Posts filed under 'Using Your HOA'

The Parable of The Seagull

Not many peopSeagullle who work in timeshare buy it themselves. The reasons for this are numerous, but generally there are discounts available for industry employees that negate the savings of buying a timeshare. To say the least, timeshare industry workers will usually not buy a timeshare unless it’s a really, really good deal.

During the 1990’s, while working in timeshare marketing in Florida, I ran across at least 8 or 9 people who also worked in the timeshare industry, and who owned timeshare at The Seagull Beach Club in Cocoa Beach, FL. Knowing this was a bit of an anomaly left me wondering what the attraction was. In fact, I got a chance to stay at the resort with one of my friends during their week.

The Seagull is an older resort, initially sold during the 1970s. The property has been well-maintained, has a nice pool, and clean units, but the real draw is its location directly on Cocoa Beach. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay, and actually ran into a number of other timeshare industry owners while I was there. It turned out that, at that time, resales could be bought for between $1,000 and $1,500 per week, even during spring and summer months!

In 1996, a typical 1-Bedroom whole-ownership furnished beachfront condo in Cocoa Beach, FL sold for at least $200,000, and often much more. Comparatively, were one to purchase all 52 weeks at The Seagull in 1996, he/she would’ve spent less than half of the actual cash value of the land and condo!

Why were weeks so cheap? For one thing, the internet was still in its infancy, so there was no way to affordably mass-market a timeshare resale. Also, I would suspect that the owners probably believed the lie, prevalent then and now, that ‘their timeshare was only worth 20-30% of what they paid,’ since weeks had originally sold new for under $5,000. The sad thing about this lie is that for as long as some owners believe it, it becomes truth: those owners dilute the market with under-priced timeshares.

Thinking of running down to the Seagull to buy one of these bargains? Good luck, you’ll need it. In the years since, the Home Owners Association at the Seagull has made some improvements: The building and grounds have been upgraded through annual maintenance payments, and the owners now market their own timeshares on a lovely, and easy to find, website. Many units now sell for $4,000 to $5,000 – representing a fair market value, and around 100% of original sale prices!

There are some important lessons for timeshare owners in The Parable of The Seagull: If you dilute the market for your resort with bargain basement timeshares, even timeshare salespeople will buy them. If you unite with other members of your Home Owners Association, you can work together to ensure fair resale values. You can sell your timeshare for at least what you paid for it, if some time has passed, and it’s marketed correctly.

Add comment August 18th, 2009

Westgate’s Accidental Victory for Owner Rights

Recently Orlando’s WFTV news reported that Westgate Resorts fined an owner $4,000 for wearing a t-shirt reading “Westgate ripped me off” to breakfast at the resort. Westgate managers explain that the owner’s ‘free speech’ violated resort covenants.

While I’m sure this individual had his reasons for frustration with the resort, they ought to have been addressed in the proper venue. By publicly embarrassing himself, and bringing negative attention to Westgate, he acted with complete disregard for the other owners: Resale values are directly affected by the public image of the developer.

Does this mean you should just take whatever your developer throws at you, in the interest of high resale values? No, but exercising some discretion when it comes to making negative statements about something you own is a good idea.  When owners work together, through a well-organized HOA, to address collective concerns, things can change rapidly, and there won’t be a trail of negativity left behind to frighten resale buyers needlessly.

You can be sure that Westgate was more concerned with the day’s sales than resale values, but intentional or not the resort scored a victory for its thousands of owners. Let’s just hope that $4,000 makes it to the HOA.

Add comment August 1st, 2009

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