What to Know About Owning a Timeshare

Maybe you’ve been approached with an opportunity to buy a timeshare while on vacation. Or maybe you’ve researched the option on your own. So, if you have extra money in your budget, should you make the purchase?

First consider the pros and cons of owning a timeshare to help you determine whether you should sign on the dotted line.

Potential Pros of Owning a Timeshare:

  1. More Affordable Property Usage: The primary draw of timeshares is that they offer access to exclusive areas at a fraction of the cost of renting a home. You only pay for the rights to use the property a few weeks or months of the year. There may also be the opportunity to rent your unused time to others and recoup some of your costs.
  2. Exchanges: For a fee, you can often trade your timeshare for time at other locations around the globe. Being able to visit different parts of the world each year can be a huge bonus for travel enthusiasts.
  3. Guaranteed Time Away: While you could take vacations by different means, timeshares provide an extra impetus to get away from it all and have fun. You’ll know you have this opportunity each year and can also budget around it.
  4. Amenities: Many timeshares are part of a resort or planned community that offers activities and entertainment nearby. Plus, you can get these amenities without the hassle of booking hotel rooms.

Potential Cons of Owning a Timeshare:

  1. Not an Investment: Timeshares shouldn’t be considered an investment. Selling timeshares can be difficult, and many forms of timeshare ownership only provide you with usage rights for a set amount of time (usually 20 to 30 years) before ownership reverts to the developer.
  2. Use It or Lose It: For the most part, if you don’t use your allotted time or rent it to someone else during the year, it’s lost. Most timeshare arrangements prohibit you from rolling over unused time to another year, and if you simply don’t want to or can’t use your timeshare during a given year, there’s no recompense.
  3. Fees and Maintenance: Before buying a timeshare, research any associated costs and make sure you clearly understand everything you’ll pay for. Like any other property, the maintenance of a timeshare costs money. There can be fees for things like memberships, activities, and cleaning.
  4. Potential for Resale Scams: Both the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI warn that timeshare reselling schemes have increased in frequency over the last few years, and many owners have been victimized by fraud. As always, thoroughly research before you consider a sale.

Like any large purchase, timeshare ownership is a big decision. Weigh these pros and cons in light of your own situation to determine what’s right for you.