As the timeshare market has matured, there has been an increase in the number of exchange companies like RCI and Interval International, whose purpose is to allow timeshare owners to bank their unwanted and unused weeks and points in the hopes of securing future timeshare vacations.
One of the many reasons for the creation of these companies is that legacy timeshare owners have become old, infirm and unable to travel. These people, how are mostly retired and on fixed incomes are perpetually bound to paying annual maintenance fees, and can't use the weeks or points that they would otherwise be entitled to.
Faced with the inability to travel, these owners are reaching out to the resorts in an effort to be relieved of a financial burden that they can no longer afford. Unfortunately, they are finding that there are certain resorts who will simply not take back weeks or points. Others, will take back weeks and points but only very, very slowly.
As most timeshares are sold in perpetuity, meaning you are obligated to maintenance fees forever, and ever, and ever, the ongoing financial burdens of the timeshare has become a serious problem for these senior citizens on a fixed income.
Faced with this situation, the only really way you can get rid of it is by selling it or hiring a timeshare attorney to assist in cancelling the timeshare.
A simple look at the thousands of timeshares that are listed each year on Craiglist list for as little as one ($1.00), leads to the conclusion that many timeshares have essentially become more worthless.
Imagine the poor unfortunate owners out there who are paying substantial amounts of money for annual maintenance fees, for a timeshare that they can no longer use. Without a resale market, these owners are out of pocket for the rest of their lives.
To make matters worse, when they die their family will inherit it, and it becomes a noose around their neck as well.
We need to change that. We need to change all these negatives. And we need the resorts to open up their eyes, open up their minds, and look to see how they can help.
The first resorts that were established are now 40 & 50 year olds. Those resorts have a pool of owners with the oldest ownership base, some of them will be in their 90's now. Given the choice most of these owners, would prefer to return the timeshare to the developer as owners in their 80's and 90's are more reticent or some cases simply unable to travel.
In the future, what we need to do is find a solution of how to release these people with an exit program that's suitable to them, and at the same time be able to resource new owners, possibly the younger, obviously a much younger age where it's going to be far more affordable.
One of the first recommendations I would make is to end the perpetuity clause.
Perpetuity for a lot of people is a very worrying thing, due to the implications of it carrying on through generations. On the other hand, if perpetuity were not there then the question rises – what happens to timeshares? Because if we had a situation where the perpetuity clause was eliminate, and one could just walk away, then the question is what happens to a timeshare? If one is able to walk away from a timeshare, the problem arises, what do they do with those weeks not being used and there is no income. The problem then rises – what happens to the whole development? Does it become a ghost town? Is it sold off for private use?
There must be a middle ground, including the conversion of all week based timeshares to points.
Another option is to introduce short-term timeshares with a life of say, 5 – 10 years.
In the end, the best solution is for the timeshare developers to establish an exit program that is both reasonable and rational. To do that would be a boon to the timeshare industry and would end the need for timeshare cancellation attorneys and exit companies.
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