The Timeshare Gift
Here at Finn Law Group, we take great care to stay on top of the latest news and advice columns making the rounds offering consumer protection tips for timeshare owners. We’ve critiqued a few in some depth over the years, and regularly call our readers’ attention to worthwhile new submissions here in our News Room.
Well, this week, we’re bringing you another advice column. This one is particularly noteworthy because it offers a fascinating wrinkle to the timeshare process – one you don’t see too often.
Specifically, a consumer recently wrote in to Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tankin, authors who regularly respond to reader submissions on real estate questions over at the Washington Post.
That reader’s question was at once totally unique – and yet the advice these experts had to offer was all-too-common within the timeshare sector.
Here’s the question that the letter writer posed:
“I found a lady on Facebook from my town who owns three timeshares. She is retiring in 2019. She can’t sell one of her timeshare units and she doesn’t use it either. She wants to give it to me. She said I can use a transfer company, pay them a fee and then I’d get to use the timeshare. She paid the fees through next year, and I’d be able to start using it sometime next year. Since I cannot afford to buy a timeshare and I would use it for vacations, is this worth it to me? I’m scared but would love it if I could take my grandkids on vacation.”
Gift a timeshare to a casual acquaintance?
Certainly, it’s quite common for relatives to attempt to leave behind a timeshare in their will, or to rent out their interest to friends and family for a small fee. And plenty of timeshare owners, frustrated with the secondary market, dramatically slash their asking price, and offer to cover all transfer fees.
But to essentially gift a timeshare to a casual acquaintance? It’s an odd position for a consumer to be in – let alone one who isn’t familiar with the “down and dirty” of timeshare ownership. And the advice that these Post columnists had to offer was, in our view, pretty spot on.
They begin with an old adage (“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”) and go from there, writing:
“The only reason that you have found this timeshare unit for ‘free’ is that the owner has been unable to sell it. And the only reason she wants to get rid of it is that the fees and expenses of keeping it outweigh any money she would make by renting it or having one of her family members use it. If it was a great deal, she’d never give it away.”
Crunch the numbers.
Expanding further, the writers dive into the common matters that tend to drive consumers away from their timeshare interests, including continually rising costs such as “maintenance expenses, property taxes, association dues and special assessments,” which are part and parcel of ownership whether you buy your interest directly from the resort or snag it secondhand.
These writers also make the very valid point that the letter writer should “crunch the numbers,” and really consider whether paying those maintenance fees, transfer fees, and dues will be a good value in the short term – and a sustainable expense in the long. They suggest that the letter writer:
“Take a look at what the annual expenses are for the timeshare and what it would cost you to simply stay at a hotel or vacation rental for your next vacation… Older owners may also benefit from a timeshare; but here again, it only works if you want to go to the same place every year. If you don’t think you’d want to go there more than once or twice, this deal probably isn’t right for you.”
In all, this is a fair and balanced advice column, one that weighs the pros and cons of timeshare ownership. To read the rest of the piece, including an interesting perspective on going into any major financial commitment sight unseen, we encourage you to head over to the Washington Post’s website.
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.