Time share - pluses and minuses
January 3, 2014 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Do you own a time share? What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? What would you have liked to know before you bought it? We're on the fence on buying a time share with a name brand. But the hype and fears around the concept make our judgement clouded. Please share your advice and anecdotes.

Assume that we have the economy to purchase the time share up front (almost). And can cover the upkeep for a reasonable future.

We would like to use the "points" generated from the time share to stay at hotels, but also to return to the place where the time share is located. Our decision making process is severely affected by both the hype and fear surrounding the concept of time sharing (or fractional owning, if you like that better...)

What do you as a time share owner love about it? And what's the drawbacks? Would you buy one again if you could?

Do you hate it? Has the terms changed? Extra fees appeared? Points lost value?

What would you do differently today? What questions would you ask the friendly sales person?

Have you even bought a time share in the resale market (ie EBay)? Have you ever made some real money from it?

You're more than welcome to advice us in Memail if you prefer. Thank you!
posted by Rabarberofficer to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Check out how much it would cost to rent a timeshare on the open market, say vrbo.com - you can probably find one for about the same cost as the monthly timeshare fees and without any upfront investment.
posted by metahawk at 9:05 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is there a place you want to visit every year for the next decade or two? If so, buy a timeshare. If not, it ain't for you.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:06 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

DON'T BUY A TIMESHARE! before i was even admitted to the bar in 1980, one fool after another has asked me how to get out of them, regularly, several times a year. they're a colossal ripoff. don't you be a fool.
posted by bruce at 9:24 PM on January 3, 2014 [21 favorites]

I have never owned a timeshare, but where I work I read literally hundreds of thousands of reviews of accommodations including time shares and very few of them have anything positive to say about the experience. So, not firsthand experience, but I've read enough that I would never consider it. You're probably better off taking that money and just planning some amazing vacations without any restrictions, hoops to jump through, or long term commitments. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 9:32 PM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do add onto Bruce's comment, I would read this previously and this previouslier. Both these posts are written by pple who have timeshares and sound absolutely miserable and can't get out/need to get out due to financial difficulties.

In one of those previous questions, someone replies that they benefit by just renting out these time shares through Vacation Rentals by Owner (this may be a list risky option)

posted by Wolfster at 9:33 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

My parents bought a timeshare back in the day and now that they want to get rid of it, are stuck with it. When I was growing up, we'd use it every year -- but for the past decade, it's only been used once, with my dad being forced to pay yearly "maintenance" fees. As someone who didn't have to pay for it, there were plenty of upsides -- but I would never recommend it knowing what my dad's gone through.

We go on vacation every year, and my dad pays the same for 1 week at a beach house (split btwn 2 families) as he does on time-share maintenance fees, and without the up-front cost. A timeshare is not a property you "own" -- it's a money-suck for the rest of your life.
posted by DoubleLune at 9:53 PM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

When my in-laws moved back to the UK, they stuck us with one of those Floridian condos. Don't do it. Just don't. It was very expensive.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:06 PM on January 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do not buy one. You can never get rid of them. My mom bought one and now I'm going to be stuck inheriting the thing because timeshares will never die.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:11 PM on January 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

My parents bought one. They thought they were getting good value. Then various decisions were made by the management and the complex wasn't kept up, because the original sellers were into keeping maintenance down so they could sell more units. Now my parents are stuck with an aging property that faces tons of repairs and they can't even give the timeshare away. People are selling them for $0 and can't find any takers. My parents are very upset, because it never occurred to them that they couldn't just walk away from it.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:11 PM on January 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree with all the above on advising against a timeshare. I do have a brother whose experience over the past 10 years has been positive, although frankly he may not be honest enough with me to complain about its downside. (He's certainly financially able to carry the cost.) I personally take the family to vacations all over, and that freedom is the way we prefer.

If you are still positive on the idea, (or want to explore other methods of acquiring a timeshare), you would do very well in getting a resale timeshare to see what the 'real market' for an existing owner who wants only to get out of it.

Clark Howard has this from Sept 2013 announcing a new site Vacatia for buying and selling timeshares that may be worth checking out.
posted by scooterdog at 5:07 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the only thing you need to know about a timeshare is how insanely desperate they are to sell them to you. There is nothing that is a good deal that they pay you to listen to the sales pitch for.
posted by mercredi at 5:19 AM on January 4, 2014 [10 favorites]

>now I'm going to be stuck inheriting the thing

Don't assume this. It's one thing for the original owner to be stuck in a contract that he foolishly signed. But no one can be forced to accept any inheritance. Speak with a lawyer in the proper jurisdiction.
posted by yclipse at 5:28 AM on January 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

[Folks, please stick with the original question. You can mefi mail anyone else for side conversations.]
posted by taz at 5:37 AM on January 4, 2014

A couple of family members own timeshares. Keep in mind there are yearly fees, and often booking fees that can add up. If you're not they type of person that plans and books vacations a year in advance, you probably won't be able to go when or where you want. You also need to know that there is no way out of a timeshare without a lot of fees, and you will never get any of your initial purchase price back. That being said, some people use their timeshare and get good value if kept for the long term, others find it a nightmare.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:55 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wrote the timeshare albatross question.

DON'T DO IT. Here's why: in order to make money (for corporate paychecks, new wallpaper, room renovations, sales staff to sucker MORE people into buying timeshares, etc.) the timeshare parent corporation will start charging you "maintenance" and "special assessment" fees. You will have to pay those fees. You will have NO CONTROL over how much they charge you. $100 maintenance fees one year and then $12,000 the second year.

You may, at that point, say, "Screw it; I'm selling this thing," and you will go to eBay, list it for $500 and get no bites. You will then continue to relist it until you're listing it for $1. No bites. You will STILL have to pay that special assessment charge.

And as far as transferring weeks to another timeshare resort, well...good luck with that. You'll find that of the 2 dozen places you decide to stay in...they're all booked. Or sure, you can get into another timeshare but with a daily fee of $150 PER PERSON and a $500 transfer fee. And of course, you're still paying that "special assessment."

Oh dear G*d for the love of all that is good and holy, please accept this internet squishy hug of "OH LORD DON'T EVER BUY A TIMESHARE."

If ever I've given advice here at AskMe that I WISH someone would follow, it would be for you to listen to this. Seriously. DON'T DO IT.
posted by kinetic at 5:56 AM on January 4, 2014 [19 favorites]

Watch the documentary Queen of Versailles. Besides being a fascinating and mind blowing look into the lifestyle of a wealthy family, it's a great expose of the timeshare industry.
posted by PSB at 6:03 AM on January 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

My parents bought into one in Cancun. It was good for about 10 years, but they've gotten tired of going there. They've traded weeks to other locations and done okay. But I get the feeling they'd be okay with not having it either.

We bought into Disney a few years ago. We bought in at a level where we can go every other year. With 2 kids and our love of Disney, it made sense for us.

All this is a roundabout way of saying it depends on your situation is and how much you enjoy the places you're buying into.
posted by neilbert at 6:45 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

DoubleLune: " it's a money-suck for the rest of your life."

An ex-co-worker of mine's father-in-law had a time share. He died. The estate (my ex-coworker was the executor) had a hell of a time discharging the time-share, even after death. I think he said it took ten years of fees, applied to lawyer bills, to get out of it.
posted by notsnot at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just adding to the choir - do not do it. Period.

When time shares first started, their value was in exclusivity. The only way you could stay at nice Resort X was to own time share. And nice places are very nice.

Now, there are so many options wherever you go. You can stay at a great non timeshare resort often at near the same price as just your fees, not taking into consideration the initial purchase cost.

I live in an area dominated by timeshares, and many of these resorts now have the ability to do nightly rentals anyway. That being said, you'll still be pressured to attend sales pitches and buy, but it is an option.

A classic time share pitch is to have the buyer estimate how much they spend total on a vacation, and the sales person will compare that to their cost. In realty, you're buying a hotel room with a kitchen most of the time. Go high - imagine $300 a night for
6 nights. We are around $2,000. Compare that to your time share initial cost over ten or twenty years. Now read the horror stories you've read here and other places where an assessment out of nowhere could be in the thousands for repair or renovation.

No matter what they tell you - you are buying a hotel room. It is hard to change to another hotel room in another destination within their network. It is nearly impossible outside their network. It is undeniably impossible to sell or even give away the hotel room later because of the known and unknown fees involved.

To be clear: the investment you're planning to purchase often cannot be given away on the secondary market. For free. The thing you are ready to spend thousands or tens of thousands on. Do not do it.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:09 AM on January 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do the Math.

If you're buying 1 or 2 weeks, for X, then extrapolate that cost X 52 or 26 and determine if the unit is worth the TOTAL purchase price.

For example, if you're thinking about buying 1 week for a 2 bedroom Condo in Orlando. If the purchase price is $10,000. Is the unit WORTH $520,000? Chances are, it's so not.

I will also tell you that I have a long history of renting other people's timeshares, I do it at least once per year, and usually for about what the maintenance fees are for the owner. So I have some experience with this.

One property in Orlando/Kissimmee, was gorgeous in 1997. We rented it and had a BALL in it. I've returned over the years and it's changed management/ownership about 4 times since then. It was Liki Tiki Villiage, Ron-Jon Resort, and it seems to have returned to Liki Tiki again.

It has slid downhill and I wouldn't stay there for love or money at this point. I will say that the InterContinental Properties I've stayed at have been well maintained, but it's a real crap-shoot.

Another problem is that maintenance is one thing, but what about assessments? What if the roof needs to be replaced? All the owners are on the hook for that. Ditto asbestos abatement, sink holes, and other repairs.

Really look at your vacation budget. Is this more than paying for a hotel? I suspect that it is. No matter what, I can find a great place to stay, either a regular hotel, or a vacation home, or whatever it is I want, and it will always be less than paying for a time-share. I also don't have to stay at a particular property, or pay a surcharge or any other nonsense.

If you like staying in time-share properties (and I do) you can always just call them directly and make a reservation.

Once you do the math, I doubt you'll see an advantage to owning a time-share.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:31 PM on January 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thank you nice people for giving us your perspectives and experiences.

We decided NOT to buy a timeshare. As we went for a walk today we even laughed about the bizarre pressure sale we got from the sales person. While we sat there and he told us about his initial challenges to conceive with his wife, he told us that his father had always told him to "make sure to pull out early" so that you don't get a girl pregnant. Apparently he wanted to share a bit of irony with us about his situation. But both of us had sat there silently thinking..."Did he just say that?" We should have known to say no right from the beginning - a good sales person selling a reputable product would not have needed to share these details to try to... bond with us?

As always: To sleep on the prospect and to get the benefit of you Mefites experiences is invaluable to make good decisions when in doubt. Thank you!
posted by Rabarberofficer at 11:03 PM on January 4, 2014

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