Should I Buy a Timeshare? Pros, Cons, and How Timeshares Work
Imagine spending one week at your favorite resort every year. You lounge in front of the pool, you order room service, and you relax in a location you’ve become comfortable with. Afterwards, you head home, and you don’t have to worry about it again until next year. This is reality for those who own a timeshare.
Though there are different types of timeshares that each work a bit differently, the idea is the same: you purchase a piece of a vacation property to be used for a certain period of time each year. When you’re not using it, it’s not your responsibility. Though this is a great option for some, it’s not ideal for others. Before deciding if a timeshare is right for you, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.
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A timeshare is basically an agreement between several owners of a real estate property who arrange to share the property between them through staying in there for an allotted time each year. Most often, they take the form of a specific suite, unit, condo, villa, etc. When you buy a vacation property, you’re responsible for your property for the entire year. With a timeshare, it’s more of a permanent reservation and less of an asset — though they can appreciate in value in popular destinations. This means less maintenance and overall cost.
Understanding how a timeshare will work means understanding the different types of timeshares available. Though the general idea is the same, each type of timeshare will run a little differently. Which one works best for you will depend on which aspects of a timeshare are most attractive to you.
With a fixed week timeshare, you basically reserve the same week each year to spend in the property. This is great for routine, but bad for flexibility. Fractional timeshares work in the same way. The difference is the timeframe. Instead of a week, a fractional timeshare will usually be larger blocks of time — around four to 12 weeks instead of one. These timeshares may be larger properties and more high-end.
A floating timeshare offers more flexibility in that it allows owners to reserve the time they’d like each year. However, reserving time early is a must in order to secure the property for your stay. The perk is that you don’t have to stay during the same week each year. Some timeshares may even allow your floating week to be used at multiple locations which offers even more flexibility and more experiences.
A right-to-use timeshare can be fixed week, fractional, or floating. The only difference in a right-to-use timeshare is who owns it. A property is either deeded or leased. Right-to-use timeshares are leased, so you don’t actually own any part of the property at all. In a normal timeshare, you own part of that piece of real estate. A deeded timeshare will be yours forever, and a right-to-use timeshare will usually have a contract for a period of time that you’ll be able to use it.
A points club timeshare is similar to a floating timeshare, in that it offers more flexibility for dates as well as location. Buyers purchase and accumulate points from a chain or location that are used as currency to purchase time slots. These slots are on a first-come, first-served basis. The duration of a stay can vary, unit size can vary, and many allow points to roll over each year.
Purchasing a timeshare can be done in a few ways. First, consider where you’d like your timeshare to be. This location has to be perfect, because if you aren’t using your timeshare, you’re wasting your money. You’ll also be at this location a lot if you’re choosing a traditional timeshare with one location. Either way, doing your research is a must. When buying your timeshare, you can talk directly to the location you’re interested in, you can go through a timeshare sales company, or you can search for people who are looking to sell their timeshare.
In reality, it’s difficult to sell a timeshare. This is one drawback to owning one, but a great thing for those looking to buy one. Be very wary of scams, don’t pay too much, and understand every aspect of your contract before signing. Do your research on timeshare costs in your desired area, and never purchase a timeshare without seeing it first. Many timeshare sales people are known for aggressive sales tactics. Be prepared for this and ready to seek other opportunities if you experience this.
There is not an easy yes or no answer to this question. Timeshares are great for some, but a poor purchase for others. Deciding if a timeshare is worth it to you means being honest about how much you’ll use it, being sure you can afford it, and finding the right type of timeshare for you.
- A timeshare offers you a familiar vacation home in a great location at a much cheaper rate than a traditional vacation home.
- You may be able to gain more flexibility in a timeshare with floating dates or additional locations giving you the perk of more experiences with the familiarity of a traditional timeshare.
- Sharing your ownership means sharing the maintenance and expenses which means lower costs for you.
- Unlike staying in a normal hotel for your travel, a timeshare is a way to afford deluxe accommodations for your stay that otherwise may not be feasible.
- Your time is yours to do whatever you want with. This means you can allow friends and family to use your time if you can’t make it. You can even give that time to charity.
- A timeshare is not a real estate investment. If you’re looking to make money with a real estate property, you might look into investment property loans, REIT investing, or even a real estate private equity fund.
- You’ll have a real lack of control over your property and the decisions being made for it. This means no control over rising annual fees as well.
- Timeshares are hard to sell, so be sure a timeshare is something you are sure about. Otherwise, you can buy a right-to-use timeshare with a set number of years instead.
- Timeshares offer low flexibility, even points club timeshares or floating timeshares won’t offer the same amount of flexibility of a hotel or vacation home in many cases.
- If you sell your timeshare at a loss, the IRS won’t let you claim a capital loss.
A timeshare is a home away from home that tends to be cheaper and less maintenance than a traditional vacation home. It’s also a great way to buy a delux property of sorts that you wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. A timeshare is the perfect treat for yourself if you have the right lifestyle for it. Overall, a timeshare is a travel purchase, not an investment. Regardless, it’s still the right purchase for many people who are right for it. By understanding what a timeshare is, how it works, and how to purchase one, you should be able to weigh the pros and cons and decide if a timeshare is right for you.
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Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow Chelsy on Twitter @Chelsy5
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published December 13, 2018.