What is a timeshare?
According to The New York State Attorney’s Office
a timeshare is defined as any arrangement for sharing ownership of a vacation home, condominium or other interest in realty where each of the joint purchasers may occupy the unit during a specified period each year." Now that you know what you’re buying, let’s get down to how to buy it.
People seem to buy timeshares for one of two reasons. The first is that they want to vacation in a wonderful place during the same week(s) each year. The second is that they plan to exchange their week with other timeshares from all over the world. They would go to ABC Luxury Resort and the people they exchanged with would go to their resort, located at XYZ. There are over 5000 resorts worldwide to choose from. If you make the right purchase, you will have years of wonderful vacations.
Larry Hayden, from The Timeshare User’s Group provides several excellent tips when considering buying a timeshare:
- Buy during a prime season– your timeshare will be worth more when you go to sell or exchange it.
- Buy in a high demand area. Past demand for a particular resort will your re-sale price.
- Buy where there is a reasonable maintenance fee.
- Buy it as inexpensively as you can– it is definitely a buyer’s market. In many cases you will be able to buy from an owner, Owners Club, or Management Company at a dramatically reduced price.
- If possible, buy into a resort that is part of a large management system so you are entitled to low rates at other resorts in the system.
- Buy through a licensed real estate broker.
- Make sure you receive the Title Insurance.
The New York Attorney General’s Office offers some great advice on how to protect yourself when you go to buy your timeshare. (The tips they give are specific to New York but you can get similar information from your own state department.)
Beware of envelops bearing gifts. Many New Yorkers have recently received happy news in the mail– they’ve won a free trip to a tropical paradise.
If you have won something, the prize advertisement must state the following:
- a full description of the exact prize
- the cash value of the prize
- whether or not you are required to submit to a sales presentation (or possibly endless numbers of them)
- all terms and conditions attached to the prize
How to Protect Yourself
Your offering plan needs to be filed in your state.
In NY, you have the right to cancel the agreement within seven days. (This is called a "cooling off" period). Ask lots of questions and get everything in writing.
Does the deal make sense for you? Buying a timeshare often means a permanent benefit and commitment. After examining all the risks you still need to ask yourself if the convenience and appeal of a timeshare are worth the price.
There is something quite wonderful about a timeshare especially if you are able to trade or swap your week with someone who holds a timeshare somewhere else in the world. This can make your timeshare a real, lifelong bargain.
Some Important Don’ts
Never buy into a timeshare that isn’t built yet. Timeshares have a nasty habit of living up to your expectations.
Never buy into a timeshare that doesn’t have an Owners’ Club.
Don’t buy if you think the management fees are too high. It is very unlikely that they will ever go down.
Don’t rush your decision. It’s a buyer’s market. You have the luxury of waiting until you find your "perfect" deal.