MarketWatch reports that in the year 2014, 7.9 percent of Americans owned a timeshare. Timeshare owners own a fraction of a property, sharing ownership with other people. Owners typically buy a week or two weeks per year.
The success of timeshare companies is largely due to the attractive locations and persuasive marketing techniques used. These properties are usually located in beautiful, highly-sought after locales where vacationers want to spend time. Savvy timeshare companies invite couples to stay in a complimentary timeshare unit for free if they will agree to listen to a sales presentation.
Timeshares appeal to vacationers who fall in love with a certain vacation spot and like the idea of coming back every year. While owning a second home for vacation is financially out of reach for most families, timeshares offer some of the same psychological benefits without the expense of full homeownership.
There are two main categories of timeshares. Investopedia cites the two different types as deeded and non-deeded. As implied, a deeded timeshare means the buyer has an ownership interest in the property equal to the amount of time purchased. For example, if you buy two weeks, then you own 1/26th of the property. Comparatively, a non-deeded property is leased contractually for a set amount of time annually, and for a specified number of years.
Timeshare contracts vary widely with some selling a buyer the same week each year, while others offer a floating week. Usually a floating week is available during a defined period of time. Vacation clubs are another common way to operate. They use a point system, where buyers can use points purchased at different destinations.
There are some excellent reasons for owning a timeshare. Buyers who want to take a vacation in a popular "hotspot" during busy season no longer have to worry about not being able to find a high-quality place to stay. Additionally, timeshare vacationers can buy a comfortable unit that suits their family's needs. It is often much more affordable and comfortable for a family of four to buy a three bedroom condo timeshare unit than to stay in three bedrooms in a hotel. With the ability to lock-in future accommodations at predetermined pricing, timeshare owners ensure future savings as an added bonus.
Having a full kitchen, washer and dryer, patio and other amenities definitely sweetens the pot. After staying at a luxury timeshare condo or home, it becomes much more difficult to look at hotel rooms the same. Vacations are the one time when families want to be pampered and have exactly what they want. A well-selected timeshare offers that luxury to buyers.
Being able to count on a luxury timeshare unit offers pride of ownership and flexibility. Many owners share the space with family and friends much like they would hand over the keys to a second home to loved ones. It is common practice to trade timeshare units to add some variety into travel plans.
While there are some obvious advantages to buying a timeshare, there are also some pitfalls to be considered. Poor property management, selling difficulties and annual fees that typically increase are a few of the common complaints timeshare buyers discuss.
Another downside that should not be discounted is that people's attitudes and tastes change. Boredom could become a problem after going to the same spot year after year. That vacation spot might seem perfect on year one, only to turn into a boring vacation option on the fourth or fifth consecutive year.
We've all heard the advice not to believe everything we hear. Just because that nice salesperson told you it would be easy to trade your vacation week in for a different one if your circumstances changed does not mean it is true. It is also noteworthy that additional fees are often added if you want to make changes to your timeshare week or destination.
Change can be good or bad. Management companies change, families grow older, work schedules change. These can all have a negative impact on a permanent vacation plan.
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