Timeshare Maintenance Fees rising?
Maintenance fees are an often-overlooked reality of owning a timeshare or vacation club membership. These annual fees (which average $970 per year1) are established to cover the everyday costs of operating a resort, and are split amongst all owners of that resort. It is important to fully understand and consider the cost of maintenance fees when deciding on the purchase of a timeshare.
What do Maintenance Fees Cover?
Just as with home ownership, there is a cost to keep a timeshare property in shape. Things like general upkeep, landscaping, utilities, and staffing are all necessary to keep a timeshare property usable and attractive to both current owners and potential buyers. There is also a reserve from maintenance fees that is used for the needed occasional upgrades like furniture or new roofing.
Timeshare maintenance fees are often charged on a yearly or monthly basis—regardless of whether you actually use your timeshare. This means that if you don’t take a vacation one year, you are still responsible for paying the maintenance fee bill.
How much do they cost?
Maintenance fees can range anywhere from a few hundred, to a few thousand dollars. Location, amenities, and resort type are all factors that go into determining this cost. One thing to remember is that maintenance fees are not locked in at the amount they were at when you signed the contract. According to the American Resort and Development Association, maintenance fees rise much higher than the rate of inflation per year. This means that a fee that started out at $700 per year will likely cost you more then double that 5 years down the road. Unless specifically stated in your contract, there is no cap on how high the resort can increase your maintenance fees.
What if I stop paying them?
When you signed the contract to purchase your timeshare, you agreed to pay the maintenance fees for the duration of ownership—which in many cases is forever. If you decide to stop paying your maintenance fee bill, the resort can begin collection efforts against you. This will not only impact your credit score, but in the end could land you in court if the resort developer decides to take civil action. If they decide to foreclose on your timeshare, your credit will be even more heavily damaged.
Timeshare maintenance fees can become a huge burden for owners—especially for those who were unaware or misled about the true cost behind them. When determining whether or not a timeshare makes sense, maintenance fees have to be taken into consideration—not only what they cost now, but also what they are going to cost in 20 years. When calculating the true cost of maintenance fees, as with anything else, the devil really is in the details.
1. State of the Vacation Timeshare Industry: United States Study, 2017 Edition, 2017