Have you ever wondered how timeshare differs from country to country? Or maybe thought about purchasing in a different country? How do timeshare issues differ in the U.S. compared to Europe, or Mexico, Asia or Canada?
In Canada, for example, there are as many timeshare structures as there are First Nation Tribes. Buying a timeshare in Canada can be confusing for a U.S. citizen. Currently the Canadian Resort Development Association is working on making it less complicated by defining each structure and making it easier for developers, sales teams and most of all consumers to understand the differences.
In Mexico, memberships are sold in "right to use" clubs, which only gives the buyer a temporary right to use the property. Right to use ownership allows the buyer to use the property for a certain period of time, and afterwards it goes back to the original owner. More of a club structure, there is no title or deed for right to use because there is no ownership of physical property. Mexico’s regulations and laws on timeshare often seem to change regularly.
So Many Structures
Understanding timeshare differences in countries is further complicated by the myriad timeshare structures that may include:
- Traditional weeks – owners buy their own week
- Condo hotels – a building operated as a hotel, but offering short term rentals, and maintaining a front desk
- Fractionals – defined by price and length of purchase, (usually at least one mont, tenths and up)
- Vacation clubs – classified as timeshares
- Points based – instead of selling by the week, developers sell points that can be exchanged for time at a variety of resorts
- Properties held in trust- legal document designating who will hold title to all of your timeshare interests after death
So what’s a consumer to do?
First and Foremost - Know the Laws and Regulations of the Country
With timeshare's future showing more growth in the global timeshare market (World Wide Shared Vacation Ownership Report-ARDA 2012) it might be time to brush up on the laws and regulations governing timeshare in other countries.
If you are thinking about signing a contract outside the U.S. for a timeshare or vacation plan, know that you are not protected by U.S. laws. Your purchase is regulated by the country, or in the case of the U.S., the state in which your timeshare is purchased.
In countries where timeshare has become a large part of the travel industry, specific real estate laws and regulations have been developed to protect consumers.
There is protection for purchasers who experience buyer’s remorse. According to NOLO, each country and most timeshare purchase contracts generally contain a time period during which you may cancel the contract and receive all proceeds back. Make sure your purchase documents indicate the length of the rescission period of that particular country and clearly describe the procedures you need to follow to rescind the sale. You may only have a few days to rescind, so read the contract carefully and consult a local attorney if necessary.
Just like making a timeshare purchase in the U.S, you must also do the research before deciding to buy in a foreign country.