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Life in Style: To Vacation Like Royalty, You Must Own, Not Share

To Vacation Like Royalty, You Must Own, Not Share

Carrissa Winstead was looking for the perfect vacation spot for herself and her family of 5. Her husband, Russ, loved the idea of buying a destination  rental that could pay for itself when the family wasn’t visiting. As Carrissa weaves through busy shoppers with a silk scarf in her hair perusing fine art and beadwork, she thinks about the opportunity to visit this artisan market whenever the family goes on vacation. She follows the scent of musky spices to sample the delectable local cuisine. Afterward, she hails an Uber back to her charming vacation condo high above the city, knowing that another day of sampling the local fare awaits her family tomorrow. This week, Life in Style, the weekly publication  from Team Real Estate, brokered by eXp Realty, helps homeowners plan their travel adventures. To be considered for comment, email Need a subject matter expert? Click here. Buyer or seller with questions? Go to Real Answers.

Carissa is outstretched on a colorful beach blanket drinking something fruity and frozen from a coconut with a tiny plastic umbrella. Her freshly manicured toes are buried in the sand next to her adorable beach sandals. The smell of sunscreen and the ocean breeze lulls her back to her pastel blue beach house.

What Makes a Good Vacation Home?

“The allure of a vacation home begins with the experience it provides as you step into your happy place, where stress melts away and joy lives year-round,” said interior designer Karen Mills. 

When searching for a vacation home, the atmosphere shouldn’t stop at the door. It should be decorated to match its location. This is why a lot of beach houses are decorated in pastels, seashells, and ocean themes, whereas country homes have more rustic touches, like hardwood signs and pictures of barn animals. The architectural design should also do its best to match the destination’s ambiance.

“A vacation home on the beach has a different purpose than a house in the suburbs of Chicago, so they’re built differently. The vacation home is going to put more focus on visuals and showing off the location than the home in the suburb,” explained Bryce Johnson of Johnson Construction.  

To a vacationer from another part of the world, these small touches are a breath of fresh air. If this is your dream and you’re on a budget, a timeshare may seem like a steal. 

Beware the Timeshare.

Carrisa had looked into a timeshare but decided against it. A timeshare  is where several joint owners have the right to use a vacation property in an allotted time slot, splitting the cost and the usage of the home. 

You’re prepaying a vacation, not gaining equity in the property itself. And the cost of the vacation, in fees and dues, increases every year.

Equity and appreciation are close to zero, and annual maintenance fees can be staggering. The resale value can be as little as $1, and many owners get tired of the same vacation spot.. Families grow and mature, vacation needs change. As they say, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.

Even with these fees, you aren’t guaranteed your allotted time every year. If you have to cancel at the last minute or the time slot you’re available is already booked, you still have to pay the same amount of dues.

 “A timeshare is a commitment that you can’t walk away from with your initial investment intact; if you own a house, you could sell the asset or rent to pay it off. You don’t have those options with a timeshare, they can be very difficult to sell” said Suzie Taggart, Operations Chief and co-founder of Team Real Estate brokered by eXp Realty.

There are thousands of resale scammers that prey on timeshare investors. They claim to be able to resell the timeshare at an up-front price, only to disappear with the money, according to the Minnesota Attorney General.

These same scammers prey on those looking to buy timeshares. They go to great lengths to appear credible, only to run away with the “down payment”. As such, the timeshare market can be a dangerous one.

Buying a vacation home is a simpler, safer option. Owning saves, and could even earn, money in the long run.

“Buying a home is an investment. A timeshare is not. Timeshares don’t appreciate in value, in fact, most lose value or become cost-prohibitive over time,” explained Martin Taggart, Chief Executive and co-founder of Team Real Estate, brokered by eXp Realty.

Homeowners Have More Options to Cut Costs

Many vacation homes are perfect short term rentals. Booking and management options are plentiful, provided your vacation home is located in  a well traveled metro area. Location, access, parking are all important factors to consider. Plus, many vacation homes can be bought fully furnished, saving you thousands of dollars.

Many expensive vacation spots have lesser-known counterparts with cheaper housing markets. You get a bigger bang for your buck and a similar experience.

400 sqft efficiency in Miami Beach sells for $185,000. For a similar price, you can purchase an 835 sqft condo in Boca Raton, just 45 minutes North.

Airbnb is a great option if you want to get the feel of an area before buying. Launched in 2008, the home-sharing app allows you to rent out rooms or entire residences for short or long-term stays. 

The app also allows you to book “experiences”, which are activities hosted by locals in the city of your stay. This can include everything from kayaking to wine tasting and ghost tours. You can really get a feel for the host city.

Team Real Estate brokered by eXp Realty not only recommends this to their clients, but helps them find the right fit.

“I was looking at timeshares in Branson,, but I was nervous, I’d heard about the scams before,” said Amanda Swayder, a recent homebuyer.

“I didn’t think I’d be able to afford to purchase a vacation home, but after a conversation withTeam Real Estate, I found a home in Branson for the same price I was willing to spend on the timeshare. It has a beautiful lake view and easy access to the lake.”

Timeshares are risky, and often not worth the price. With a little help from an experienced Realtor, you may be able to purchase a vacation home in a nearby spot for significantly less than you would imagine.

If you’ve got questions regarding the impact of the shift on your search or the value of your home, we’ve got answers!

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