When I was in college, one of my roommates' parents had a timeshare.
They weren't going to use it one of the weekends it was their “turn,” so we decided, as roommates, to take a mini-vacation and stay in the timeshare.
It was a lot of fun, and it got me thinking that maybe, when I grew up, I'd like to rent or buy timeshare.
I've changed my mind since then, however. I don't think a timeshare is right for me — and certainly not the type of timeshare that locks you in to one specific location. What happens if you don't want to vacation in the same place year after year? There are other timeshare options available out there now, and some might even be a good deal, if you are a certain sort of person.
First, it's a good idea to learn about your available timeshare options. The traditional timeshare requires that you make an upfront payment for the right to use a specific condo, or hotel room, or resort, or some other vacation option for a certain time period. For instance, you might buy the right to use a three-bedroom condo at a ski resort in Park City for two weeks a year (one week in winter, and one week in summer, perhaps). You might also be required to pay yearly maintenance fees on top of your initial, upfront payment.
Another option, though, is growing in popularity: A points program. You buy a certain number of points up front, and these points can be used for stays at resorts in a timeshare network. This means that you aren't limited to a single location every year. You can exchange points, and stay in different places, and make reservations for different times of the year. (Be aware, though, that in some cases you need to reserve as much as a year in advance, due to the popularity of some resorts.) You can buy or earn more points, and you might need to pay a maintenance fee.
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Before you commit to a timeshare, make sure you understand the system used, and the limitations.
Selling Your Timeshare
One of the things to be aware of is that few experts consider timeshares to be investment options that are likely to earn you a return. In some cases (check the terms of your agreement) it is possible to rent out your timeshare if you can't use it at a specified time, or you can share it around with your friends and family. This can offset some of your costs. Selling your timeshare, though, is likely to result in a loss. Due to the large number of timeshares on the market, flipping your timeshare for a profit is a rather unlikely scenario. Timeshares aren't exactly traditional real estate investing.
If you are considering a timeshare, go in realizing that it is likely to be an investment of time and sentiment, and not one that will provide you with financial returns.
Will You Use It?
For some people, a timeshare works. They use the timeshare, or they rent it out or have family and friends that can use it. Others, though, buy timeshares and find themselves locked in to expenses — and they don't always use the timeshare. And consider whether or not you could create your own vacation for cheaper. After all, even if you have the resort location, your timeshare purchase won't cover airfare, good, entertainment and other expenses. You might be able to put together a trip for much less than the annual cost of a timeshare.
Think about why you want a timeshare before you purchase one. Honestly evaluate whether or not you will use one, and consider the costs. Only you know whether a timeshare is worth it for you.
Have you purchased a timeshare? What has been your experience?