Timeshares: Dream or nightmare?

Outer Banks beach house

If you enjoy spending time at the beach, mountains or anywhere in between, your options may include a hotel, resort or private residence. There’s also another option out there — a timeshare. Depending upon your vacation plans, it could be worthwhile to explore the costs involved in becoming a timeshare owner, and whether it could turn out to be a dream vacation or an investment nightmare.

A timeshare may offer an affordable alternative to vacation homeownership. It is a one-time purchase for a fixed amount of time at a vacation property. After the initial purchase, annual fees are due to help with renovations, upkeep and management.

A potential drawback is that you may find yourself locked into a fixed amount of time and location every year. Also, there may be very little investment return and timeshares can be difficult to resell. Be aware that many timeshare opportunities require you to attend a property orientation with the promise of a free gift at the end. These orientations often involve high-pressure sales tactics.

If you’re interested in purchasing a timeshare, keep these things in mind:

  • Make sure the resort is somewhere you would enjoy going each year.
  • Look for signs that the property is properly managed, and that you like the amenities offered, such as organized children’s activities, swimming pools, etc.
  • Determine if the property is part of an exchange company. With an exchange company, owners may “bank” time at another resort for an additional fee.
  • Make sure the property is registered as a timeshare under the state’s timeshare laws.
  • Be sure to consider all costs. Many timeshares have maintenance fees billed as separate accounts.

Be sure to read and understand the terms of any timeshare purchase since they vary from property to property. Most importantly, do your research. This is your vacation — and the last thing you want to do is lose sleep over it.

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