Timeshares are a form of vacation ownership. Buyers pay a onetime purchase fee and are entitled to take vacations at the resort for decades. without knowing the ins and outs of timeshare ownership.
They can choose from fixed week, float week or fractional ownership. They also may buy into a points system that allows for exchanges within the hospitality chain or to third-party properties.
Whether you are considering timeshare ownership or looking to exit the industry, it is imperative that you understand your responsibilities and financial obligations. This includes the recurring maintenance fees and potential special assessments.
The most common way for resorts to collect these fees is through the payment plan that each owner signs up for when they buy their property. These plans typically bill owners annually, but some developers and resorts may choose to bill them monthly, quarterly or biannually. The specific due dates of these fees will be specified in each owner’s contract.
Some resorts will itemize their fees to give the owners a clearer picture of where their money is going. For example, they may break down the cost of various aspects of the property such as Accounting and Information Technology Services, Reservations and Customer Care, Purchasing and Inventory Management, Grounds & Landscape, Dispatch, Transportation, Quality Assurance and Human Resources. This can be a great tool for those who believe they are being overcharged.
A timeshare points system is an alternative to traditional deeded or leased property ownership. In this type of timeshare, buyers purchase a certain number of vacation points that they can then use to book accommodations at different resorts and locations within a given vacation club network.
Using timeshare points also allows owners to change the location and length of their vacation, or upgrade their accommodation size. This flexibility has made timeshare points popular with consumers and facilitated the expansion of the timeshare industry beyond its once-limited deeded property roots.
However, purchasing timeshare points does come with its own set of costs and risks. For example, if a resort incurs a large property expense that cannot be covered by the annual maintenance fees, owners may be responsible for a special assessment, which can run into the thousands of dollars. This additional cost can add up quickly, especially if the company encourages the purchase of more points to improve one’s vacation experience and status within the system.
Timeshares may offer dependability, comfort and a range of amenities and activities. They also come with high upfront costs and annual maintenance fees that typically trend higher on a percentage basis year after year.
When a buyer signs a deed of ownership, they are conferred a specific percentage interest in the property. For example, one week of a resort condominium unit gives the buyer a one-fifty-second interest while two weeks confers a one-twenty-sixth interest and so on.
As with any financial commitment, individuals should carefully consider timeshare options and whether they align with their vacation aspirations and long-term financial goals. Individuals should avoid being swayed by high-pressure sales tactics and never sign a legally binding contract until they have fully reviewed the terms and conditions. A knowledgeable timeshare attorney can provide additional insight and guidance. In addition, the resale market for timeshares provides alternative channels to buy and sell, often on more flexible and negotiable terms.
Timeshare owners must be aware of the taxes associated with their investment. If a timeshare is rented out to earn an income, the owner can claim those deductions just like any other business would.
But if you use your timeshare as your primary residence and don’t rent it out, any taxes that you pay will be personal expenses. Mortgage interest is deductible, as is property tax on your deeded property. However, those property taxes might be bundled into your maintenance fees and are not typically itemized. If you want to take advantage of these tax deductions, it is important to review your contract to see if the property taxes are separately billed or included in the maintenance charges.
Understanding the good, bad and ugly of timeshare ownership can help prospective buyers make more confident decisions. With this knowledge, they can assess whether the purchase aligns with their vacation aspirations and long-term financial goals. And, if the timeshare is not a suitable investment, they can pursue a successful timeshare exit strategy.