Timeshares boomed in popularity during the 1980s when many British people took advantage of this opportunity to buy shares in holiday apartments in coastal resorts across countries like Spain and Portugal.
The Timeshare deal is that the owner pays a one-off lump sum in return for the right to use the holiday apartment for a set number of weeks each year. They must also pay maintenance charges on an annual basis.
The Timeshare industry has received a lot of bad press in recent years and as a result, you may now hear them being referred to as ‘fractional ownership’ or ‘holiday clubs.’ But the scheme is still the same—and they’re still a bad investment.
Timeshare scams are common. Often, you’re encouraged to buy a Timeshare on holiday when you’re relaxed and your defences are down. You might be encouraged to attend a presentation where salespeople pressure you into buying a share in a property, using gifts and expensive dinners to persuade you.
After you purchase the Timeshare, it emerges that the property isn’t exactly as described—or doesn’t exist at all.
Often Timeshare contracts are written in perpetuity, which means that they don’t have a specified end date. As a result, you’re locked into paying fees for your property indefinitely—even after you no longer want to use it. The Timeshare, and its fees, may even be inherited by your family members after you die.
Buying a Timeshare abroad often means you aren’t protected by the same consumer rights as in your own country. What’s more, you’re vulnerable to agreeing to contracts that you don’t fully understand because they aren’t in your native language. Post-Brexit, there’s additional uncertainty about the rights of Timeshare owners.
If you took out a loan from the Timeshare company to cover the cost of the Timeshare, the interest rates are likely to be high, which means you’ll be paying back more than you initially borrowed.
You can’t rent your Timeshare out, unlike other holiday accommodation. This means it won’t generate any income for you. Most investments are done with the intention of making a profit and so Timeshares are definitely not considered a wise investment.
Maintenance fees are another Timeshare cost, in addition to the initial payment. These are used to cover any property upkeep such as cleaning, gardening, and building work, and can increase year on year.
Timeshares are infamously hard to sell on. You might be able to convince the company to buy it back or ask a resale company to find a new buyer, but this will likely be for a much lower price than you originally paid.
This is because Timeshares depreciate in value from the moment you buy them, with sellers far outnumbering buyers. Plus, because Timeshares are co-owned, you can’t undertake any work to improve their value. What’s more, they are also originally sold at a high mark up because of the cost of impressive sales presentations, prize giveaways, and other incentives.
With so many people trying to get out of their Timeshares, there’s been an increase in the number of fraudulent Timeshare resale companies offering to find a buyer for an upfront payment before disappearing. There are also Timeshare release scams where fraudsters promise to help you get out of your Timeshare contract in return for a fee.
After losing money to fraudsters who claim they can get you out of your Timeshare contract, you might then be targeted again by scammers, this time promising they can get you compensation for your previous loss.