If you’re asking the question, are timeshares worth it, you probably have been told that a timeshare could save your family money on vacations.
So, let’s answer your question directly. Then we’ll go into the reasons for our answer.
No. Timeshares are not worth it. The reasons why timeshares are not worth it include:
- Maintenance fees can be high
- Prices for timeshares are ridiculously high
- Interest rates are high
- Can’t use timeshares whenever you want
- You’ll lose money owning a timeshare
- No guarantee the property will be maintained
- Renting timeshares are not easy
What we’ll do now is touch on each point, explaining what the promise is followed by the reality.
1. Maintenance Costs Can Be High
The Promise: One of the things that will be promised when you buy a timeshare is that it is a cost-efficient way to take your family on vacation.
When you attend a timeshare presentation, the salesperson will likely ask you how much you paid to be on your current vacation.
Next, they show you how much you could have saved if you were staying in their timeshare for that vacation.
The Reality: We’ll get into the actual cost of purchasing a timeshare later. But for now, we’ll focus on the maintenance fees.
Maintenance fees will be with you forever. Even if you pay off the timeshare, you’ll still have to pay them.
And they can go up every year for any reason.
You could try to fight it and get them reduced. But it’s still going to be a fight. And one you are unlikely to win.
Another point related to this is that even after paying the maintenance fees it doesn’t mean the property will be well maintained.
You could use this as a reason to get out of your timeshare contract. But it would require a lot of work.
2. Prices for Timeshares Are Ridiculously High
The Promise: The promise is the same as the previous point. You’ll spend less money on your vacation because you own a timeshare.
The Reality: The price you pay for a timeshare is literally made up on the spot.
When the salesperson is showing you the price and how it will fit into your budget, the salesperson will scribble on a blank sheet of paper.
They’ll write down numbers, circle them, draw arrows to other things they’ve written on the page – all very impressive in the moment.
The problem is, the salesperson’s job is to make you pay as much as possible. The prices they tell you are all pure fiction.
If you hold out long enough during the timeshare presentation, you’ll get a much lower price to stay at the property than initially quoted.
Sure, they might cut your allotted time from 7 days to 5 or something like that. But it won’t be anything close to the astronomical price you were quoted at the beginning.
Bottom line: A timeshare salesperson’s job is to get you to pay as much as they think you’re comfortable with paying.
3. Interest Rates Are High
The Promise: So many people buy timeshares that getting financed will be no problem. As long as you have a steady job and can put handle the down payment, you can buy a timeshare.
They’ll even tell you that you are buying real estate. And that might be true. It’s known as a “deeded timeshare”.
The Reality: Even if the timeshare is a deeded property, it is not “real estate”. That is to say, you don’t “own” the property (if it is a deeded timeshare).
You only own a “portion” of the property. That means you won’t be able to go to a regular bank and get a loan for the timeshare.
And the cost for this “affordable” vacation property? It’s very common for people to pay between $20,000 and $30,000 for an average timeshare.
But for once, the salesperson isn’t lying when they tell you that people get financed for timeshares all the time.
What they won’t disclose upfront is that the interest rates will be ridiculously high.
It won’t seem too bad because the payments will be spread out over a long time. (This doesn’t include maintenance fees).
The thing you need to remember is that, despite the underhanded manner they convinced you to sign the agreement, you will still be in a legally binding contract.
That means if you stop paying, the timeshare owner can come after you legally. And it will probably show up on your credit report as a foreclosure.
4. Can’t Use Timeshares Whenever You Want
The Promise: Depending on the type of timeshare, you might be told you can vacation whenever you want.
Pay close attention to the wording. You’ll be able to “vacation” whenever you want.
A timeshare that promises this is a “points-based” timeshare. It means that you’ll have a home resort.
But instead of only being allowed to stay there for a fixed number of weeks, your points will allow you to stay at different places many times throughout the year.
The Reality: Points-based timeshares do indeed allow you to stay at different timeshares other than your home timeshare.
In fact, you can even use your points to go on a cruise!
But there is a catch.
Much like credit card or airline points, not all points are created equal.
The value of your points depends heavily on how desirable your home timeshare is. You see, what’s actually happening is that you are “trading” points.
Let me explain.
To keep things simple, let’s say your timeshare gives you 1,000 points a year to use.
You decide you want to stay in a timeshare in Las Vegas. But to your surprise, with the amount of points you have you can only stay for 2 days. Whereas those same 1,000 points would allow you to stay for a week at your home resort.
This is because your home timeshare isn’t as valuable as the property you want to stay at in Las Vegas.
What you’ve just learned is that “where” you purchase a timeshare is just as important – if not more important – than how much it costs.
Timeshares in Las Vegas, Hawaii, and Florida are more valuable than properties in the Poconos, Myrtle Beach, and New Jersey.
In other words, if you bought a timeshare in an area where people really want to vacation, your points will be more valuable than an area that isn’t as popular.
So your points for a timeshare in Las Vegas go farther than your points from a timeshare in Myrtle Beach.
5. Can’t Use Timeshares Whenever You Want
The Promise: You’ll be able to travel more often during the year with your family for the same price as a one-time vacation.
The Reality: If you’re timeshare is based on weeks, it means that you can only stay at your home resort on specific weeks of the year.
You “might” be able to switch them. But in reality, you’ll only be able to stay on the property on the weeks that you agreed to.
Let’s assume you have 7 days allotted to staying at your timeshare. You “might” be able to split 3 days on one visit and 4 days on another.
If your timeshare is structed this way, you might be able to do it. “If” there is a vacancy available.
In the even worse case that your weeks are “fixed”, you would only be able to visit on set weeks every year.
So, if your week is for the 26th week of the year, that is the ONLY time you’ll be able to stay there.
Now, most major timeshares are members of Interval International, RCI, or other timeshare exchange network or they have their own vacation club like Disney.
This adds a measure of flexibility. But let’s not forget the promise – you’ll be able to travel more often.
No matter how you cut it, that’s a lot of money to pay for the “possibility” of flexible vacationing.
6. You’ll Lose Money Owning a Timeshare
The Promise: You “own” the timeshare. It’s an “investment”. If for some reason you no longer want it, you can sell it.
The Reality: It is true – you can sell a timeshare. It isn’t easy. But it is possible.
But the point here is that timeshares aren’t worth it because you’ll lose money.
Before I tell you why, let’s see if we can agree on something.
An investment should make you money. And the longer you keep it, the more valuable it should become. Especially when it comes to real estate.
Ok. If we can agree on that, you’d expect that if you sold your timeshare, you should make a profit from it just as if you sold any other piece of real estate.
If that’s the case, would you call a property that you spent $30,000 on but sold it for only $1 (or even gave it away for free) a good investment?
Yet, that is exactly what timeshares go for. We go into great detail in this article about buying a timeshare for $1.
That’s NOT how real estate is supposed to work.
Unfortunately, while it is very true that you can sell your timeshare to get out of it, you won’t get much for it. Certainly nothing close to what you paid for it.
So from an investment standpoint, you’ll lose money with a timeshare. A LOT of it.
And on top of all of that, it can still be difficult to sell your timeshare.
7. Renting Timeshares Are Not Easy
The Promise: On the weeks you don’t plan to use your timeshare, you can rent it out and make money.
The Reality: It is very true that you can rent out your timeshare. There are companies on the internet that will help you rent out your timeshare.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that there may not be a lot of takers.
This is for the same reason that your points have more value in one place than another.
To put it another way, the success you’ll have renting out your timeshare has more to do with “where” your timeshare is located than the fact you have one to rent.
Going back to desirable timeshare locations, if you have a timeshare in Florida, you will have much greater success renting that out than you will a timeshare in the Pocono mountains.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be able to rent a Pocono timeshare. If you do it in the winter time, you may get a lot of interest. It’s a popular destination for people who like to ski.
However, the truth is that people like going to Florida all year round. Which makes the possibility of renting a Florida timeshare much more real.
What Have You Decided?
After reviewing what we’ve discussed, what conclusion have you come to?
Are timeshares worth it?
Hopefully, you can see that I’ve tried to be balanced in presenting you the facts. I’ve also provided links to other articles that go into more depth to explain the details of what timeshares are and how timeshares work.
But you will have to decide if the pros outweigh the cons.
If there is a timeshare property that you really want to stay at, you still can. And you won’t have to buy a timeshare to do it.
Do you already have a timeshare and are ready to get out of it? We explain in detail the steps you need to take to free yourself of this obligation.
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