When it comes to real estate, timeshares are something of a joke. A timeshare allows you the right to spend a certain amount of time at a particular property, usually a high-end resort. However, there are usually restrictions surrounding the use of the property. The purchase of a timeshare is usually considered a poor choice, since they can be hard to unload, and since they depreciate in value so quickly.

If timeshares are such a bad deal, how is it that so many people have them? One of the reasons is that those selling timeshares are smart about how they reel you in. You might be invited to a free presentation, located on a property. You might be asked to stay for one or two nights, get a nice tour, and have access to the high-end facilities. Many of these companies get you to come stay for a low price (or even for free) and then pressure you to buy in at prices of $10,000 or more… sometimes much more.

Buying Timeshares on the Cheap

Of course, there are some ways to get a timeshare for less. If you can buy a timeshare for much less, it's not such a bad deal. You can look for those hoping to sell timeshares they have bought. This is where the rapid depreciation of a timeshare works to your benefit. You can find good deals if you know where to look on the secondary market.

People who have bought them resell them on eBay or other online sites. Unlike traditional real estate, timeshare prices depreciate immediately after purchase. Some of these sell on eBay for as low as $1.00 US. Watch out, though! There are usually a whole range of fees that come with timeshares. You might be required to pay the current year’s maintenance fee at purchase time, or you might possibly be on the hook for closing costs and transfer fees. All these costs might also be covered by the seller, depending on the auction. Be sure to read carefully to ensure that you understand the terms and requirements.

Concerned about having to stay at the same place every year? You could join RCI or Interval International. These companies allow you to convert your timeshare to a points value depending on the supply and demand of your resort. These points can then be used to stay at other timeshares in the program. RCI is so commonplace that the eBay auctions often have the points value included in the listing.

When bidding on timeshares, look for “deeded” properties, as these will give you ownership of the week, registered similar to real estate. The owner can sell, rent and will the property to others. I would suggest not getting “right to use” properties as these are only in effect until a lease until a certain date. You want to make sure that you will at least have better access and ownership of the property with a deeded timeshare.

Before purchasing a timeshare, you might want to consider joining the Timeshare Users Group. This website costs $15 to join but will give you ratings and reviews from other timeshare owners.

As with any purchase, it's important to make sure that your timeshare purchase is well-researched, and that you try to get the best deal for the money.

Timeshares have a bad reputation for being too expensive, but you can get a great deal buy buying a deeded timeshare from someone looking to sell theirs.

About Tom Drake

Tom Drake is the owner and head writer of the award-winning MapleMoney. With a career as a Financial Analyst and over eight years writing about personal finance, Tom has the knowledge to help you get control of your money and make it work for you.