The old adage is that a picture is worth 1000 words, and surely a word like summertime elicits even more than that. Palm trees, sandy beaches, cut-off shorts, kids running out of school throwing papers into the air, and, of course, condo rentals and timeshares in exclusive vacation spots.
Buying a vacation home, though tempting, isn’t an attainable option for most people. While in a poor economy, people look for affordable options for vacations, and timeshares are often one of those avenues. Buying a vacation timeshare is a cheaper alternative that thousands and thousands of people take advantage of each year.
The problem: Timeshares do allow you to escape some of the big expenses of owning another property, but, despite common belief, owning a timeshare is in no way like renting a hotel.
Timeshares often include mortgage payments and other expenses, like property taxes, maintenance fees (which can rise on a yearly basis), closing costs and travel expenditures, just to name a few. The BBB suggests taking these tips into consideration before buying a timeshare or vacation interval.
Evaluate the location and quality of the timeshare. You want to do business with a reputable company in a location that you can see yourself visiting often in the long-term. Check BBB Business Reviews for information on timeshare companies at BBB.org.
Understand not just the benefits, but the obligations of buying a timeshare. Though the cost may be lower than buying a second property, it does not mean that additional costs don’t exist. There are maintenance fees and property taxes on every timeshare sold.
Read and understand the contract before you sign. Be aware of cancellation policies and other fees. Ask someone who has experience in real estate to read the contract to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.
Always cancel in writing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests that when canceling a purchase, you should always send a letter through certified mail with a return receipt request. That way, there is documentation of the interaction.
Be cautious of buying outside of the United States. If you buy a timeshare with a company that operates outside of the US, they do not have the same obligations, and you will not be protected under US law.
To stay up to date on the latest consumer alerts, visit www.cencal.bbb.org/bbb-news or call 1.800.675.8118.