How Much Is That Timeshare -- Really?

By Rebecca A. Miller

You have toured a timeshare resort, like what you see, and now are discussing with your salesperson the very real possibility that you may buy a timeshare there.

This is a crucial point in the sales process. Depending on how you handle the negotiations, you could save some meaningful money.

At most timeshare resorts, price discussions begin with the "list price" or "retail price" of a given vacation-ownership product. The resort's pricing schedule varies according to considerations that include the size of the apartment or villa you are considering; whether you want to come in the high, shoulder, or "quiet" season of the year; and where in the resort the accommodations are located. You'll pay more, for example, to look out on an ocean or golf course than an interior courtyard.

When you hear the list price and how much your monthly payments would be, you should purse your lips, knit your brow, and sigh softly. The salesperson should respond by asking, "Is that a problem for you?" If he or she does not, jump into the void and volunteer your concern. The astute salesperson should be able to offer a solution. Here are some possibilities:

You may be offered a lower price simply for saying "yes" at that very moment. The industry calls this a "price drop." It's a common practice. The developer has spent several hundred dollars to attract you to the resort as a sales prospect; he's willing to forego some of his profit to avoid losing his investment in you. Though you may question the ethics of a price drop, you may as well take advantage of it.

You may be offered an even lower price if you buy more than one week (or more than a certain number of points in a vacation club). In effect, you'll be getting a quantity discount.

You may be offered a discount if you buy what the developer especially wants to sell at that moment. For example, if one-bedroom units are in great demand and two-bedroom units are languishing, you may be offered an additional discount on a two-bedroom unit.

You may be offered an additional discount for an all-cash sale -- or not. If the salesperson doesn't offer, you can always ask, but don't be surprised if it isn't available. Some developers are happy to accept cash up front because it saves them the costs of servicing a loan. Other developers price their product very close to cost, rely for most of their profit on the interest from financing their customers' purchases, and therefore don't encourage all-cash sales.

You may be offered a payment plan that decreases your monthly payment by extending the number of months that you have to pay. While such an arrangement may make the purchase more affordable for you on a month-by-month basis, it will of course increase your total outlay.

Ampersand Communications

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