Common questions asked about timeshare.
timeshare, timesharing, timesharingmadness, marketing, internet
Q:Who or What is TUG?
A:The Timeshare Users Group (TUG) is a web site operated by Bill Rogers and a group of volunteers who have a common interest in vacation timeshare ownership.
Q:I’ve read that this is a “not for profit” web site. Why is there a membership fee?
A:The membership fees pay for this site and all the associated costs of running the Timeshare Users Group ( phone bills, online fees, web site fees, domain registrations, postage, etc…..but no labor costs….we are an all volunteer organization.
Q:What are maintenance fees? And how much are they?
A:The cost of resort operation is spread among owners via an annual maintenance fee. The fee must also build up reserves to pay for non-recurring costs like furniture, appliances etc. that need periodic replacement and other capital costs as normal physical deterioration occurs. Cost is established by the developer or homeowners association. Caution: When a developer is in control, maintenance fees may be temporarily subsidized by the developer as a marketing tool while there is sales activity. After the homeowner association takes over, fees may quickly rise to unsubsidized levels.
Special assessments are sometimes added to maintenance fees to cover unexpected (non-reserved) expenses. These assessments are passed by the association board of directors. Severe storm damage would be an example where an extra assessment would apply.
Maintenance fees vary with the location and resort, but usually are in the $200 to $1000 per year range.
Q:Is buying a timeshare a good investment?
A:Timeshare ownership is an investment in quality vacations. Purchasers who buy a timeshare strictly for speculative reasons are usually disappointed as the resale market for timeshares does not appreciate as well or as fast as other real estate investments. As an investment in YOURSELF and your leisure time, a carefully researched timeshare purchase can be a good investment when compared to the cost of renting alternative comparable accommodations.
Q:If I decide to buy a timeshare, should I buy “new” from the developer or “used” as a resale?
A:All factors being equal, a resale from a previous owner or a resale company, will probably cost considerably less than buying direct from the developer. Deep discounts of 50% and more are not uncommon. There are instances where buying from a developer may be your only choice. Lack of a unit with the amenities, location or “extra” added programs like the Marriott point program might be a consideration to buy from a developer. Again, research your decision BEFORE you buy to secure the best deal for you. Where should you begin this research? I think you know the answer. Think “TUG”!
Q:Where is the best place to own a timeshare?
A:The answer can be as individual as each owner but the consensus answer falls into two categories based upon intended use.
If you intend to return to your resort frequently and exchange occasionally, your best choice is a resort you enjoy often.
If your primary intent is to maximize trade value and you do not intend to stay at your own resort very often, then you should buy at a resort which is in high demand.
While there is no single “best” choice, the current consensus of opinion says that Hawaii and coastal California are two easy choices that will produce top results.
There are many variables that would apply to any particular choice and a potential buyer is strongly advised to research factors that affect timeshare trade values before making a final choice. A membership in TUG that provides access to the resort ratings and reviews is an excellent place to start.
Q:Fixed week .vs. floating week ownership, what are they and which is better?
A:Fixed week ownership means that you have the right to occupy (or have available for trade or rent) a specific week and unit number at the resort you own every year.
Floating (sometimes referred to as flex) ownership means that even though you may be deeded a specific week and unit number, you have no use claim on that week or unit. Instead you have the opportunity to request a week within a specified range of weeks during the year. The range of weeks available for flex use is set by the resort and is the same range of weeks from year to year.
Advantages of owning a fixed week: You are guaranteed the week and unit you want every year (especially applicable to colder climate owners who want to vacation where it is warm in winter).
Advantages of owning a floating week: For those who are concerned about unforeseen work or schedule conflicts associated with a fixed week, floating time allows for additional planning options.
There are more implications with either type ownership especially as it applies to trading and vacation planning. A prospective timeshare owner is urged to examine the differences and make a choice to match the situation before purchasing.
Q:What is a bonus week and how can I get one?
A:The simple answer is that a bonus week is an “extra” week in addition to the one you own. It’s given or sold as an incentive to timeshare owners for a specific reason.
A Developer Bonus Week (DBW) is available to members who own at participating resort. These bonus weeks are issued directly from the resort. They are sometimes issued as a signing bonus upon the purchase of a timeshare interval . Owners can sometimes purchase them from the resort as unsold developer owned weeks.
A second type of bonus week is one issued by an exchange company. Owners of high demand resort weeks receive them as incentives to deposit their timeshare week.
Bonus weeks are sometimes referred to as “Vacation Escape” weeks, “Getaway” weeks (or weekends). They are available to members of exchange companies like RCI, II and SFX. The exchange company makes bonus weeks available for purchase by members for a nominal fee. Purchased bonus weeks are considered “excess inventory” likely to go unused. Excess inventory is determined by the historical number of deposits versus the number of requests for each particular resort.
Bonus weeks usually come with expiration dates and may have other use restrictions relating to location, season and holidays.
Q:Which exchange company is best?
A:This is a “Coke vs Pepsi” question but it may be a moot point. The resort you own is probably affiliated with only one exchange company. There are, however, a few resorts affiliated with both. Do not let the resort’s affiliation affect your decision to own or buy at the resort. Although there are preferences among people who have experience with both major exchange companies, there is no unanimous opinion that one is better than the other.
It should be noted that there are more than the two BIG exchange companies. TUG maintains a comprehensive list of timeshare exchange companies.
Q:If I deposit my week with an exchange company, does someone need to “take” it before I can request my desired week?
A:No. As soon as your week is deposited, you can request and get the week you want if it is available.
Q:I was contacted by company “X” offering to buy/sell/rent my timeshare for a fee. Can I expect them to do a good job?
A:Past experience by members and visitors to TUG have been unanimous in this regard. Never pay an upfront fee as a condition to buy, sell or rent your timeshare. This situation is probably the most common situation where an owner will probably be dissatisfied. ANY fee required before performance will probably be lost. These “fees” come disguised as “agent commissions”, “appraisal fee”, “advertising fee”, etc. etc. They all have one thing in common. The money is always requested before performance is complete. Some of the more notorious companies preying on timeshare owners desperate to sell their timeshare will have the words “bank”, “trust”, “investment” in their company title. This is in an attempt to instill a feeling of confidence in their target. Do not be a victim. Verify the credentials and performance of any company making this type of offer.
If necessary we strongly suggest dealing only with an agent who works on commission from proceeds of sale. Failing that, there are experienced TUG members willing to offer advice on the “how to’s” of selling your timeshare. Visit the TUG BBS and start asking questions.
Q:I am an RCI member. Can I transfer weeks to other RCI members?
A:Reply from RCI:
The form in the back of the RCI Directory, Membership Transfer Application, is mainly used for the sale of timeshare, but also for transfer of weeks. The most important parts of the document are the areas which indicate your account information, the week you want trasferred, and to what account it’s going to. As long as we have that information along with your signature, it should be taken care of. That information can also be listed in a signed letter if you prefer. Once the information is completed, you can fax it to us at 317/805-9335 if you wish. Hope this helps. Thanks for visiting our website. Darrin Goodwin, RCI Internet Team.
Q:Since a timeshare accommodation usually has more facilities than a hotel room, are there any additional items I should consider bringing on my timeshare vacation?
A:Most timeshare accommodations have cooking and laundry facilities. While it certainly isn’t necessary to pack anything more than you normally would for the typical vacation, some TUGGERS seem to be a different breed. Take a look at the A.R. Timeshare Checklist and then decide for yourself. (I’ll let you decide for what the “A.R.” stands for)
Q:Are there any tax advantages or disadvantages to owning a timeshare?
A:Good question. Since I don’t even do my own taxes, I’ll refer you to TUG’s expert Timeshare and Taxes advice page to answer your question.
Q:What is the downside to owning a timeshare?
A: * You must continue to pay the yearly maintenance fee, which can increase over the lifetime of the resort, whether you use it or not.
* You could be required to pay additional “special assessments” arising from unexpected costs of maintaining or repairing the resort.
* Some people feel that owning a timeshare requires excessive advanced planning in attempts to reserve a popular floating week or to obtain a good exchange week. Planning a timeshare vacation a year in advance is not unusual.
* The majority of concerns with timeshare ownership seems to center around dealing with cost and interaction with exchange companies. It’s often not the straightforward process the timeshare sales staff would have you believe.