In 2017, timeshare sales volume hit $9.6 billion in the U.S. That’s a nearly 4 percent increase over 2016 and a 26 percent increase from 2013. But, even if people are buying into timeshares, it doesn’t mean they’re a great value. In fact, as a consumer, figuring out what a timeshare will cost can be a challenge. How much do timeshares cost? Many consumers will be surprised by the answer.
Understanding What You Are Buying
When you own a timeshare, you aren’t actually purchasing the property. Instead, you become one of many buyers who have a stake in the unit.
Timeshare owners buy “intervals” at a specific property. Each interval represents a certain amount of time, usually a week. If you purchase one interval, you “own” the property for one week each year. During that period, you can stay in the unit.
It’s important to note that not all units are sold in one-week intervals. In some cases, the interval is one-tenth or one-quarter of a year, but those aren’t nearly as common as those based on a week.
The Cost of a Timeshare Interval
For 2017, the average sale price of a timeshare interval was $22,180. In the vast majority of cases, this amount is due upfront.
However, not unlike buying a home with a mortgage, financing options are usually available. If that’s the route you choose, it’s important to understand that the interest rates are typically much higher than with a mortgage.
Even though a timeshare is a physical property, it isn’t one that you fully own. If you default on the loan, the lender can’t foreclose on the unit and resell it to recuperate their losses. Since the lender is taking on more risk in these arrangements that other loans associated with physical assets, the interest rate is usually higher to compensate.
On average, 10-year timeshare loans from the resort come with interest rates of 14 percent. However, borrowers with lower credit ratings or loans through specific lenders may reach closer to 20 percent.
If you finance a $22,180 timeshare for 10 years at 14 percent, you’ll pay $344 per month, or $3,440 a year, for the next decade. Over the course of the loan, you’ll pay over $19,000 just in interest. In total, buying the timeshare cost around $41,000.
If you end up with a 20 percent interest rate instead, you’ll owe $429 per month, or $4,290 a year. By the time you pay off the loan 10 years later, you’ll have paid nearly $30,000 in interest alone. That brings the total cost of the timeshare to around $52,000.
But that isn’t all you have to pay for with a timeshare. You’ll have to deal with maintenance fees too.
In 2017, the average maintenance fee for a timeshare was $980. While that may not sound like a lot of the surface, if you consider that most timeshare owners only have access to the property for one week each year, that’s an awfully high price to pay.
Additionally, it showcases precisely how much timeshare resorts make from maintenance fees alone. If every owner has rights to one week a year, that means the property can have 52 owners. If each of those owners pays that $980 fee, that’s a total of $50,960 per year, and that’s only for one unit.
With approximately 1,570 timeshare resorts in the U.S. and 205,100 units between them, the average U.S. resort has about 131 units. Annually, an average resort brings in an astonishing $6.6+ million in maintenance fees alone.
Unlike paying for an interval, maintenance fees are due every year. Additionally, this cost tends to trend upward, so maintenance fees almost always end up more expensive over the long run, not less.
It’s also important to understand that, while the average fee is $980, some maintenance costs are much higher. Some high-end properties have maintenance fees that reach $3,000 or more for one-week interval owners, which many would deem to be unaffordable.
So, How Much Do Timeshares Cost?
Based on the metrics above, while you are paying off a timeshare property and dealing with maintenance fees, the unit costs between $4,420 and $5,270 for a single interval each year. If you only get access to the property for a week (seven days) every year, you are effectively paying between $631 and $752 per night for the 10 years you are paying off the loan on the interval for the unit.
To put that in perspective, the average cost of a five-star hotel in New York is around $362 per night. In Florida, the average is $336 for a five-star hotel, and Nevada, the home of Las Vegas, comes in at $239 per night.
Plus, when you buy a timeshare, you might not gain access to features you would get at a hotel. While the units often have full kitchens, something that may help you save on meals, not all of them do. Additionally, benefits like a continental breakfast aren’t always part of the package.
Housekeeping may also be somewhat limited at timeshares during the course of your stay, and you could be responsible for specific tasks like taking your own garbage to a dumpster on the property or putting used dishes in a dishwasher on your last day. While this isn’t always the case, you have to read the fine print to make sure. Otherwise, you could be stuck with a fine for failing to adhere to the rules.
Concierge-style services can also vary, so the amount of support you get from the organization operating the timeshare property may not rival area five-star hotels either.
Cost Over Improvements
Now, once you spend a decade paying off the timeshare loan, the cost per night at the timeshare does drop to $140, based on current average maintenance costs. However, that amount will likely increase every year, and you may not see any amenity offerings improve over time.
Ultimately, the cost of a timeshare is usually significantly higher than paying for other forms of accommodations, at least during the time you are paying off the loan. Plus, you are often locked into a particular property and possibly even a specific week each year.
If you aren’t able to vacation during that time or at that location, you don’t get your money back. Instead, it was simply wasted that year. If you can’t imagine practically tossing $4,400+ out a window if you can’t make it, then a timeshare probably isn’t right for you.
How much do timeshares cost? Did you know before reading this article? Tell us more in the comments below.
- Part 1: Why Timeshares Are Bad for You
- Will a Timeshare Save You Money on Future Vacations?
- Hotels vs Timeshares: Why Hotels Are the Cheaper Option
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