In order to make an educated decision on purchasing a timeshare, understanding the fees associated with timeshare ownership is a must. The problem is, hundreds of thousands of consumers don’t. Like many great sales organizations in the travel industry, timeshare presentations intentionally leave out the details regarding fees and accessibility while distracting attendees with “what ifs” and “free” rewards. They know exactly how to tap into desires by using misleading benefits that persuade listeners into making long term agreements. Their goal is to get you excited about vacationing with them, not necessarily what can hinder your enjoyment. This leaves many feeling like they’ve been taken advantage of when their experience doesn’t match the presentation. Getting billed annually for timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs (on top of their monthly expense) normally adds insult to injury.
But, before we dive into some of the bothersome details, let’s talk a little bit about what maintenance fees actually entail. Every property management company incurs management and maintenance costs that need to be paid for. If you look at the fine print, every timeshare contract includes a section detailing timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs. Although this might bother some timeshare owners that assume this is accounted for in their payment plan, they don’t have to look far for an initial roadmap. Similar to residential mortgages, homeowners have additional expenses that they’re responsible for.
What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees Similar to?
The most relevant example of timeshare maintenance fees would be the HOA (Homeowners Association). If someone is considering buying a home in an HOA neighborhood, they’re required to pay the annual fee. At the same time, most home buyers understand that this type of cost isn’t included in the mortgage. Moreover, they tend to value an added expense that preserves the quality of the entire neighborhood they’re paying for. In other words, HOA fees are accepted and approved by the residents that choose to live there.
What Does an HOA Entail?
Although the city may have some say in regulations, the subdivision is normally maintained according to the requirements of the community’s development team. The biggest contrasting factor is the simple fact that HOA residents are able to attend routine meetings and even play a role in what transpires with their funds. When it comes to assessing HOA costs, they normally derive from management salaries, community swimming pools, parks, landscape and other features. Payments are placed in an escrow account and used for routine maintenance, when repairs come up and during strategic developments for the residential community.
The Difference Between the Two
Timeshare companies validate maintenance fees by making similar claims. The thing is, they get to decide where money is spent and how much you pay them. Aside from the fee being quite larger than an HOA, they almost always hold the power (or right) to increase the maintenance costs at any time. When it comes to fee increases, there isn’t really much clarity behind why they’re charging you more and where it’s going to be spent.
Timeshare companies don’t need your input in order to deem something repairable – they just do it. They make it a point to remind you that you chose to purchase a share of their resort and it’s your responsibility to maintain their premises, that you signed up to enjoy. The biggest difference between HOA costs and timeshare maintenance fees is transparency. It’s hard to really know where your money is going.
Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees Being Used?
What can be troublesome for most timeshare owners is the fact that some resorts aren’t properly staffed and the upkeep is unacceptable. Even if you feel like your experience is being hindered due to poor maintenance, they’ll point you to the contract. This causes many owners to complain about timeshare maintenance fees and demand that something be done. They feel like the money they’re spending isn’t matching their expectations.
Do you think resorts are interested in your opinion on financial planning when they’re cashing in? Do you think they’re going to do anything about your dissatisfaction when they know it’s nearly impossible for you to get out of a timeshare contract? It’s not their first rodeo. Timeshare owners have been caught off guard by maintenance fees for years. Unlike an HOA, the timeshare company isn’t held to a certain standard and has no obligation to provide anything outside of the bare minimum. Be careful when you complain because the resolution could end up including a hike in your fees.
The Revenue From Timeshare Maintenance Fees
When analyzing timeshare maintenance fees, it’s easy to understand how they can be used to build a new pool or repair one. It’s easy to understand that the landscape needs to be maintained and employees need to feed their families. It’s understandable that an emergency plumber is needed when the entire building is backed up or the hot water isn’t working. It’s even more understandable when renovations are required to improve guest safety. New bedding, upholstery, appliances, furniture, cleaning supplies, kitchenware and the little mints at the front desk cost money. We get that. But, does the amount charged align with the amount needed?
Timeshare owners should be less worried about what their fees go towards and more concerned with how much of their money is actually being used. Although timeshare maintenance fees have increased since Statistica completed their report, the average fee per interval for a U.S. vacation timeshare (in a beach resort) was $860. Looking back to 2012, the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) reported that the average cost for maintenance was $660.
How Much Do Timeshares Make on Maintenance Fees?
In order to create some simple math, let’s aim low and assume each resort charges every timeshare owner $500 per year for maintenance. According to the ARDA, the average timeshare consists of 131 units. This gives the timeshare 6,681 weeks to sell, while 1 week per year is dedicated to maintenance of the unit. If they’re able to fill 50% of these weeks with a timeshare owner (3,340), they could potentially cash in on $1.7 million annually. How much do you think it costs to manage and maintain the resort? One can’t help but wonder how much is being pocketed by the resort.
Instead of getting upset that $350 was added to your yearly maintenance fees for a pool renovation without your consent, realize the timeshare just deposited upwards of $1,192,100! I hope the pool now has a diving board and an option to swim with dolphins. Many timeshare owners are currently experiencing annual fee increases due to acquisitions. In some cases, maintenance fees are tripling even though nothing is being done to the resort. They’re simply covering the acquisition costs so they can get out of the red faster. Once you sign the dotted line, there isn’t much you can do to put a halt to the greed behind the timeshare industry.
Understanding the revenue focus of timeshare companies is normally enough for unhappy timeshare owners with unwanted properties to get rid of the contract altogether. Just remember, if you can’t sell the timeshare, you’re still going to be on the hook for monthly payments. Once you’ve made the decision to get out, make sure you’re allocating a reliable option.
The Long Term Cost of Owning a Timeshare
As aforementioned, most people buy into the whole timeshare ownership mantra without really considering the details. Timeshare companies know how to persuade people into believing that $250/month is ideal – Especially when vacations for a family of 4 have an average cost of $4,580 ($382 monthly cost per year).
The problem is, the $22,000 purchase price quickly turns into over $40,000 after 10 years with 15-17.9% interest. Not to mention the annual timeshare maintenance fees! The limited-time-offer that once seemed promising can eventually turn into lifelong regret and a lot of debt. These situations cause many people to make irrational decisions. When timeshare owners become desperate to find a worthwhile solution, they’re often bombarded with pressure sales pointed towards upgrade options. This is the last thing they need to do.
Owning a timeshare can be devastating when you aren’t aware of what you’re getting yourself into. Even when you pay off the contract, you’re still on the hook for timeshare maintenance fees for life. Many people wonder what happens if they simply stop paying for the fees. Unless you’re prepared to battle additional fees and a foreclosure-type-situation, we wouldn’t recommend it. What’s worse is that many timeshare owners seek relief only to be scammed. This only adds salt to the open wound that has yet to heal.
It’s hard to overcome the scars or financial ruin of timeshare ownership – but it can be done. If you’re struggling to keep up with payments or you’re tired of being held hostage by your contract, we’d love to help. We understand how resorts and predatory agencies take advantage of vulnerability and we take pride in providing a permanent solution that makes sense. Every single one of our clients have successfully gotten rid of their timeshare. Stop wondering if someone can help you eliminate your maintenance fees. Our ability to cancel timeshare contracts is unmatched in the industry and we stand by our promise.
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