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Beware of the Timeshare Trap!

Updated on May 6, 2012
The Wyndham Lake Tahoe Timeshare
The Wyndham Lake Tahoe Timeshare
Inside the room
Inside the room

Timeshares allow you to buy into a specific vacation resort location, then compete with everyone to get the time period for your vacation. They are real estate and you can pass it along much like a house after death. The accommodations are five star and includes everything but food and cost of getting to it. Sounds good?

Well. the trap is a snare. There monthly maintenance fees, which vary. There is your mortgage payment of several hundreds of dollars. The real problem is using the allocated points when you want to because if the resort is popular, good luck. Even if you have over 300,000 points to use, they are useless if you cannot get a room at the resort you want when you want to go.

The other snare is that timeshares seldom work out well. The reason is that in order to get the room at the place you want when you want it, you must book it 9-12 months in advance of your annual vacation. For a majority of people, this simply is too far out in advance for a variety of reasons. Of course, you can cancel up to 30 days in advance. Still, even if you have a timeshare within driving distance from your home, the process remains and aggravating.

Out timeshare seldom gets used for precisely this. Planning so far in advance is difficult. When it does work, the stay IS wonderful but there is a surcharge for maid service. Many owners try to rent the points out, again, this seldom ever works on various levels. Trust is the main one. Advertising online is easiest way but also the most uncertain. There are many scammers out there and then there is the worry about damage they might do.

Many owners try to sell it. What happens is, it is they that are ripped off. Many companies are in Florida, many will advertise it the unit to rent or sale for an upfront fee of hundreds of dollars. Many times, they do not post it or have no way to communicate after the money is exchanged. The same situation applies when selling it. A legitimate real estate person can sell the timeshare and like when they sell a house, take a commission if it sells, NOT before. But RE agents avoid timeshares, there is no market. Selling to a stranger online is precarious at best.

Now, there is a new fraud, transferring the title to they company. One company, Transfer on the Spot, will take over the ownership of your timeshare to relieve you of this horrible debt and waste of money for only $4000. Some have tried this and after a year, the title was still not transferred, but the upfront payment was. A timeshare owner really must be desperate to unload it to pay this amount when it only costs $200 to legally transfer property title.

Even after you own your timeshare, keep in mind, you will always have monthly maintenance fees amounting to $1-200 a month. For some, timeshares are great, but by the time you calculate how much you have paid every month for it and the length of your stay 1-2 weeks max., you will see there are far cheaper ways to have a vacation.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      We learned the hard way.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Good advice..thank you.

    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago

      Oh, one thing that will be the ultimate screw in owning timeshare, most are not pet friendly. That was a mistake made that really has made it useless. So, if you always want to take your dogs on vacation, avoid a timeshare.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 5 years ago

      Timeshares are not a trap to those who know what they're getting once they sign on that dotted line. Traveling around the U.S., we have been to many places because we have a timeshare plan that does not limit us to one place. If we wanted to, we could travel beyond the U.S. Plus the fact that planning our vacations ahead of time allows us to save. I am grateful to find timeshares that are clean, where I feel safe, and I have staff to help me find the destinations that I am interested in. All timeshares in our plan also have kitchens so we don't have to spend all our vacation money on eating in expensive restaurants. We don't have to wait a year. We can make arrangements at other motels and hotels right away. If you are looking to sell right now or complain that you don't like planning ahead of time for your vacations, you did not do your research or ask the right questions in the first place. These days, timeshares are of no value and attract all kinds of ways for fraud, but it's all usually targeted for those who want to dump their memberships and real estate. For whatever reason, as long as you keep your timeshare, complain to others, and don't use what you have, you are screwed. You are already wasting your money. We take full advantage of our timeshare and make it work for us. We budget. We continue to travel and meet plenty of wonderful people because we plan. So like a lot of people, we have no regrets owning a timeshare, but you certainly do.

    • bankscottage profile image

      bankscottage 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Nice Hub. We own some timeshares, Marriott and Wyndham. I agree with you. They can be costly, they are not an investment and they are not easy to sell.

      I have gotten a little better at using my timeshares. Wyndham uses a point system and you can reserve various size units for anywhere from 1 or more days. It doesn't have to be the same size unit you purchased or for a week at a time. It doesn't have to even be at your resort. You can make reservations at other Wyndham resorts (based on availability as you point out) right on their website without going through the exchange companies. I have reservations for Sedona and Flagstaff in a few weeks for 2 days at each. I like to use the Wyndham points to go to conferences for work if there is a Wyndham timeshare in the area. These national conferences are scheduled several years in advance. There is one in the fallin DC and I will stay at Wyndham Old Town Alexandria (saving hotel expenses).

      To me, Marriott seems to have higher quality units compared to Wyndham. Marriott now has a point system and it is far more flexible than the week options of old.

      Timeshares are expensive to purchase from the developer. They can be bought for pennies on the dollar on eBay. Understand though, if you buy them on eBay, you may not qualify for the special programs and options available to buyers through the developer.

      Marriott seems to be more owner oriented than Wyndham. Marriott does have a resale program (I have used it) that can take years to eventually sell your unit, but you will get a much higher sales price than eBay. Also, selling through Marriott will keep your buyer eligible for all of the programs and owner perks. Wyndham does not have a resale service so once you have a Wyndham timeshare, you can be stuck with it.

      There is another option to get rid of an unwanted timeshare. You can donate it. Not every charity will take it but you can use Donate for the Cause (check out their website). They are very reputable. I have used them. It will cost some money, but less than $4000. They can appraise your unit. And, you will be able to get a charitable deduction on your tax return for the value of your unit plus many of the fees that you pay to Donate for the Cause. At least you get something and you do get rid of the timeshare.

      I am figuring out how to use my timeshares to my advantage. I hope to get even more use out of them when I am retired and my schedule is more flexible. They are costly to purchase and costly to own. Occasionally there is even an extra assessment to cover some unexpected maintenance or upgrade. But I am getting used to vacationing in condos. I really like it when we bring our adult children with us and can get a multibedroom unit.

      Good hub. Voted up and useful.