Timeshares are appealing to many travel enthusiasts who dream of getting away to the same wonderful destination each year. It empowers them to own a piece of a vacation property that may otherwise be unattainable. Unfortunately, the charm can wear thin for many timeshare owners who tire of depreciation, annual fee increases that are beyond their control, the long-term commitment, travel costs or not being able to get the exact week they want at the property. If you are ready to sell your timeshare, don’t despair at the challenges that may seem to be in your way. It is possible to dispose of a timeshare legally.
Set Realistic Expectations
Prepare to lose money on reselling your timeshare. Also, unloading a timeshare may not be a fast, easy process. The Federal Trade Commission directly warns that you may have a hard time selling a timeshare once it’s purchased. Go into the process with these things in mind. Managing your expectations about this process can help you avoid disappointment and frustration as you move forward.
When buying your timeshare, hopefully, you weren’t viewing it as a long-term investment that would later offer a profit. Instead, purchasing the timeshare should have been viewed as paying for many years of vacations in advance. Not only is it likely going to be worth less than what you originally paid for it, but you will probably need to pay fees to unload it on top of the financial loss you’ll incur.
Weigh All Other Options
Are vacation timeshares worth it? You may have already decided that they’re not if you want to sell the timeshare. However, reassess all your options before making the final decision to sell your timeshare. Keeping it, for now, may ultimately be in your best interests. If temporary budget constraints mean you will miss out on using the timeshare for a year or two; it may still be worthwhile to hold onto it. If you can’t use your timeshare on a short-term basis, you may be able to gift the stay to friends or family members.
Get Your Paperwork in Order
Before you seriously explore selling your timeshare, take the time to ensure you have all the paperwork for your timeshare organized. Get the deed and all signed contracts related to the timeshare purchase. All the paperwork should be easy to access, too.
If you don’t already have the information on hand, obtain the details about how big your timeshare is and how big the overall resort is. Know which amenities the timeshare currently offers. If you haven’t been in a while, contact the resort to verify that nothing has changed. Assess all the fees you’re responsible for each year.
Stay Current on All Fees
To be eligible to sell your timeshare, do what it takes to stay current on all the dues and fees that you must pay on your timeshare. You also need to be sure you’re up-to-date on paying real estate taxes on the property if you’re required to do so.
Explore Selling It Yourself
You may want to sell your timeshare yourself. If you have the time to devote to selling the timeshare and feel you know enough about real estate sales to protect yourself, listing the timeshare yourself might be the way to go. Still, see a real estate attorney and ensure you’re protected and moving forward safely.
If you’re selling the timeshare yourself, get savvy about low-cost listing and marketing options. Listing the timeshare for sale on websites such as eBay can reach many people who are in the market for a cost-effective way to own vacation property in your destination. Craigslist is another low-cost place where you can list your timeshare for sale. You may also list it for sale on websites and newspapers that target visitors to the destination where you have the timeshare.
Consider a Reseller
Some real estate agents and brokers specialize in selling timeshares. That’s how big the potential market is, so don’t despair if it seems like nobody wants a timeshare at first. Timeshare resellers should only ask for payment once the timeshare is sold. Asking for an upfront payment to sell your property may be a red flag. Avoid any such company to stay on the safe side. Also, ask for references from past clients. It's not rude. It’s simply a method of protecting yourself.
Get all communication in writing as much as possible, making sure any potential contract includes all the promises they make. Make sure that the real estate agent is licensed in the city where your timeshare is. If in doubt, verify the information beyond the promises that the real estate agent makes. Don’t just take their word for it.
Also, if a well-known, large company developed or now manages your timeshare’s property, you may contact them about buying back or even helping to sell your timeshare. Although such a company may charge a hefty commission, the help may be worth it. Be sure to seek a lawyer’s advice about whether the action is in your best interest. Also, confirm any possible transfer fees and other costs that you may be responsible for paying during the sale.
Know All Your Choices
If you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey, the “timeshare exit team” may also be a familiar phrase. The Dave Ramsey Show endorses the Timeshare Exit Team. This organization claims to help dissolve your timeshare contract forever. However, The Los Angeles Times reports that it couldn’t initially even get a ballpark figure for how much the services of that company cost, but that the Timeshare Exit Team did confirm that at least a portion of the unspecified fee must be paid upfront.
After The Los Angeles Times published the original article, it was then told that the services of the Timeshare Exit Team cost approximately $4,000 and that the full amount is usually paid before services are rendered. However, payment plans are available. The Dave Ramsey company is dedicated to helping people get out of debt and establish financial health, but no one endorsement should influence your decision. Do your own due diligence to determine whether such fees are worth it or whether you may be better served by making other arrangements to sell your timeshare.
Beware of Timeshare Scams
Timeshare scams can target both buyers and sellers. Scammers know that many timeshare owners are ultimately unhappy with their purchase. They try to take advantage of this dismay with offers that are too good to be true. The Federal Trade Commission cautions that you should go into skeptic mode if someone approaches you with offers to sell your timeshare. Specifically, it recommends contacting your state’s Attorney General along with local consumer protection officials to investigate whether there are complaints filed against the reseller you’re considering.
Also, if the reseller makes a promise to sell your timeshare within a certain period, don’t trust them. It’s impossible to be able to guarantee the sale of a property in an exact time frame. Also, watch out if the reseller says they have a buyer ready to purchase your timeshare and make promises that seem otherwise too good to be true.
Market It on Social Media
The most successful real estate agents are wise about social media and use it as an effective marketing tool. Follow their lead whether you’re selling the timeshare on your own or going through a real estate broker. Have a professional real estate photographer take a batch of great photos of your timeshare and the property, then post them over time on social media. Use hashtags that are specific to the city and even the exact property where your timeshare is. That can help get the beautiful photos in front of potential buyers who are interested in the area.
Paid ads on social media may also be a worthwhile way to reach your target audience. With ads on Facebook, you can choose a specific audience, even going so far as to target Facebook users who list the timeshare’s locale as an interest of theirs. So, if you have a timeshare in the Bahamas, for example, you’d be able to target people who specifically love going to the Bahamas. While not everyone will be interested in buying a timeshare there, of course, that’s still a more effective way to reach people than purchasing blanket ads that reach people with no interest in the area.
- Some real estate agents specialize in selling timeshares. If you are looking for a way to sell your timeshare that won't occupy your entire schedule with showings and negotiations, consider taking this route. Just beware of high percentages due to the agent once the sale takes place.
- Late or unpaid timeshare payments are due in full at the time of sale, transfer or death of the timeshare owner. Ignoring payments and hoping they will go away does not settle the debt, which will come back to haunt you.
Robin Raven is an experienced journalist and author. She has a BFA in writing from the School of Visual Arts and loves to write about personal finance. She has contributed to USAToday.com, The Huffington Post, The Nest, Grok Nation, and many other publications.