Spring Travel Tips

Spring is here at last! With warm and beautiful weather on the horizon, now is a spectacular time to travel somewhere outdoors! Before heading anywhere, take a look at our spring travel tips:

  • Research hotels. Do not rely solely on a hotel’s official website for all your information before booking. Hotel websites are designed to depict the business in the best possible manner. Browse reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google+. Online reviews from actual customers give you an accurate idea of the hotel’s customer service skills. Every hotel gets the occasional bad review, so you should not let only one negative review sway you. Too many bad ones, though, could illustrate a big problem. You may consider staying somewhere else, especially since you do not want to deal with a bad hotel during such great spring weather!

  • Read through all agreements before signing. To save mileage on their own cars and trucks, people tend to rent vehicles for spring roadtrips. While this is a solid idea, read through your rental agreement thoroughly before signing anything. Some car rental companies require you to purchase the insurance waiver, whereas others do not. Many offer prepaid gasoline plans, but no two company’s prepaid plans are exactly the same. Examine the entire agreement to see what exactly your payment covers, and make sure you ask the clerk any questions before committing to a rental agreement.

  • Check weather before leaving. The daily forecast is flexible, often throughout the same day. Even though you no longer have to worry about blizzards and ice storms, a thunderstorm can make for equally dangerous driving weather. Since those thunderstorms can lead to possible tornado activity, then you definitely do not want any weather surprises as you travel! If you checked the weather the night before, check again the next morning just to be safe

    Want additional travel tips before you head out onto the road? Here are a few more that will help you out as you plan your spring trip!

Why You Need an Exit Strategy

Getting rid of your timeshare is complex and often lasts for a significant period of time. When you hear about how long and difficult the process is, you may be tempted just to walk away from your timeshare and leave it alone altogether. In fact, we are often asked if this is a practical option for people.  

Like with any other financial obligation, you can walk away from your timeshare--as long as you are willing to accept the consequences. If you are comfortable with the repercussions a foreclosure and a tarnished credit score bring, then that is your decision to make. Remember this, though--if your timeshare is a deeded property, then you have a permanent debt in taxes and maintenance fees attached to your estate. Bankruptcy laws have also changed over the years, making it more and more difficult for you just to walk away from this debt.

Since those outcomes are less than pleasing, why not get out of your timeshare the correct way? To accomplish this, you need an exit strategy. An exit strategy helps you avoid a horrific credit score and too much debt--a far more desirable outcome for you and your family! Here is how you can get started on your exit strategy.

Over Your Timeshare?

You buy a timeshare with the best of intentions. No more renting hotel rooms for a vacation when you have a timeshare! You may even choose to go away for the weekend more frequently throughout the year since you now own a timeshare. However, your feelings may not always remain the same. Here is why:

  • The timeshare no longer suits your lifestyle.

    Maybe you do not have time to vacation as much as you did when you first got your timeshare. Perhaps you do have the opportunity to vacation more, but your timeshare is rarely available when you want it to be. You might even decide you would rather have a place of your own to get away and relax.

  • The fees outweigh the benefits.

    Whether you use your timeshare or not, you still have to pay the property’s maintenance fees. If there is a mortgage involved with your timeshare, then you are responsible for that fee too regardless of usage.

These are just a few of the reasons you may want to say “Good riddance!” to your timeshare. Since doing this can be tricky, we are here to guide you through it. Just reach out to us for any questions you may have, and to get started!

Points Without Maintenance Fees

Timeshare has been owned in many different forms, which is one of the leading causes of problems with availability.  You can own a fixed week, a floating week, a converted week, a UDI or a Trust.  Owners do not understand how Travel Demand Index works and they don’t understand how all of these different types of ownerships work together.  This leaves owners at a huge disadvantage because they are told “not available” so often, they either assume the location is full, which is rarely true, or they have the wrong ownership, which leaves them susceptible to buying more to fix their problem.  The truth is, you may have the wrong ownership and it may be causing availability problems, but you, as an owner, need to understand the system.  

Most timeshare is deeded whether you are a points based system or a fixed week.  Unless you own a fixed week that you go to every year, you need to be in a points system because the industry is moving in that direction.  It’s not a matter of if, only when your resort moves in that direction.  They will either do it because it is a huge money-maker for the developer or because they are bought out by a larger corporation.  When that happens, you will be completely at the resorts mercy because they don’t educate you. 

If you decide to join your resort developer points system, keep in mind that the flexibility, control and options are only as broad as the number of properties in the developer’s family of resorts. Generally, if they want to go to a resort outside of this family of properties, they must “convert” their points to a week and then deposit that week into either RCI or ii.  That is no different than owning the traditional fixed week timeshare.  Those companies don’t let you call RCI or ii directly either.  You have to call their operators and they take care of the exchange for you so that they control the external exchange.  They choose the week you are exchanging which goes back to dealing with Travel Demand Index.  What is the point of that?  More money for the developer.  You feel reliant on your home resort and they hope you will be loyal to them by keep buying more from them. 

The other problem with a developer’s points systems is value.  Point’s systems are like currency. Different countries have different monetary systems and developer’s use different point values. For example, a 2 bedroom in Wyndham is between 154,000 points and 224,000 points.  In Diamond Resorts it’s between 7,500 and 9,000 points.  It’s Euros to Dollars.

If you are going to go into points, it makes more sense to use the RCI Pure Points System.  First of all, you don’t have to worry about a conversion from one system to the other.  Second of all, you don’t have to worry about TDI. TDI, or Travel Demand Index is a way to grade your resort allowing you to only use resorts that is equal to or less than what your home resort grades out. That leaves your resort telling you “unavailable” when really they mean “unavailable to you.” They just don’t tell you why because that would educate you and an uneducated owner is ripe for a sale!  The pure points system has no TDI and no maintenance fee.  It’s a pay as you go system.  It also allows you to see all inventory as it’s not an exchange system, but a reservation system.  Points are points.  Remember, deeded points still have limitations.

New Law Will Greatly Affect Florida Timeshare Owners

I’ve never met a timeshare owner who understood the ins and outs of why their maintenance fees go up every year.  Of course there is inflation, but most resorts go up at a much higher rate of inflation than the national average.   Believe it or not, there is a consumer protection in place that is now in jeopardy of being destroyed.

The Florida Vacation Plan & Timesharing Act is under attack with HB 453.  It is sponsored by State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, Republican and Senator Kelli Stargel, Republican and is making its way through congress now.  Maintenance fees are one of the biggest complaints for owners of timeshare, but in the past, you had an annual cap in place of 125%.  That is a lot, but at least there was a cap.  If this bill passes, certain things will be excluded from this cap such as property taxes and various common area expenses.  One of the biggest reasons to buy a timeshare is the common area, the pools and game rooms and waterparks.  By leaving that out of the cap, the resort can raise those fees as much as they would like and there is no definition of “common area expenses.” This really affects anyone who is on a points based system.  Points programs are paid for by your Club Dues and now a resort can raise those as much as they want as well. 

The bill’s proponents say it will help operators of multisite time-shares recoup the costs of expenses out of control, including taxes, emergency repairs and improvements.  That means it helps the conglomerates like Wyndham, Diamond, Bluegreen, Marriot, Holiday Inn, Disney, etc.   All of the big boys. 

There is also a provision that reduces liability for time-share developers if they make errors in contracts.  Errors or omissions that are considered “nonmaterial” will not allow purchaser-cancellation rights after 10 days.  Senator Stargel actually said that too many lawyers were making a living helping time-share owners get out of their contracts.  I guess this will help keep them paying their maintenance fees. 

And lastly, there is a provision that says if you sell your timeshare to someone that does not pay the maintenance fees or assessments or taxes, then you will be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per violation!  So if you sold it on TUG or Ebay and that person can’t pay the fees, then you will be fined. 

The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) donated $300,000 to the Republican Party of Florida.  ARDA claims to help timeshare owners, but I don’t see how taking away protections for consumers helps.  ARDA works for the Resort Developers.  Don’t ever forget that.  The Resort Developers make a lot of money from maintenance fees.   

According to ARDA, the average 1 bedroom timeshare runs a maintenance fee of $660 per week.  So each 1 bedroom brings in $34,320.  That does not include taxes or club dues.  I have a 2,600 square foot, 4-bedroom home and my total costs to run my house from electricity to mowing my lawn is just under $8,000 a year.  And they bring in $34,320 for a 900 square foot 1 bedroom condo? Anyone want to start a resort?