As the world starts to re-open once again and we start to look forward to the summer ahead of us, the prospect of being able to take a holiday this year is very tempting. Tourism halted to a near standstill last year and making a long-term commitment to an annual holiday spot seemed like a better idea financially before the world was thrown into a global pandemic crisis. The pandemic not only caused travel chaos but also caused a sudden spike in unemployment, leaving many people with less disposable income.
Now that we are emerging from the crisis and people can look to the future with optimism, it has left timeshare owners wondering is now the right time to get out of my timeshare?
The timeshare industry was, for the most part, not too adversely affected by the sudden decline in visitors. Unlike the rest of the hospitality industry which saw many companies crumble under the financial strain. In fact, the timeshare industry seemed to take the opportunity to grow with many of the larger resorts making huge financial decisions like purchasing additional chains, travel magazines and expanding their units. Pre-pandemic, timeshare ownership had been on the rise and in the last 5 years the industry had grown by 5%. Major resorts like MVC, Disney and Wyndham built additional units in their resorts and even opened doors in new locations. It is true that the timeshare industry is looking to the future and securing its place in the hospitality world, but is the growth and resilience through the pandemic all down to those pesky maintenance fees they like to charge customers?
It is also true that many of the resorts still charged maintenance fees during the pandemic, even though people were unable to use them. Some resorts did offer payment breaks, but virtually none refunded the fees for 2020 to customers. Before the Coronavirus pandemic it was estimated that as many as 85% of timeshare owners regretted their purchase, according to a study by The University of Florida. That number has only increased during the pandemic. Timeshares might work for some people, but only if you are able to travel and use them, if not they are a huge financial burden.
So, what are your option post pandemic when it comes to your timeshare?
Put it up for sale? This is an option for some people if your resort is a popular one and perhaps marketed at the right price you may be able to sell it. It is important to be realistic though and not put the price too high. You can look at eBay as a good example, there are many on there for low prices and owners do this so they can offload it and be free from paying the maintenance fees.
Speak to your resort: In some cases, the resort will offer an exit scheme, which allows you to give your timeshare back to the resort if your maintenance fees are paid in full, or you are up to date. But remember, if you take this option the resort will ask you to sign an agreement that states you will not make a claim against them in the future. If your timeshare was mis-sold to you then you will not be able to make a claim for compensation and you could miss out on money that is rightfully yours.
Seek independent help: If you want to be free from your timeshare and have any concerns with the way you were sold it, the timeshare was not as promised to you or you had any other issues with it, it is important to seek the correct advice from a reputable company. There are many scam companies out there so be careful who is help you enlist; you can check the FCA register for help with this. Seeking the correct, professional advice from companies that understand the timeshare industry will increase your chances of a successful outcome and perhaps even get your money back for you if the timeshare was mis-sold.