What You Need To Know Before Buying A Timeshare

Alex Moskalyuk has a great post with all you need to know about timeshares. Timeshares are condos divied up among a pool of owners, each of which owns a slice of it for usually one week of the year. Alex is mainly of the hey, a discount weekend in Vegas ain’t bad for the price of listening to a salesman. He goes over how your basic timeshare presentation breaks down, and how there’s different kinds of timeshares. For instance, in some situations you actually save up and use “points” and the “point cost” of a timeshare varies based on “peak” or “non peak” times of the year. He sees just about only one time when they’re a good deal:

It seems to be a reasonably good deal for large families, or families taking vacations together. Since most of the timeshares can accommodate two families, in price comparisons you’re looking for 2 hotel rooms or hotel suites, which generally cost much more. But even then, your costs may very.

The best proof of timeshares value, or lack thereof? There’s always more people trying to resell their timeshares than there are trying to buy.

What I learned about timeshares, and you can, too [alex.moskalyuk]
(Photo: aprilandrandy)


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  1. starrion says:

    The best thing to know about timeshares:

    NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!


    Buying a retail timeshare is setting a big pile of money on fire.
    1. Your trades cost money on top of the maintanence fees. By the time you add up the opportunity cost of buying it, the maintenance, and the trades, you have paid for a luxury hotel room.
    2. Uncertainty. You can never be sure that a trade will be available in the place you want to go. You may spend all the money and end up no closer to Mickey. You can probably get a trade for a place in the Catskills though….
    3. Fees. There are yearly maintenance fees. Typically $500-750 a year. On top of the purchase price.
    4. Buying points? Congrats. You just bought the right to contend for vacancies at the time share company. If they devalue them in the future, then you -might- get that place in the Catskills.

    Want to buy a timeshare? Leave a comment, I’ll give you an unbeatable deal on one.

  2. forever_knight says:

    costs vary.

  3. missdona says:

    @starrion: I totally agree, but…

    If you’re desperate to buy it and feel like you’ll use it.

    Buy a resale unit for half the cost.

  4. missdona says:

    If you’re still convinced you can use it, buy a resale unit, for like, half the price.

  5. Starfury says:

    I’ve noticed a major increase in timeshare spam in my mailboxes.

    Years back my wife and I went to a sales pitch for one of these…it was worse than buying a new car. I’ve never been pressured so hard to buy. Lucky for me I know how to say “no” and stick to it. For some people they may actually be a good deal but not for me.

  6. jamesdenver says:

    cany ou GIVE a time share away? Not to me…

    My sig other and I were offered a time share by a family member, which includes a week in Mexico in either Mazatlan, Cancun, PV and a few other cities. The maint. fee is $265 a year, which split between us isn’t bad for a week’s stay anywhere in these cities. The one in Mazatlan is older but a quick bus ride to town. I recently stayed in Cancun, (actually it’s between Playa DC and Cancun), and THAT one highlights all the NEGATIVES of time shares I’ve found:
    Many are remote, away from the towns, requiring expensive cab rides or a bus trip.

    negative 2: TOO BIG!!! The one near Cancun is the size of three Vegas casinos. The walk from the room to the pool is literally about 1/2 mile from some rooms, big enough they have golf cart shuttles.

    EXPENSIVE. Meals AT the time shares cost $7-8 bucks if not more. Drinks $3-5. I’ll take a small taco shack and some Pacificos on the beach any day.

    Too many people. If you’d rather just chill in town with a mix of tourists and locals, a time share isn’t for you. Too many enormous floral printed t-shirts and slow moving people. – some times shares resorts are like a huge cruise ship, and they’re constantly under construction due to a loophole in Mexican law about taxes being paid.
    If you want the SAME experience everywhere you travel, and want perfection, full service, and don’t mind the expense, do a time share or all inclusive resort.

    If you don’t mind a few surprises, (most of them GOOD suprises), meeting new people who aren’t there just to bring you drinks – it’s a much more rewarding experience – and of course theres lots of places in between full service resorts and hostels.

    It requires being a bit more resourceful (with e-mail and internet it’s easy) and low maintenaince, but worth every bit of it.

    You CAN put your time share in a bank like RCI, in which you can trade yours for other cities (some have cool apartments like in Buenos Aires and Berlin), BUT that’s another $100 a year – and requires many phone calls of coordinating INTO RCI, etc etcCompare that to a place I recently stayed at in Merida, Yucatan:


    I found it online in 30 seconds, checked some reviews, made ONE call to the owner and said “hey your place looks great, got a room for May 8-9″? She said “yes, see you then” and I was done. 10 rooms, a more intimate experience. This was in the city, but there’s plenty of smaller places along beaches which you can find, book, and enjoy.

    By the way the place we own is part of Mayan Resorts – the most recent one we did was the http://www.thegrandmayan.com/riviera/

    Even though we had it for a week we did a few days there and spent the other half of the week in Merida / Valladolid.

    So if you like luxury, all inclusive vacations, and being catered too, a time share isn’t bad, but every time we went INTO our resort, it was like leaving Mexico and I might have well been in a gated community in Denver with a beach (along with everyone that lived there).

    BUT most folks here, especially web sabby consumerists, are capable of finding a decent place through referrals or reviews, and making a reservation themselves without any hassle.

    I’ve found THAT’S CHEAPER than even a FREE time share – based on the above.

    I agree with the above posters – it’s a waste of money, and TIME. It’s NOT more conventient if you’re making phone calls, swapping dates with companies, and hassling with managing payments and upkeep.

    james [www.futuregringo.com]

  7. My grandma had a time share at a ski resort … for summer use. She’d take the grandkids up in the summer to run around in the mountains and get away. It was great. And she could get basically unlimited off-season use, and sold her in-season week for more than enough to cover all her other time-share expenses.

  8. bohemian says:

    Skip the timeshare and just rent a place for your vacation that year. We did this all the time for vacations to Florida when we were kids. Our dad would rent someone’s time share and it cost about as much as staying at HOJO’s. But much better place to stay.

  9. jamesdenver says:

    Exactly Bohemian. With Craigslist and the internet you can take a virtual tour and read reviews of almost any property for rent or short term use.

    I always have a backup place in case the place I book just happens to be a total dump, but it’s never happened.

  10. Snarkysnake says:

    Half the price !?! Listen dude, you open another browser and mosey on over to Ebay and you will see beachfront timeshares going begging for $1. (And some sellers are so desperate that they will pay your closing cost; even if the listing doesn’t say so,most will if you ask them)The math on this works IF you get the unit for the right price (practically free in some cases)and IF you plan on going there and using the unit and have the discipline to save up the money for the maintenance fee every year.The longer you hold it,the more you will save,IF you would be going there anyway.I have a timeshare on a Florida island that costs me $490 per year. I can look out my window and see a Marriott Courtyard 200 feet away that charges over $200 per night.My T/S has 1240 square feet,2 baths and a full kitchen with a screened balcony facing the ocean.I don’t have to worry about Marriott screwing me because there’s a convention in town or they just fucking feel like it.I save lots of $$ because I can make meals in the kitchen (or bring home takeout and eat at the dining table)Yeah , there are a lot of shady asswipes in the T/S racket,but follow these tips and you can avoid them:

    1) Never pay retail unless you eat nickels and shit dollars.It’s ALWAYS a buyers market for these things.

    2) Go to Timeshare Users Group or Tripadvisor and check out the reviews from owners/users.Takes 5 minutes.

    3) Never buy a studio unit . They are almost unsaleable. Get a 2 bedroom unit and you will have plenty of room and lots of buyers if you need to sell.

    4) Never , EVER buy from the websites asking $9,000 or so for these units. These sites manage to rip off the seller AND the buyer by taking a outsize fee upfront and asking an absurd price on the back end.They aren’t really selling timeshares- their racket is getting that upfront fee and then doing not one damn thing (Think of a contractor that you pay in advance…How hard would they work?)They set the asking price high to trick the seller into thinking he’s going to get a windfall,and they tell the buyer that these sold for $25,000 originally,so its a screamin deal.

    5) Make sure that there are no special assessments due in the upcoming year(s).This is why some owners bail.They know something that you don’t,so be wary.

    Enjoy the hell out of it…See you on the beach…

  11. humphrmi says:

    What I don’t understand about timeshares…

    Every vacation I take to Vegas, Disney, Mexico, wherever… there are always, always ads for renting timeshares, usually cheaper than comparable hotels in the area.

    Why buy one when you can gain the benefit of savings and size by renting one when you need it? The real benefit is really the difference between the incremental per-stay cost that the “owner” pays and the slightly-higher-but-still-cheaper-than-hotel-retail that the timeshare renter pays.

  12. tkozikow says:

    Against our better judgment we purchased a 3 bedroom timeshare in Orlando about 10 years ago. We went with a bi-annual program since we knew that we would never take a ‘big’ vacation every year, generally preferring to take several 3-4 day trips around school holidays and during the winter to go skiing. While the $400 annual maintenance fee seems high, we have used traded our unit four times for amazing family vacations in Playa del Carmen, Costa Rica, Belize and Colorado with little additional cost. Our total investment to date is a little over $12000 which makes the trips to date approximately $3K each, but this will go down over time. I am not sure that we would have taken most of these trips if we had to pay for hotel rooms, especially since every property we have stayed at has been upscale. I am not saying that this is a good investment, but I believe that you can make a timeshare work if you actually take advantage of the weeks. We also used our RCI membership to get a 25% discount on a Royal Carribbean cruise in the Mediterranean last summer which allowed us to book a suite.

  13. BigNutty says:

    People still buy timeshares? The only time I hear the word “timeshare” anymore is when someone is trying to sell one.

  14. anatak says:

    “What You Need To Know Before Buying A Timeshare”

    gee i dunno, maybe the fact that you are signing up to take your vacation at the same place and the same time of year, EVERY YEAR. It loses value faster than a new car and a trailer park home combined. Sounds great… really.

    If the salesman is working that hard to make a sale, it must be a pretty terrible deal for the consumer.

  15. tkozikow says:

    The only timeshare owners we know who go back to the same place year after year are Disneyphiles who like having a place in Orlando near the Magic Kingdom. Orlando is always high season and our 3BR unit gives us great trading power. As I mentioned above, we have taken 5-star vacations in Mexico and Central America which is what we intended when we purchased the unit. While this was a hard sell, my wife is an awesome negotiator which ended up with our getting our entire trip to Disney (nearly $3000) paid for as part of the overall transaction.

  16. Saboth says:

    I’d like to hear more from people that actually owned them. So far you’ve heard from people that *haven’t* owned them that they are bad. The people on there that *have* owned them seem to say they aren’t that bad.

    Sounds like if you intend on reselling them, they are bad. You will lose a lot of money. However, if you intend on keeping them 20-30 years, you will basically end up paying $250-$400 a year in maintenance fees for stays at resorts that normally cost like $500 per night.

    Just my observation. I went to a T.S. Seminar this past summer and turned them down, but the deal really didn’t seem bad if you intend on keeping it…about 8k or 11k, and it isn’t a good deal until 8-10 years, after it is paid off. After that…basically free vacations anywhere for life.

  17. Anonymous says:

    My Massanutten (VA) timeshare just increased maintenance fees to $650 for a 2 / 1 week time share. It isn’t worth using. What an absolute waste of money. When we called them, the lady laughed and said, “Oh Well, we are in the business of making money.” Don’t buy a timeshare…they have the ability to jack the maintenance fees to get whatever they money they want.