Posted on February 18, 2021
So you’ve heard about timeshares from your friends, family members or maybe even co-workers and now you’re wondering how to find the best timeshare to buy. Maybe you’ve heard the pitch at the resort and now you want to know if it’s right for you? Let’s go through some of the essential elements for buying a timeshare so you can be as confident as possible that you’ve made the right choice.
What you enjoy out of a vacation can be the most important part of your decision to buy a timeshare. Take stock of what you like to do when you go on a vacation, since that will give you clarity for what you’re looking for out of a timeshare.
Do you enjoy beach vacations or are you more of a skier? Do you like to visit a particular place each year or you are looking for more variety in your vacation destinations? Activities are usually what drives a decision to vacation, since people think of a specific activity or destination before looking for accommodation.
Disney fans who love the Magic Kingdom and want everything Disney each year may look at Disney Vacation Club ownership. Aruba aficionados who love the spectacular beach could think of the terrific Marriott or Divi timeshare resorts on the island. Looking for a golf getaway? Myrtle Beach has more golf courses per capita than any other town in America – so that may “drive” your decision.
The good news is that many of today’s timeshares offer multiple destinations, and even the single site resorts can be exchanged for a different resort through exchange companies such as RCI, Interval International or 7Across. But you’ll want to narrow down the type of vacation that is most important to you because even the multi-site programs often operate on a home resort model. Your home resort location gives you benefits such as early booking windows that even other members within the same program don’t get for a given resort.
This speaks to the type of unit that you need for your family. One of the major benefits of timeshares are the sizes and the amenities of the units. Multiple bedrooms, living rooms, proper dining areas and full kitchens are the norm – as the two-bedroom configuration is without question the most popular type of timeshare unit.
The size of your family and their specific needs will determine the type of timeshare you own. If you want the ability to cook healthy meals and save on meal costs, then you’ll look for a full kitchen. Separate bedrooms for the kids allows for alone time for the parents. Good Wi-Fi service is a must, so check with the seller or the resort about the type of technology they use at the resort. Does the resort have elevator service? You’d be surprised how many timeshares, especially the smaller resorts, operate with stairs only for the second floor units.
The location of the unit can be a big deal as well. As many owners find out the hard way, oceanfront is not always the same as ocean view. And not all resorts in ski locations have ski-in, ski out service or are close to the slopes. Be as specific as you can when looking at timeshares or asking about the ability to book a specific type of unit if you’re considering a club program.
Many travelers have their preferred branded loyalty program due to frequent travel. It could be Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, Wyndham Rewards, IHG Rewards or a number of other programs tied to their hotel networks.
Just about every branded loyalty program has a connection to a timeshare component of the brand, so if you are a fan of a particular brand and want to know about their timeshare program you can contact us for more details.
Many brands allow for timeshare owners to use their ownership across their hotel network, so this can be a significant way to maximize your ownership. Plus, you’ll already have a comfort level with the product because of your affiliation with their brand.
This was touched on earlier but it bears repeating because it is so important. Most vacationers choose a destination before they choose their accommodation. Some think they want to go to a particular place because they’ve never been there before, only to be disappointed after their trip.
When it comes to timeshare, you’re pre-purchasing your future vacations at today’s prices – even better when you’re buying a timeshare on the resale market with the 50-60% discounts that come with resales. So you’ll want to think about your favorite destinations and how that will impact your future vacations.
For instance, if you love urban destinations such as going to New York City, Las Vegas or San Francisco you may want to look at a timeshare program that gives you those options. Need a dose of South Beach? Several brands have timeshares there.
Think about whether you prefer to fly to your destination or are you more of a drive-to person? Those living in New England may prefer a Cape Cod timeshare they can drive to each summer. Others love Hawaii and can’t wait to fly there during their favorite time of year.
With the club programs that are based on points, those point allotments can be divided up into shorter stays. If you prefer multiple long weekends to a drive-to destination compared to a week-long vacation, a points-based timeshare program may be better for you.
This question can often trip up a buyer since it can be difficult to determine a preference if you haven’t owned timeshare before.
At its fundamental level, it really depends on whether you would rather have a set time of the year at a specific destination or more flexibility in your choices. Using the Cape Cod and Hawaii timeshare references as examples, Cape Cod during the summer is obviously a popular time of the year, as is Hawaii over the Christmas/New Year break. If time of year in a popular destination is important, you may want to lock in a fixed week timeshare so you can be assured of your accommodation during that week every year.
With a floating week option, you can book your timeshare during a particular season or among certain weeks. This can be great if you need a more flexible schedule.
For points, this comes down to how often you want to vacation and whether you want multiple destinations from which to choose. The tricky part is that many owners in points-based programs request the same weeks, so it’s important to book as far ahead of time as possible for the most popular weeks and destinations. This can be 12-13 months out from your trip but it is well worth it.
If a specific week or time of year isn’t as important, points programs can be amazing value. Plus, the size of the unit is tied to your number of points, so an off-peak vacation can get you a larger unit for your points than perhaps using your points during peak season.
Ah, one of the most popular questions is what’s the difference between the two? Vacation club is a type of timeshare because you are buying into a program that lets you vacation in a great resort every year.
Timeshare tends to refer more to the fixed/floating week model within specific resorts, whereas a vacation club is more like a travel club where owners can choose from a selection of resorts within the program.
Many vacation club programs use a deeded home resort model where the buyer buys into a membership that is tied into a specific resort. You have an allotment of points and benefits tied into that resort, but you can also use those points to stay in other resorts within the network. Hilton Grand Vacations and Disney Vacation Club are two that operate this way.
Buyers can get so caught up in the unit and location that they can lose sight of what’s available at the resort. This can be a big deal for families looking for amenities like kid’s programs or onsite water parks. Others may want an adult-only resort, or look for an all-inclusive option that includes meals and drinks.
Again, think about you family’s needs or what you want out of your vacation. Is an onsite dive shop important if you scuba dive or snorkel? How about onsite water toys like kayaks or jet skis if you’re at a beachfront timeshare? Is an onsite golf course important such as the options available at Orange Lake in Orlando? Heck, it could be something as simple as whether they have a free shuttle to the Disney theme parks.
So if you’ve completed your internal audit of what you’re looking for out of a vacation, family needs, the location and the brand you want in a timeshare, then what?
The best option would be to contact a timeshare resale broker to do the searches for you and find the timeshare that is the right fit for you. Even if you’ve narrowed down everything, it’s still a time-consuming task to search the internet for the best deal.
Timeshare resale brokers are licensed real estate agents that have networks across the country and industry knowledge which can be invaluable in searching for a timeshare. Tell them what you are looking for and they can go to their list of clients or their networks to find just what you’re looking for. And at significant discounts compared to going directly to the resort.
If you have any questions, our agents would be delighted to go over your options with you in a no-obligation consultation. Give us a call at 877-624-6889 for more information.