For many consumers eager for a less-expensive vacation option, timeshares are appealing – particularly after a three- or four-hour sales presentation, which can wear down even the most resilient shopper into signing on the dotted line.
But even consumers optimistic about their timeshare purchase might soon find themselves feeling trapped or burdened by rising annual maintenance fees, less-than-responsive industry representatives, and the comparable lack of a secondary resale market for consumers ready to leave their timeshare.
Before buying into a timeshare obligation, it’s extremely important for consumers to thoroughly do their research and be as prepared as possible.
To that end, timeshare expert and author Lisa Ann Schreier, the “Timeshare Crusader” behind timeshareinsights.com, has a great post on her blog all about questions to ask yourself if you’re actively in the market for a timeshare.
Before agreeing to any terms with a resort or developer, Schreier advises that “there are important things to understand that the salesperson may not cover or that they may ‘gloss over.’”
So just what are the questions that Lisa recommends you get “full and complete answers to” before committing? Here is her list:
“1) Do you understand all the terms and conditions of the contract?
2) What are the current maintenance fees?
3) What is the five (5) year history of those fees?
4) Are there any special assessments and if so, what are they and what are they for?
5) Is the HOA (Home Owners Association) under developer control or owner control?
6) How much of the resort is sold out?
7) What is the current delinquency rate among owners?”
Let’s explore a few aspects of Schreier’s helpful list in a bit more depth.
Maintenance fees – the additional annual fee that resorts charge consumers for upkeep and care – are part and parcel of timeshare ownership and tend to trend upwards continually. Knowing the current maintenance fee, as well as the historical data on maintenance fee trends at this resort, as the Timeshare Crusader suggests in points 2) and 3), can help less-experienced consumers get a better sense of just what they’ll be paying on top of their hefty buy-in price and interest expenses, closing costs, and special assessments (Schreier’s fourth bullet point).
Similarly, inquiring about resort occupancy rates and delinquency rates, as Schreier suggests in points 6) and 7), can give consumers a better sense of the resort that they will be joining. High delinquency rates, for instance, may suggest that consumers are either unhappy with their contracts and are attempting to “walk off” from their obligations, or else that they many are not able to keep up with the high price of maintenance fees or other additional expenses.
Do you have any other questions about the timeshare industry? We would love to hear from you!
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.