You might not know this, but the timeshare business is booming— so much so that total sales measured $9.6 billion in 2017. In just the U.S., this translated to about 205,000 units. But staking your claim to a timeshare can mean making a substantial investment. The average sales price per internal for a timeshare in the U.S. was $22,180 in 2018.
Is owning a timeshare worth the upfront cost? We explore the pros and cons to help you decide.
The Benefits of Owning a Timeshare
It forces you to take a vacation.
Americans are notorious for not using all their days off. In 2017, Americans elected to skip a total of 212 million vacation days. Owning a timeshare gives you an already-planned reason to get out of town. It makes you take the days off you need to rest and recharge, while eliminating the stress of picking where to travel or renting a vacation home.
It’s convenient, especially for families.
Staying at an all-inclusive resort, for example, for a week or longer can be expensive and leave families missing the comforts of home. The average timeshare is more than 1,000 square feet, with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen (which helps rein in meal costs.) And contrary to popular belief, these rooms aren’t just plain old hotel rooms — they’re generally dedicated units outfitted with furnishings and all the appliances you need.
You can find deals through resale.
Head to a trustworthy resale site like RedWeek, a digital timeshare community where you can rent or sell timeshares in both domestic and international locations. You’ll avoid the hard sell that timeshare companies are notorious for, and you’ll also find some good deals.
The Disadvantages of Owning a Timeshare
Scams are all too common.
Do your research and stick with reputable brands so you don’t end up writing a check for a timeshare that doesn’t exist. Alternately, if a company says it has buyers lined up to purchase your timeshare, proceed with caution. Often, in return for a fee paid upfront, timeshare scammers promise sellers access to an eager buyer. No buyer exists. The scammer takes your money, and you’re left in the lurch.
There are fees beyond the upfront cost.
If you’re considering buying a timeshare, you’ll need to account for regular maintenance fees, which were an average of $980 per timeshare in 2017. This fee alone could finance a budget vacation.
They’re hard to resell.
Despite what the timeshare company told you over dinner, this isn’t actually a real estate investment. Timeshares are very hard to resell. There are just too many for sale and not enough buyers. Plus, many buyers prefer to purchase them from developers rather than as resales.
It might not be as flexible as you think.
If you know when you want to go a year in advance, then great. But if you’re planning your summer trip in March, your ideal week may already be booked. However, last-minute planners may benefit from late cancellations and sneak in, just as with hotels.
Still on the Fence?
If you’re not ready to commit to buying a timeshare, consider saving money on a hotel or Airbnb rental with these five tips.