How much inventory does your timeshare development actually have available – and does the answer affect you?
These are actually quite loaded questions, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it may actually be harder than you’d initially think to gauge the remaining inventory at a given resort. Unlike, say, housing complexes or apartment developments, which tend to make available units a transparent matter of public record, it can be harder to pin down the number of units available at a timeshare development. You may have to go all the way to a county board or zoning official for such data, if the representative or salesperson for your home resort doesn’t have this information at hand.
What’s more, it’s important to remember that timeshare interests are broken up by time, as well as by unit. Industry insider Lisa Ann Schreier (@LisaLooksAt on Twitter) offers this method for determining inventory on your own, if a resort operates based exclusively around designated weeks:
“Find out how many units there are, multiply by 50 (leaving two weeks per year for maintenance) to find out how many total weeks there are, and then either ask the question or get the information from the county.”
As Lisa notes, matters get even more complicated if the resort operates on a “points-based” or “right-to-use” system. Points are set, controlled, bought, sold, and exchanged by developers themselves, making their value extremely hard to accurately determine or pin down by outsiders. Even if the county or state has property information about your resort development, it can be hard – if not actually impossible – to pin down how many owners have procured points, or how many total points have been, as Lisa puts it, “allocated to a project” (if, indeed, there even is a finite level or cap to how many points may be bought per resort).
So, why does inventory matter to owners? For one thing, if you buy into a timeshare, you should be able to use it when you’d like, according to the provisions in your contract. This only tracks – it’s a consumer good bought and paid for, and should, consequently, be as easy to access as any comparable purchase.
However, complaints abound of consumers having real trouble using their timeshare points as they see fit – in some cases, this could relate to resorts being oversold, thanks to a points system that is arbitrary and anything but transparent or consumer-friendly.
Inventory is also a determining factor in the level of control that property owners exert over a resort – in theory. Our own Michael Finn explained why in his recent piece, “Who Is This Property Owner’s Association to Whom I Pay My Resort Maintenance Fees”:
“The Board of Directors of the Property Owner’s Association is the empowered entity that, in theory, governs and operates the resort as an ongoing business via assessing owners their proportionate share of the operating expenses as their maintenance fee assessment, and correspondingly, disbursing payments to the service providers who, in the aggregate, keep the resort operational on a daily basis. This responsibility of the Board is typically delegated via management contract to a management company that, with the larger resort chains, is typically developer-owned and -operated.
The Board of Directors governs the Association, and its composition and method of director selection is partially dependent upon in which stage of development the resort is. Newer resorts and their corresponding associations are developer-controlled, but as resort sales continue and increase over time, the Association is (theoretically) gradually turned over to the new owners, who then elect directors who are thereby owners themselves. Directors are elected, per their Association By-Laws, to serve a term of years.”
Did you notice that “theoretically”? It’s important to note that, in many cases, Property Owner’s Associations, their boards, and their directors, are little more than “paper tigers” or figureheads, who actually exert little operational oversight, due to the entrenched contracts that many developers have in place with “in-house” management firms.
So, why care about remaining inventory as a consumer? Understanding and seeking out this information upfront may allow you to make more empowered decisions when it comes to using or exchanging your points or interfacing with your Property Owner’s Association. And if you find it hard to know or verify exactly how sold-out or not your home resort is – well, that may tell you everything you need to know about the company you’ll be dealing with.
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.