Timeshares have become increasingly common — and expensive.
About 10 million U.S. households own a timeshare, and the average price of one of these vacation homes rose to $23,940 in 2023, a more than 30% increase since 2018, according to the American Resort Development Association. While the industry has grown more popular, it has come under fire, as owners often struggle to exit their contracts.
“I could have retired if I had my money back from this, but I can’t retire right now because of this situation that I’m in,” said timeshare owner Sheila Wagner.
The timeshare industry is valued at more than $10 billion. But one study found that as many as 85% of buyers regret their purchase. Many owners turn to the resale market to get out of their agreements, but even the most coveted properties lose value after signing.
“Our general rule of thumb is most timeshares sell for between 0% and 10% of their original retail purchase price, and the majority of that focus is unfortunately on the 0%,” said Brian Rogers, owner of Timeshare Users Group, a consumer advocacy and timeshare resale website.
Some timeshare companies will take back the deed once a buyer has paid off their entire contract, but that is not always an option. Even after the timeshare is fully paid off, the owner is accountable for rising annual maintenance costs. The national average was $1,170 in 2022, according to the ARDA.
“There are a lot of timeshares where the maintenance fee is $1,200 and the people can’t rent them for $100 a night,” said Jeff Weir, independent timeshare journalist and former RedWeek chief correspondent.
The Better Business Bureau has received about 3,000 complaints on two of the largest timeshare companies, Wyndham Destinations — under Travel + Leisure — and Hilton Grand Vacations, in the past three years.
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