Costs of a timeshare don’t end after you’ve paid for your unit, there are annual maintenance fees to pay too. Think of them as you would home owner dues. The maintenance fees help pay for the upkeep of the resorts and all the amenities we enjoy while vacationing at our resorts and, like home owner dues, they vary considerably from property to property.
Whenever you find yourself considering a timeshare purchase be sure to take into account the cost of ownership going forward. Make sure you factor in the costs you can predict (like the maintenance fees) but also leave room for some unexpected costs that may occasionally arise.
Most well run resorts will have an emergency (reserve) fund that is topped up year-on-year by the part of the maintenance fees we pay each year. This fund comes to the rescue when any large or unexpected work is needed to be done to the resort. In an ideal world that would be that but, as discussed before, this isn’t an ideal world. Not all reserve funds are maintained at satisfactory levels so, every now and again, owners may find themselves presented with a ‘special assessment’ from their home resort when the owners association finds that they don’t have the funds to carry out a major repair or renovation (as owners at Marriott’s Aruba Ocean Club we were presented with a ‘special assessment a few years ago when the reserve fund couldn’t support the necessary renovation work).
Naturally there’s no real way of knowing when unexpected repairs are going to be needed but there is something you (as a prospective owner) can do to mitigate some of the risk of a ‘special assessment’ at a resort you’re considering: Find out when the last major renovation was done at the resort. The resort staff should be able to give you this information and you can double check that information with existing owners at the Timeshare User Group. A resort that has recently been refurbished will not be going through another refurbishment soon while a resort that’s due an update will almost certainly be getting one in the near future. This is not to say that a refurbishment will always lead to a ‘special assessment’ but, for the risk averse buyer, this is something to keep in mind.