With consumers spending less on travel and with the freezing of credit markets, lodging and timeshare companies, including Westgate, Starwood, and Wyndham, are turning to the one place where they can recoup some of their losses – timeshare owners.
It is understood that at any time and for any given reason timeshare resort companies can require timeshare owners to pay special assessments. It is also understood that maintenance fees are not capped and are subject to increase at the timeshare resorts’ discretion. Over the past few months there have been reports of timeshare owners receiving special assessment fees of $1,000 to $3,000.
Chad Newbold, President of VI Network, Inc., one of the nation’s largest facilitators of vacation properties, reports that the current economic conditions, the increase of fees for the 2009 use year, along with unprecedented special assessment billings and a diluted resale market, has created the perfect storm for the timeshare industry. This storm has caused a record number of owners simply wanting out which he predicts will undoubtedly result in yet another sharp increase in maintenance fees for the 2010 use year.
For many it had seemed safe to assume that the upfront cost to buy a timeshare – averaging over $19,000 in 2007 – plus annual maintenance fees would have been enough to finance the operation and management of any timeshare resort complex. But as more and more timeshare owners are hit with these special assessments this assumption has been turned on its head. Timeshare owners are feeling taken advantage of as they are having to pay even more “leisure and travel” expenses at a time when they can least afford to do so.
How much higher special assessments and other fees will rise is uncertain. But one thing that is certain is there is no time like the present to weigh the pros and cons of timeshare ownership and consider some options. There are viable solutions out there for anyone considering whether or not to keep their timeshare. One company, Timeshare Relief Inc., has been in the business of getting people out of their timeshare contracts since 2001 and they guarantee that their customers will never have to pay another timeshare fee. Other options available to timeshare owners, such as reselling a timeshare by listing it online or through a resales broker, require money upfront and provide no guarantee that the timeshare will sell. In tough economic times, a guarantee can go a long way.