Buying Timeshare: General Advice
Why timeshare could be right for you!
There are many reasons why millions of families have chosen timeshare over traditional package holidays or owning a holiday home. By investing in future holidays, timeshare owners have peace of mind and security of ownership, paying only for the vacation time they actually use.
They can relax knowing that the quality of accommodation is a known factor. Timeshare owners also know that they have paid for their resort accommodation at today’s prices for holidays for years to come.
Timeshare is a great way of vacationing and caters for many different holiday preferences. It is important to establish your own personal and family holiday wishes when choosing a timeshare, and to bear in mind the following:
- Resort location, i.e. where is the home resort located, for example in Spain at walking distance of the beach or in Scotland in the middle of a the countryside or even in a city centre such as London, Paris, Rome or New York
- Size of the timeshare apartment, such as studio, one/two bedrooms etc.
- Amenities at the resort, such as swimming pools, restaurants, golf courses etc.
- The week or period of the timeshare interest, i.e. high season, low season and bear in mind that what is perceived to be low season could in fact be high season due to demand, such as the Canary islands during the winter
- The number of weeks you can go on holiday
- The annual charges for upkeep of the resort where you own
- The costs of travelling to your holiday apartment
Timeshare is also a very flexible way of taking holidays. It is no longer only based on taking your holiday in certain week(s) at a specific resort and includes ways of using your timeshare interest to go on a different type of holiday, at a different time in a different place every year if one wishes so. This is possible due to:
- Exchanges, which are offered by a third party organisation that will offer you a membership allowing you to swap your week with another week and/or other resort. Currently both principal exchange organisations have over 5,400 resorts affiliated to them, giving you an enormous choice of resort destinations to exchange into as well as allowing you to go at a different time in the year.
- Points, which basically provide you with a currency based on the value of your timeshare week or interest based on seasons, unit sizes and resort locations. This value can be used within the timeshare club which has access to a certain number of resorts in various destinations and for example allow you to take several short breaks on the value of a timeshare week. Points should always be based on timeshare weeks guaranteeing that holiday accommodation is readily available with the timeshare points or vacation club.
Both the exchange option and the points system allow you to adapt your holidays without loosing the benefit of owning a timeshare including your assurance of quality holiday accommodation at today’s prices for years to come.
It is therefore also important when buying a timeshare to consider what kind of flexibility you have:
On the exchange facility offered to me:
- How many resorts can I have access to with the exchange company I can become a member of
- How does the exchange system work in my case
- Can I exchange to the holiday destinations I would like to go to in the future
On a points based timeshare Club:
- How many resorts are within the Club and where are they located
- How does the booking and reservation rules work
- Can I use the points for other related purchases such as flights, car hire and other types of holidays.
Financing your timeshare
Timeshare is an important purchase, anyone interested in timeshare should be sure they can afford it. Timeshare can be a very cost effective way of taking quality holidays, especially when the timeshare owner takes full advantage of the options offered by the timeshare club they belong to or which are provided by the exchange system.
Your timeshare purchase can be paid by various means and often finance is on offer by a specialised finance company or by the resort itself.
Buyers should be careful to ensure that any down payment is refundable during the cooling-off period and should only be paid to an independent trustee, bank or any other independent third party guarantee.
What does a timeshare cost?
The cost of a timeshare depends largely on location, the size of unit and season. In Europe, Spain has the highest concentration of timeshare properties. Today the average cost of a European timeshare, according to findings of an independent study, is €9,900.
It is important to note that buying a timeshare should be viewed as purchasing future quality holidays at today’s prices rather than a property-based investment. Prospective owners should conduct careful research before assuming that a timeshare unit will appreciate in value. Some do. Most do not.
Besides the cost of the timeshare acquisition annual cost should be taken into account for:
- Maintenance fees The annual maintenance fee contributes to maintaining quality accommodation and amenities, such as pools and gardens at a resort. The average annual maintenance fee is currently around €300.
- Membership fees An annual membership fee is charged by exchange organisations when a timeshare is purchased from an affiliated resort. Often the resort will pay for the initial membership. Subsequently, membership privileges remain in effect as long as timeshare owners keep their membership up-to-date.
- Exchange fees The charge levied by an exchange company to a timeshare owner who wishes to exchange his or her holiday time in their unit for another unit in another location at the same time or any similar season.
The actual timeshare purchase
When you are certain of buying a timeshare the following is important to know before signing a contract:
- You have a minimum ten day period to cancel your contract without penalty in the entire European Union, and in certain countries even more then ten days. However, if you do not wish to buy just do not sign the contract.
- The contract will be accompanied by a legally mandatory document which sets out your principle rights and obligations including the annual maintenance fee and how it can be increased, the way the management of the resort is arranged, an exact description of the timeshare resort and its facilities and whether you have access to an exchange or resale system.
- This document should be written in your language provided that it is an official EU language.
- Many timeshare resorts operate with a specific management structure and many have a so-called trustee in place. It is important to read the timeshare club constitution if applicable, the rules of occupation and any other document handed out with the contract as they are an integral part of the timeshare contract. In these documents it is explained how changes can be made to improve the resort or club, how the annual maintenance fees are arrived at and how the financial management of the resort is arranged.
Please remember that any promises made to you at the point of sale must be included in the purchase documentation to be entirely clear that such promises are kept.