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Buying a Timeshare

Consumers have two choices when purchasing a timeshare. The first is the primary market, sometimes referred to as “new” timeshare and the second is the secondary (used) timeshare market.

Timeshare companies and timeshare resorts don’t advertise their timeshares in the same way as any other product or service. Instead, they rely on promotions and deals with the requirement that the consumer attend a sales presentation where they will be asked to purchase the timeshare.

Most consumers have seen these offers. Many times they are mini-vacations to a popular destination and also include theme park or attraction tickets. While at popular vacation destinations these offers may consist of cash. The cash, attraction tickets and/or hotel stays are not given out until the consumer concludes the sales presentation.

There are two key points to remember when faced with a buying opportunity:

  1. Do your research ahead of time. The sales presentation is not the time to educate yourself about timeshare. Come prepared with the questions you need answered.
  2. Don’t make impulsive decisions one way or another. You can also purchase timeshare on the secondary market, in most cases from an individual who is selling theirs.

While the prices on these timeshares will be less than what the resorts charge, it is important to keep in mind the points made above. While the timeshare may be cheap (in some cases you can find timeshares for as little as $1), it does not mean that you should buy it. The price-point may be an important part of the decision making, but make sure the unit, location and time of year is what you’re looking for.

It also is important to understand that an individual consumer selling a timeshare for $100 or $1 may not know how to use it to their benefit, or they may have fallen on difficult financial times. Most timeshare owners are very satisified with their timeshare and are not looking to sell.

So, how does a wise consumer do their research and educate themselves about timeshare before they’re faced with a buying opportunity? Here are 10 tips/suggestions/questions to ask:

  1. Do you plan on using your timeshare more for exchanging/trading or more at the home resort and do you fully understand how the system works?
  2. What are all the costs associated with the timeshare, how much have they increased in the past five years and can you afford them?
  3. What is the reservation system for using this timeshare? Most timeshares are not for people who plan a week ahead of time. In order to get the most out of a timeshare, you may have to make reservations a year or more in advance.
  4. Is the timeshare using a deeded or a right to use system and do you understand the implications of each?
  5. Don’t buy a timeshare for the extras being offered; instead focus on the timeshare itself and what it can offer you as a vacation alternative.
  6. Buy at a resort that is accredited with ARDA, the American Resort and Development Association if you are buying in the United States.
  7. Talk to owners at the resort either in person or online through blogs or other social media sites.
  8. Stay away from the following words: free, perfect, always and never. Free and perfect simply don’t exist and always and never are exceedingly long periods of time.
  9. Do not buy any timeshare as an investment. Although it may very well be deeded, it will not appreciate in value. Instead, think of a timeshare as an insurance policy for your future vacations---a vehicle that you pay for now to make it easier to go on vacation in the future. Think of a timeshare as a way to pay for your future vacations at today’s prices and something that will make it easier… both financially and planning… to go on vacations in the future.
  10. Finally, if you were told something by the salesperson or the individual selling it or anyone else, get it in writing and take your time reviewing all documents prior to signing anything.

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