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Good Timeshare Deal? Depends…

Good Timeshare Deal? Depends...

timeshare calculatorGood Timeshare Deal? Depends…

So what of these consumers whose hearts are set on vacation ownership? Is there a way to ensure that they’re getting the best possible “bang for their buck” when they purchase a timeshare interest? Is there such a thing as a particularly “good” timeshare deal?

Short answer? Maybe. Long answer? Probably not. It all comes down to how you define “good.”

Timeshares were originally developed to fulfill a need within the vacation industry. For years, they provided a reliable, fixed vacation option for a set price. The growth of the timeshare exchange market added flexibility to that offering, as owners no longer had to spend their allocated weeks at just one resort.

So, though we’ve written time and again about the byzantine nature of the modern timeshare industry – and its decidedly anti-consumer policies on everything from sales pitches to ongoing maintenance to aftermarket value – there will always be a subsection of consumers interested in timeshares, be it out of a starry-eyed dream of vacationing for cheap or a romantic nostalgia for their family’s old cabin or beachside condo.

Buying from a timeshare developer v resaleBuying Directly From the Developer v. Secondary Market

In the earliest days of the U.S. timeshare industry, the most typical method of timeshare unit ownership was, in fact, as a deeded piece of real estate. Your interest was a specific “slice” of a resort condominium that was also divided up for time. Since the turn of the century, however, the industry has transitioned to a “points-based” or “right-to-use” model, in which consumers buy points which grant access to resort properties, rather than any actual tangible real estate.

Generally speaking, unless you already have a deeded interest – almost certainly purchased in the last century – you probably don’t want to purchase from a developer directly. Despite what marketing materials and sham deeds advertise, you will likely not be purchasing any real estate with tangible, lasting value when you sign on the dotted line. Instead, your money will be going toward points, which convey very little value and are subject to the rules and whims of the developers.

On top of this, consumers eyeing a timeshare must factor in factor in annual maintenance fees – which tend to rise year over year at most resorts – as well as the possibility of an assessment over and above the “normal” maintenance fees. Remember, as an “owner” you’ll be on the hook for these annual obligations regardless of whether or not you use your interest. And while you may have big dreams of using your interest every year right now, you’d be surprised (or not) to learn just how often weeks go completely unused, due to illness, inconvenience, or, yes, high costs.

So if you start with the above proposition as gospel (and in our experience, it’s pretty close) it therefore follows that doing business with the developer these days means every penny you provide for your purchase is money over and above the value of your vacation. If you consider the annual maintenance fees, even without assessments, your annual cost is probably equal or at least close to the cost of simply purchasing your vacation as a “one-off” vacation online from Expedia or one of the other travel sites.

Are there any deals on the resale market?Is it Possible to Find Good Timeshare Deals on the Secondary Market?

While the secondary market for timeshares might seem small and less developed compared to the vast, developer-controlled primary market, there are indeed some opportunities to snag a deals as long as you know what you are getting into.

In this less visible market of timeshare resales, it’s possible to acquire a timeshare for almost nothing. For example, numerous timeshare interests pop up on resale platforms such as eBay, with prices starting as low as $1.

The reason behind these seemingly unbelievable deals is the developers’ stronghold over the resale market, making it almost non-existent. Unlike other items that retain some value over time—like cars, furniture, or clothes—timeshare interests plummet in value the moment they’re purchased. The market is flooded with offerings from owners who are unhappy or unable to continue with their timeshare commitments, creating a buyer’s market where low prices are not just possible but common.

Despite this, many of these resorts are of high quality, boasting excellent locations and amenities that can rival or even surpass hotels. They often offer more space, with multiple rooms available, making them an attractive option for families or groups. Therefore, if a timeshare seems like it could fit your vacation style and needs, exploring the secondary market could be your most advantageous route. Here, amidst the less competitive environment, you might find a deal that offers both value and the vacation experience you’re looking for.

With that said, we don’t necessarily think there’s any perfect or great deal available for a timeshare, even on the secondary market. There are all sorts of strings associated with resold timeshares, and some resort developers strip away benefits to new owners, even as they require you to pay the same rising maintenance fees and assessments as an owner with full access and privileges.

Disclosure: This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.

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