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What You Need to Know Before Buying a Timeshare

Rather than booking a hotel room, some vacationers plan their destination based on the location of their timeshare. A timeshare is a unit in a vacation property that you purchase the right to use each year.

Each year, you pay for the right to use the timeshare, regardless of whether or not you take a vacation.

Depending on your contract, you may own the timeshare for a specified number of years or for the rest of your life. Some contracts allow you to trade your timeshare so you can visit a variety of destinations.

The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips before you buy a timeshare:

  • Be careful of high pressure sales tactics and incentives. Some resorts give you a free night’s stay at their resort or other special offers if you agree to listen to a presentation. Sales personnel at the vacation property may create a sense of urgency or tell you the deal is temporary.
  • Take time to consider the costs and do some research. Remember this is buying real property, like your home.
  • Ask questions about the property. Talk to current timeshare owners, and investigate complaints with the state’s attorney general and Better Business Bureau.
  • Review the contract away from the property, and have the contracts reviewed by someone who is familiar with contracts and real estate law.
  • Make sure the written contract includes any verbal promises and benefits.
  • Consider the total cost of the timeshare, including the mortgage, interest, property taxes, and maintenance fees, which typically increase every year.
  • Ask about your ability to cancel the contract. Most states allow you to cancel the contract within a certain time period. This may be spelled out in the contract. If you decide to cancel the contract, do it in writing, via certified mail and return receipt.

Learn more about buying a timeshare from the FTC.