Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fees, Fees, More Fees and Questions

It’s that time of year again…annual maintenance fees and special assessments are being mailed out and many timeshare owners are getting a very nasty surprise in the form of huge increases and huge unexpected assessments.
If you own at a Diamond, Wyndham and/or older resort, you know what I mean.  I’ve been hearing from owners who plead for help with a $3,000 assessment that was levied or increases in annual fees well over 30% year over year.

First, let’s cover a few questions that all potential owners need to ask before buying any timeshare:

1)    What are all the annual fees and what do they cover?

2)   What is the “cap” on how much the fees can be increased year over year?

3)   What is the five (5) year history on these fees?

4)   When was the last time a special assessment was levied?

5)   How much was that special assessment?

6)   How much of the resort is sold out?

7)   Is there a stipulation that in the event of a fund shortage, the developer is required to make up the difference?

8)   What is the current delinquency rate at this resort?

This is NOT a comprehensive list, but a good place to start.  For more information check out the next meeting of the National Timeshare Owners Association.  (http://www.nationaltimeshareownersassoc.com)

Now, for those of you who already own and are faced with a huge bill, here are some things you need to do…the sooner the better:

1)   Connect with other owners through online forums and with the National Timeshare Owners Association to see what their thoughts are, if other owners have discovered something and to just share information

2)   Contact the resort directly and be certain that you are receiving a copy of the full annual budget, then familiarize yourself with it

3)   If you are unable to pay the entire amount due, contact the resort directly as soon as possible to work out a payment plan---they would rather hear from you than not hear from you
Another way of tackling these fees is to rent out your timeshare and use the proceeds to pay or at least partially pay for the fees.  It bears repeating that you should only be renting your HOME property, not exchanging it and then attempting to rent that.  Both RCI and II “frown” on that and there are a ton of cases where the owners’ exchange rights were suspended.
Don’t assume that the lowest price will attract the most interest…many people will be turned off by a super low rental price because they think that there is something “wrong” with the resort.

Maintenance fees and sometimes special assessments are part of timeshare ownership.  It’s important to remember that these are part of the “vacation experience”…whether you own timeshare or rent a hotel, you’re paying one way or another.
If you have questions about fees or renting, or perhaps tips you want to share, just post them below as comments.

Happy and safe travels.

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