If it’s within your price range, a better investment would be a vacation property you own outright. These appreciate in value, are easy to rent or resell, and allow for modification. You can also stay in them whenever you like!

As a Money-Saving Strategy?

There are far better ways to save on annual trips than a timeshare! A timeshare rep might tell you that buying a timeshare will cost far less than a lifetime of vacations, but this is seldom the case.

Compared to hotels, the savings are clear up front, as you won’t have to splurge on a huge initial down payment that you’ll never recover. You won’t pay maintenance fees, membership costs, the cost of non-use when you skip a year of travel, or exchange fees if you want to swap dates or locations.

Even compared to larger vacation rentals, you’ll reap similar savings. These may not be as large as the savings when compared to hotel rooms.

As a Vacation Tool?

Let’s set the discussions of finances aside and consider a timeshare’s value as a vacation tool.

Most people would be better off staying at a hotel or vacation rental for their trips, and this is even true of people who head to the same destination year after year. Steering clear of timeshares gives you more freedom when choosing your travel dates and the area you’d like to stay.

Resort hotels and vacation rentals can offer all of the same benefits and amenities as a timeshare. Even travelers hoping for larger suites can often find them with the complete freedom to choose any rental property or hotel room at their destination.

How to Buy the Right Timeshare

Given everything above, timeshares are not worth the cost for most people. However, if you are set on one, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking the plunge.

First, make sure you have the right mindset. You should consider the timeshare to be a travel purchase, not an investment. If this purchase squares well with your preferred long-term vacation plans, buying a timeshare might not be such a bad choice.

Next, start small. Consider renting a timeshare you’re considering from one of the owners. This is a great way to get a sense of the property’s value to you, including any benefits and amenities, and to weigh these things against the cost.

You should also consider purchasing on the resale market. Timeshare owners who don’t want to jump through hoops to cancel a timeshare will often list them for sale online.

Used properties, which have already depreciated in value, are often far cheaper than what you’d spend when purchasing from a timeshare company. In some cases, buying in this way can earn you a very steep discount, as you won’t often have to splurge on the hefty initial payment. You’ll still have to pay maintenance fees each year, however.

Keep in mind that timeshare companies know that used timeshares are much cheaper. They’ll often present you with closing incentives and perks like VIP treatment or frequent traveler points to seal the deal. None of these perks will come close to the savings you’ll get by purchasing a secondhand property, so avoid the temptation!

Last, do your research and plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you believe you’ll never want to go through the timeshare exit process, consider strategies to recoup some of your costs in the long term.

For example, buying a timeshare with great amenities in an attractive location may help you rent or resell down the line, though both of these options will still be difficult to pull off. Make sure you’ve looked into the scheduling options to ensure that the dates would appeal to both you and most other travelers.

Skip the Timeshare for More Vacation Value

Are timeshares worth it in the end? Despite what a timeshare sales team might tell you, the truth is that these vacation tools aren’t often worth the hefty price tag. Though some people feel satisfied with their purchase, a far greater number would be better off booking their hotel of choice each year!

If it’s too late to avoid your timeshare purchase, you may already know how little value these properties have. That’s where we come in.

Our team at Lonestar Transfer has helped thousands of clients exit a timeshare. To learn more, book a free consultation by calling our office at 1-855-722-3166 or filling out our online form.

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