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Are Timeshares a Waste of Money?

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Posted on February 17, 2023

When it comes to timeshares, the “are timeshares a waste of money” question always seems to come up. Whether it is sellers asking after they have already bought a timeshare, or prospective buyers wondering as they research their options, debating whether timeshares are a waste of money is a consistent topic.

The answer may surprise you, especially in a timeshare blog for a company dedicated to successfully matching up sellers with buyers. So, let’s delve into this more closely.

Do People Regret Buying Timeshares?

couple on computer paying bills

Sometimes the answer is yes, but the reasons behind any buyer’s remorse are complicated.

Let’s face it – with the development of points programs, the industry has made the product more complex to use for the sake of more flexibility. Gone are the days of buying your favorite fixed week of timeshare straight up at a resort, unless it is a single-site, legacy resort with the odd week for sale.

Add to this a lack of resort follow up and basic training for the owner to fully understand how to use the product and it leaves owners confused at times.

I remember when my uncle bought a timeshare in the early 2000s. It didn’t take him long to conclude that he made a mistake. It wasn’t until I explained how he could use his timeshare through exchange services to vacation in numerous places throughout the world that he fully embraced the product.

Now he loves it. 

The timeshare industry itself shares some of the blame on this one, since some resorts are more focused on making a sale than fully answering a buyer’s question to their satisfaction.

However, with all that said, the truth is this really boils down to whether the owner uses the product on an annual basis.

Timeshares are a use product – a lifestyle investment as the industry is fond of stating – but the value of a timeshare is in the vacation experience it provides, frequently in a larger condo-style accommodation with higher quality resort amenities than your standard hotel.

Just ask the typical Mom and Dad whether it is great to have their own bedroom with a separate bedroom for the kids when on a family trip? Or having a separate living room to relax between heading out for meals or trips to the theme parks?

Owners who say their timeshare is a waste of money can usually trace their discontentment back to their lack of use. Those who use their timeshares on a regular basis are very happy with the product, which we explain later in the article.  

Why are Timeshares not Worth It?

couple using computer to find good deals on timeshares

Who says timeshares are not worth it? Oh yeah, the internet. But to be fair, some owners think timeshares are not worth it because of the initial money spent on the purchase. This is where the online resale market is crucial.

Most timeshare owners are introduced to the product through resort marketing programs and, therefore, buy a timeshare through resort sales teams. The average price of a week’s worth of timeshare bought at the resort is now over $24,000 according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). Compared to prices seen on the resale market, there is no comparison.

Resort prices include marketing costs and sales commissions that are recouped by the resorts through their sales. This can be as high as 55 percent of the resort retail price of a timeshare. Resale prices do not include these costs because buyers purchase directly from an existing owner and not from the resort, so those commissions and costs are no factor in the resale transaction.

Even at a 50-60 percent discount, timeshare resales can be even lower in price depending on the specific resort or program. This adds up to thousands of dollars in savings, but many owners are unaware of the savings until after they have already bought into timeshare at the resort.

Hence, the feeling that they may not be worth it. But it really comes down to what you own, how you bought and whether you use your timeshare on a regular basis, as previously discussed.  

For instance, take the Disney Vacation Club. DVC units can easily go for $500-$600 a night to rent. A week in early May for a Deluxe Studio at Disney’s Old Key West Resort in Orlando goes for $488 a night plus tax through the Disney website. That’s $3416 plus tax to rent for the week.

For a Disney points owner, it would cost them 78 points for that week. Those points would go for about $115/point on the resale market, or about $8970 for the necessary number of points and they can be used each year for another 20 years on the contract. That averages out to about $448 for the entire week per year. Even adding in the maintenance fees, the price lifts to only $1178 for the week – substantially less than the rental rate.

Disney owners would say their timeshare points are definitely worth it.

Is a Timeshare Ever a Good Investment?

couple sitting on beach at their timeshare resort

The key term here is the use of the word investment. As mentioned earlier, the industry likes saying that timeshare is a lifestyle investment – to highlight the intangible benefits of vacations but also to deflect from the belief that it is a financial investment, which it is not.

Timeshare was initially sold by many developers as a financial investment, similar to the way traditional real estate is sold. But it didn’t take long to notice that timeshares didn’t hold their value, similar to the way cars lose value when driven off the lot.

The answer is in defining the benefit of the product. Recent studies around taking annual vacations show that people who vacation regularly are healthier than those who do not take vacations. This impacts physical, mental and relational health, which supports the lifestyle side of the issue.

If timeshare buyers assume that timeshare is a good financial investment, they will be disappointed. But if they value the experiences and family-bonding benefits of consistent, annual vacations, they will see the investment in their own health and family relationships is worth it.

Are Timeshare Owners Happy?

happy older couple in pool at their timeshare resort

Overall, the statistics say yes, timeshare owners are happy with their product. The fact that about half of new sales made at the resorts or through club programs are made to existing owners shows that owners are happy with the product, or they wouldn’t be buying more timeshare.

According to the 2022 State of the Industry report from ARDA, the average occupancy rate for timeshares was 73.1 percent compared to the hotel occupancy rate of 56.4 percent, showing that owners are using their product in significant numbers. Keep in mind that these numbers reflect 2021 averages, which was a difficult year for travel due to the lingering impacts of COVID-19.

If owners used their timeshare in such numbers in the midst of travel uncertainty, they must really want to use their ownership. Traditionally, pre-COVID occupancy hovered around 80 percent annually so the numbers are quickly approaching their pre-pandemic averages.

ARDA restated last month that 90 percent of timeshare owners are happy with their experience, with 84 percent open to buying timeshare again. These are extraordinary numbers which, even if slightly embellished, still show a considerably positive outlook from owners to their timeshares.

Being happy about a product you purchase usually comes down to a couple of factors, not the least being the amount of money paid for the product. Value for money is an important indicator, and that is where the resale market has an essential role.

As mentioned in the earlier Disney Vacation Club example, the amount paid for the timeshare can be a big factor in whether an owners feels as though the purchase is worth it. Even at resort retail value, the Disney owner would see the benefit compared to the rental rates. But so much better if bought on the resale market.

Because timeshares vary significantly depending on the resort and the program, as well as owners' ability to use it every year, gauging whether it is worth it is a personal decision. If an owner’s financial situation has changed since the original purchase, they may feel as though it is a waste of money to keep it and look to sell their timeshare.

The best way to determine whether your timeshare is a waste of money is to speak with a professional. Try not to let your emotions influence your choice, since you may be surprised as to how much your timeshare is actually worth and its likelihood of selling on the open market.

It costs nothing to contact our licensed timeshare resale agents, so why not reach out to us through our Contact Us page or give us a call on 877-624-6889. That way you’ll have the facts necessary to make an informed decision regarding your timeshare ownership.


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Steve Luba
Chief Communications Officer

Steve manages the public relations and content creation efforts of the company. Previously the Chief Operating Officer for Perspective Magazine, he provided oversight and contributed articles for the five regional vacation ownership trade magazines under the Perspective Magazine banner. 

A contributor for industry publications such as Resort Trades and Developments Magazine, Steve Luba has 36 years of experience in various roles in radio and television, sales and marketing, public relations, media and government liaison initiatives. 

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