The subject of timeshares is a perennial polarizer, and your perspective typically depends upon your timeshare ownership experiences or the experiences of friends and relatives. If you are contemplating buying a timeshare, it’s best to take the advice of people without strong biases on the subject.
Monetary Advantages and Disadvantages
Bid adieu to pricey hotels when vacationing and lock in predictable payments by buying a timeshare. Even if the cost of lodgings and amenities go up, your timeshare payment won’t budge. Save additional money by making your timeshare a headquarters for meals and entertaining. Such are the advantages of timeshare ownership.
On the other hand, sinking your cash into a timeshare locks you in for the duration of your contract. Over time, maintenance costs could rise in direct proportion to the rate at which the property is aging. Lose your job or your home or experience catastrophic financial or health problems and you could find yourself stuck in a market that's glutted with timeshares for sale. The number of foreclosed timeshares on the market tends to follow the same trend as foreclosed residential properties.
Convenience Advantages and Disadvantages
Timeshare properties tend to be located in places that are most desirable for vacationers, so you probably won’t experience inconveniences if you decide to buy a timeshare. Make your plans, pack up and fly off to a retreat that’s located in close proximity to the shopping, recreational and entertainment facilities you prefer.
You can’t be expected to check out every property listed in the timeshare catalog, so if you like switching destinations, you may not find out about an ill-managed property until you’re there. You might get a credit for another stay if you find yourself at a less-than-desirable property, but you can’t get back lost time, nor can some people easily dismiss the memories of a vacation gone bad.
Ownership Advantages and Disadvantages
Some folks love amassing property, but ownership has some disadvantages. On the plus side, you can rent out your timeshare and even turn a profit if you’ve a mind to do so. You may even be able to take advantage of the marketing skills of your property’s holding company. You can also bequeath a timeshare to your heirs.
But if forking over $10,000 for the right to pick only one or two dates during the calendar year when your family can occupy the residence doesn’t sound like a great advantage to you, you might wish to rethink the idea of owning a timeshare. If your timeshare holding company experiences financial problems, efforts to maintain the property you own could go by the wayside.
Social Advantages and Disadvantages
The average timeshare owner is 47 years old, married, well educated and earning $81,000 a year, so social advantages for the 50-something demographic are promising. Hang out with like-minded people, hit the golf links or beach with contemporaries and cement friendships while on vacation at your timeshare. But if you’re a vacationer longing for quirky, new or unusual vacation experiences and challenges and you adore meeting new people from all walks of life, the staid, predictable social environment of a timeshare could quickly become boring.
Investment Advantages and Disadvantages
You decide to invest $10,000 in return for the use of a timeshare one week each year for life. How much sense does that make? You put down a cash deposit and pay off your investment in seven years, on average, while you kick in a monthly assessment fee on top of the mortgage obligation. Sure, you can deduct the interest on your loan, but asking a broker to show you a comparable investment with a greater yield could open your eyes to other options.
Take a tip from the Better Business Bureau, and separate the idea of real estate investments from timeshare ownership. The first truly is an investment. The second is a pre-paid vacation accommodation.
Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.