Timesharing, as a lodging concept, started in Europe in the 60's but is experiencing a resurgence today in the form of vacation cubs. It's a pretty simple practice where property owners or developers offer a fixed unit along with a fixed date or interval to occupants.
The buyers are essentially paying a fraction of the actual cost of the vacation property in order to use it during the same period each year. It's like purchasing the right to use the vacation place instead of straight up owning it.
How Does Timeshare Work?
Share Deeded Ownership
A shared deeded ownership constitutes a percentage share of the physical property, with respect to the time period (typically in weeks) that you purchased. This signifies your occasional but limited control of the property.
Share Leased Ownership Interest
In share leased ownership interest, the property owner or developer retains the deeded title while the buyers are granted access to a specific vacation space for a fixed or floating week/s annually for a certain number of years as opposed to "fractional ownership" of the lot.
What are the Types of Timeshare Ownership?
A timeshare contract is available for a fixed week, floating week or points based timeshares. The key points and advantages of each arrangement are broken down below:
A fixed-week timeshare will grant you the right to exclusively use the vacation property for a set week/s every year. The obvious downside here is that rescheduling your annual vacation will be difficult under the arrangement, if not impossible.
The floating-week timeshare is the more flexible and desirable option for any timeshare owner. Instead of being reserved for a fixed week each year, you will get to own the property for a "floating week" within a predefined period or even throughout the year.
This makes planning so much easier, although you're still at risk of losing out on your preferred week if you're booking during peak season when other tenants that share ownership are possibly just as inclined to take their break.
Point System Timeshare
Points based timeshares are a little more complex and sometimes uneven when it comes to opportunities. This arrangement is what you'll normally find in a vacation club where members purchase points instead of a specific week or location.
The points can be used to make reservations at a variety of properties owned by the club or timeshare network. On the surface, this arrangement seems to offer the most flexibility. However, point allocation and access to some properties are notably contingent on the size of your ownership and the level of membership you have. Therefore, you're still likely to face unique limitations.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Timeshare
Timeshare contracts can be more cost-effective than booking traditional accommodations depending on your lifestyle and the arrangement you've signed up for.
Even the choices are quite abundant since condominiums and resorts are typically part of the timeshare network or the timeshare company itself. Needless to say, owning a timeshare can be quite rewarding in its own way.
Advantages of Timeshare
- Resort-like amenities and services
- Standard and quality are consistent across accommodations
- A timeshare unit often has spacious rooms suitable for families
- May receive discounts on attractions and dining
- Familiar locations and activities
- Less commitment and financial obligations
On the other hand, the timeshare industry also has its fair share of challenges. In fact, being a timeshare owner isn't ideal for everyone. Some disadvantages that you might want to consider before taking on a timeshare agreement are as follows:
Disadvantages of Timeshare
- Ongoing timeshare cost (timeshare maintenance fees)
- Advanced reservations required
- Doesn’t suit last-minute traveling
- Destination options are limited to the timeshare program
- Additional fees might be incurred depending on the timeshare ownership program
- Timeshare owners tend to lack control and personalization options
- Timeshare resale can be difficult in a turbulent resale market
While there are clear advantages to buying a timeshare property, it remains important to thoroughly observe and carefully review terms and conditions relating to your timeshare purchase, especially if you are making this decision for the first time. If you feel like there will be more challenges than benefits, then you might want to consider traditional accommodations via Airbnb rentals and hotels.
Timeshare vs Airbnb vs Hotels
The comparison between timeshare ownership vs Airbnb vs hotels is not about finding the best accommodation service since any of the three has its own merits and unique selling points. What we're looking to do here is to provide you with relevant information that can help you make an informed choice based on your budget, lifestyle and ownership preferences or priorities.
As we've highlighted, timeshare is essentially about owning vacation properties in a fixed location and timeframe each year. There are also more flexible timeshare programs such as the points-based timeshare in vacation clubs. If you're new to the concept, you can learn of the additional advantages of timeshare ownership below:
Pros of Timeshare
- Offers a range of accommodations, including hotels and resorts with up to 3 bedrooms with complete kitchen facilities
- Accommodation across the world meets a certain standard (e.g., 4-star/5-star accommodation)
- Includes amenities like pool and gym, while others offer the provision of bikes, surfboards, kayaks etc.
- Timeshare companies and owners are being observed by the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) which highlights industry trends and foster community values.
Cons of Timeshare
- Availability of the accommodation may be limited under certain arrangements
- First come, first serve booking philosophy
- Ongoing costs can be significant, including an annual maintenance fee or .embership
- Bound to a long-term contract, reselling is difficult even in the timeshare resale market
Even with the pros and cons, timeshare rentals are a great way to experience a luxurious vacation in a desirable location even without full ownership.
Timeshare and Airbnb may have overlapping concepts, challenges and advantages, but they are also distinct in a rather simple way. The latter is essentially king when it comes to short-term rentals. There's also more flexibility with Airbnb than any type of timeshare ownership. With Airbnb, clients can easily book apartments, transient homes, condominium units and even tree houses for just a few days. No long-term or recurring commitment is necessary.
Pros of Airbnb
- Offers a range of different accommodations depending on your needs
- Flexibility, able to choose exact dates of travel
- Provide unique experiences
Cons of Airbnb
- Quality of accommodation isn’t consistent and can’t be guaranteed
- Mainly residential accommodation
- Generally no amenities
While Airbnb is the youngest accommodation concept on this list, it's also the most aggressive and accessible. There's also the unique charm of Airbnb vacation homes which are not simply offering a place to stay, but an experience.
Hotel remains the top choice for guests who would like to receive quality concierge and service on top of flawless accommodation. While booking can be needlessly expensive, hospitality companies often make up for it by offering various amenities and excellent service.
Pros of Hotels
- Guaranteed a minimum quality of standard for the accommodation
- Room is serviced
- Flexibility in booking
Cons of Hotels
- Price fluctuates according to demand
- Hotel room configurations are generally smaller, not family friendly unless you get a suite
- No kitchen facilities
Aside from being service-oriented, hotels tend to have a lot of seasonal activities and offers to entertain guests. The booking process is also very straightforward and the establishment itself requires little to no additional obligations from guests. Thus, making it relatively effortless to simply enjoy your stay.
Do Timeshares Ever Get Paid Off?
As long as you own timeshares, you are liable for ongoing maintenance fees. Thus, you never really "pay off" your timeshare like you would with a mortgage or loan.
How Long Does Timeshare Last?
Agreement of a timeshare is generally for the long term, between 20-99 years, unless you sell out all your shares and move on. It's important to check the terms of your contract right from the start to ensure that you are able to entertain what is possibly a lifetime commitment.
Can You Walk Away from a Timeshare?
You cannot walk away from a timeshare since you are obligated to pay annual maintenance fees. What you can do instead is to look for an owner who might be willing to take over your timeshare. However, this is easier said than done since the timeshare reselling market is often complex and unpredictable.
Can You Sell Your Timeshare Back to the Resort?
Resorts may offer a take-back option for timeshares, but as an owner, you shouldn't expect to make any type of compensation for this process. In fact, you're essentially returning the right to the property in order to free yourself of further commitment in the form of maintenance fees or property taxes.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Timeshare Property
The best way to make the most out of your vacation property is to take advantage of the space and yearly allocation you get from it. This means you can go on scheduled trips yourself as you originally intended, or you can consider renting your property if you can no longer if you cannot make the trip. This way, you're at least able to collect some income to offset the annual maintenance fees.
There is also an option to sell your vacation ownership if it becomes harder to keep up with the arrangement for whatever reason. The one thing you don't want to do is walk away from the timeshare without properly unloading it because such negligence can severely impact your credit score. Nevertheless, don't forget to bookmark this page in case you need to review your options for future timeshare transactions!