By Eileen AJ Connelly, ASSOCIATED PRESS
“Timeshares are not an investment,” said Angela Gridelli, an interior designer and decorative artist who lives on Long Island, N. Y., and currently owns four timeshares.
“A timeshare is not like purchasing a condo or a home,” she said. “If anything, it’s like a car, where the value on your timeshare is going to depreciate every year.”
Gridelli said if she were to try to sell the two timeshares she purchased at full price — one in Aruba and one in New Jersey — she would take in 60 or 70 percent less than the roughly $25,000 each she paid. But she’s not looking to sell — she uses her timeshares as a way to travel extensively, typically getting nicer accommodations than she could otherwise afford.
The way she calculates it, Gridelli says over time, the total purchase price, plus her annual maintenance fees, compares favorably to how much it would cost for similar vacations staying in hotels.
The key is knowing how to exchange what you own for other travel opportunities. For instance, last year she traded time at one of her timeshares for a week in Spain. All she paid was the $333 maintenance fee for her timeshare, plus an $89 fee for the exchange. Her neighbors at the 2-bedroom condo were paying $500 a night to rent a similar unit.
The extra space in such facilities also means more comfort, and the potential to bring along more family members without having to pay for multiple hotel rooms.
Gridelli said she’s had so much success traveling using timeshares, she hopes to buy more on the resale market, especially since prices have dropped.
Multiple purchases are not uncommon. About 47 percent of sales are made to existing owners, according to the American Resort Development Association, the Washington-based trade and lobby group for timeshare developers.
Yet timeshares have a decidedly mixed reputation among the public at large, and Internet chat rooms can burn up with complaints from owners who are unhappy with various aspects of their purchases.