Christian stewardship, a major topic throughout the Bible, inspired this bimonthly “Wise As a Serpent” series of articles (Matthew 10:16), which began in the February 2007 Levitt Letter. (Our ministry’s archive of Levitt Letters at www.levitt.com dates back to June 1995.)
The objective of this installment is to persuade you to steer clear of sales pitches to buy timeshares. The “free” prizes used as bait can be disappointing, and the sales presentations often become high pressure. Too many timeshare owners discover too late that they overpaid for a share of ownership that is all but impossible to resell—if not virtually worthless.
A timeshare allows an individual to own a portion of vacation property—typically a one-week stay per year in a condominium. For example, a condominium that normally sells for $100,000 to a single buyer is divided into 52 one-week slices or “shares.” If the owner of each week pays $10,000, that condo generates $520,000 of revenue—more than five times its conventional value! In addition, if each of the 52 owners pays $500 per year for maintenance, that unit generates $26,000 in annual maintenance fees—a whole lot of expense just for a 900-square-foot condo.
It is a secret of the timeshare industry that vacationers who “pay-as-they-go” can rent timeshare weeks à la carte without getting mired in the complexities of ownership, the obligations of maintenance fees and the chaos of banking or exchanging weeks. To put it another way, if you have money in the bank (or a credit card in hand), you can be more flexible in your vacation planning than if you’ve tied funds up in a timeshare contract.
This ministry has accepted contributions of timeshares. The units have come in handy for speaking engagements, but they’re more labor intensive and less versatile than paying-as-we-go. Ministry donors who’ve tried to sell their timeshares tell us that they paid $500 in up-front fees to listing services to no avail. A consumer who attempts to resell his unit can’t compete very effectively against finely tuned marketing machines that churn out mass mailings and offer “free” prizes.
Once this ministry has more timeshares than we can use, we will market them on eBay. Donors will be welcome to 30% of the net proceeds, plus a receipt for the other 70%, (which will count as a donation). Unfortunately, the units that sell new for $10,000 to $15,000 may yield only $2,000–$3,000 on eBay.
Those who want to rent a timeshare condo à la carte might visit www.rci.com or www.intervalworld.com. But hear ye this: Never sit still for a sales pitch (or what they call a “survey” or “questionnaire,” during which the timeshare salesmen (read: “wolves”) supposedly just want your opinion about a resort. Just say no to offers of a $50 bill, dinner certificates or other prizes. Say no to the bait, avoid the stress and save your time. Besides, hotel and motel rooms are typically quite sufficient.