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Old 05-16-2011, 06:56 PM   #1
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Seeking advice - should we buy DVC?

Looking for some general tips and opinions from DVC DIS-ers. DH and I sat thru the DVC sales pitch a few years ago but did not buy. They went through the whole points break down, and the fact that we can use points for non-Disney hotels, etc. I'm wondering if buying in to DVC would be worthwhile for us to do. We'd be considering buying in in the next year or so, and probably would just buy on the resale market to get the cheapest block of points possible.

Here's some info about us:

--2 adults (no kids yet)
--Likely vacationing at Disney once a year, during an off season
--possibly taking extended family with us on some trips
--Don't want Disney to be our only vacation destination - planning to go on other shorter vacations throughout the year if possible

I do tend to plan our trips around the WDW package deals, so I'm generally pretty good about not paying full price for any of our vacations. Obviously, things like free dining wouldn't be an option for us if we owned DVC, but I guess we'd make up for it in hotel savings.

My main concerns which I'd love to hear comments on:
--cost of ownership (special assessments, fees, etc.)
--resale - how hard is it to get out of DVC if needed?
--quality of rooms - we recently rented DVC points & stayed in a DVC room at BCV - when I walked over to the main resort area the DVC area seemed more run down, less cared for (like Disney knew they already had you, so they didn't need to keep up with maintenance like they do for the "paying" customers)
--ease of using points for booking Disney trips
--ease of using points for non-Disney hotels

I'm sure there's a lot of info I can get on this board, but I wanted to post these specific questions and see what you all think. Thanks for any tips!
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:22 PM   #2
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Well, I can help with a few answers.

First of all, buying resale, you cannot book anywhere but DVC resorts or exchange via RCI for weeks in other timeshares. You wouldn't be able to use your points for cruises or other hotel stays. So if you only want to buy resale, then you can only stay at DVC resorts (or RCI exchange resorts).

Most folks seem to buy DVC to stay at DVC. If this isn't the first and foremost reason you would buy DVC, then you probably shouldn't be buying DVC.

It's always easier to buy a timeshare/points than it is to sell points, but DVC seems to be easier to sell than most other points-based systems.

It is easy to book accommodations at DVC if you plan 11-7 months out. After that, it may be difficult to get the number of nights you want in a row at your first choice of resort.

So far, we have yet to see a special assessment.

I think the quality of the rooms in the DVC (and at the BCV, where we own) is fine. No complaints here. We love it there .

I'm sure others will chime in with a lot more information, but if you already know that you want hotels or non-Disney stays, then I would say right off the starting pitch, DVC is probably not ideal for your situation...at least based what you initially described, anyhow.

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Old 05-16-2011, 08:19 PM   #3

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DVC maintenance is paid for out of our annual dues so it's never going to be at the same level as the hotels, unless you are staying in a villa that's essentially brand new (the AKV units are still in great shape). BCV recently went through a refurb and that's as good as it's going to get.

I think resale ease/value depends on where you buy. The points I purchasd a long time ago, when BCV first went on sale, have held their value compared to original cost quite well. On the other hand, I have a small contract at SSR that isn't worth much these days.

I would not consider buying DVC if you have any intention of using the points outside of DVC resorts. The points to value is not good and it requires a great deal of planning and flexibility to exchange.

The ease of booking at DVC properties is good. Just know that like everything else with Disney, you have to book a long ways in advance if you want to take advantange of your home resort booking window. If you want to stay in an Epcot area resort during Food & Wine, you should plan on purchasing your points at an Epcot resort DVC property and be ready to book at 11 months out. If you want to stay at BLT by MK, buy there. It's usually pretty easy to get into OKW and SSR but I am a believer in buying where you want to stay if location is important to you.

I can't answer regarding dues because I don't know what you want to know. I pay about +/-$2000 a year in dues on my 500 points. There hasn't been any huge change in the time I have owned.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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Any resale purchases that went to Right of First Refusal after 3/20/11 cannot be used for the Disney Collection or the Concierge Collection. So right there you are limited.

I do agree with Denise and Pakey about buying DVC to only do DVC. It's an expensive timeshare to trade out. It's best use is in staying at DVC resorts.

Resale is a good way to get into DVC because you can save a lot of money. I'd never buy DVC at $80, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 per point. That's just outrageous.

When you say "off season", what do you mean? DVC off seasons are very limited and do not align with the Disney Reservation Center off seasons. From Thanksgiving to early January is a very busy time with DVC. Points are low or holiday decorations are up, lots to do. Food & Wine is also very busy. Spring Break/ Easter is busy. Summer is busy, but not as busy as these other times.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:34 PM   #5
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When we bought, we did not consider resale value as part of the equation because there is too much out of the control of owners that can affect that.

There are new rules for resale so you can not use those points for certain options like the Disney collection (cruises, non-Disney hotels, Adventures by Disney).

As far as trading out, again, DVC provides the best value for stays at DVC. If you are looking to use DVC for other options, then it may not be the program for you. For occasional trips, maybe, but not regularly. You are better off buying less DVC points, just to do DVC stays, and pay cash for the other options.

DVC takes planning and the farther in advance you plan, the easier it is to get DVC rooms of your choice. Most book their home resorts 11 months in advance and then if they want to stay elsewhere, call right at 7 months to try and trade.

Off peak times for WDW are not the same as DVC--for example, early Dec is a great time to visit the parks but a very high demand time for DVC so keep that in mind.

Good luck!

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Old 05-16-2011, 10:44 PM   #6
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We purchased in early 2007. Our kids were 11 and 5 at the time. Four years and 9 trips later, here are my experiences:

Cost of Ownership - Our annual dues have gone up slightly over 4 years. We haven't experienced any "special" assessments.
Resale - Here is my two cents on resale. At 4 years in, I have almost broken even. If I sold my DVC points for nothing tomorrow, I have paid no more out of pocket than I would have if I had paid cash for those vacations. Any savings I experience now is icing on the cake. Do not look at this as an investment. All you are doing is "pre-paying" for your vacations, and that pre-payment may be worth nothing on the resale market.
Quality of Rooms - Honestly, we have stayed in all of the DVCs on property with the exception of BLT. Our rooms have been well maintained, and I didn't see anything worse than I've seen in regular hotel rooms. What I love about DVC is the ability to book 1 and 2 bedroom units. I may change my tune, but I can't see DH and me booking a studio even when the kids are gone. We love having a kitchen, king bed and tub!!! JMHO, but this is what makes DVC feel more like something I "own" versus a room I stay in for a few nights.
Ease of Booking - We have never tried to make non-DVC reservations, so I can only comment on my luck with DVC resorts. At the 7 month mark, I have had excellent luck booking at other resorts. We generally travel late July/early Aug, Christmas or spring break. I honestly can say I love all of the DVC resorts, and my first choice changes with each trip. In 9 trips, only once has my first choice not been available for all nights. Instead of doing a split stay, I opted for my 2nd choice.

Overall, I've been thrilled with DVC. Even when I think that incentives might be worth the time, when I price it out, I still come out ahead using DVC (assuming I'm still booking a 1 or 2 BR unit). Also, I would definitely look at resales. No matter how you purchase (direct or resale), go in with the mindset that the only obligation Disney has to you is to allow you to book at your home resort based on availability. With that outlook, you will never be disappointed, and this is why people will advise you to buy where you want to stay. You never know what Disney will change in the future. Lastly, people seem to have luck renting their points, which will help pay for dues or fund another vacation should you decide not to bank or visit Disney on a given year.

Good luck with your decision! It's one of the best moves we've made, but I understand it's not for everyone!

Last edited by Buckeye Fan; 05-16-2011 at 10:51 PM.
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Old 05-17-2011, 03:20 AM   #7
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You've already received advice from some experienced members of the DIS board -- you can take my $.02 for much less than theirs. One thing that struck me about your situation, which was similar to our family's back in '04 when we purchased, is that you currently don't have kids -- yet.

DVC offers a great deal of flexibility in terms of accommodations and lengths-of-stay. When we first bought in, we thought we'd be using studios exclusively, and would be able to take advantage of longer (2 week) stays. We've had to take a year away from Disney in '08 and '10 with the birth of our children. Banking in '08 gave us the opportunity to stay in a 1BR -- my wife was pregnant and usually asleep by 7pm, while I played with DD in the "living room.". Thanks to banking and some borrowing, we'll be able to do about a week of our 11 day stay in a Treehouse this year. We can the same in '13, when we'll need to see if add-on-it is kicks in.

The ability of DVC to grow with your family is a major plus, and one I'd highly recommend to couples who already enjoy WDW. Others have given you the usual caveats -- buy where you want to stay, DVC is not a hotel experience with daily housekeeping, don't let resale affect your decision since a timeshare isn't a "serious" asset. All of these are true and should be stressed to those just beginning to consider DVC.

You'd want to particularly consider whether you'll be able to use a large majority of you DVC points on DVC resort vacations. I don't think it's overly foolish to use points for 1 cruise, or 1 non DVC resort stay -- and your options will now be very limited if you choose to buy through resale. The fact is that points rent for right around $10 -- comparing the cost in points vs cash for DCL or Adventures by Disney, you'll only receive $7-8/ point.

But Here's the punchline -- our family is staying at the Treehouses for six nights for 265 points, which cost us about $1200 in dues. The rack rate for
six nights in a Treehouse in June is probably close to $4000, and I doubt that June is a good time for discounts. You can have the opportunity to make that choice now for less than $70/pt for an SSR resale -- around $10K with the right resale contract would give you this opportunity every other year. It is extremely unlikely that our family would have gone to Disney as often as we have, for as many days as we have, in as spacious as accommodations as we have, had we not bought into DVC back in '04. Many on these boards would recognize that that was Disney's plan all along -- maybe this really is Disney's best kept secret! But I know my wife and I will have some wonderful memories( and the kids will see some neat photos after they've forgotten )of a trip at a resort that we never would have entertained considering if we were paying cash.

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Old 05-17-2011, 07:51 AM   #8
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We've owned since 2009 and are very very happy DVC owners. So, take my comments with that grain of salt. Below I've tried to address your concerns.

My main concerns which I'd love to hear comments on:
--cost of ownership (special assessments, fees, etc.) DVC is expensive. Period. It is also a very personal decision as to whether it works with your vacation habits. If you typcially stay in Values or Mods, offsite, or can take advantage of discounts, DVC might not be the best fit for you. We ended up buying in after realizing that we could save money in that our typical yearly vacation was at the Poly and accommodations cost us approximately $2,500 each trip. I would recommend crunching the numbers and see whether DVC makes sense or not. Don't forget to factor in the yearly dues.
--resale - how hard is it to get out of DVC if needed? The resale market is pretty saturated right now, so if you bought in and then had to sell within a couple of years, you would likely lose money. However, if you plan on buying resale, you certainly will be paying less for your points than buying direct, which would get you closer to the "break-even" point quicker. Do keep in mind, though, that resale points have limits on where they can be used (i.e., they cannot be used for Disney Cruise Line vacations).

--quality of rooms - we recently rented DVC points & stayed in a DVC room at BCV - when I walked over to the main resort area the DVC area seemed more run down, less cared for (like Disney knew they already had you, so they didn't need to keep up with maintenance like they do for the "paying" customers) I've never found this to be the case. We've stayed at BLT (our home) and BCV and our experience is that the rooms and resorts have been in great condition. With that said, you can get bad rooms in both scenarios - both non-DVC and DVC.
--ease of using points for booking Disney trips Maybe we've been lucky, but we've never had a single problem using our points, from a couple nights booked within 2 months of the trip, to a cruise, to 14 nights over Christmas, etc. Our MS reps. have always been helpful and nice and we've always gotten our first choice resort (either by getting it the first go-around or by having a waitlist come through).
--ease of using points for non-Disney hotels We've not had the occasion to use our points for anything but DVC hotels and Disney cruises, so I can't comment on this one.

Hope that helps! Good luck with your decision!

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Old 05-17-2011, 08:32 AM   #9
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--cost of ownership (special assessments, fees, etc.)

DVC is a fairly expensive timeshare. Our dues pick up things like transportation to the parks that you wouldn't have in a "normal" timeshare. Dues increases are capped at 15% a year and have been about 3% a year.

--resale - how hard is it to get out of DVC if needed?

It used to be easy. But the market is fairly saturated now with people getting out of DVC. Good time to buy resale, bad time to sell if you need to.

--quality of rooms - we recently rented DVC points & stayed in a DVC room at BCV - when I walked over to the main resort area the DVC area seemed more run down, less cared for (like Disney knew they already had you, so they didn't need to keep up with maintenance like they do for the "paying" customers)

Yep. The question is "is it good enough."

--ease of using points for booking Disney trips

Easy - if you stay at home and plan a year in advance. If you decide you want BCV over Food and Wine and own SSR, you'll end up disappointed at least once in a while.

--ease of using points for non-Disney hotels

Expensive, not flexible, few choices, poor ability to cancel.

We own DVC to stay at Disney. We have two kids and spreading out in a multi room unit really makes the difference between four people who have to vacation together in a tiny room and end up picking on each other, and four people who get along great. If I didn't have kids, I MUCH prefer the hotels - better maintained (IMHO), I LIKE mousekeeping, and cash is always more flexible. And without kids, we'd be able to travel at times of year to take advantage of specials. But we aren't huge Disney people like a lot of folks here, without kids we wouldn't go as often - probably every 3-5 years.
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Old 05-17-2011, 09:47 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the great advice!
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Old 05-17-2011, 12:08 PM   #11
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This is a great thread for anyone considering joining the DVC family.

We are very happy to have bought in to an SSR resale contract.

The one point that I would want to emphasize is that you will still be spending a large pile of money, every time that you visit Disney. With airplane tickets (or gas for your car), Park tickets, dining, mouse ears, etc... you need to be prepared to shell out some cash for each visit. Being members doesn't get you a "free" room, but it does feel that way to check in and out without really getting a bill for the number of nights. It feels good. The real plus is to be able to get a kitchen/washer/dryer/separate bedrooms. This makes it feel like not being a hotel, but home.

If you want to feel good about the value that you are getting for your money, just log onto the Disney website and price out a 2 bedroom DVC property for a week. I can't believe that people actually pay these 'rack' prices, but I'm sure that they do. You only need a couple trips to break even at these rates.

If you think that you want to jump in, I would definitely support the resale approach. The worst part was the 2 months that it took to process through the system. Find a contract that you like. We found one loaded with points so took a big trip right away without borrowing from our 2011 points. SSR wasn't our first choice of resorts, but it made the best financial sense, and we were very happy staying there. We're excited to try all of the properties at some point, but will always be content at our SSR home.

I have no experience selling a DVC contract, but my impression is that you could always sell it if your price is right. They seem to retain their value better than most timeshares. You can always price things 'to sell' if you need to be rid of it right away. Even if Disney executes their ROFR because your price was too low, it doesn't matter to you, as you still sell for that price. It may take more time to sell at market price, and you'll probably never sell if you keep your price too high, but if you do your research to see what things are selling for, just price it $5/point less and you'll be out in no time. I don't ever expect to be 'stuck' with it.

If you want a lot of points, I'd buy multiple smaller contracts. They seem much easier to unload and retain their value. A 1,000 point contract can't be split up and will take a special buyer to be found. I'd consider multiple contracts if you are thinking in the 200+ point range, otherwise one contract would be fine.

The last warning that I'd provide is what I've read a lot on these boards regarding 'addonitis'. I didn't give it a second thought, but I'm already looking at additional contracts. We love it, and only want more.

Good luck. I hope it works out for you.
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