More than 10 years ago while vacationing in Florida, I was given an offer that I could not refuse. “Come to this FREE two-hour seminar and you’ll get two-FREE tickets to Disney World and two-FREE tickets to Universal Studios.” Back then, tickets to both Disney World and Universal Studios were approximately $60 per ticket. I’m a sucker for FREE stuff. I was one of the first people in line at the seminar. It turned out that this was no seminar. It was a high-pressure sales environment for timeshares. At the time, I had no earthly idea what a timeshare was. All I knew was that the sales representative wanted me to pay $15,000 for the right to have access to a condo for one week out of the year, every year. Even back then with absolutely no knowledge of timeshares, I thought this was one of the silliest concepts ever conceived. Today, I know it is.
A timeshare is the name given to piece of real estate where a number of individuals share ownership in the subject property. A timeshare is a right to use or occupy one or more units on a periodic basis usually one or two weeks out of the year. Timeshare properties can often be found in destinations where people like to vacation.
A timeshare is the worst real estate purchase you can ever make. They’re overpriced. The interest rates on these deals are as high as credit cards (17 percent). Unlike most real estate purchases that go up in value, the value on timeshares decreases. There are maintenance fees, property taxes and other hidden fees associated with owning timeshares. To make matters worst, once you figure out you’ve made a bad purchase they’re extremely difficult to get rid of. Timeshares have gotten such negative press over the years that shrewd marketers of timeshares are selling them under different names such as vacation clubs. With industry giants such as Disney, Hilton and Marriott now in the business of selling timeshares, timeshare ownership is growing rapidly. More than 4 million people around the world own timeshares. Timeshares are the fastest growing segment of the travel industry.
Below is what savvy marketers pitch to unsuspecting buyers of timeshares and the truth about timeshares:
The pitch: You can vacation at your home resort or exchange your weeks for time at another resort.