Hurricane Dennis: Timeshare Owners Brace Themselves For Hurricane Season
Monday, July 11, 2005
Hurricane Dennis hit areas previously damaged by Hurricane Ivan ten months ago. Damages, though less than expected, still cause concern among timeshare owners and the timeshare-owning community.
After battering Florida’s Gulf Coast, Hurricane Dennis has dissipated. Though damage reports are much lower than initial estimates ($1 billion as opposed to a predicted $7 billion), Florida’s hurricanes pose challenges for the timeshare owners that own time at nearly 30,000 time-sharing units in the Sunshine State.
Florida is the timeshare capital of the world – however, vacationers who consider buying Florida timeshare would do well to examine the hidden costs. Last year, hurricanes converged on the Sanibel Island/Captiva Island area, and damage done to timeshare resort properties was severe. Many resorts in this area are still undergoing repairs at the time of this writing. In much of Florida, timeshare maintenance fees have increased to cover hurricane damages, and timeshare owners are often being charged, on average, $100.00/year above and beyond their usual maintenance expense. Some owners have been unable to use their timeshare because the damage has been so extensive.
Anyone looking to buy timeshare should investigate the property fully. It all boils down to posing the right questions to the timeshare seller, whether it be an individual owner or a resort company. Ask up-front about hurricane damages and how they affect the maintenance fees. Demand actual numbers! As a consumer, you have the right to get the complete lowdown on any property before you buy. On the other hand, if the timeshare you already own is damaged badly enough as to be rendered uninhabitable, ask about your exchange options. Many timeshare owners have found that resorts and their affiliated exchange companies are quite willing to help an owner exchange timeshare weeks in this situation.
Hurricane-damaged properties are very attractive on the resale market, because of their low price. This could pose an incredible opportunity for a timeshare buyer. People buy high-demand timeshare weeks in these circumstances for as little as $50.00! Then, when the resort is repaired, they get to spend their time in a freshly renovated unit that often boasts better amenities than it did before it was damaged. However, if you plan on purchasing a damaged property, be aware that resorts pay for their renovations by charging maintenance fees and special assessments to timeshare owners. True, the cost can be divided between hundreds of timeshare owners, but the cost is directly proportionate to the amount of repair necessary. Even though timeshare buyers can save thousands on hurricane-damaged timeshares, the abrupt increase in maintenance fees can prove disconcerting to a timeshare owner. One is left with the choice of either absorbing the increase in maintenance fees (which are still likely to total much less than the original purchase price of a new property), or exchanging banked weeks for a timeshare in better condition. The answer? Ask the timeshare seller whether or not the maintenance fees and special assessments have been paid to date.
No matter where you buy timeshare, be sure to pursue your own due diligence with regard to any timeshare property. Research any timeshare thoroughly before buying. A well-thought-out timeshare purchase can mean years of happy vacations for the rest of your life.