October 30, 2014 — Our member Louise recently started an interesting conversation about time shares on another of our posts. Then Caps suggested that we begin a Blog post on that topic. Seems like a fine idea, since we know that many retirees rely on time shares, aka Interval Ownership units, as a way to make their retirement life more enjoyable.
Time Shares – Different Strokes
Many folks have 1 or 2 time shares that they look forward to using every year. Some have additional weeks in different locales and time periods. Others we know have consecutive weeks in the same locale/complex, which allows them to stay in a favorite place for a long period of time. And then we know others who not only have consecutive weeks, but have multiple units at the same time so their children/grandchilden can visit.
How time shares get used also varies. Some folks stay in their time share at the same time every year. Others are active traders – they never stay in their actual property at the correct time, but look for other places/time periods they can trade for. And of course there are folks who tire of their time share (and the fees they pay), and would like nothing better than to unload it to the highest bidder.
Interval ownership has a number of advantages, along with some negatives. The major pluses are:
– Relatively low cost, at least compared to buying a property
– Guaranteed availability for the time you buy
– Ability to trade for other properties in the network
– A feeling of ownership
– A forced vacation – you’ll probably go somewhere if you don’t have to plan it
– High fees and other costs. You can probably rent a condo or stay in a hotel for the same price, without the commitment and upfront investment
– Difficult to sell
– You don’t actually get the same unit every year, so the opportunity to personalize or feel ownership is not there
– You are somewhat locked into the same destination for as long as you own the unit (although if you work at it, you can usually trade)
We have taken Comments about time shares that appeared on other of our Blog posts and copied them here, oldest first. Please share your thoughts and experiences – it should be interesting!
(from Louise:) I just wanted to make a comment on HOA’s. I used to own a timeshare and we had to pay a ‘maintenance fee’ yearly. We ‘owned’ one week of the timeshare and in the beginning the fees were reasonable. After several years of ownership, the resort suddenly closed and we found out through newsletters and such that the original owners were basically thieves and ran the place into the ground and took the money and ran. Later on we found out that they didn’t even use the pool chemicals correctly which ruined the pool and later on it was fixed. There were other damages too. There was one timeshare member that had originally invested a lot of money into the resort and she took over somehow and began to run the resort. She asked each timeshare owner to invest around $1,000 to help get the resort out of this financial mess. It was a long haul and she did eventually turn things around. Each year thereafter the maintenance fees went up and up and up! It no longer became ‘reasonable’. This resort also rented out the unused units to tourists too. They are constantly renovating which is good but the costs always came back to the timeshare owners and not from the profits they made from renting the unsold units. I feel HOA’s would price gouge in this way too. My friend lives in a mobile home park and her lot rent is around $525 a month. What does she get for that…a postage stamp sized lot with other mobile homes very close by. A pool that she doesn’t use and a club house that she doesn’t use. There is no lawn care for her lot, she must pay for that. She does get garbage removal included in her rent. So her rent costs $6,300 a year and that is more than I pay taxes for a modest home in CT which is a very high tax state. I guess my point in this is just be careful of HOA’s and land rental fees for mobile homes. I for one have been interested in buying a brand new mobile home but I would put it on a lot and pay no one land rental. You have to also ask yourself if you get into a community with HOA’s, are you really going to use the amenities that you are forced to pay for? If you are seeking activities that the HOA is offering, which ones will you actually use? If it is only one or two could you find those activities at your local senior center? There may be clubs you can join and the cost could be minimal. Even if you golf and the HOA you are interested has a golf course, would it be cheaper to join a golf club rather than pay yearly HOA fees? I for one like the idea of living in a community with all the amenities but I hate the idea of paying those fees! Guess you can’t have it both ways! By the way, I no longer own the timeshare and no longer have to cringe when my yearly timeshare maintenance bill comes.
(From Earl:) Louise,How were you able to get rid of your timeshare. I have one that I would like to get rid of. Thanks, for any help. Earl
(from Louise:) Interesting question Earl! I actually had two timeshares. One was actually better managed than the other and I sold it back to the resort. I asked if they would buy it back and they did! However, they didn’t give me even close to what I paid for it. But I had used it many times and figured it was better than nothing and I was free of it.
The other timeshare I mentioned in my last post is another story! I also asked the other resort if they would buy it back and they would not! So I asked them if they would take it back and they did. They got it for FREE but I am also free of the ever growing maintenance fees. I used them, had fun, but now I am done, done, done…no more timeshares ever again!
If you just want to unload the timeshare and the resorts won’t take it back maybe a charity would take it off your hands. They might have an auction to sell it to get money. Try animal welfare.
Another thing you might do is advertise in the local newspaper where your timeshare is located. People on vacation read local newspapers and if they fall in love with an area on vacation and see a timeshare for sale they might be in the right mood to buy a timeshare to relive the vacation experience again.
Another thing you could consider is giving the timeshare to your children or grandchildren.
Sorry I don’t have a magical way to unload a timeshare and make a profit! LOL! Wish I did and so do all timeshare owners! Good luck and if you are successful please post your results! Would love to hear them!
Earl, I also want to point out that if you choose to advertise, you might consider putting your ad in the newspaper the week number that you are able to use the timeshare. For instance if your timeshare is week 23 (June) put the ad in the paper in June and July. People want to come back the same week or close to the week they were there because they had a good time and hopefully weather was good too.
(from Tony:) My cousin bought a time share i st marten for $1.00 . Now he is paying 800.00 a year for HOA fees LOL . That’s the magical way sell for $1.00
(from Louise:) Tony, are you saying $800.00 a year fees? That is not abnormal for timeshare fees. To stay in a really nice resort in the Caribbean you can expect to spend $350-$400 a night or more. So the $800.00 fee is not unreasonable as that pays for two nights and you kind of get 5 nights ‘free’. However, when you stop going to your resort for whatever reason, the $800.00 is very annoying! Earl might consider selling his timeshare on ebay.
Comments and experiences. Please add your experiences below.
For further reference:
Wikipedia article on Time Shares