Category: Vacation property

How do charities benefit from your donated timeshare?

I’ve written about timeshares before, mostly because I used to play with the idea of buying one. I think some of the negative experiences with timeshares have convinced me not to do that anytime soon. Plus I want to visit new places when I travel anyway.

But those negative comments about people stuck with timeshares they don’t want, got me thinking – what can you do with a timeshare that’s too hard to sell? Well I’m not sure how it helps the charities, but you can donate timeshares. If you can’t sell it, I don’t understand how it can be a real boon to the people you donate it to, though. Does anyone understand the process a bit more than I do?

I couldn’t find the answer on the website i linked to above. I suppose they wisely (from a communications perspective) focus on the benefits to the reader rather than the benefits for them. The main benefit from donating seems to be getting out of your contract (no more annual fees) but also mentioned are tax deductions, feeling good about helping a charity, and not having to go through the hassle of trying to sell something nobody wants anyway.

Studying / retiring in Hawaii?

So my wife is back from Hawaii (as I mentioned a couple of days ago) and she liked it so much she wants me to do my PhD at the University of Hawaii and/or retire there. Neither plan sounds terrible to me though I’ve never been to Hawaii so what do I know?

My wife spent most of her time on Kauai at Hanalei Bay Resort but of course she drove a round quite a bit.

A little over 2 years a go I mentioned an article that said Kauai was changing for the worse (traffic and prices too high for the locals). One commenter wrote:

As a resident of Kauai for the last ten years, I would say to those traveling here it ain’t what it used to be. Most people come here to “get away from it all”. Natural beauty, peace and quiet, laid back. One trip around the island in a rental vehicle will put that bit of history to rest. We have not expanded the infrastructure to match the pace of increased development and tourism, and the one road around the island is officially a nightmare. I had a friend from LA tell me the worst traffic jam he was ever in was on Kauai. Personally I plan to travel around the island only during non-peak hours….I would recommend that strategy to anyone who has the option. That being said, I still believe Kauai is the best island, magical, beautiful, warm, welcoming and fun.

My wife was amazed at how little traffic there was on Kauai even though everyone drives so slow. Also the people she talked to (shop owners mostly) say that real estate is about 50% lower than it was before the recession and that you can buy a place for 150K. Apparently the economy has hurt tourism to Kauai and that’s about the only industry they have…

On the other side, I have a colleague in Seoul who left Hawaii 3 years ago. He was at the University of Hawaii (I’m assuming on Oahu) but said living in Hawaii was so expensive that he opted out of the university health insurance plan to avoid paying his half and still couldn’t afford to live there. While he was there he said it was great. He was healthy because it was so beautiful out that he would do pullups and go for runs and swims a lot.

So I guess I’m fishing for information from people who live in or have lived in Hawaii. How is the lifestyle? What are living expenses like? I’m not about to retire so if I move to Hawaii in the next few years it would only be to do a PhD. The university would probably give me about 20k a year…

Vacationing to where you might buy a home

This article on vacationing in a development where you’re thinking about buying caught my eye because my wife and I sometimes talk about buying a cheap house in the country somewhere so that we can split our time between the city and the country.

In this article they list some developments in America (mostly) that have vacation packages for potential buyers.

This is the only one that was free and there are strings attached:

Ultimate Escapes Residence Club: Three nights at choice of luxury homes around North America, free — for “qualifying” guests who used competitive accommodations at least 14 days in the past year

I don’t even know what “competitive accommodations” means.

Anyone have a Manhattan Club Timeshare?

Reader submitted question: My mom bought into the Manhattan Club three years ago. She has been in not so great health in the last couple years so I’ve been trying to

help her out with anything I can.

Anyways, she asked me to call the Manhattan Club last week to try to book a room under our timeshare for a weekend in September. So I call and basically get laughed at, that we have to book our rooms NINE months in advance to get any type of room.

How is this possible? NINE MONTHS IN ADVANCE? We don’t know what we’re

doing 2 weeks from now, nevermind nine months in advance. We also have a Hilton Club timeshare in Manhattan and we can get a room there the night before we are going. It’s friggin great.

But with Manhattan Club, we get 2 weeks during the year that can be used day by day, or week by week, whatever you choose. We wind up having to convert our weeks to RCI points and use them at other places. In three years, we’ve only been able to stay there once. It’s ridiculous.

When my mom bought it, they told her she would only have to give a months notice during peak season (summer, christmas) and 2-3 weeks during off peak. Now it has suddenly turned into 9 months. I just talked to one of my friends whose dad has the same timeshare, he said he has this same problem, hasn’t been able to get a room in 3 years. He’s had it for 10 years. He called them last week to book a room 9 months in advance to the day, and he STILL couldn’t get it. They said they were booked for the weekend he wanted already.

They must have way oversold the place. Anyone else have a timeshare there and have this exact same problem?

My answer: I don’t have one, but I think it’s pretty common in the “time share world”

to make those plans pretty far out in advance. Usually people have the same week every year and its locked up like that.

As you already know, however, the timeshares at the Manhattan Club are not locked in the same week every year. However you may want to consider choosing a time to go every year anyway so that you can make reservations 12 months in advance. If you’re unable to do that it sounds like you’re stuck with exchanging for RCI points because selling a timeshare is pretty tricky and you’ll usually lose a good chunk of money. If you do need to sell your timeshare, look for companies that offer a wide range of services for owners and that can refer you to a licensed timeshare broker if need be.

Ever considered a vacation or retirement home in Nicaragua?

Here’s an interesting article from the New York Times about buying property in Nicaragua (specifically Granada). They say that with Mexico and Costa Rica getting more expensive that Nicaraguan real estate is gaining popularity.

Fractional ownership of a vacation home

This article talks about fractional ownership, a way to get a vacation property that you can’t afford to buy in full. The funny thing is that it doesn’t sound much cheaper than buying outright in this example:

Peggy, a school psychologist, and Kevin, a registered nurse, bought at a preconstruction price of $209,000, plus a monthly fee of $600 that covers amenities, maintenance, insurance, and taxes — affordable because of the low mortgage on their primary home. For that they can spend eight weeks a year luxuriating in their water-view Jacuzzi, king-size bed, granite-and-stainless kitchen, and large, partially covered patio with gorgeous sunset views. They have daily housekeeping service, a concierge, access to a semi-private 18-hole golf course, spa, fitness center, tennis courts, and pool, and a free water shuttle to town — amenities typical of fractional ownership.

$600 a month plus $200 thousand seems pretty steep to me. Especially since you only get the property for 8 weeks a year. If you say there are 6 blocks of time like that you’ve got the owners paying 1.2 million (200k x6) and $3,600/month ($600 x6). That’s not cheap.

By the way, my monitor broke so I’m not on my regular computer and can’t spellcheck…

Orlando homes, Disney & Hawaii

I don’t have much for you today as I’m facing a deadline tomorrow to get in a few chapters of a new textbook I’m working on. It should be a good project – Korean high schools really need a good option for their English high school textbooks so I hope to give them that option…

This article surprised me because it says homes near Orlando (and Disney of course) are fairly affordable (under $200,000). Some friends of the family moved to that general area (because they are Disney fanatics) but I remember them paying much more. I’ll have to find out why.

Speaking of Disney and Hawaii, I heard that Walt Disney Parks & Resorts will open a resort on Oahu in 2011. There will be 350 hotel rooms and 480 vacation villas for Disney Vacation Club members.

I’d really like to continue this theme but I really need to do that book thing. I’ll be back tomorrow…

Hotel residence > Condotel > Timeshare?

I’ve written about timeshares and gotten a few positive and more negative comments. I’ve written about condotels and gotten no comments. Now I’m writing about hotel residences.

This article says that hotel residences are different from timeshares and condotels because the buyer owns the residence entirely (unlike a timeshare) and because the residence has a kitchen (unlike a condotel). Like condotels, there is a chance (hope?) that when you’re not using the residence others will rent it out and you can make some money or at least defray the expense of owning a vacation property.

One day I hope to be shopping for an expensive, fancy vacation home. I’ll consider a hotel residence.

Alicudi, Italy: interesting travel story

Neat story here about how one woman almost bought a house in Italy. Ever heard of Alicudi?

If not, don’t feel bad. This remote Italian island has about 100 residents and one hotel. Boats to the island are extremely unreliable (since no one goes there they often decide to cancel). The house itself is probably not what most of us dream of when we think vacation house:

Electricity is provided by a generator shared by five houses, and water is collected in two wells. The ultimate “green” island, Alicudi has not squandered its resources. But how easily could city-bred people adapt to these extremes? Just running down to the port and back would involve preparations on the level of climbing Mount Everest. And imagine forgetting something in mid-climb? Plus, furniture could only be hauled up by mules. Talk about an incentive for purging oneself of earthly possessions

But for the handful of people who do dream about remote desert islands…

Penang real estate on the rise thanks to MM2H

I wrote about MM2H once before but am still keeping track of it because my wife and I would love to have a vacation home in Malaysia at some point in the future.

Some Malaysians recently recommended buying property in KL. They think real estate there is going to rise sharply. This article talks about how real estate in Penang has risen sharply, thanks largely to foreigners buying property through MM2H.

Personally, I wasn’t too impressed with Penang. The resort was nice but the beaches and the city weren’t real special for me. And you can find a nice resort anywhere, like Plantation Bay.

But I’m not so sure about KL either. I could see buying there as an investment but I think I want my vacation home closer to the beach than the city. Or if not the beach, something natural.