One of the most ingenious inventions of modern real estate economics is the timeshare. Timeshares are designed to provide a slice of unreality for anyone who has a reasonable credit line. What most people could never hope to afford completely, they can pretend to afford in slices. A timeshare is my one week of affluence. One small piece of the dream of opulence. The marketing appeal is straightforward – you could never buy the whole thing but you can buy small part. The secret of the timeshare is group ownership. Sales people love it. They sell the same property 52 times.
There are basically two kinds of timeshares (and an infinite number of variations). The first is direct ownership. I purchase a fractional share in the actual property. I own it. I can sell it, transfer it or put it in my will. With ownership comes responsibility and I am completely responsible for my piece of the pie. I buy it and then pay for taxes and maintenance it as long as I hold it. But the little slice of luxury is mine.
The second basic timeshare arrangement is “right to use”. In this sale, I don’t actually own the property. What I own is the right to use the property for a specific period. It might be as many as 99 years, but when the time runs out, the property reverts to the developer. During my “right to use” period, I have all the privileges and obligations of ownership, but in the end it really isn’t mine. I still pay the taxes and the maintenance as though I owned it, but legally I just have a place to lay my head at the developer’s bequest.
Contrary to marketing legend, the timeshare scheme was not invented in the late 60′s. It was invented at the beginning of everything – by God. God built the most incredible, elaborate, magnificent luxury property ever conceived and He established the world’s first and best timeshare plan for its use.
Each one of us is given an allotment – our little piece of occupancy. We take possession at birth. God’s timeshare plan is only “right to use”, not direct ownership. We have “right to use” privileges for a specified amount of time. The property belongs to God, the developer. It always will. Our “right to use” can’t be sold, bartered or otherwise transferred to anyone else and it certainly cannot be inherited. However, this should not be a reason for complaint because there is another part of God’s timeshare plan that is completely unique. We don’t pay for our allotment up front. We only pay for it after our “right to use” period has expired. God established the world’s only “full faith and credit” system based entirely on birth. Just being born entitles us to our timeshare allotment. For as long as we use the property, we either add or subtract from the market value of the property. And when the “right to use” contract runs out, God will sit down with each one of us and look over His credit plan to determine if we are on the plus or the minus side of the ledger.
If you think this whimsical analogy is too far-fetched, consider a few of the examples of previous “right to use” owners in God’s timeshare development.
Adam seems to be the first. God gave Adam responsibility, authority and liberty. Adam had absolutely zero credit when God provided him with “right to use” privileges. In fact, Adam had the best resort property the world has ever known – The Garden of Eden Ritz, the Heavenly Hyatt on earth, the Wonder Westin. Not only was it fully equipped with every possible luxury option, it was even clothing optional. And it came with the perfect companion, complements of the developer. Unfortunately, Adam so misused his privileges that he was asked to leave the resort and never return. And he had to take his companion with him. Adam discovered that his slice of the pie was contingent on following one simple rule. He lost his right to use early in the game and he spent the rest of his life trying to pay the damages bill.
Abraham was another purchaser of God’s timeshares. God’s sales method is the best in the business. God simply tells the whole truth about every one of His properties. God made some pretty spectacular promises to Abraham. Abraham was promised permanent “right to use” privileges for the land called Canaan. The only catch was the Abraham’s promise was only good for future generations. Abraham never actually got to enjoy any of the “right to use” property. When he died, his only land asset was his tomb and he had to buy that with his own cash. Nevertheless, Abraham’s great, great, great grandchildren did get God’s “right to use” promise without having to make any down payments of their own. Abraham’s faithfulness was good enough for many future generations of credit.
Solomon is another interesting example of God’s timeshare business. At the beginning of his reign, God offers Solomon some spectacular choices. God’s offer is based on Solomon’s father’s devotion to God. Were it not for David, Solomon might not have enjoyed such wonderful blessings from God. But David built up a substantial credit balance and God was quick to recognize it. Solomon started life with all the rights and privileges of the best resort property still left in the world. Unfortunately, Solomon did not finish as strongly as he started. The female help distracted him and it cost him dearly.
We could choose other Old Testament examples but the essential pattern is probably clear. While “right to use” contracts are entirely individual, the balances on the account at the end of the use period have longer lasting effects. Sometimes the balance sheet means that the next owner gets an up-front bonus. Sometimes the balance sheet means that the subsequent owners end up paying for the damages for the rest of their lives. God does His best to ensure that this does not happen. But owners still ignore the checkout rules and the bills must be paid.
Over the history of the property, some damages seem to accumulate. Not everyone checks out with a zero balance. Our global village timeshare now faces significant repair issues because past “right to use” owners neglected the maintenance rules set down by the Developer. It’s already too late to recover some of the resort luxuries. Others are in serious danger. The price for repairs is growing. The Developer has given notice that these repairs are so serious that He has decided to tear down the entire property and rebuild. At that point, a date that is entirely up to Him, all previous owners with be surcharged for the damages.
There is another “balance due” bill that just can’t ever be paid no matter how hard new “right to use” owners try. No amount of credit will be sufficient to cover this expense. The reason is that this bill is the result of a slander lawsuit against the Developer.
All of the legal papers tell us that the “right to use” tenants have slandered the Developer through misuse of the agreement. First the tenants claimed that they were legally entitled to the property. Then they actually altered, destroyed, sold and deeded the property as though it were theirs. They even participated in a plot resulting in the death of the Developer’s heir. This complicity in murder, coupled with continual efforts to usurp ownership, led to a summary judgment issued against all “right to use” tenants. Every one was found guilty as charged. The Developer had no choice except to terminate His relationship with all the tenants. In a class action lawsuit, He was completely vindicated of any wrongdoing and found entitled to massive punitive damages.
What the timeshare “right to use” tenants failed to realize is that the Developer actually owned them too. They were not independent purchasers, selecting this resort through comparison-shopping. They were a part of the development itself, created by the real Owner for the enhancement of the property and for the enjoyment of the entire design. The failure to see this part of the Developer’s plan caused an outbreak of a severe disease that left all of the tenants mentally handicapped. They began to believe the lie that they were gods of their own making and could do whatever they wanted.
The Developer was distraught. His vision of harmony and integration was jeopardized by this insanity. So He devised an ingenious, comprehensive and compelling solution. He decided to accept the verdict of the Court as though it applied to Him. He willingly took on the obligation to pay the damages because He knew that not a single one of the tenants could ever cover the expense. This strategy allowed Him to re-establish the relationship broken by the misuse of the contract. The debt was paid. A new contract could be written without balancing the accounts.
The new contract still contained the timeshare principal of “right to use”. But this new contract offered the tenant a clean-slate start and it provider a permanent advisor who would offer immediate guidance on all property use issues. After all, the Developer really wanted tenants who lived in harmony with the resort’s vision of excellence and community.
Then the Developer made a stunning announcement. Anyone who had an old contract could tear it up. The Developer would cover all the costs to rewrite a new agreement. Amazingly, many tenants refused to take His offer. Insanity so deeply affected them they wanted to go on pretending they were in charge. But for those who realized that they were bankrupt, this offer brought incredible relief. They could complete the current “right to use” period knowing that the new resort awaited them. Their lives took on the purpose of preparing themselves for a new place. Not surprisingly, those who refused to see the coming change considered these early-adopters deranged.
So, where does this little story leave you and me? It’s sale-closing time. The new contract is on the table. We can go on believing that the resort will keep operating as it always has and ignore the signs that the maintenance bill is growing at an alarming rate. We can party until we drop and then face the bill collector. Or we can see that the party is over even if the ribbons and balloons are still hanging from the chandelier. We can sit down at the table with the Man with the new deal. We can take it while it is still available.
What do you say? Which option do you want?