Timeshares for Senior Citizens and Retirees
Most retired Americans list travel as one of their primary goals. Now that you have worked hard and have finally earned some time to do what you want, chances are traveling is on the top of your list as well. When weighing the options that are available for you to achieve this goal, it is likely you have come across timeshare offers.
What are timeshares and are they worth the investment?
We are so glad that you asked!
What are Timeshares?
A timeshare is a property with ownership – or usage rights — divided among multiple owners. For consumers, it is a way to purchase a piece (or share) of a resort to guarantee that they have a high-quality vacation destination to escape to at least once per year.
A Quick Background
The term itself was coined in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s. The system of shared time ownership on vacation property, however, became popular after the end of World War II in Europe in 1945. Called holiday sharing or vacation home sharing, it was a practice that generally involved four factions of the same extended family going in on the purchase price of the property and dividing it by season. Each family gets one season for exclusive use on an annual rotating basis. However, this still left the properties sitting empty for substantial portions of the year.
The current system of timeshare ownership came when entrepreneurs in England thought up a way to capitalize on those gaps in usage. They divided the resort property into 1/50th ownership slices and began charging a maintenance fee for each owner to cover the operating expenses of the property itself. It took nearly ten years for this system to develop into a successful smoothly running business.
In 1974, the timeshare phenomenon came to the United States with the first opening in Fort Lauderdale Florida. From there – like many things adopted by Americans from our neighbors across the Atlantic – the concept of timeshares evolved further through trial and error, legislation, and regulation until they became what we know today.
Ownership of a timeshare can take one of two forms. These traditional forms include deeded ownership and right to use contracts. Within those forms there are fixed week, floating week, and flex week ownerships as well as a Vacation Points System that was developed in 1991 by Disney Vacation Club (DVC).
Deeded ownership equates to the timeshare being sold as real property with fractional ownership. The use of the resort is generally divided into increments of one week per “owner.” With this form of timeshare ownership, the owner is liable for their equal share of the property taxes and the responsibilities can be as complicated as outright property ownership. One benefit is that the owner can do whatever they want with their ownership interest including:
- Renting out their owned usage
- Selling their ownership interest
- Donating their timeshare to charity
- Giving their usage time as a gift
In recent years, this form of ownership has taken a back seat to other less stringent involved forms of ownership. However, it still remains a solid investment option.
Right To Use Contracts
Right to use contracts – as their name implies – grant the purchaser the right to utilize the timeshare property and all of its amenities according to specified contractual terms. These terms provide for the reversion of all rights to property owners at the end of the contract.
This type of timeshare “ownership” is common in those countries that impose severe limitations on property ownership by foreigners. It has become a common method for developing timeshare resorts in these areas.
However, in the United States, this has become a less popular form of timeshare ownership due to an inherent flaw. If the controlling company of the timeshare is lost or sold, there is the possibility that ownership rights of these contracts will not transfer to the new owners. Caution should be taken with right to use contracts, specifically watching for the wording “club membership” as this is where the danger is most pronounced.
Fixed Week Ownership
This is the most common method of timeshare ownership. The deed specifies a fixed week every year that the owner may use the property. For example, an owner may have week 26 every year which includes Independence Day while a fixed week ownership interest in week 51 will include Christmas.
Floating Week Ownership
This option offers owners a range of weeks or number of weeks to choose from on a first come first served basis annually. Often timeshare resorts that use this type of ownership exclude specific holiday weeks from their floating ownership offerings and reserve those for fixed week usage.
Flex Week Ownership
Also known as rotating week ownership, this option provides all owners with the chance to use the property during the best weeks of the year without any weeks locked out as fixed ownership weeks. With this method, each owner starts their contract with a specified fixed week which rotates either forward or backward in the calendar every year. For example, if an owner started their contract with week three they would have use of the property during week four of their second year, week five during their third year, and so on.
Vacation Points Programs
These programs rapidly grew in popularity after their inception in 1991. They give owners a specific number of points annually that are commiserate with their level of ownership. Owners can then use their points to make travel arrangements within the vast resort group structure.
These systems allow timeshare owners to vacation in different areas, for varying amounts of time, and at a plethora of various times throughout the year. It is the most flexible option available for timeshare ownership. With most points systems, owners may choose to:
- Save points or move them from one year to the next to build a longer better vacation.
- Exchange points for airline tickets, travel packages, hotel accommodations, amusement park tickets, cruises, and other vacation options within the resort system.
- Rent points from another owner or the internal exchange entity to obtain more vacation time, a better location, or a larger unit.
Are Timeshares Worth it?
Whether or not the cost of a timeshare is worth it depends entirely on the individual needs of the consumer and often, the specific resort company/community that is in question. With a full understanding of how timeshares work, and a careful assessment of what type fits your specific needs, a timeshare can be a great saving over the expense of a hotel stay. In addition, timeshares offer a property investment without the complicated management of that property.
Timeshares for Seniors
Among the wide variety of timeshares out there, some cater exclusively – or at least in large part – to senior citizens. With amenities that are geared towards older adults and in areas rife with senior-oriented activities, these resort communities offer the ultimate vacation for retirees.
Of course, who says that seniors need shuffleboard and canasta. Senior timeshare resorts offer everything from sunny beaches for snorkeling, surfing, and sunbathing to snowy mountains for skiing, hiking, and cozy nights by the fire.
Popular Timeshare Locations
Anywhere that welcomes vacationers are likely to have timeshare opportunities on some scale. The most popular timeshare locations are likewise those areas that top the list in popularity among older Americans for vacations. These include obvious destinations such as sunny locales like Florida, California, and Hawaii as well as less expected areas like Colorado.
Florida offers a plethora of timeshare options for older Americans. Miami Beach, Key West, Orlando, South Florida, and the Southwest Florida Coast are just a few of the areas in this tropical peninsula that offer timeshare opportunities.
Relax in the sun for a week or two. Escape cold northern climates for warm peaceful sea breezes. Take the grandchildren to Disney World. Golf among the palm trees. Restore your vitality at one of the multitudes of health spas dotting The Sunshine State. Florida offers several attractive features for vacationing seniors which makes it an ideal area for timeshare ownership as well.
As the first state to entertain timeshares, Florida still leads the way in timeshare regulation and evolution. It was the Florida Real Estate Commission that first enacted legislation to regulate timeshares and established them as fee simple ownership transactions. Thus, it is not surprising that Florida still leads the way for timeshare vacation destinations.
Hawaii has long been a popular vacation destination. This tropical island destination offers visitors a warm climate, white sand beaches, sparkling ocean vistas, and more. Activities range from relaxing on the beach without a care in the world to hiking the side of volcanos and surfing some of the best waves in the world.
Timeshares in Hawaii are an ideal way to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer. While it is not possible for non-Hawaiian’s to purchase land in the archipelago, timeshares offer the ability to have your own little slice of paradise.
Whether it is the Newport Coast, Mission Hills, Lake Tahoe, or Hollywood California offers a multitude of timeshare options. Vacation options abound if you dream of resting quietly in the sunshine or taking part in the hustle and bustle of California’s shopping and entertainment offerings.
California timeshare law is designed to protect the buyer. A public report issued by the California Bureau of Real Estate is required prior to a timeshare even being marketed. In addition, owners are given seven days to rescind a timeshare contract and get a full refund. They also offer resale protections.
The Colorado Rockies offer a multitude of vacation possibilities. From skiing, hiking, and white water rafting for more adventurous seniors to relaxing days at one of the many Hot Springs spas or beside a crackling fire, there is something for everyone.
Although Colorado is often thought of in unison with its winter activities, the state offers high-quality vacation opportunities all year round. Whether your interests lie in Colorado Springs, Vail, Winter Park, or Beaver Springs there are timeshare companies and resorts to meet consumer needs.
The base purchase price of a timeshare depends largely upon where the unit is located, its size, and the amenities it offers. This initial cost is also affected by the type of timeshare ownership that is being purchased as outlined above. However, the costs associated with a timeshare extend beyond the base purchase price.
There are also maintenance fees that cover the cost of keeping the property in proper repair so that when each owner comes for their time they are able to fully enjoy it. Often there is also a Homeowners’ Association (HOA) fee to cover the costs of insuring and upkeep for the shared areas and maintaining the yard and landscaping of the property so that it maintains its value.
A timeshare can be a wonderful way to finance an annual vacation on a budget. Whether you are looking to lock in the same property and location year after year or want to be able to vacation in a new spot every year, there are timeshare options out there for you.
Older Americans like you have worked hard to earn the right to relax and enjoy their retirement. Timeshare resort complexes can provide a convenient way to do just that.