What Is Timeshare, and How Does It Work?
Timeshare, in its simplest form, is when a property is owned by multiple people.
It’s exactly what it sounds like – each owner holds a share of time in the property, rather than just owning a share of its value (as with other types of shared ownership). Timeshare Owners own the right to use the property during that time, but normally can’t sell or make significant changes to the property without the other owners agreeing.
Here’s an example. If Sally owns a week of timeshare in a property for a certain time of year, she can use the property during that one week. During the rest of the year, her fellow timeshare Owners can use it.
This is a very simple example of timeshare. Most modern timeshare is much more flexible, and gives Owners many different ways to spend their time.
What Is Timeshare Accommodation?
Most modern timeshare programs are run by large companies like Wyndham, Marriot and Accor. These timeshare programs have been created to help you holiday in different places without having to pay for a full holiday house – each program normally owns properties in destinations around the world.
In 2021, purchasing timeshare normally means paying for your Ownership upfront (either in full or through financing options). You will then ‘own’ a part of your timeshare program, which gives you the right to use any of your timeshare properties. Your Ownership will normally involve you contributing to the upkeep of these properties through some sort of annual fee or levy.
Different Types of Timeshare
There are several different types of timeshare you might hear about. Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
Fixed-week timeshare is the most traditional type of timeshare – we talked about an example with Sally earlier. Fixed-week timeshare means Owners buy ownership of the property for a certain time of the year.
For example, if Sally purchased seven days in a timeshare property from 1 June to 7 June each year, she could use that property for none, some, or all of those days.
Most modern companies don’t sell fixed-week timeshare because owners find it too restrictive. Staying at the same place at the same time each year can get boring!
Instead of owning a specific set of dates, Owners who purchase floating-week timeshare own a certain amount of time.
Let’s say Sally had seven days of floating-week timeshare. Rather than being restricted to using the timeshare property from 1 June to 7 June, Sally can use it during any seven days of the year – but she’d need to coordinate with the other owners.
This is why most modern timeshare properties are managed by companies who help Owners plan and book when they want to stay.
Points-based timeshare is the most modern type of timeshare.
Instead of owning specific amounts of time, owners of Points-based timeshare purchase a certain amount of Points (which are like timeshare currency). They can use their Points to book stays in a resort or hotel, and, each year, their Points are renewed, allowing them to keep booking holidays.
Most Points-based timeshare programs have a long lifespan. Under Australian law, timeshare programs can exist for up to 80 years, at, which point, Owners can vote to either:
- Wind up the program, and sell the program’s assets. If this happens, profits are normally divided among the Owners.
- Continue the program.
Points-based timeshare has become extremely popular, because it allows owners to book stays in different locations for different amounts of time each year, making each holiday exciting and unique. Timeshare can also be passed on as a gift or an asset to children or grandchildren – it’s known for providing Owners with a ‘lifetime of holidays’.
Here are some terms you might here associated with Points-based timeshare.
- Club: A Points-based timeshare program. Most Clubs own multiple properties, and Members/Owners can use their Points to stay at different Club properties.
- Member or Owner: The people or organisations who have purchased Points from the Club.
- Responsible Entity (RE): The company that is responsible for the operation of the Club. The RE is legally required to protect the interests of the Club’s Members/Owners. The RE does things like:
- Organise maintenance
- Manage the Club’s finances
- Acquire new properties
- Developer: The company that originally created the Club and continues to help manage it. The Developer does things like:
- Provide marketing for the Club
- Sell new Points
- Recommend properties for the Club to purchase
- Help with administrative functions of the Club
- Vacation Credits or Première Points: Other terms for ‘Points’.
- Holiday Club or Vacation Club: Other terms for ‘Club’.
Why Was Timeshare Created?
Timeshare was created to help people who don’t want to purchase a holiday home enjoy regular holidays.
You probably only holiday for a couple of weeks each year, so, if you purchased a holiday home, it would sit idle for the rest of the year. You could rent it out, but that would involve lots of extra hassle, which probably isn’t what you want.
Conversely, purchasing timeshare means you can still get away each year, but you won’t need to worry about paying off a second property or arranging maintenance. Instead, the cost of a property is split between you and the other owners, and maintenance is normally organised by the company who manages your timeshare.
Who Is Timeshare For?
Timeshare is designed for people who share a common lifestyle. That lifestyle includes:
- Enjoying regular holidays each year
- Wanting a consistently high quality of accommodation
- Wanting to stay in the same place each year without buying it outright
- Wanting to stay at different places around the world that still feel like home
If you like to spend your annual leave watching Netflix or mowing the lawn, timeshare probably isn’t for you – most Owners love travelling and experiencing new destinations, even if that experience is as simple as relaxing in a resort with a beautiful view.
You should also never buy timeshare with the intention of making money from it. Timeshare is a lifestyle purchase, not a financial investment. The only things you should expect to receive from your Ownership are amazing holidays and even better memories.
Why Is Timeshare Better Than Staying at Hotels?
Timeshare is often unfavourably compared to paying for one-off stays at hotels. You can find people talking about how, if you stayed at certain hotels at certain times over a given timeframe, it would work out to be cheaper than staying at a timeshare property using your Ownership.
It’s important to remember, though, that timeshare has never been about being the most affordable holiday option. Five-star hotels aren’t criticised for being more expensive than hostels. By paying more money, you receive things like:
- Better service
- Higher-quality accommodation
- An environment that matches your holiday expectations
Staying at a timeshare property is also ‘paid for’ using Points. Because you buy your Points when you first join a timeshare Club, the room ‘price’ won’t be affected by inflation.
Hotels generally increase their room rates each year. For example, in 2016 and 2017, hotel room rates increased globally by 2.5%, then by 3.7% in 2018. Timeshare properties don’t have that problem. Although the number of Points each room costs varies depending on the day, season, and Club itinerary, your Points won’t become worth less over time.
What is a floating week timeshare?
Floating week timeshare is a type of timeshare that gives Owners a set amount of days each year to spend on their timeshare. Owners can book their timeshare property for those days at any time of the year, provided other Owners haven’t booked it during that same period first.
Is timeshare a scam?
No, timeshare is not a scam. In Australia, timeshare Clubs are a type of managed fund. This means they are regulated by the government, and must follow all the appropriate laws, including:
- The RE must hold an Australian financial services licence.
- The Club must be registered with ASIC.
- The Developer or RE must provide you with a product disclosure statement (PDS) for the Club.
Remember, timeshare is not a financial investment. You should never buy timeshare because you think it could make you money. Instead, view timeshare as a lifestyle purchase – like owning holiday home, becoming a timeshare Owner will help you enjoy more regular, fulfilling holidays.
What are timeshare points?
Timeshare Points are the currency most timeshare Clubs use.
When Owners first join a Club, they must purchase a minimum number of Points. They can then use those Points to stay at different timeshare properties owned by their Club. Different rooms cost different amounts of Points. Each year, on the date the Owners joined the Club, used Points will be renewed.
Some Clubs allow their Owners to carry unused Points over to the following year, or borrow future Points for use in the current year. Points are sometimes called by different names, like ‘Vacation Credits’ or ‘Première Points’.
What is the best timeshare company?
There is no ‘best’ timeshare company. Each timeshare Club has different advantages and disadvantages. Before you join a Club, thoroughly read the PDS, conduct proper research, and make sure that timeshare is a good fit for your lifestyle.
You can find timeshare Clubs that are members of ATHOC listed below:
How much does timeshare cost per month?
Timeshare Clubs are not subscription-based services. There is no monthly ‘cost’, because you technically own part of your Club.
In Australia, however, many Clubs do charge annual levies. These fees are generally calculated based on how many Points you own, and help keep your Club’s timeshare properties maintained and running smoothly.
Levies vary based on your Ownership and your Club, but generally range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars each year.
Are timeshares a waste of money?
Timeshare is a lifestyle purchase. It helps you enjoy amazing holidays more frequently, often in some of the world’s most exciting destinations. If you don’t like travelling, you might feel like timeshare is a waste of money. If you do enjoy holidaying, though, you may find timeshare provides a very different experience to one-off stays in hotels, which is why so many Australians love their timeshare ownerships.