Important information to know when buying a timeshare

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Jason Gamel

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Advisories

If you are considering buying a timeshare for the first time or you are an owner thinking about adding to your vacation ownership portfolio, ARDA-ROC and the Timeshare Crusader recommend that you consider, at a minimum, the following information:
 
Purchasing and Enjoying a Timeshare

 
You should always purchase a timeshare for its use as a vacation product. Timeshare should never be purchased as a financial investment.
 
Timeshare products offer great flexibility in the use and enjoyment of both the resorts themselves and other benefits that you get along with ownership. It is important that you read and understand the rules, including those for making a reservation, an exchange (both through the company where you own and through a third-party exchange company like II or RCI), and for the use of any other benefit that your developer or resort offers. These rules are often found in the disclosure document provided at the time of purchase (public offering statement, public report, or other similarly named document), which contains important information about your purchase. 
 
Be sure you have the phone numbers, website, or email addresses you will need if you have questions. Those may include loan servicing, owner services, reservations, and your exchange company, to name a few. This information can usually be found online or in the documents you received when you bought your timeshare.
 
When you sign a purchase contract to buy a timeshare, state law generally provides a period of time in which you can cancel your purchase. This is often referred to as a rescission period. The length of the rescission period will depend on the laws of the state where you purchase or where the property is located. Your purchase documents will include all of this information.
 
Finally, make sure to get all of the terms and conditions of your purchase in writing. You cannot depend solely on verbal representations made during the sales process. If something is important to you and is a major reason you want to purchase, then make sure to get it in writing. 
 
Financial Commitment
 
You might need to borrow money to purchase a timeshare. If so, financing the purchase of a timeshare can be like financing the purchase of a home, where you have to get a loan directly from the timeshare developer or a bank. As an owner, you will be responsible for paying annual maintenance fees that generally include property taxes, utilities, housekeeping, repair and replacement of interior furnishings, and property insurance. Maintenance fees are paid to your homeowners' association - not to your developer – and the amounts are often not within the control of the association (such as the rates set by utility or insurance providers) and may change from year-to-year.  
 
If you cannot make your loan payments or pay your maintenance fees, you should always talk to your finance company and your association/management company about your options. The failure to make on-time payments may be reported to credit bureaus and negatively impact your credit score. Not paying these fees may also result in you losing the use of your timeshare until you become current.
 
Know Your Options
 
In many cases, if you decide in the future to sell your timeshare, you should expect that the resale price will be less than the price you originally paid. Please check with your developer, your resort, or your management company to understand all of the different options if you decide that your timeshare is no longer meeting your vacation or lifestyle needs. You can always visit www.responsibleexit.com to find resources regarding selling or exiting your timeshare interest.
  

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