Thinking of Buying a Vacation Home? Think Again

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Mortgage payments, taxes and the upkeep of a second home often make timeshares a more attractive option than a vacation home.

Holiday Resales, a member of the Seattle-based Holiday Group of companies, credits a higher percentage of their sales to savvy customers who, after researching the advantages and disadvantages of owning a vacation home, are opting to buy multiple timeshare properties, valid for vacation exchange privileges at resorts throughout the world.

This “no-buy” option for a vacation home is one that Steve Sant heartily endorses, a certified financial planner with Seattle-area firm Sant, McMahon and Sparks, LLC. “Despite the fact that a second home probably won’t be used much, the owner still needs to pay taxes on it and insure it, maintain it (including yardwork and exterior painting), fill it up with stuff, periodically replace or update that stuff, and (in most parts of the country) pay utilities, whether the owner is there or not,” says Sant.

It’s all too easy for a vacation home, bought with the intention of quality family time, to turn into a hassle and a huge expense. “Second homes are a much more significant financial obligation than most folks realize,” continues Sant. “And in addition, they come with the worry of leaving it un-attended for long periods of time.”

With the prices of vacation homes soaring right along with the rest of the real estate market, the down payment alone can easily amount to $40,000, with the monthly mortgage payment hovering around the $1000 mark. Yet, industry statistics show that second homes are typically used only 28 days a year.

“Those 28 days equate to four weeks of a traditional timeshare product,” says David Skinner, President and CEO of Holiday Resales, whose company has sold to over 20,000 customers since 1992. “Four weeks of even a high-end timeshare property sells on our site for far less than the down payment on a vacation home.”

Add in the 12 monthly mortgage payments and taxes of a second home and timeshares appear even more attractive, with the only reoccurring cost a yearly maintenance fee. “Even more important,” continues Skinner, “is that the time spent at a timeshare is all fun—-no yard work, no maintenance and nothing to worry about when you lock the door after the vacation is over.”

In addition, as most timeshare resorts participate in a weekly exchange program, owners have the option to vacation at thousands of destinations around the world. “Timesharing offers a multi-dimensional vacation experience that goes far beyond the traditional condo-on-a-golf-course package in the sunbelt,” states Skinner.

Which, looking further down the road, is what many baby boomers today are planning for in their golden years: a retirement home in the sun to escape the cold winters. Sounds lovely, but Sant still gives it a thumbs down. The reasons aren’t just for the cost, either.

As Sant explains, “I was in Scottsdale, Arizona a few weeks ago, and played a round of golf with a long-time client who has a second home there. This second home had been part of their retirement dream for over 20 years. Now in their second year of ‘Snowbirding’ they are having second thoughts. Although they love the weather (and the golf), as part-time residents they are having a hard time establishing local friendships, an important part of the quality of life that they had envisioned.”

Could timeshares be the baby boomers’ answer to a retirement home? “Definitely yes,” says Skinner. “Timesharing, with its built-in flexibility to exchange your weeks at over 3000 resorts around the world, simply evolves with your needs. We tell our customers, ‘When you think timesharing, don’t think vacation, think lifestyle’. It offers a lifestyle approach to living life to the fullest—-regardless of which stage of the life cycle you are in-- single, married with kids, empty nesters, or retired.”

It’s a point well taken. Yet Skinner has one more to make. “Your life can be a lot fuller without paying full price.” Timeshare resales are a first-rate vacation product on the secondary market. It’s the first choice for savvy travelers who appreciate the destination as much as the journey.

About Holiday Group

Holiday’s online timeshare business connects thousands of vacation buyers with discount timeshares every year. Founded in 1992, Holiday was one of the first timeshare companies to host a comprehensive Web site. Holiday is headquartered in sunny Seattle. For more information, visit http://www.holidaygroup.com.

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Geoff Klein
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