There are many of us that will never forget the day we bought our timeshare. It was full of bells and whistles celebrating our purchase, food, wine and a very happy salesperson. However, as we stare at our most recent maintenance fee bill that has (not surprisingly) increased since the prior year, we start to look back with a little bit of regret and the feeling of, “what did I get myself into!” These moments of regret and disappointment seem to be a fairly common within the timeshare owner community and there is certainly a reason why. A lot has changed in the timeshare industry and in most cases, negatively affected each and every owner. From increased maintenance fee bills, unexpected special assessments, and inability to get the week that you want to developers being bought out by other developers and all of a sudden, you own a completely different timeshare than the one you signed up for! If you are finding that your ownership is more of a burden for you than a blessing, then taking a closer look at the changes in the industry will help to make sense of why you are wishing you had never bought it to begin with.
We all know that the internet has practically made all things possible, from shopping, dating, banking, all the way to getting a degree, and the travel industry is certainly not one to be left out of the mix. The internet has given vacationers the ability to book hotels, rental cars, flights, cruises and most of the time you can get all of those things with one stop, at sites like Expedia and Orbit. The vacation rental opportunities are endless today, and yes, timeshares play a major role in the rental scene. Now, many timeshare owners may not realize how this could negatively affect their ownership or their ability to resell at first glance but after taking a good look at what this change has done to the value of timeshares, it all begins to come together. First of all, the timeshare rentals you can find online today are more often than not, much less expensive than what a timeshare owner will pay in maintenance fees. So if timeshares are now available to anybody who wants to go, and you pay less to go as a renter than you do as an owner, if you had the choice today to purchase a timeshare or just go when you want to, which would YOU choose? Basically what it comes down to is that timeshares are no longer “exclusive” to owners. Just about anybody can get onto the resort and enjoy a one week vacation. If you don’t have to own one to use one, then what’s the point? The incentive to purchase a timeshare has dropped significantly which of course makes reselling your timeshare much more challenging.
To those who haven’t spent a lot of time researching timeshares, there seems to be the reputation that they are a good investment, and that it will go up in value because it is “deeded” property. But one thing that many people fail to do when they are at the point of making the decision “to buy or not to buy,” is to check what timeshares are actually reselling for in the current market. Property value is not determined by the price it is listed at, but rather by how much it actually sold for and what properties like it/around it are also selling for. It doesn’t take long to see that timeshares on the resale market such as eBay, are “listed” for $0.01 to $200. What you would also find on eBay, is that timeshares for that price aren’t even selling at those low costs. Many people at this point would ask, “how could you pass up the great deals on eBay,” but the better question to ask is, “even if you could find someone who wanted a timeshare, why would they pay thousands for it when they can practically get it for free on eBay?” Resale sites like eBay have made the market incredibly competitive and many owners who have already spent thousands of dollars to buy into their program aren’t able to come to terms with the idea that all that money is gone. Yet, the harsh reality is, it IS gone…
Even without the fact that the accessibility of timeshare rentals and a depressed resale market has resulted in timeshare ownership becoming obsolete, there are many other factors that go into timeshare ownership that can be unbelievably daunting. One of the frustrations is called “maintenance fees.” Owners are billed every year (right around Christmas time) for their annual dues, which for many owners have gone up anywhere from $20 to 200% consistently. And “yes” if you take a vacation it pays for itself…but what happens when 10 years from today you’re paying $3000 for a week on the beach while everyone else is getting there through orbit at $1000 for the week. The truth is, an ever-increasing bill will only stay competitive for so long, until you are paying beyond premium.