Buying a timeshare
Us Brits have long had a love affair with the dream of a place of our own on a foreign shore or a holiday property here in the UK, but for many of us the cost of purchasing our own property or the value we would get from it is prohibitive. The beauty of timeshare is that you buy annual usage rights to something that you have specifically chosen. Everyone has their own reasons but typically:
- You have fallen in love with a particular resort/location and wish to return often
- You wish to take advantage of larger accommodation and excellent facilities but not at typical hotel prices
- You like the style, service, facilities and ethos of a particular resort developer and wish to explore the company’s portfolio through its vacation club
- You recognise the value in purchasing future holidays at todays prices and wish to take advantage of the ability to swap and adapt those holidays over time
Resorts now offer trial memberships and short-term ownerships from as little as three years up to 20 years with prices ranging from £3,000 to £20,000 with yearly maintenance fees of £250 to £800.
Types of Timeshare
The traditional model of timeshare is to buy annual usage rights for a set number of weeks a year often in the same property. Your week may be fixed in which case you visit at the same time every year or floating which gives more flexibility to visit during different seasons. Most resort developers also have a good portfolio of property that you can swap your home resort with should you wish. You do not have an ownership interest in the real estate.
2. Points Club
Points are the ultimate in flexible timeshare and act rather like currency allowing you time at various destinations. The number of points you own determines what, where and when you can go. You could still choose to use your points at the same resort/week every year, or allow them to build up and take more time in any given year, take a few less days in a more expensive resort or use them to buy a luxury experience like a safari or a cruise.
Popular in the US and gaining success in Europe, fractional ownership is closer to real estate than timeshare. Short-term ownership is rarely offered and schemes are usually freehold with leases of 50 to 99 years. Owners have a direct interest in the value of the asset so will benefit if there is any appreciation of the property value along with having all the advantages of a management company taking care of the property. The other attraction of fractional is sharing your property with far fewer other owners, commonly the property is sold in quarters up to 1/12th shares.
The mechanism for exchanging your timeshare was quite revolutionary when it was introduced and works well if you prefer not to stay in the same place every year, or have enjoyed your timeshare but now fancy a change.
You will need to join a holiday exchange programme such as RCI or Interval where you deposit your ownership week and it is assigned a trading value depending on the rating your week/ resort is given. You then have access to a vast network of resorts and holidays across the world and can also use your exchange points to book flights, car hire etc. Each booking is usually subject to a small one off exchange fee.
Long term holiday clubs are not the same as timeshare. Although they share similarities such as an upfront fee (in this case a joining fee) and refer to a points system, they are usually a way of passing on discounts for various services during your holiday rather than securing accommodation. The operators are usually not the resort owners and many of these discounts can be obtained by searching the internet and without joining the holiday club. Check whether the company you are dealing with actually owns its resorts.
Here are our 5 top tips when buying a timeshare
Do your homework! Much research can be carried out online before you with sites like this one which will inform you on whether timeshare is right for you – be aware that timeshare is NOT a financial investment – you are buying future holidays at todays prices and the value is in this – just like a car the product will decrease in value rapidly should you wish to sell – unless you have a limited item that is hard to come by!
Visit a timeshare resort yourself. You can take advantage of the developers ‘inspection visit’ which are usually excellent value for money but this will entail you sitting through an (often lengthy) presentation. You can of course choose to travel and stay independently where you can view all aspects of the resort in your own time and arrange your own meeting with the sales team where you can dictate how long the meeting lasts.
Check your purchase documents. Ensure that any promises made to you when you are at point of sale are actually included in the purchase documentation and check your paper work carefully. Your rights and obligations including details of annual maintenance will be included along with resort management arrangements, owners’ committees and of course the mandatory 14 day cooling off period.
Check that the resort is a member of the industry trade body, RDO (Resort Development Organisation) as its members have to sign up to the RDO code of ethics so you have recourse if you have any issues with your sale or exit. Click this link to search for RDO Members.
Do not feel pressured into buying! It is easy to get swept up with the excitement and emotion of making such a life changing decision but it is one you should carefully consider and no-one can force you to buy – if you are not 100% sure allow yourself to pause and reflect. The opportunity will still be there!
Timeshare resale companies: Only deal with the reputable ones
As existing timeshare owners get older, they are sometimes not as able or willing to travel and use their timeshare property. Time in these properties is then put back onto the market and is available to purchase through specialist brokers, sometimes at a discount.
This area of broker-enabled timeshare sales has attracted some disreputable companies and so it is vitally important to identify and deal only with the good guys. Thankfully there are 3 such companies to choose from, all based here in the UK: Confused about Timeshare, Travel & Leisure Group and Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket.
So before we explore how you can buy a timeshare from these 3 companies, a spot of due diligence. Each of the 3 companies above has voluntarily applied for, and been accepted into, membership of the Resort Development Organisation (RDO), the trade body for the timeshare industry.
You can see these 3 Resale Companies listed in RDO membership here. Each member of the RDO must comply with the industry Code of Conduct with penalties for failing to do so. The RDO works with European and national governments to create fair legislation to safeguard consumer interests and to encourage the positive development of the industry.
If you are ever unsure about any company you are thinking of dealing with in the timeshare industry, check them out online with the free Timeshare Task Force or call them on 01202 832012. This service is UK Trading Standards approved and completely free for consumers.
Timeshare resale companies: A world of opportunity and a buyers market
The 3 timeshare resellers, or brokers, we have listed on this page are based in the UK with at least 15 years of experience in matching sellers with buyers. They have a lot of potential inventory, given that timeshare exists in over 100 countries and at over 5,000 resorts.
You can buy timeshare direct from resort owners, of course, but the resale brokers claim to offer substantial discounts on buying through them. Timeshare is a very flexible product and there are many options available, so do read all the paperwork carefully and ensure you make the right choice for you.
As in all things, do your research before you buy and read widely on the subject. A good place to start is by visiting each of the 3 RDO Resale members dedicated ‘Buying Timeshare’ guides on their websites, you can read these via the links here:
Timeshare resale companies: What to pay and your security
Purchase cost, broker fees & annual maintenance
Owning a week in a timeshare ranges between several hundred to tens of thousands of pounds, it all depends on what you want. To be added to this cost is the brokers transaction fee (usually ranging between £200 – £300 per week) and the resorts annual maintenance costs, which vary by luxury & location.
The industry, in Europe, has been governed by EU Law since 1997 and this was upgraded in 2011 to give consumers higher levels of protection. The law now also covers resale companies and includes a mandatory 14 day ‘cooling-off’ period’ after purchase in which buyers can cancel their transaction and receive a refund. You can read more about your timeshare statutory rights by visiting the RDO website here
The role of Trustees in supporting you
A trustee company is an independent 3rd party appointed by the resort owner to represent and protect timeshare owners during the purchase and ownership process.
Their responsibility is the legal and financially-compliant ownership structure which provides consumers with protection. Trustees also hold resale monies in a protected ‘escrow’ account until all the contract paperwork is completed to all parties satisfaction.
Make sure you ask for a full description, often called a ‘Disclosure Statement’. The contract should set out your legal ownership rights and obligations at the resort, the services provided and details of the management company and your management fees.