What Should I Consider When Buying a Timeshare?

Ken Black

Buying a timeshare is a major decision that will allow for many years of enjoyment, but also come with the requirement of a big commitment. Still, with disposable income seemingly becoming less each year, the options for buying a timeshare have never been more open. As properties try to entice buyers, these flexible options may mean a timeshare is a good deal.

Many people like to buy timeshares by warm beaches.
Many people like to buy timeshares by warm beaches.

Traditionally, buying a timeshare was simply buying ownership into a property that you would use for a period of time -- a week, a month, or perhaps even longer, such as an entire winter. The time period and the property never changed. You would have the occupancy rights to that property the same time year in and year out. This is called a fixed week timeshare. For those who know their travel plans are unlikely to change and are content going to the same place each year, this may be an attractive option.

However, buying a timeshare vacation is no longer subjected to such rigidity for those who find that unacceptable. Floating timeshares offer the same property year in and year out, but each owner is allowed to reserve the property at a time he or she wants it on an annual basis, usually on a first come, first served basis. For those who may need some flexibility with their travel dates, this is something to consider when buying a timeshare. The downside, of course, is that popular dates are likely to fill up fast. To avoid the same people getting the same dates each time, priority of choice may rotate each year, or may be held by random drawing.

An option that has become an increasingly popular choice when buying a timeshare in recent years is the points club, or vacation club. In this arrangement, you own points which can be used at select resorts. The resorts can be at various locations and the lodging can be different sizes, depending on your needs. The points required for each vacation is based on where you are going and how large of accommodation you may need. This option has the greatest amount of flexibility, but is not truly a timeshare ownership in that there no ownership of actual real estate. Unused points can be accumulated, creating even greater flexibility.

Buying a timeshare can be a big investment in and of itself, but the simple purchase of the timeshare is only the beginning. Buying a timeshare means that you own that property and have occupancy rights to a certain time of the year. Even if you do not go, you still have that obligation, though it may be possible to lease your time to someone else. Further, there will likely also be maintenance fees associated with a timeshare not included in the purchase price. Understanding that beforehand, and getting a firm handle on all costs before buying a timeshare is critical.

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Discussion Comments


We were told that we make a yearly payment to the vacation ownership company and they pay them on our behalf.


It's too late I've already purchased, but I need to know if one has to pay taxes on their timeshares. I've got the point plan.

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