Are you considering buying a timeshare in Las Vegas? Perhaps you are in town annually anyway and figure it would be nice to have a consistent home base. Maybe you have been pitched so many times by folks on the Strip to sit through a presentation that you have started to think it may be a good option.
Although sales tactics utilized by timeshare salespeople encourage a quick decision on your part, the specific program you are looking to buy into is something you will want to carefully scrutinize. It’s not a decision you will want to rush for a number of reasons.
Below, we’ll cover what a timeshare is and some of the reasons we feel buying a timeshare in Vegas could be a poor decision.
What is a Timeshare?
Before diving into whether it’s smart to buy a Las Vegas timeshare, we thought it would be helpful to define what a timeshare is. A timeshare is a real estate transaction in which customers pay an upfront fee, in addition to ongoing maintenance fees for rights to access a property, or a group of properties for a specific amount of time per year.
Timeshares come in a few different flavors. Some timeshare deals offer a defined amount of time a guest can use a property annually, while others offer “points” which can be used to book stays at a property or group of properties. Additionally, timeshares can be “deeded” where the purchaser actually has ownership of a small portion of the property or “non-deeded” which doesn’t assign ownership and allows for the right to use only.
How are timeshares sold, and what costs are associated with them?
Las Vegas visitors are commonly invited to attend sales presentations by timeshare representatives while walking the Strip, or even through their hotel. Freebies, like show tickets, a tour, or slot play are offered in exchange for attending a sales presentation. The hope is that once they have your undivided attention, you’ll make an impulsive purchase. If attending for the freebie with no intent to purchase, be prepared to say “No” early and often.
It is important to note that we scoured the websites of major timeshare players that operate in Las Vegas, and there no information on pricing, ongoing fees, or even how the program works online. Additionally, not one company was able to provide any relevant pricing or program details over the phone. How is that possible?
The inability to comparison shop basic aspects of a timeshare purchase to include pricing and terms in advance of an in-person, high-pressure sales pitch is an enormous red flag.
Although pricing information isn’t accessible without attending an in-person pitch, the average upfront timeshare investment in 2019 was $21,455 according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA),. That figure doesn’t include maintenance fees which averaged $1,000 per year in 2019. Maintenance fees are perpetual, meaning they never end, and commonly increase every year.
In addition to upfront and annual maintenance fees, timeshare owners could be on the hook for special assessments and property taxes.
What’s terrifying is that no honest timeshare salesperson can tell you what your total lifetime cost will be. When you sign the line to buy, you’re writing a blank check for fees, and their associated unknown increases over the lifetime of the contract, which is often forever.
Does Buying a Timeshare in Las Vegas make sense?
Below, we’ll cover important aspects like online reviews, timeshares as an investment vehicle, and even what happens when the owner of a timeshare dies to determine if buying a timeshare in Las Vegas is the right move for you.
Reviews say no…
Before going to a timeshare presentation, we recommend googling reviews for that particular organization. Not only will that help you understand the flip side of the rosy picture painted by the sales representative but they will point out questions you need to be asking. A quick Google search of timeshare reviews for the timeshare operator will commonly show that most, if not all, reviewers are dissatisfied.
While negative reviews are easy to find, you would be hard-pressed to find a single positive review on the internet not featured on a timeshare company’s own website.
For additional real-world opinions, join a couple of the more popular Las Vegas groups on Facebook like Everything Las Vegas or Talk Las Vegas and type “Should I buy a timeshare in Vegas” into the group search function. While there are a few satisfied timeshare owners that have responded to folks like you asking that question, the VAST majority of opinions state to run the other way as fast as you can.
If you are in a player’s club and gamble at all… There isn’t a need.
As a low roller, I’m able to book a free room (minus resort fees) at low to mid-tier Caesars Entertainment properties nearly anytime I want. If you are going to Vegas to gamble, even if a low roller, don’t pony up for a timeshare, and instead, just book within your preferred loyalty program.
A timeshare is a terrible investment
Buying a timeshare as an investment that you expect to appreciate in value is likely misguided. How do I know that? Check eBay and other secondary markets for timeshares up for sale by owner. You’ll see plenty of listings for $1. Now, varying timeshare companies likely offer differentiating levels of value, but one comment on a TripAdvisor review board said it best.
“If anyone wants my Westgate Timeshare- I will GIVE it to you FREE.. you pay transfer fees and this puppy is alllllll yours.”TripAdvisor Reviewer
The problem is that the re-sale market is massive. There are a ton of timeshares out there, many of which are unwanted. While supply and demand will negatively impact your resale, most potential buyers realize you can simply rent a hotel room annually with no long term commitment for what the annual maintenance fees would cost as part of a timeshare contract.
A timeshare is not a good investment. If you’re buying, you better have intentions of using it yourself and think of it as a pre-paid vacation plan that you will need to use for years and years, if not decades, to break even.
If you have any concerns about being “locked-in” to something … Say no.
Once you buy into a timeshare, it is extremely difficult to get out. As referenced above, people looking to offload timeshares are unable to give them away or even sell them for $1 on eBay. There is even a growing industry that focuses specifically on getting people OUT of their timeshare contracts.
While many timeshares offer a nation or even worldwide network of bookable properties, you would be locked into a single property in Las Vegas. In a city with numerous high end mega-resorts, all with appealing amenities, being limited to one resort option is the last thing you want.
Even death isn’t always a viable way to escape a timeshare contract…
What happens to your timeshare when you die?
While the exact terms will be spelled out in the contract, a timeshare contract often lives on when you die, becoming part of your estate. One timeshare sales company even points out on their website that the estate, or person that inherited the timeshare should continue to make payments in the event of the owner’s death! If your next of kin inherits a timeshare, they have now inherited the burden of making payments on something they likely didn’t want to begin with. Before signing, ensure you know what happens to the asset (or burden) in the event you die.
The operator does point out that inheritances can, in some cases, be declined stating “If they (your heirs) subsequently deny it, then the property would likely be foreclosed on and any debt would be paid through estate assets, if available and applicable by the laws that apply.” I don’t know, sounds murky to me. I’ll pass.
The Verdict: Is Buying a Timeshare in Las Vegas a Good Idea?
Personally, we don’t think so. Hotel room nights in Vegas are inexpensive to begin with compared to other major cities, and even cheaper if you do a bit of gambling. Why would an upfront payment of around $21,455 plus $1,000 in annual fees for access to a resort hotel room make sense? At the end of the day, it just doesn’t add up to a good value for your money.
Between the upfront fee and maintenance fees that never go away, there are few deals that would allow you to break even. We recommend skipping the contract and hefty upfront payment. Instead, book the same room for an amount close to, if not less than, what your annual maintenance fee would have been if you committed to the timeshare.
Paying for rooms as you go will also provide you the flexibility to stay where you want and experience new properties. Las Vegas is home to some of the greatest resorts in the world, you deserve to experience them.
Even if you feel a timeshare could be a good option for you, don’t feel pressured to decide on the spot. Ensure you have a strong feel for what your contractual obligations will be if you sign the dotted line. Additionally, because timeshares sell on the secondary market for a mere fraction of what was originally paid, you’re likely better off buying there as opposed to directly with the company.