The cost of ownership is high, with the average price of a timeshare interval being $21,455, according to the American Resort Development Association. If the buyer takes out a mortgage, at a 10-year loan and up to 17.9% interest rate, a person would end up paying $41,000 for their timeshare. On top of that, they are responsible for an ever-increasing annual maintenance fee averaging $1,000 that lasts for the lifetime of the contract.
Contrary to resort industry claims, the resale market for the majority of timeshares is difficult for many consumers — which is why so many turn to exit companies. It’s a disgrace, and these shameful statistics and anecdotes can go on and on.
Issues relating to the timeshare industry have gotten the attention of various state legislatures in 2019. Anti-consumer legislation endorsed by the timeshare industry was introduced and failed here in Florida. Conversely, recent pro-consumer legislation signed in Arizona was a positive step, but was watered down before signing thanks to lobbying from industry. Other legislation has emerged in states like Nevada, and we expect more bills from both reform advocates and timeshare allies moving forward.
But relying on individual statehouses to tackle this problem one-by-one could take years, if not decades. Noteworthy action will arise from increased awareness of the problem, which is why the Coalition to Reform Timeshare (CRT) was launched earlier this year.
The CRT is dedicated to working with legislators and consumer advocates in Florida and throughout the country on reforming the timeshare industry, making it more consumer-friendly from the sales pitch to the actual product. It is exposing the industry’s dark underbelly, sharing stories of timeshare owners who have experienced the greed and bullying that is so ingrained in timeshare business practices.
Specific areas of reform that should be priorities for fixing this industry include the right to full transparency during the sales presentation, including complete disclosure of the true market value of the timeshare, full disclosure of the entire cost of timeshare ownership, and freedom from any high-pressure sales techniques and verbal misrepresentations; the right to a 24-hour cooling-off period prior to signing a timeshare contract; the right to record a timeshare company’s entire sales presentation; and the right to unilaterally terminate an unencumbered, non-deeded timeshare.
The timeshare industry is in dire need of reform, and countless individuals and families are in dire need of help. Timeshare developers and legislators across the country —beginning with Florida — should not hesitate to act.
Brandon Reed is a consumer rights advocate and founder of the Coalition to Reform Timeshare.