Common Questions About Timeshare

Q?Why should I purchase a timeshare instead of just renting a hotel each year?

With a timeshare you are getting a condominium that is more like a home away from home. Hotels can be costly in high demand tourist areas with very little room amenities.

Q?I can find cheap hotels, what's the benefit of owning a vacation?

Cheap hotels are not always the best quality for comfort. Owning your vacation in a condominium means you have the comforts of home.

Q?What's the difference between timeshare properties and hotels?

With a timeshare condominium you have more of an apartment than a room with beds. Sure some hotels offer a mini kitchenette that have a microwave, small refrigerator and a small coffee pot, but is that really good enough for a weeks vacation? With a condominium you have full kitchens, dining areas, living areas and bedrooms, just like home. Having a full kitchen saves money by not having to eat your meals out everyday.

Q?Can I stay at a timeshare property if I don't own there?

Absolutely! Some owner’s are unable to use their week and will put it up for rent. Or some properties have unsold inventory that they will put up for rent.

Q?What is timeshare?

Timeshare is sharing vacation time of a property on a weekly basis. For example: One unit is owned for one week out of the year by an individual. There are 52 weeks in a year, so there can be 52 individual owners of one unit. Therefore you are sharing usage of a unit throughout the year.

Q?What are the benefits of vacation ownership?

You are guaranteed to have a vacation spot every year.

Questions Before Purchasing a Timeshare

Q?What are the costs to owning a timeshare?

Your initial purchase price plus closing costs, annual maintenance fees and occasional special assessment and reserve fees.

Q?Are there any hidden costs in timeshare?

Usually all costs are given to you up front unless the salesperson withholds information or straight lies to you. It has been said that some developer sales tactics include telling an uninformed buyer that the maintenance fees will never go up. This is simply impossible as cost of living increases, so does the cost to run and maintain a resort.

Q?Can you purchase timeshare resale?

Yes. In fact, this compares to purchasing a new car versus a used car. As soon as you purchase a new timeshare from a developer, the value drops dramatically. After you do your research and decide that owning a timeshare is right for you and your family, it is a much better financial decision to purchase a resale. This will literally save you thousands of dollars.

Q?Why should I purchase timeshare resale instead of from a developer?

There are several good reasons for purchasing a resale versus from a developer. The first is the difference in costs! A developer will overcharge up to 75%, and most of this is to cover their marketing costs! How do you think they can afford to write checks or give nice gifts to every person that takes a tour? They have to cover these costs by over- charging the people that buy from them. As soon as you purchase a new timeshare from a developer, the value drops dramatically just like buying a new car versus a used car.

Q?What does owning a timeshare really mean?

There are several types of vacation ownership. Here we will discuss owning a fixed week. Owning a timeshare means that you own your vacation. If you enjoy going to Myrtle Beach every year and always spend valuable time shopping around for the best rental prices on a condo, hotel or house, owning is the way to go! If you purchase a timeshare, you can rest assured that your condo will be waiting for your family every single year without any effort on your part. If your family rents a two bedroom condo in the summer time every year, you are throwing your money away! You can pay a low maintenance fee every year at the beginning of the year, then not pay another dime except on travel and entertainment. Your lodging is already covered! You will receive a recorded deed for a particular week in a certain unit at a resort and it is yours until you decide to pass it on to the kids or sell it.

Q?What if I can’t use my timeshare one year?

You can put it up for rent through your resort, find a renter on your own or deposit your week with a timeshare exchange company so that you can use it during a different time and location.

Q?Do I always have to go to the same resort if I own a timeshare?

No. There are several ways to make use of your timeshare. You can exchange through a Timeshare Exchange Company such as RCI or Interval International. Some families of resorts have special internal programs, also.

Timeshare Deeds and Legalities

Q?Do I have to use my deeded week every year?

Not at all. You can put it up for rent, or deposit your week with a Timeshare Exchange Company. Some resorts use “Floating Time” as opposed to the fixed time we have been talking about. Floating Time resorts issue you a deed for a certain unit and week in their resort, but you have actually purchased within a time period in different available units. For instance, if you buy a Unit 100 in Week 1 in Myrtle Beach, that is considered off-season. You could use your week in a different unit (205) during that off-season time (Week 5). Your week will “float”.

Q?What is a timeshare deed?

A timeshare deed is a deed to real estate. Instead of having whole ownership, you are deed one week in a particular condominium unit. This is deeded property and is treated just like purchasing a home. The deed must be recorded at the county courthouse where the property is located.

Q?What happens if I don’t pay my maintenance fee?

Unfortunately, not paying your maintenance fee costs a lot more than saving a few hundred dollars in fees one year. Eventually, the account will be turned over to a collection agency and, if still left unpaid, the HOA can foreclose and you will lose all of the money you had invested at purchase. The worst part is, you cannot use or exchange your week until your maintenance fees is paid.

Q?Can I give back my timeshare week?

Not as a general rule. The HOA counts on having owners in each unit each week to pay maintenance fees so that the resort budgets can be met and the resort can be maintained. You should first attempt to find a buyer or someone to deed it to. Each resort is different and some understand that sometimes a program like this is needed. Each individual Board of Directors has their own set of rules for when this is allowed and what steps must be taken by the owner first.

Q?Can I give away my timeshare week to someone else

Certainly. If you have someone you would like to deed the property to, contact your resort and see if they can suggest an attorney in the area that handles timeshare transfers. You can then find out how much they will charge to draw up a deed and have it recorded at the local courthouse. Other options for the buyer are having a title search done on the property. Defender Realty has a title search done on all of the units that they sell. Defender will not pass on a deed with a cloud on the title. We do NOT suggest attempting to create a deed without the assistance of an attorney. If the deed isn’t worded or executed properly, the deed will be void and the interest in the unit will not pass from you and you will still legally own and be responsible for it.

Q?Tenants in Common vs. Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship

Joint tenancy with Right of Survivorship is when two or more people own equal shares of a home. If an owner dies, ownership is transferred to the remaining owner(s).This is called the “right of survivorship.” The only requirement is to prove the death by filing an original Certificate of Death at the Office of the Register of Deeds. Tenancy–in-common is when two or more people own a home. Ownership does not have to be equal. If an owner dies, ownership is transferred to the person(s) named in their will or equally among living heirs. Exemplified copies of the estate, including the will, must be filed in the Probate Court of the county where the real estate is located. This must be done to prove who the legal heirs or other beneficiaries are.

Q?Is there a limit on how many people can be on a deed?

No. However, you should keep in mind that all of the persons named on the deed will have to sign a deed to transfer their interest if the property is sold. This becomes difficult when everyone lives in different geographical areas.

Q?Can I add my children to my timeshare deed?

You can and we encourage you to name your grown children to your deed. However, we don’t suggest that you name anyone to a real estate deed that is under 21 years of age due to complications and strict laws regarding gifts to minors. South Carolina statutes regarding gifts to minors can be found at in Title 63, Chapter 5, Article 5 entitled "South Carolina Uniform Gifts to Minors Act" (http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t63c005.php) and also at Deeds.com, “Removing a Minor from a Deed” (http://www.deeds.com/information/Removing-a-Minor-from-a-Real-Estate-Title-1372771720.html)

Q?How can I get a copy of my timeshare deed?

You can contact the Register of Deeds office in the county where the property is located.
HORRY COUNTY, SC (843) 915-5430
WORCESTER COUNTY, MD (410) 632-5500
ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FL (772) 462-6928
PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (561) 355-2991
MONROE COUNTY, FL (305) 292-3540 ext. 3347
WATAUGA COUNTY, NC: (828) 265-8026
If you would like to have Defender Realty retrieve a deed from the courthouse for you, you can send a check for $50.00 made out to Defender Realty along with a note that contains the named persons on the deed, the property name and location, the Unit and Week that you own and where you would like the deed copy sent.

Common Questions from Timeshare Owners

Q?What is a special assessment?

Anyone who has ever done a budget knows that you can’t always predict everything, no matter how hard you try. Maintenance fees cover normal day to day operations, and if it is managed properly, hopefully there is some money reserved for things such as replacing broken televisions, refrigerators, etc. Hopefully the resort has planned for regular replacements of mattresses, furniture, carpeting, stair railing, etc. This is all just a part of regular maintenance. However, sometimes, the resort needs a new roof, or major building refurbishment like replacing all balconies because of rot and/or rust that deems them unsafe. These are expenses that MUST be met for the interest of all owners and guests. What happens when there isn’t enough in the coffer for all of these major repairs? The Board of Directors has to issue a special assessment to every owner. They calculate the total cost of the renovation or repairs, and then divide it equally between all owners. Then owners have to pay their regular maintenance fee and, in addition, a special assessment, also. If these issues aren’t addressed, though, the resort will deteriorate very quickly and everyone wants the resort to be maintained at the highest level possible while keeping maintenance fees in control.

Q?Why does my timeshare resort have a Board of Directors?

Generally, the resort was probably first built by a developer who owned the grounds and made all decisions regarding the resort until almost all of the unit-weeks were sold. Once the developer decided it was time to move on, a Homeowners Association was created and Board of Directors was elected who now had control and decision making power of the resort. This was the first time in the history of the resort that the owners had any say on what happened at the resort. Decisions regarding the resort are made by the owners with the leadership of the Board of Directors.

Q?What does my timeshare resorts Board of Directors do?

The Board of Directors makes decisions regarding the operation of the resort such as staffing and maintenance. Normally, a Board of Directors will hire a management company to oversee all of the resort operations. A good Board of Directors will regularly review financials, budgets, resort maintenance and owner satisfaction. The management company does not make the decisions for the resort. The management company will make suggestions based on needs of the resort and budgets. The board will decide whether or not work gets done. Some reasons they may opt not to do the work is not wanting to increase maintenance fees for their owners.

Q?How do I get on my timeshare resort’s Board of Directors?

Annual Meetings and Elections are held at most resort regularly. Keep up to date with these by reading all correspondence you receive from your resort and/or management company. Most resorts have by-laws that require notification to all owners of upcoming meetings, agendas and information on upcoming elections. It is important to inform your resort or management company of any address changes.

Q?What does my timeshare maintenance fee cover?

The resort is a business. The majority of the income it receives is the maintenance fees collected from the owners. Therefore, the maintenance fees cover EVERYTHING. The utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, front desk staff and managers; everything you see IN the unit like carpet, HVAC units, furniture, televisions, bedding, all kitchen needs; all insurance required including flood, fire, wind and hail, contents, etc.; paper and postage to mail invoices, meeting notices and newsletters and everything else your resort has to spend money on.

Q?Will my maintenance fee increase?

If you have ever taken a timeshare tour, you were probably told at one time or another that the maintenance fees will never increase. Let’s be honest. After reviewing what the maintenance fee covers, there is never a guarantee that maintenance fees won’t go up. Minimum wage has probably doubled since your resort was built which increases salaries across the board for all paid staff. Cost of living increases also affect the bottom line at your resort including sub-contracted labor and all materials. If ownership begins to decrease at your resort, the budget needs are going to be divided among all of the remaining owners the following year. It is costly to the HOA and the owners to conduct a foreclosure, and then the HOA is stuck with a unit it has to sell.

Q?What should I watch out for when selling my timeshare?

You own something of value. Granted, some weeks are more valuable than others, but, nonetheless, you own something that has value. As a timeshare owner, you probably receive lots of phone calls from companies that say they will “take your timeshare off your hands” if you just pay them an exorbitant amount of money. They may tell you they have a buyer and there are thousands of dollars waiting for you in escrow, but you need to send them a check for fees. Most of the time, these companies will never even transfer the deed out of your name. You are still responsible for maintenance fees and now you are out hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. Sometimes, they will transfer it to a “dummy corporation” and then just leave it to be foreclosed on in the future. They don’t care. They have your money, have shut down and reopened under a different name. This costs the HOA a lot of money and, in turn, the remaining owners. If there isn’t anyone in that unit paying maintenance fees, then that costs is going to be divided among the remaining owners the next year. Do your research before you send anybody a dime to sell your timeshare.

Q?How do I sell my timeshare without getting ripped off?

There are several legitimate ways an owner can sell their timeshare. Owners at Defender managed resorts have a great asset in Defender Realty. Defender Realty was created as a subsidiary of Defender Resorts, Inc. because Defender saw a need by its owners for a legitimate and honest resale company. Contact Defender Realty, Inc. at 843-497-6431 for more information on our commission and suggested pricing. Defender Realty does not charge any fees up front to list your unit. Defender doesn’t get paid until a buyer is found and it goes to closing and settlement. You can also sell the timeshare yourself. If you advertise it online or in your local paper and find a buyer, you can contact the resort who can probably recommend an attorney in the area of the resort that can handle the transfer process including recording the new deed. Most of the time, the buyer can pay the legal fees and you just sit back and wait on your check!

Timeshare Exchanging

Q?What’s a timeshare exchange company

Timeshare exchange companies are a great way to get more use and value out of your timeshare. Timeshare Exchange companies such as RCI and Interval International allow you to exchange your week with other timeshare owners so you can experience other geographical locations and travel to other places you want to explore and enjoy!

Q?How does exchanging timeshare work?

Simply contact an exchange company and tell them you would like to “deposit” your week with them. They will contact the management company to confirm that your maintenance fees are paid for the year you are giving them. Then you can browse their inventory for a week you would like to take during a different time period and different location. Have a timeshare in Ocean City, MD? Use it to go to Florida, instead! Keep in mind, nothing is free. They exchange company may tell you that your request is denied because of the comparison between what you are giving them and the week you are requesting. This is why it is important to understand “seasons” in regard to the timeshare universe. It is unlikely that you can trade a winter week in a one bedroom condo at Myrtle Beach for a week in a 4 bedroom during prime season in Hawaii. Your request has to be comparable to what you are giving the exchange company to use. RCI Exchanges are based on a value they give your timeshare called “Trading Power”. You can find tips and information on RCI Exchanges here (http://pgs.rci.com/landing/InsideRCI/exchange/index.html).

Q?How much does a timeshare exchange cost?

Current exchange fees range from $99.00 to $209.00 per exchange plus annual membership fees of approximately $90.00 to be a part of the exchange company. Don’t forget that you still have to pay your maintenance fees!

Defender Resorts

Q?Does Defender Resorts own the properties they manage?

No. The owners own the resort. Each resort is made up of units and each unit is divided into roughly 52 weeks. Each owner of each week in each resort makes up the collective ownership of the resort.

Q?Is Defender Resorts a developer?

No. Defender Resorts is a timeshare management company that is hired by the Board of Directors of the Homeowners Association. Defender Resorts is not currently developing any new resorts.

Q?What does Defender Resorts do for the properties?

Defender Resorts manages the operations of the resort in various ways. In general, Defender Resorts is responsible for hiring staff and providing Human Resources, maintaining the building and grounds by , billing and collecting the maintenance fees and special assessments and/or reserve fees for the HOA, creating realistic budgets and recommending maintenance fee costs based on the budget, accounting services.

Q?How long has Defender Resorts been in business?

Defender Resorts has been managing timeshare resorts since 1979.

Q?Does Defender Resorts sell at any resorts they don’t manage?

Defender Realty, dba Defender Resorts, Inc. currently only handles sales at resorts that Defender manages. Defender Realty wants to give our resorts the attention that they deserve and it is difficult trying to handle sales at a resort where we don’t have a dedicated staff or sales office.