Timeshare Yearly Vacation or Helpless Frustration
How about a Riddle?
What one word, synonymous with holidays, engenders loathing usually reserved for Ponzi scheme peddlers?
Timeshare is the holiday buzzword hated by many but did you ever stop and think about “why”? Could timeshare be taking an unfair rap?
What has profoundly affected the reputation of timeshare is the way it is marketed and sold. The hard-sell techniques used to coerce buyers into signing on the dotted line, attracted sleazebags whose aggressive sales campaigns hooked the unwary. Scouting around the Internet, you’ll find plenty of info, most of it negative: the detractors are voluble in their commentary.
All the same, complainers and critics aside, I found timeshare stalwarts who would do it all again (and again, and again). For these people, the timeshare experience has been so positive that they collect several, while others settle for just one at a time.
So what’s making the difference for the happy campers? Apparently, it all hinges on knowledge. Contented timeshare devotees seem to be the ones who did the most research and here’s what I discovered…
So What Exactly is a Timeshare
Timeshare is a form of ownership where several people share the use of, or the rights to, something; usually holiday real estate. Begun in France in the 1950s, as an answer to the problem of holidays in a war-torn Europe, it was seen as a solution for a population hungry for recreation.
It worked this way; a collective property would be bought and shared between groups of relatives or friends. Each group would have a part of the year for their own use and every year, the dates would be switched around so that everyone had access to the property in a different season.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s when English developers got a hold of the idea, that the name “Timeshare” was coined and repackaged as a commercial product. The market was ripe and ready for the concept of leisure travel, but it still took nearly ten years to grow into an effective business system and the first timeshare in the US began in the 70s.
Pros and Cons: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly…
Timeshare, in one form or another, has been around for over half a century, undergoing many changes since its beginning. One of the most controversial holiday schemes ever, timeshare is a volatile subject, attracting critics and admirers alike. The cons mostly have to do with a serious lack of knowledge on the part of the buyers and the hard sell tactics used by the sellers. If you’ve ever thought about buying a timeshare, then you’ll be interested in this take on the good, the bad and the ugly.
1. No owning a conventional holiday home, with continual upkeep, used for one or two weeks out of the year. With timeshare, you simply pay for what you use, no maintenance or security worries.
2. Having a paid-for destination motivates the owner to budget and plan for the yearly vacation.
3. The economical solution for large families; timeshare units are roomy and well appointed, with more space than hotels can provide and a kitchen to keep food costs down.
4. Subletting offers the chance for owners of timeshares to make money by renting to others. Those less interested in actual vacations may see timeshares as good investment prospects.
5. Industry changes are giving more flexibility and an owner can use exchange programs to trade to a different location every year. Timeshare owners can trade units and times with other owners using a points system.
1. Many people bought into timeshares seeking a valuable investment. In reality, much of the initial cost pays for the hard sell, marketing tactics of the sales companies. These costs can’t be recouped and a timeshare is often likened to buying a new car in that its value depreciates substantially and instantly.
2. Very hard to resell. Just check the listings on eBay to see the range of timeshares available for $1.00. Resale companies and brokers have a lousy reputation. Don’t ever pay an upfront fee to a company to sell for you.
3. Escalating annual expenses for maintenance, housekeeping, utilities, insurance, taxes, repairs and replacements. Other charges can be for unexpected costs such as a new roof, or repairing storm damage. Annual fees can, and often do, increase every year.
4. Your options are restricted as availability is often on a first-come basis. To get the dates you want takes forward planning, sometimes over a year ahead of the actual time. Spontaneity is not an option.
5. Money you could be earning interest on is tied up in a depreciating investment. With a timeshare, you’re paying now for holidays you may or may not take and if you haven’t paid in full, you’ll still have to make those monthly payments, with interest.
What is it about timeshare that brings all the con artists out of the woodwork? The sellers are less than stellar but the whole performance attracts reverse scammers trying to con the scammers. Not nice.
But despite all the hoopla, timeshare stands strong, irrespective of the general uncertainty in world markets. The industry took a bad hit with the recession but in 2011, there were 1,548 US timeshare resorts, accounting for nearly 200,000 units according to ARDA (the American Resort Development Association).
To Buy or not to Buy? That is the Question
Buying, as with any major purchase, shouldn’t be taken lightly and needs to be subject to some in-depth research. There can’t be any doubt that some people are made for timeshare. One couple, whose daughter was two at the time, bought a timeshare at Disney and used it until she turned seventeen. They missed one holiday but were able to trade with another family in Washington State before the next year was out. Of the other pro timeshare people interviewed for this article, many were older (40s -50s) professionals. The attractions of the individual resorts were major factors in the buyers’ decision to take the plunge and golf was the decider in three out of four cases.
An awful lot of the detractors seemed to have fallen for the hard sell and lived to regret it. And anything, even that shiny new car, can lose its luster very quickly when the monthly payments or annual insurance become a liability. So do your research thoroughly before you even consider buying. Remember it takes a special type of person to enjoy vacationing in the same place every holiday. Planning your break years ahead also isn’t for everyone. A lot of us (me too) enjoy spontaneity and having those limitations would be punishing. This brings me to my next point…
Renting Timeshare -The Pleasure without the Pain
There’s a way to conclude if timeshare is for you and explore the attractions without the commitment. Discover why people like timeshare by renting one for your next holiday. All of the good and none of the bad coupled with a holiday in one of the world’s best vacation spots.
Visit TUG (the Timeshare Users Group) for all things timeshare and a one-stop place to shop for rentals, buying, and available resorts. Here you’ll also find information on industry lingo like “floating shares”, “right-to-use”, “fractional ownership” and other unfamiliar terms. Another website with clear, concise facts and customer reviews is Redweek, considered a great resource for timeshare.
So where are all these Timeshares?
Of all the timeshares located worldwide, about 27% are situated in the US. Most timeshares are found in resort communities in places like Hawaii, Disney Beach, Atlantic City, ski resorts in Colorado and California and the classic, Las Vegas. International resorts include Paradise Island, Bahamas and Palm Beach, Aruba both in the gorgeous Caribbean. If you fancy a more exotic destination, there’s always Cancun, Mexico or St. John, that tiny magical island in the US Virgin Islands.
How about a slice of paradise, with cruises, yachting and scuba diving, for your next holiday.
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