Tips for Consumers: Free Timeshare Dinners

Tips for Consumers
Free Timeshare Dinners

Have you received an invitation to attend a free dinner to learn about a real estate "timeshare" offer? Many folks in the Hagerstown area get these letters or postcards promising an enjoyable evening.
In fact, many travelers consider timeshares a viable alternative to rising hotel bills. The customer doesn't purchase an entire vacation home; he buys one or two weeks at an attractive location where he can vacation, year after year. But there are important "downsides" to impulsive purchases of a timeshare. Here are some important considerations before you sign a contract:
* Watch out for offers that seem too good to be true. They usually are. Avoid salesmen who use the words "free," "perfect," "always," and/or "never."
* Don't believe the hype. Location is key; people interested in trading for different locations in peak season (i.e. the French Alps in the winter, Hilton Head in the summer) need to own a timeshare in an area with year-round high demand, such as Las Vegas or Orlando.
* Never assume anything. Most timeshares are deeded in perpetuity, others are not, and some operate on a "points-based" system that is not inflation-proof. Ask questions and don't be afraid to say "no."
* Keep an open mind. If you are going to a timeshare presentation for the gift (usually dinner, cash, or theme park tickets) allow the salesperson to do his or her job.
* Do NOT purchase a timeshare as a real-estate investment. Even if the timeshare is deeded, it should not be considered a financial investment but an investment in future vacations.
* Do your homework ahead of time. Talk to a real estate professional and have some general knowledge about timeshares. Also consider how much you spend for vacation accommodations.
* Don't cave in to high-pressure sales techniques. Make sure you understand the product and/or resort and be sure you would use it if you bought it.
* Focus on the long-term; you will not be saving money in the short term. Hotel rates will rise every year, while your timeshare cost is generally locked in.

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