Purchasing a timeshare can be an exciting time for those that have dreamed about vacationing every year. It’s easy for most to commit to a monthly agreement that seems to be cheaper than spending money on one-time vacation packages. But, they soon find out that additional expenses and fees easily push them outside of their budget while expectations typically don’t match the presentation. Aside from maintenance costs catching new property owners off guard, timeshare assessment fees can be maddening. Moreover, they can be devastating. Getting out of a timeshare may be desired, but the financial burden can handicap their ability to cancel the contract when they need to the most.
Unlike vacation rentals or travel deals, timeshare ownership leaves many feeling trapped. Once they sign the contract, they’re obligated to adhere to the terms they agreed to – even if the details weren’t ever made clear to them. As we’ve mentioned in other articles, far too many interested consumers are distracted by the value propositions of owning a timeshare and overlook the actualities that come with a purchase of this magnitude.
Know the Details Before Signing the Contract!
For whatever reason, timeshare sales presentations are so persuasive that many travelers don’t even research the opportunity before spending tens of thousands of dollars into the property. If they did, they’d quickly realize most timeshares have zero resale value. A large percentage of timeshare owners aren’t even aware that their financial commitment can drastically increase when repairs, damage or acquisitions occur. Misinformation is common in the timeshare industry. But, pointing fingers at unethical sales practices isn’t going to solve the problem.
At VOC, we take pride in helping potential timeshare owners understand what they’re getting themselves into before making the purchase. Educating current owners on the terms of their contract also allows us to help them find the best way to cancel their timeshare for good. So, before you call the resort to complain about unexpected expenses, let’s discuss the major differences between timeshare assessment fees and maintenance costs. Knowing what to expect will help you better navigate the muddy waters of timeshare ownership.
What Are Timeshare Maintenance Fees?
As we discussed in our previous article, timeshare maintenance fees are annual charges that go towards maintaining the resort and the operational costs of the property. If you’d like to see the resort invest more money in laundry services or to update the carpet, then the cost of these “upgrades” will eventually come out of timeshare owners’ pockets. For example, properties with excess greenery or golf courses use yearly timeshare maintenance fees to spread out landscaping costs. The amenities and elements of the resort that initially caught your eye during the presentation aren’t necessarily included in your mortgage.
Unexpected Maintenance Fees Are Unpredictable.
What’s worse, is that these yearly fees fluctuate every year depending on what the timeshare claims as maintenance. There’s no questionnaire that goes out to property owners asking for their opinion or input on decisions about the premises. At the end of the day, they can basically bill their occupants for whatever they want. What’s more concerning is that yearly timeshare fees continue to rise. A 10-year mortgage for $20,000 can easily become a $30,000 expense when you factor in maintenance fees. Keep in mind, this isn’t even including your interest rate (15-19%) and unexpected timeshare assessment fees.
What Happens When You Pay Off the Timeshare Contract?
Do you still think owning a timeshare is cheaper than your family vacation for four? What many don’t realize is that they’ll still be on the hook for maintenance fees once they’ve paid off their timeshare mortgage. Contracts don’t become expendable once payments are complete. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. As long as you’re under contract, you’re responsible for your share of property expenses. This is when a good number of timeshare owners begin thinking it might be a good idea to dump the timeshare altogether.
What Else Can Increase Maintenance Fees?
You’ll typically see a large increase in timeshare maintenance fees when an acquisition takes place. If the resort decides to transform the location into luxury suites, property owners are expected to quietly foot the bill. Similar to a new property management company gutting an apartment complex, the acquirer will say major changes need to take place in order for the resort to be profitable. In other words, they justify the increase with a few open ended promises.
Unfortunately, most don’t improve anything about the property and simply spread out acquisition costs through maintenance fees. A $500 increase for 100 rooms with 50% occupancy can generate them a quick $1.3 million in the first year. While maintenance fees can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, timeshare assessment fees can be substantial.
Explaining Special Timeshare Assessment Fees
Unlike maintenance costs, timeshare assessment fees are not annual expenses that you can anticipate (or save up for) every year. In most cases, these unexpected fees are sent out to timeshare owners after a natural disaster or extensive damage occurs to the property. Hurricanes, wildfires and volcanic eruptions have led to several recent lawsuits regarding timeshare assessment fees.
Instead of rolling out damage control or resort improvements over an extended period of time, most timeshare companies give their owners a few months to pay them hefty sums of money. Unless you’re up to date with everything going on at the resort, you’ll more than likely get blindsided by timeshare assessment fees. Some vacation owners are forced to hand over the deed to the property due to their inability to pay the fee on time. Losing the timeshare can be a punch to the gut, but dealing with collection agencies and a damaged credit score can be even more devastating. Failure to pay timeshare maintenance fees and assessment costs can even result in a foreclosure if you’re not careful.
What Can Impact Assessment Fees?
With an increasing number of owners legally cancelling their contracts or defaulting on payments, timeshare assessment charges have been used as damage control. When there is less money coming in, the resort needs to make up for the difference. The costs that timeshare companies deem “billable” isn’t going to change when there are less timeshare owners in the building. It simply costs every remaining owner more money to keep their share. At the end of the day, the resort’s board of directors has total control over what they charge their timeshare owners for.
Are Timeshare Assessment Fees Related to Maintenance Costs?
Similar to maintenance fees, people under contract really have no choice but to pony up the cash for timeshare assessment costs. The only time the two charges are related is when “special” assessment fees are issued because the revenue from maintenance fees wasn’t an ample amount. Whether fees are considered “required” upgrades (like a new pool during the offseason or improved telecommunications) or uncovered costs, timeshare companies will find a way to distribute the expense. Unfortunately, they have every right to do so.
Why Legal Timeshare Cancellation Makes Sense
By ignoring contract details during signing, many timeshare owners end up being held hostage by their agreement. Fees can end up doubling or even tripling their anticipated annual expense. This makes it easy to understand why ownership turnover is so high. A timeshare sold for $20,000 can realistically cost consumers $40,000+ over 10 years. Not everyone has this kind of money laying around. Either way, the timeshare profits at the consumer’s expense. Although some scams are obvious enough to lead to class action lawsuits, not all timeshare owners are presented with ample relief options.
Once disgruntled owners start to consider timeshare cancellation, hundreds of predatory agencies and con artists await their desperation. Attempting to find an affordable solutions more than likely puts them even further in debt. What seemed to be a small investment towards a great time can become a headache with no end in sight. Although many are stubborn about the purchase, a good number know what they have to do.
How to Get Rid of Timeshare Fees Altogether.
Whether your timeshare contract is paid off or you still own a mortgage, unexpected fees can be a nuisance. Most of our clients decide to finally get rid of timeshare obligations when the value of ownership doesn’t add up to the cost. Maintenance and assessment fees getting out of hand makes it easy to look for relief. The problem is, many wait until they’re in the hole financially to take action. It makes it very difficult for them to do anything at all. Walking away from these fees can also make matters much worse.
This is why we provide eligible timeshare owners payment options for our services, like $0 down and 0% financing. At VOC, instead of preying on desperation and over promising, we actually take the time to understand your situation. Paying for a timeshare cancellation service after spending thousands to own the timeshare may sound crazy, but the long term benefit is evident. In order to eliminate the fees associated with owning a timeshare, it’s important that you realize time is not on your side. The longer you put off getting out of the agreement, the more fees you’ll experience over time. Money saved is money earned when it comes to getting out of a timeshare.
If you think you are ready to legally cancel your timeshare contract we’d love to schedule a free consultation with you. Give us a call or fill out our form today to get the process started. We aren’t going to ask you for your credit card to simply answer your questions and have agents standing by to educate you on how our process works. There’s no need to worry about pressure sales or broken promises anymore. Take control of your situation, eliminate your timeshare assessment fees and become contract-free with VOC!