I’ve purchased (and then returned) 3 timeshares in my lifetime. I ALWAYS get suckered into the pitch and then Bill ALWAYS talks me out of it before the 72 hour deadline.
Luckily, I have a father-in-law who is the king of real estate bargaining and owns several timeshares from reputable brands purchased at a FRACTION of the cost. How did he do it? EBAY! Yeah, you heard me. The man did his research and now has several timeshares with Marriott, Sheridan and a few other non-chains all for under $1,500. We are booking out several trips for the year because some of his 2007 weeks are about to expire. I’ve been ALL OVER both RCI and Interval International and here’s what I’ve learned during the experience.
Timeshares work best if you stay within network: I know a bazillion (or like 5) people who own timeshares with Disney and each of them are completely satisfied and are IN LOVE with their vacations. They visit Disney several times a year, break up their points to get more than one vacation out of their share, and even bank points and plan HUGE trips for dozens of family members to tag along. Some have traded to do cruises and had no issues switching out to stay at other Disney properties around the world. The Disney timeshares WORK because people who buy into them – love Disney. Make sure you consider your “home base” when purchasing. Don’t buy in Aruba if you don’t really want to return there every again. Play it safe.
Buy into a company you trust: Do your research. It’s always easier to trade within your network. For example, we’ve been working with the Marriott people the last few days and it’s very easy to search all of their properties. We tell them a vacation range and they can tell you which of their destinations have availability. The few people we’ve been on the phone with have all very calmly gone through our MANY requests. They don’t rush you and they explain all the fees associated with the exchange (will explain that in a bit).
Check out the image above. If I don’t want to go to the Marriott that my father-in-law bought into, I could pick from a variety of other locations – all of which are of EQUAL standards. You aren’t trading DOWN when you stay within network. You know a Marriott in California will be just as nice as the Marriott in Thailand etc. This applies for Hilton, Starwood etc. I’m just using Marriott because that’s who I’ve been working with this week.
Be ready to follow rules: Sometimes you just can’t find the time to get away and that’s fine when you own a timeshare because you can actually BANK your week and reserve it for a later date. But be careful because you only have a certain amount of time to do so. There are rigid deadlines that must be adhered to otherwise you can actually LOSE your week. It’s important to read up on all the restrictions and mark your calendars ahead of time for easy reminders! Also note: when you bank there is a fee. Then when you decide to use your banked week… you get hit with another fee.
Be flexible: Here’s the real reason why I am writing this post. When you sit down and purchase a timeshare – your salesperson will promise you how EASY it is to use RCI or Interval International. They will assure you that there will be HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of timeshares to choose from. Well, not really. That’s the case if you are planning out 9-12 months in advance OR if you don’t mind staying in a SHACK. But if you are looking to get something going in the next few months at a quality resort, be prepared to have your options severely limited. Over the last week, I’ve been doing searches on BOTH websites and I get only a handful of options for any of the summer months. Basically, we can go to Branson Missouri or… CHINA. And I’m dead serious.
Sure, there are a TON of rooms available… but they are low quality motels that I would never take my children to. I’m being honest here. I hope you can appreciate that.
Be persistent: The good news is… things always change. The last few days we’ve been calling and following up about certain properties and dates are becoming available. If something isn’t available today – don’t be afraid to call tomorrow. You never know what new weeks were banked. It’s always worth a try. We actually got a week in Williamsburg, Virginia and are planning a fun trip with the kids over the school break. The TOTAL trip including airfare for 4 is running us $550!! What a bargain!
Do the math: Figure out if it’s worth it to buy in new to a timeshare. I actually created this huge spreadsheet while I was in Disney because I wanted to see if there was truly value associated with buying into their network. And you know what? There was. In the long run (spanning over 30 years) you will save more money if you timeshare each year with Disney… assuming you want to visit Disney each year. I’m talking thousands of dollars saved – computed and verified. But Bill and I aren’t really Disney people, so we decided it wasn’t the right move for us.
I would consider buying a larger chain second hand – but you have to be careful about who you are buying from. It’s important to do your research beforehand. Look for companies that employ licensed brokers to help assure the timeshare resales you’re looking to purchase are exactly as advertised.
Be patient: My husband basically started to have a heart attack while we were slowly going through the system. He started huffing and puffing and turning red. I was like… CALM DOWN BILL. It’s not that serious!! So just know these systems aren’t the fastest things to use. Think dial up… now think slower than that. The systems need to upgrade their servers – that’s for sure. I kept telling Bill that this was part of the fun… he didn’t find my humor. You can call and do everything on phone, but that would take even longer. At least with the Internet, you can search multiple criteria at once. On the phone, it would be one property at a time and you will have NO idea about the quality of the space.
That’s my brain dump of the day. Do you timeshare? How do you feel about trading outside of your network? Is your experience a positive one with RCI and II? This is my first rodeo, so I can only talk about this past week.