Ahh, the stigma of a timeshare. I was once talking to a very successful friend in real estate, one of those mini mogul types. He said he never bought any real estate- it never pencils out.
We could say the same thing about timeshares. Yet, like real estate, there’s a reason it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. For some people, timeshares pencil out just fine.
What is a timeshare?
A timeshare is a vacation property arrangement that lets you share the property cost with others in order to guarantee time at the property.
There are really just two things to consider about timeshares: the type of contract and the type of ownership—or who owns the property and how it works for you to visit your timeshare.
Shared deeded contracts
These divide the ownership of the property between everyone involved in the timeshare. You know, like a deed that you share.
Each “owner” is usually tied to a specific week or set of weeks they can use it.
This type of ownership usually doesn’t expire and can be sold, willed or given to others.
Even though shared deeded means you get an actual deed to an actual piece of property, you can’t treat it like normal real estate.
Everyone still needs to agree on certain aspects which can get tricky.
Shared leased typically has the same arrangement as shared deeded, except the deed for the property remains with the resort where it’s located.
The shared leased option also has a set limit of time before the lease expires—so 20 years in this example, or when the owner dies.
Fixed week option
With a fixed week option, you’ll select a specific week of the year to vacation on the property. If your neighbors have ever announced, “We go to the lake house every year the week after Memorial Day!” they might be on a fixed week timeshare.
Floating week option
The floating week option allows you to choose your week within certain limits. The offer would be something like, “You can book any week between January 2 through May 4 . . . except for the two weeks before and after Easter.”
Each reservation also has to be made during a specific window of time. You might be encouraged to call right after the new year to reserve your summer vacation week at the resort.
A points system is another way you can get timeshare access nowadays, also known as a “timeshare exchange program.” It basically works like this: Your timeshare is worth a certain number of points, and you can use those points (along with the occasional additional fees) to access other resorts in the same system.
Why choose timeshares for your vacations?
Timeshare ownership is a great option for many individuals and families, but it is not right for everyone in every situation. Some vacationers are better served by renting than by owning, but for those who do choose ownership, timeshares can offer tremendous vacation benefits.
With timeshare ownership, you can:
- Explore thousands of top destinations in over 100 countries around the world.
- Lock-in today’s price for timeshare vacation lodging for as long as you own your property.
- Avoid the end-of-vacation sticker shock frequent at expensive hotels.
- Give vacation weeks to friends and family as gifts.
Now you’re starting to get the jest of the situation. If you have a favorite place that you love to go to year after year or have special friends or family in faraway places that you can’t wait to meet up with timeshares can be a great option, especially if going through a resort membership.
On the other hand, you really want to do your homework. This is another buyer beware situation because of the maintenance fees and other costs that can creep up on you.
You’ll want to research this and carefully weigh things out before buying into a timeshare and by the way, those salespeople are great at selling these – heads up!