Are Timeshares Worth the Money? - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

I’ve heard good and bad things about timeshares. I’ve heard they’re a huge waste of money. I’ve heard the opinion that revisiting the same spot year after year is just a dumb way to vacation. Then again, I’ve vacationed with people who have a timeshare, and in their opinion (and mine, quite frankly), timeshares are THE BOMB.

All opinions aside, are timeshares a sound financial investment? The high-pressure sales tactics often used to sell timeshares have given timeshares a bad name. On the other hand, why would so many people buy into timeshares if they’re not worth the money? Let’s take a look at how timeshares work and the fees and costs involved to find out if a timeshare could be a good purchase for you.

Types of Timeshares

The word “timeshare” has a few different meanings. Let’s talk about the differences between deeded and non-deeded timeshares.

Deeded Timeshares

According to Vacation Timeshare and Rentals, in a deeded timeshare, the owners have actual deeds recorded in the county where the property exists. It’s kind of like buying a home, but you only have access to that home for a specified period of time each year. You can sell the timeshare, rent the timeshare or even will it.

Non-Deeded Timeshares

A non-deeded timeshare is more like a rental agreement. Non-deeded timeshare owners don’t own any actual property, but they may have a lease, license or club membership to use the property for a specific amount of time each year for a specified number of years (or permanently, depending on the timeshare they buy). This type of timeshare can often be more flexible than a non-deeded timeshare. Since you’re not necessarily buying into a specific property, you could have the opportunity to visit another resort location.

Fees and Costs

So what the heck does it cost to own a timeshare? Is it comparable to buying another house? Well, the cost varies due to things like the length and frequency of your visits and the type, size and age of your property or membership. Here are the costs you’ll need to cover if you’re buying a timeshare.

Buy-In Costs

First thing’s first: You’ve gotta buy your piece of paradise. According to SmarterTravel.com, the buy-in price can be “as low as $5,000 or as high as $350,000.”

Maintenance Fees and Utilities

You’ll most likely have to pay an annual maintenance fee, which covers things like taxes, insurance, repairs, upkeep and staffing. BudgetTravel.com says that annual timeshare maintenance fees typically fall somewhere between $450 and $750 a year, but this can also vary widely.  I’ve heard of maintenance fees as high as $2,000 a year!

Occupancy Charges

You may also have to pay an occupancy charge for the time you’re actually spending in the timeshare. This could cover things like housekeeping, room service and other services that you charge to your room.

Travel

Unless your timeshare is a clubhouse in your neighbor’s backyard, you’ll probably have some travel costs. Whether you have to budget for gas or airline tickets, you’ll have to make some kind of yearly allowance for travel to and from your location.

What Happens If You Want Out?

Real estate is generally a good investment, but timeshares aren’t your typical real estate. What happens if you want to get rid of your timeshare?

According to LearnVest.com, the value of your timeshare will most likely decrease sharply after you purchase it. Even if it’s in a super sought-out location, the constant increase in the supply of timeshares means that the properties are less in demand and more likely to depreciate in value. In fact, LearnVest.com likens the purchase of a timeshare to the purchase of a car: “You may get a lot of use out of it over the course of twenty years, but it won’t be worth much once you try to sell it.”

Are Timeshares Worth the Money?

Well … like many things in life, it depends. A timeshare is a poor investment, but if you’re buying your timeshare only because you want to enjoy a yearly vacation, it may make sense for you.

Before you buy, do all the research you can. Get the numbers on buy-in costs, maintenance fees and anything else you’d be expected to pay. Figure out if you’d really be saving money over what you’d pay for a comparable yearly vacation in the same area. Ask as many questions as you can, and don’t allow yourself to give into the high-pressure sales tactics that are commonly used by resorts – even if they do offer you a free TV.

If you do decide that a timeshare is the right option for you, think about buying one secondhand. Make timeshare value depreciation work in your favor by buying from an owner rather than a developer. If you play your cards right, you may just walk away with one heck of a deal!

Do you own a timeshare? Are you thinking about buying one? Contact a Home Loan Expert today! Or share your experience with other Zing readers in the comments section below!

This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading the article and the discussions. I did not purchase a traditional “timeshare” but the concept is still the same. I purchase a “club” membership with a resort when I was in Jamaica on my honeymoon.

    I just wanted to share my experience with hopes that others will be knowledgeable. If you are approached by sales persons for a timeshare, club, etc. remember, they are there to get you to sign/initial on many lines.

    They want you to make a right-now decision. I am normally one who likes to take some time to make a decision, especially one that could cost thousands of dollars. The pitch will sound awesome, a chance to travel to exclusive resorts and receive the benefits of being a member. In our instance, we started with breakfast (to soften us up) and told us to just have an open mind. We were told that there never had been an offer like this before. During the sales pitch, they offered me drinks. I did not really drink, so I cannot blame it on the alcohol.

    There was a high-sales lady who was very persuasive. She know what to say and how to say it. If you have to make a right now decision, say NO. They will start off with high numbers and ever if you still say no, they will keep pushing. They may come with another offer and if you say no to that, they will offer you the “lowest” package. Remember, their job is to get you to say “yes.”

    Let me reiterate, do not make a right now decision, say NO. Take the free gifts and leave; in fact, RUN. If this is a opportunity for you, then it will come around again.

    So, why would others say “Yes”? Well, perhaps they have the money or know how they can use it as an investment. Others may have given in to the pressure. Either way, during the signing stage, you will find that the sales person did not tell you the complete story. Some details will be left out, such as u must take that vacation in a year and a half. You are NOT obligated to sign, but at this point, you feel, well, compelled to do so. After all, you will be helping that new sales person earn a commission to support their family. Just walk away!!!

    I imagine that most contracts have a Buyer’s Remorse Clause when may prevent you from getting out of what you just signed. For some, you may can cancel. Once I signed and initialed on the lines, I went to read reviews. Boy, that was a mistake; it make me feel as if it was the worst decision that every made and on top of that, I spent thousands of dollars in doing so. If you can, read the reviews before you meet with them. This will give you more questions to ask.

    Okay, so here is what you will not get told. The free gifts and perks are nice. That aside, you will have to paid 20% of the price of the membership (This was our case). On top of that, you will have to pay a closing cost. I did not want to put the money on my credit card, which they do a hard credit check. So, I though I was out of the woods. Well, they told me that I did not have to pay with my own money; they would “loan” me the 20% and the closing cost. Guess how? Well, they will opened up a credit credit account for me and gave me 6 months (We were told that we could ask for an additional 6 months if needed; well, not sure if I believe that one). So now, we have another credit card (debt), a loan (more debt) and two hard credit inquires; now, my credit score will drop.

    Let’s talk about the loan. Well, we were given 5 years to paid it off. The monthly fee for the loans is in addition to the credit card that we have to pay off. So now, we have two more bills to pay.

    Be mindful of the interest on the membership. I would suggest you say “NO!” but if not, be sure to ask questions. Ask them that if you pay for 5 years, how much would you end up paying? Ask them about membership costs. How much would that be over the cost of the membership. Think long term, not short term.

    I am not sure if you took the time to read this entire note. Some here are a few summary points: If you do not vacation often (at least once a year) then timeshares/memberships may not be for you. If you cannot afford it, they ARE NOT for you. Please DO NOT make a rush decision. Take some time and do your research. Though some say yes, majority say NO.

    In our case, we have to book at least half a year in advance to have a chance to get the time that we want, at least that is what we read. Now that we have it; we will try to make the most out of it.

    I hope this helps. If it feels wrong, say NO!!

  2. You DO NOT want to buy a Marriott Vacation Club property. We purchased a timeshare in Las Vegas for about $19,000 in 2008. The timeshare is now worth less that $5000 and Marriott claims a marker downturn. As far as points, Yes, you can redeem you Week for Marriott Rewards points but they charge $134 to do so and they will deny the use of points for any reason. (e.g. late on Maintenance fees or disputed Loan payments). AND, and at the end of your loan (if you received one), they will not apply your last payment to principle and interest but instead to other fees and charges they wish to collect. STAY AWAY FROM THIS SCAM !!!! It is nothing but a money pit, and you would do better saving the money for the times and places that you actually wish to travel..

    Marriott Vacation Club Owner for 10yrs.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience! Hilton is after me to buy into their program, however I prefer Marriott properties so I just requested info about their vacation club. Once it arrives, I will definitely read it with a wary eye.

      1. I love timeshares but before you buy look at e-bay to see what they are selling for and it is worth. And buy it there Do not get involved with “webuyselltimeshares” it is scam.

  3. Timeshares can work for some people but it requires managing. Not everyone can afford their own full time condo so a week’s worth in a nice vacation spot, while not a bargain can be doable. Flexibility of trading for a different location also can be attractive. Sure you can rent hotels anywhere, but usually more expensive. Know what you are getting; read the fine print. Don’t always take the first offer, or the second! Do-overs can be very hard!! Or impossible.
    Billw

  4. We have been owners with our timeshare company since 2009. We initially did the cheapest option available, which was for every-other-year. The cost would impact us only minimally. The maintenance fees are high. But the flexibility of being able to vacation in so many different locations around the world, plus knowing in less than 10 years it will be paid for minus the maintenance fees and will serve our family well made sense to us. In 2013 we upgraded to a 2-bedroom unit for our growing family. The additional points, the sign-on bonus, and just the overall comfort of knowing we will always have a vacation to look forward to in luxurious accommodations was just too good to pass up. We enjoyed the trip of a lifetime in 2016 on Maui. Everyone’s situation is different; don’t write off timeshares because of the bad rep they seem to have. Do your homework and you just may end up with one sweet deal that will provide years of amazing vacations for your family.

    1. Everyone’s situation is different. It sounds like you’ve had a great experience with your timeshare. It’s awesome to hear you’ve really enjoyed your vacations. Happy travels!

  5. Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess
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    enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing.
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    I’d certainly appreciate it.

    1. Hi Gerard:

      My biggest tip is just to write every day or every other day on the blog. Whatever your topic, people will come faster if you write good stuff on a consistent basis. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

  6. I recently attended a presentation by Hilton, and it was completely different from one I’d attended previously. According to the salesperson, I’d basically own the deeded property because they must have a location on the deed, but I’d be able to travel wherever I want whenever I want until my points run out each year. There are no additional points required based on location. For example, the same amount of points would be required to go to Orlando, FL as would be required to go to Montego Bay, Jamaica. The only difference in points would be based on whether you travel during peak, mid-peak, or off-peak seasons. It sounded like a really great deal, but in the end, I chose not to buy because I felt pressured to make a decision that day and not have at least 24 hours to think about it. This would have been ideal since I was actually staying in the resort where the presentation was held. They gave me an amazing offer, but alas, I had to make a decision right then. That didn’t sit well with me so I walked away. Does anyone have experience with Hilton’s “non-traditional” timeshare experience?

    1. Yes. Saleman are always pushy, but this was my third meeting with timeshare companies and I turn the last 2 down. I bought at Hilton in Orlando, because I felt it was better then the past products, I was presented. I like the fact that they have the 45 day list of places to go that won’t affect your points, and give you the option to book a vacation at only 249.00. Its meant for people looking for that quick getaway but you need to reserve it with the 45 days allotted. I bought at the lowest price point. And since we vacation every year, my wife and I were satisfied.

  7. I do not know if it’s just me or if psrhaps everybody else encountering poblems with your site.
    It appears as if some oof the text in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please
    comment and let me know iif this is happening to them too?
    This may be a issue with my browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Fred:

      I would recommend loading in another browser, but if you could tell us what browser you’re using so we can look into it, we would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

      Kevin Graham

  8. Timeshare good: know where you will stay for the most part, reduced cost when you have a family because you can pack less, launder and cook some of your meals as you wish, instead of sharing one room in traditional hotels…you have two separate…so some privacy, tax right off..similar to if you own a home, you can gift it or rent it to friends or family,

    Timeshare bad: locked in to one place or company…if you end up not liking the accommodations there is more cost to upgrade, it really isn’t a deal beyond prepaying for your vacation. Once an owner, they try to treat you like a cash cow…nickel and dime you for everything. The sales people are there to earn money, its their job… are you buying or what??? Now you bought it…it’s yours…that’s what you bought. Any additions will be a cost to you??? Ready to pay???

    The real deal: make sure you see the accommodations you are buying. Don’t just look at the blue print. Compare the blue print to the actual room before you sign. If they are unwilling to have you compare the blue print to the actual, don’t buy…you are being hoodwinked. They will show you one thing and have you sign for something that is below par…their worst room…with overused and broken down furniture. Once you buy…you are stuck and will have to keep paying out money to upgrade…that’s where the biggest rip-off is.

  9. My wife and i have been timeshare owners since 2001. We purchased a week in December for VA Beach to begin with. This was merely to get our feet wet. We had a lot of good use of that timeshare for exchange through Interval International. We hardly used it for the resort we purchased it from. As time went by, and our family grew, we started looking at timeshares in other areas. We had plenty of sale pitches that we went on, but never felt it was time to upgrade. We later upgraded our timeshare in Va Beach to a May week in a newer resort and my wife and I love it as a get-a-way time for just us. We later purchased one in Williamsburg after the kids came (2, girl and boy) and since our daughter married and have four kids, we upgraded to a 4 bedroom unit in Williamsburg. My wife and I have exchanged many times out, we have been to Vegas, Florida, California, Hilton Head, etc. The four bedroom we use as a family vacation and its big enough for all of us. We did not purchase for an investment perse, but we wanted to have comfortable accommodations for our vacations. Our kids are spoiled and often comment when for some reason they have to use a regular hotel. I am saying all of this just to say that I think its worth it if you use it. We own two now and are quite happy with them. I have thought of purchasing a vacation home, but then you are tied to that particular spot every time and you lose the flexibility or opportunities to visit other locations. I have to admit, it does take a lot of planning, but it also encourages you to vacation. I am about to retire and am looking forward to Hawaii! We are quite happy with our time share at this point. Thanks for allowing me to share.

    1. Great to hear that you are happy with it. We purchased a Williamsburg timeshare yesterday and already have buyers remorse. I can cancel within 7 days but am doing some research. How hard is it to trade to visit another location?

  10. I quite like reading through a post that can make men and
    women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

  11. Why not just use the money that you were going to use to buy a timeshare and instead, save that money over a ten year or twenty year period to buy an actual home that you would like to visit in that area where you want to vacation at??? Timeshares are a waste of money and your time, also according to some research that I conducted, timeshares will be a thing of the past very soon, meaning that most of these companies selling timeshares will resort over to only renting out their spaces, and will no longer be offering timeshares, something for you to think about. I am a millennial and I can tell you that we are not looking at buying into timeshares, because there are much smarter ways to use your money instead of giving it up to someone who wants to make money on me and many other people buying the same unit or space each year. I would rather have something that I can truly call my own and not pretending to be my own. In short JUST DON’T DO IT.

    1. If u spend the money saving for 10 ,twenty years you end up still spending the same money in fact more because rates go up every year spend it with a home u own it and have to pay con ed and other bills and for a vacation home in what ever location bound you travel to that one location only. so if u chose to travel esle where u still have to pay additional money for a hotel and what if u still want to travel within the same ten years u saving for the vacation home u will be still paying even more over time vs paying off one set price and vacation to your location yearly or evernother year base on your deal for the rest of your life your kids life and your family plus theirs ways to make money from it if u don’t travel that year and if u want to travel some where esle you can and pay the exchange fee that is still cheaper than the avarage cost to stay at a basic hotel over a 5 star resort all the time that u feel safe and comfortable so it’s a good thing if your a person who plan to travel regardless at least once a year it’s an opportunity to save in the long run on money u were going to still spend idk about you but an extra 300/600 in my pocket saved sound good to me kinda a no brainer but you shouldn’t be trick into it if the numbers is to much and going to cost u more than you would spend in the same time fram and forth then it’s not for you you would be wasting your money

    2. We purchased a time share for one week in Aug., prime time, 10 years ago at Breakers Resort in Dennisport., MA., it was a great decision. I grew up in New England and moved to the Mid-west so this has been a fabulous way to visit New England and Cape Cod for 10 years. The amount of money we spent for this wonderful vacation every year would never be enough to own a home on Cape Cod over a 10 year period as someone suggested in an earlier post. Our timeshare sleeps 4, has a patio, kitchen area and den, and walking distance to the beach. The cost over all
      Has been much less than staying in a one room hotel/motel or renting a cottage. Be aware that the cost of hotels, motels, and cottages Sky rocket every year.

      For years prior to purchasing the time-share I would spends days and weeks
      Trying to find a cottage on the internet to rent for a week on the Cape, never knowing what the place would REALLY be like once we got there.
      After too many disappointments with cottage rentals we took the chance and purchased our time share and certainly never regretted going to the same place every year which is within walking distance of the ocean. This resort is continually updating furniture And the grounds which is also a nice feature. Our maintenance fees have not gone up consideraby in 10 yrs . So for us it has worked out extremely well. The only drawback that i can speak of is the cost of flights and the fact that we are getting older now, we do have the option to rent or sell it also.. Be sure to ask all these questions before purchase, and get it in writing!

  12. Almost got into one in Cancun with a hotel resort for 20 years. Seems like a lot but after 10 years we would have paid it off and vacationed for another 10 years just paying the maintance fee of 1200.00 a year. This would be for 2 weeks a year, no black out dates and as long as you book 30 days in advance you are pretty much guaranteed a room. You can also use it at their other locations and through RCI plus another website that has deals. Oh, also this was an all inclusive timeshare that gives you points so that the points never devalue in money, that is what they said. My only fear is what if this resorts sells and no longer honors our timeshare. Any one has any advice on that aspect?

  13. I am looking at this right now in Australia. A lot of timeshare resorts became available between 15 to 30 years ago and now many of the original buyers want out because they don’t holiday as much (getting older) and can’t justify paying the annual management fee ($500-$700 per week purchased). Can pick up a lifetime timeshare for between $1k and $2k for 1 week a year, which seems a bargain – certainly compared to what these people paid originally (between $5k to $20k). BUT….. that annual and inescapable management fee is a bit of a noose around one’s neck and one must consider whether you could rent somewhere nearby for a week for that anyway. On the positive side, you can trade your week for other resort locations and also take advantage of ‘bonus weeks’ that let you rent at other resorts for really good low rates (when they are available).

    Still confused!

  14. We have a timeshare and the maintaince/membership fees is close to 1k. We try and use it for other locations but nothing great comes up and our week it is a time in november. it truly has been a waste of money. We got suckered into it basically.

  15. We bought one last year, and after running through all the numbers, fees, etc., we figure that what we’ve bought is a guaranteed 1800 sq ft resort room at about half price. The longer we keep it, the less the “per year” price is going to be, but — and here’s the thing — it’s never going to be for nothing, and too many people think otherwise.

    I just think you have to be doing it NOT as any sort of investment but as a discount off vacationing at that place. Too many people think of it as a real estate investment. If you couldn’t afford to vacation at that resort anyway, then you probably aren’t right for that timeshare.

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