Friday, December 02, 2005


Considering A Timeshare Real Estate Property?

As Calgary has grown to be a major urban centre, many individuals have looked towards a second property away from the city. Given that prices in neighboring communities (most notably in Canmore) can easily exceed a family’s budget, a common alternative is to enter into a timeshare agreement.

A timeshare agreement involves a purchase of one or more properties by a group of individuals for a period of time (usually one to two weeks per year) for a given period of time or in perpetuity. The specific types of time share arrangements vary as widely as the properties themselves - some time shares are arranged privately (perhaps with several friends or acquaintances) while others involve an “exchange program” whereby you can arrange to swap your time in a particular location with another party at another site.

As with any transaction, it is important to know what rights are afforded to you as a consumer prior to entering into such an agreement. For properties sold in Alberta only, s. 37 of the Fair Trading Act affords you the right to cancel a timeshare contract within seven days of its execution, noting that the onus rests on you to prove that you cancelled within this time (acceptable methods of cancellation typically include personal service, registered mail, or fax but not e-mail). After cancellation, the vendor will have 15 days to refund your money paid. (Bear in mind that if you use the property within this time frame, you will likely have to pay a fee for said use after your money has been refunded.)

If you enter into a timeshare arrangement outside of Alberta while in Alberta, the Real Estate Act provides you with some specific rights. In this case, the vendor must file a prospectus with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) and provide you with a copy of same prior to purchase. This prospectus must contain items including the property’s legal description, financial statements, background information on the vendor, and any warnings or risks specific to the particular property. In addition, the Real Estate Act allows you to cancel any purchase within 30 days for any reason.

It is perhaps most important to note that there are no Alberta laws that give you the right of cancellation for an Alberta property purchased while you are outside of Alberta. In such a case, you are advised to check the local laws of the province, state, or other legal jurisdiction where the property is located.

Above all else, as a timeshare is typically a long-term commitment, entering into a timeshare arrangement should not be something that is taken lightly. As such, you are well advised to be wary of high-pressure sales tactics often employed by vendors. (Common approaches include an offer for a gift or “free” holiday.) While such offers may vary depending on the situation, the old adage that there is no such thing as something for nothing most often applies.

If you take frequent trips and enjoy getting away from the city, a timeshare agreement may be a good option for you. However, before entering into any timeshare contract, you are advised to contact your lawyer to evaluate the specific terms of the agreement prior to signing.

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