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CORINNE WALKER’S TIMESHARE PURCHASER’S CHECKLIST
Copyright 2002 by Timeshare Users Group. All rights reserved.
Last updated: 7 November 2003
This checklist originated in December 1999 when TUGger Corinne Walker posted a note on the TUG BBS with 20 questions and issues that prospective buyers should consider when purchasing a timeshare. The list was well received at that time, but was lost when thread was purged. In July of 2002 I found a hard copy of Corinne’s note and reposted the list on the BBS, with some additions and reformatting. TUGgers Cat, cz (Bruce Czajkowski), and Kal contributed additional suggestions.
- Steve Nelson (T_R_Oglodyte@yahoo.com)
This checklist is a guide of various items for timeshare purchasers to consider or evaluate when considering a timeshare purchase. In many cases, sellers may not be able or willing to provide answers to all of these questions. Buyers should then consider what information is known and not known, determine how important that missing information is, and make their decisions accordingly.
Similarly, timeshare sellers can use this list to identify information that sellers might be seeking. By including this information in ads or having it ready to provide to prospects, sellers can increase the marketability of their units.
Information about the Resort
1. Does the resort have any amenity awards (Gold Crown, Resort of International Distinction, 5*)? How long has the resort held those awards? Has award status recently been upgraded or downgraded?
2. Is the resort all-inclusive? If yes, is the all-inclusive optional or mandatory? How much is the all-inclusive fee?
3. Are there other mandatory fees charged (cleaning, utilities, occupancy taxes, energy surcharges)? If so, how much are these charges?
4. Are any activities or amenities available free or at a reduced rate (e.g., golf, skiing, water sports, children’s programs, spa visits)? Do these rights transfer with the sale, and can I transfer them again if I sell the unit?
5. If the property is not deeded to a specific unit and week, what assurances are there that the developer has not or cannot sell more ownership units than the available occupancy weeks?
6. Is the entire resort owned by a single timeshare operation, or is the resort ownership mixed (timeshare ownership, whole ownership, or even different timeshare programs owning different units within the same resort)?
7. If the resort ownership is mixed and usage is floating or must be reserved, how likely is it that you will be able to reserve a unit you want? If the units vary in amenities (such as view, quality of unit, building type, etc), how many of each type of unit does the timeshare program own? How is usage assigned among those units?
8. Does the property include a hotel operation as well as a timeshare operation?
9. Is the developer still selling units at the property? What percentage of the timeshare inventory has the developer currently sold?
10. Does the developer dominate resort operations, or has control effectively transferred to the owners? Have there been recent changes in management companies? If so, why were the changes made?
11. Has the resort or resort group recently changed affiliations with exchange companies? Is the resort dual affiliated with both RCI and II?
12. Does the resort have a program to rent units on behalf of owners? What does the resort charge for renting your unit?
13. What bonus time benefits are available to owners (either at the resort or within the resort group)?
14. What is the financial stability of the resort? How do the annual fees compare with fees charged by other resorts in the area? Does it appear that the resort may be underfunding operations? Has the resort completed a review of the adequacy of reserves funding? If so, have the results been shared with owners, and are the results available for review?
15. Does the Homeowners Association have units for sale that they have foreclosed on for non-payment of fees? How much are the selling the units for? How many units do they own?
16. What is the gap between potential and actual income from owner annual fees? (Potential income is the what the resort should collect if all owners paid their assessments. Differences between potential and actual assessments indicates owner defaults.)
1. For resorts located subject to recurring major weather events (such as hurricanes), what insurance is in place and what is the deductible? Does the resort have adequate reserves to cover the deductible? If a special assessment were made to cover the deductible, how much would that be per timeshare week? Is the policy limit large enough to cover reasonable costs of repairing or reconstructing the resort if it suffered extensive damage?
Information about the Unit/Week Being Purchased
1. Is the week fixed or floating? If it’s a fixed week, is the week fixed according to week number or calendar date? Get a copy of the resort’s calendar.
2. If the week is fixed, and is a holiday week (such as Week 7 for Presidents Day week in the US, Week 51 for Christmas, or Week 52 for New Years), what is your usage right in years when the holiday does not fall on the designated week?
3. For floating weeks, does the resort bulk spacebank? If so, when do they do that?
4. For floating weeks, how do you reserve your week with the resort? How difficult is this?
5. How large are the units? What is the layout of the beds, bedrooms, and bathrooms? How many bedrooms does the property have? Does the exchange company rate the unit with the same number of bedrooms as the resort and the owner? Are any of the beds sofa beds? Are any of the beds Murphy beds?
6. Is the kitchen a full kitchen or partial kitchen? If it has a full kitchen, are the appliances full-size of apartment-size?
7. Can a week usage be split (e.g., into separate 3- and 4-day visits)? If so, what restrictions apply and what are the fees for splitting usage?
8. Must maintenance fees be paid before reserving weeks? What are the maintenance fees? Do the fees include taxes? Obtain a history of annual fees. Find out if there have been any special assessments.
9. Is the unit deeded or right-to-use? If right-to-use, how many years remain in the use period? When the use period ends, does the owner have an option to renew or does the unit revert to the resort or developer?
10. Are taxes part of the annual fee, or are they billed and paid separately?
11. Are there any outstanding charges or liens against the property? Have all maintenance fees and assessments been paid in full? Has the seller paid off all loans associated with the purchase? Contact the resort to be verify that developer financing loans have been paid off.
Information about Exchanging
1. What “color” is the week, as designated by the exchange company? What are the divisions between different color assignments for weeks at the resort? How do those divisions compare with other weeks in the area?
2. Are there other seasonal designations implemented by the resort or resort group itself (e.g., High/Low season; Platinum/Gold/Silver, Peak/Non-Peak, etc.)? If so, where does this week fall? These designations are often used by floating week resorts and for internal exchanges within resort groups. They are important to know, since you can only reserve weeks within your season. Also, these designations will also help show when weeks of the same “color” have differing real trade power.
3. With what exchange companies is the resort affiliated?
4. How do you deposit your week with the exchange company? Do you do it yourself, or does the resort do it upon your request?
5. How far in advance can you deposit a week for exchanging? Do you need to prepay maintenance fees if you deposit a week early?
6. If you use the week to trade, can you reserve a specific week or does the resort assign you a week from the resorts bulk spacebanking inventory?
7. Is the resort part of group of resorts that offer internal trading or other preferences? Do owners receive any extra privileges or considerations if they exchange back into the resort?
8. If the resort is part of a group that offers trading privileges, what are the procedures and fees to make exchanges within the group? Can you make split week trades within the group (e.g., using part of your week at one resort, and the remainder at a second resort)?
9. What is the procedure to follow if you wish to make exchanges outside the group using an exchange company?
10. Is the resort included in an exchange company points system (such as RCI Points)? If so, how many points are assigned to the weeks that might be made available to you? If the resort is not in a points system, are points assignments available for any nearby resorts? This information is useful to help assess the real trade power of a given week.
11. If the resort is part of a points program, is the specific unit that you are buying part of the points system? If so, will the points membership transfer with the week ownership? What are the fees to transfer membership or to convert a unit to the points program if you should choose to do so? If you want to participate in the points program, get details in writing about the points program. Note that even if a resort is part of a points program, owners may have a choice of whether or not to join the points program?
12. What is the trade power of the week? Does the owner have a deposited week that can be used to assess the trade power? Can the owner provide information on previous exchanges made with the unit? Has the resort been included in any TUG trade tests (see trade test links in the Sightings Board, available to TUG members only)?
13. Does the week qualify for bonus weeks with any exchange companies? If so, does the exchange company give the bonus week in return for depositing a high demand week, or is this part of developer agreement? If it is part of a developer agreement, does the eligibility transfer to the new owner?
14. Are owners at this resort blocked from using their weeks to trade into other resorts in the area? If so, what resorts?
15. How much will it cost to add this resort to your account at the exchange company?
16. Are there any prohibitions or limitations on trading through independent exchange companies? Are there any specific procedures that must be followed if you deposit your week with an independent exchange company?
Purchase Agreement Details
1. What year does your usage begin? Are all fees current through the start of your usage year? Does the purchase include any banked or reserved weeks? What is the procedure for transferring those weeks to you?
2. How will title transfer be managed between the buyer and seller? Will an escrow be used? Who will pick the escrow company? Who will prepare the title transfer documents? Who is responsible for filing the transfer documents with the appropriate entities? What fees does the resort charge for changing ownership in their records? How will the closing costs be split between buyer and seller? What happens if the charges are higher than anticipated? Are there any special local government transfer fees or taxes.
3. For deeded properties, what type of deed will be used to transfer ownership (quit claim, warranty deed, grant deed, other)? How will you be sure that the seller is providing clear title?
4. How long will it take to close and complete the transfer of ownership? Are the rights to use any weeks in jeopardy if closing is delayed? What will be done to ensure that the buyer will receive usage if closing is delayed (e.g., arranging rental; depositing the week with an exchange company and transferring the deposit to the buyer; reducing the sales price)?
5. Is the seller also including the exchange company membership in the sale?
6. Does the agreement include provisions to allow you to verify information about the unit and the resort with the resort management? (Be aware that some resorts will not release this type of information without written permission of the owner. Since it may take some time to get this permission, you should obtain this permission as soon in the buying process that you can.) Are there provisions to modify or cancel the sale if the information does not check out? If you cancel the sale, what happens to any deposits that may have been made?
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