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7 Timeshare Tips Every Consumer Should Know

Considering a timeshare? Follow these tips from a timeshare expert

By Lisa Ann Schreier

Whether you just want more time and opportunities for travel, or you're planning an active retirement, you may be considering timeshare as a vacation option. These tips from a former timeshare salesperson can help you make good personal and financial decisions about timeshare, and avoid making a spontaneous purchase that you'll regret later.

7 Timeshare Tips Every Consumer Should Know

  1. Don't believe everything you hear. That includes Uncle Mark telling you that timeshare doesn't work because he was never able to trade to go anywhere else (perhaps because he owned in Kansas?) and the salesperson telling you that you'll always be able to trade at anytime for any place.

    Location is key…if you want trade or exchange into different locations, especially high demand areas including Hilton Head in the summer and the French Alps in the winter, you need to own in an area that has high year-round, global demand, such as Las Vegas or Orlando.

  2. Avoid anyone, especially a salesperson or sales manager who uses the words free, perfect, always and/or never. Generally speaking, if things seem too good to be true, they are.
  3. Do your homework ahead of time. Have some general ideas about timeshare and be truthful about how much you spend for vacation accommodations, such as:
    • In 2006 the average cost of a 2-bedroom timeshare was $15,500. Most, if not all timeshare resorts allow you to exchange or trade off to another member resort.
    • Location is KEY in determining how "good" any particular timeshare is…unless you are purchasing point-based timeshare, where location no longer factors into trading power at all.
    • Go back 2 or 3 years and determine how much you spend for your hotel/motel/condo rooms and include the hidden room taxes.
  4. Keep an open mind. If you are going to one of those timeshare presentations for the gift (dinner, cash, theme park tickets, etc.) or just because you are required to go in order to receive the discounted hotel room, do yourself a favor and at least go in with an open mind and let the salesperson do his/her job.

    On the other hand, if you have already determined that timeshare is not for you, for whatever reason, why waste your valuable vacation time by listening to something you don't want? After 2 or 3 presentations, you should be able to determine if timeshare is a good idea for you. If so, purchase one. If not, stop wasting your time!

  5. Don't purchase any type of timeshare as a real estate investment. Even if the timeshare is deeded, it should not be considered a financial investment but rather an investment in your future vacations. If you buy a timeshare today for $15,000, use it for the next 20 years and sell it for only $7,500 (half of what you paid for it), ask yourself how much you'll be able to get for your hotel/motel receipts over the same 20-year period.
  6. Don't assume anything. Many timeshares are deeded in perpetuity. Many are not. Many timeshares operate on a "points-based" system, and often those points are not inflation proof. Always ask questions and don't be afraid to say "no" if the product doesn't suit your needs or wants.
  7. Don't cave in to high-pressure sales techniques. High-pressure salespeople and sales managers are high pressure for one or both of these reasons: they are ignorant, or they don't believe in their own product.

    It's important, however, not to confuse high pressure with the fact that in all cases you will be asked to purchase on the spot. Focus on these points:

    • Do you understand the product?
    • Do you like the product and/or the particular resort?
    • If you had it, would you use it? Do you plan or intend to spend that amount of money "anyway" on vacations? (Note the word "plan." You can't predict the future of course, but you can and should plan.)
    • Focus on the long-term. In the short-term you will not be saving any money.
    • Compare apples to apples, when talking about cost and value. You may not be saving money even in the long term, but are you having a better vacation staying in a spacious 2-bedroom villa in a quality resort as compared to a 400 square foot hotel room?

    Lisa Ann Schreier is a former timeshare salesperson and the author of Surviving A Timeshare Presentation…Confessions From The Sales Table and Timeshare Vacations For Dummies.

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