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Matthew Clark
Matthew Clark

How Do You Buy A Timeshare

You've probably heard about timeshare properties. In fact, you've probably heard something negative about them. But is owning a timeshare really something to avoid? That's hard to say, until you know what one really is. This article will review the basic concept of owning a timeshare, how your ownership might be structured, and the benefits and drawbacks of owning one.

how do you buy a timeshare

Legally speaking, a timeshare is a way for a number of people to share ownership of a property, usually a vacation property such as a condominium unit within a resort area. Each buyer usually purchases a certain period of time in a particular unit. Timeshares typically divide the property into one- to two-week periods. If a buyer desires a longer time period, purchasing several consecutive timeshares might be an option (if available).

Traditional timeshare properties typically sell a set week (or weeks) in a property. A buyer selects the dates he or she wants to spend there, and buys the right to use the property during those dates each year. Choosing a fixed date is especially appropriate if, for example, you always want to spend your birthday or a particularly holiday at the property.

Some timeshares also offer "flexible" or "floating" weeks. This arrangement is less rigid, and allows a buyer to choose a week or weeks without a set date, but within a certain time period (or season). The owner is then entitled to reserve a week each year at any time during that time period; subject to availability.

A major potential downside of buying a flexible timeshare is that, if you don't act quickly enough, you might find all the weeks that work for you reserved before you can get them. But if you need a bit of flexibility yourself, and can plan ahead, the flexible structure might still be best for you.

What kind of property interest you'll own if you buy a timeshare depends on the type of timeshare purchased. Timeshares are typically structured either as shared deeded ownership or shared leased ownership.

With shared deeded ownership, each timeshare owner is granted a percentage of the real property itself, correlating to the amount of time purchased. The owner receives a deed for a percentage of the unit, specifying when the owner can use the property.

This means that with deeded ownership, many deeds are issued for each property. For example, a condominium unit sold in one-week timeshare increments will have 52 total deeds when fully sold, one issued to each partial owner.

An important aspect of shared deeded ownership is that it normally comes with the right to sell or otherwise transfer your timeshare to another. But this feature also make them pricier than shared leased ownership, as discussed next.

If the timeshare is structured as shared leased ownership, the developer retains deeded title to the property, and each owner holds a leased interest in the property (similar to a rental tenant). Each lease agreement entitles the owner to use a particular property each year for a set week, or a "floating" week during a set of dates. Your interest in the property typically expires after a certain term of years, or at the latest, upon your death.

A leased ownership also typically places more restrictions on property transfers than a deeded ownership interest does. This means as an owner, you might be restricted from selling or otherwise transferring your timeshare to another. That's why a leased ownership interest can often be purchased at lower cost than a similar deeded timeshare.

To offer greater flexibility, many resort developments participate in exchange programs. These enable timeshare owners to trade time in their property for time in another participating property. For example, the owner of a week in January at a condominium unit in a beach resort might trade the property for a week in a condo at a ski resort this year, and for a week in a New York City accommodation the next.

If you don't have the full amount of the timeshare purchase price upfront, expect to pay high rates for financing the balance. Since timeshares rarely maintain their value, they won't qualify for financing at most banks.

If you do find a bank that agrees to finance the timeshare purchase, the interest rate is sure to be high. Alternative financing through the developer is typically available, but again, only at steep interest rates.

Although owning a timeshare means you won't need to throw your money at rental accommodations each year, timeshares are by no means expense-free after the initial purchase. A timeshare owner must also pay annual maintenance fees, which typically cover expenses for the upkeep of the property. These fees are due whether or not the owner uses the property.

You might recoup some of these ongoing expenses by renting your timeshare out during a year you don't use it (if the rules governing your particular property allow it). However, you might need to pay a portion of the rent to the rental agent, or pay additional fees (such as cleaning or booking fees).

Purchasing a timeshare as an investment is rarely a good idea. Since there are so many timeshares in the market, they rarely have good resale potential. Instead of appreciating, most timeshares depreciate in value once purchased. Many can be difficult to resell at all. Instead, you must consider the value in a timeshare as an investment in future vacations.

There are a variety of reasons why timeshares can work well as a vacation option. If you vacation at the same resort each year for the same one- to two-week period, a timeshare might be a great way to own a property you love without the high costs of owning your own home. (For details on the costs of resort home ownership see Buying a Home in a Resort Community: Pros and Cons.)

Additionally, some timeshares offer perks, such as the right to use fitness rooms and hot tubs. Some even offer on-site storage, allowing you to conveniently stash equipment such as your surfboard or snowboard, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of carting them back and forth.

And, the fact that you might not use the timeshare every year doesn't mean you can't enjoy owning it. Many owners enjoy periodically loaning out their weeks to friends or relatives. Some donate the timeshare weeks, as an auction item at a charity benefit, for example. has many resources that will help you determine whether to buy a timeshare. You can read all about the pros and cons of buying a timeshare, the differences between timeshares and hotel units, peruse our glossary of timeshare terms, and even ask questions of other members in our forums.

There are many different options available, and it can be confusing. If you want to travel to the same place each time, you should buy a timeshare at your favorite resort (you may want to rent a timeshare first, if you have never been to make sure it's what you want). If you prefer traveling to new places for each vacation, you might want to consider buying within a certain vacation club or timeshare points company. See our guides on Buying Hilton (HGVC), Marriott, and Hyatt - and watch for more brands to be added.

When you compare timeshare purchase options, you'll find that timeshare resales are typically priced 30 - 50% below the original price. On RedWeek, you can search for timeshare resales by location or resort name, or even browse by timeshare company affiliation.

After you buy a timeshare, you can learn even more about how to make the most of your purchase. Get involved in our timeshare forums to talk to others in the community about your week or resort, and bookmark our timeshare calendar for future planning purposes. And remember, you can easily rent your timeshare on RedWeek for any year you aren't able to use it.

While you will be financially responsible for keeping the timeshare property in good shape through annual dues, you will not have to personally handle maintenance or improvements. The timeshare company will do these things.

While many timeshare owners do enjoy their property (like the annual family vacation to Disney), there are many others who have said they were pressured into a purchase by salespeople during the initial tour, and are now trapped in an expensive ongoing obligation. Here are some of the risks of purchasing and owning a timeshare.

In reality, many people do finance the purchase, and the market offers opportunities to pay less than the full price for a resort vacation. You can also quickly look up vacation package costs on any of the main travel booking sites to get an idea of what you would pay for a desired location without purchasing a timeshare as a comparison.

Timeshares do not retain their value, let alone increase in value. If you want to sell your timeshare on the secondary market, you will be competing with people who are practically giving their timeshares away. According to the Association of Vacation Owners, an independent advocacy group for timeshare owners, there are millions of timeshares available on the secondary market.

Another possibility is that the points required to use your timeshare during your preferred dates could change from year to year. For example, the developer may reevaluate point requirements annually to shift demand away from high-vacation periods and increase incentives for low-demand periods.

One of the best ways to learn how to buy a timeshare more affordably is by browsing the timeshare resale market! Reliable, secondary online marketplaces allow you to browse available inventory, find an advertisement that best matches your needs and budget, and complete the entire sales transaction from your computer, smart phone, or tablet. When you use, you'll even have access to our independent timeshare experts who can assist you through the entire process!

At, we're proud to offer a vast inventory of timeshare resales not found anywhere else, available to you at deeply discounted rates. Our collection of properties feature many top brand and resort names that deliver the highest quality vacation and ownership experiences. We also give you the ability to search by points or weeks, unit size, or high-end amenities and resort features to ensure you find the timeshare that meets all of your wants and needs 041b061a72


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