What is a timeshare and why might I want one? Are there any hidden costs to timeshares?
You are basically buying a reserved room at a resort of some sort for a particular time slot each year. You'll pay some money up front to "buy" it, plus a yearly maintenance fee. You can then use that spot for your vacation each year or trade it with other people who own timeshares to get a vacation at their place.
I can't really think of any situation in which a timeshare would be appropriate for anyone. If you really wanted one, there are plenty of people willing to give them away for free just to get out from underneath the maintenance fees. To me, that means they are worth less than nothing.
3+1 for that second paragraph. NEVER EVER buy a timeshare from the original company that sells them. You can usually get an equivalent one in the same development second hand for a lot less money or free. I've heard that 30% of the original cost on resale is not uncommon.– JohnFx ♦Aug 10, 2010 at 19:13
2To be more explicit, a time share is a high commission, high maintenance, illiquid liability. As such, it really doesn't qualify as an investment, nor an asset.– SpecKKAug 11, 2010 at 18:19
To your second question, "why might I want one", if you plan to go to the same resort each year for a certain amount of time, you are ensuring you have accommodations there. Also, you can trade time at other timeshares if you like to travel. So, reasons you might want one: you love playing golf at a certain course not near your house, you have plenty of vacation time (or are retired), you enjoy travel. If all of that is worth it to you, to Eric's point, find one from an owner looking to get out as it will be far cheaper.