Tips For Unloading Your Timeshare

First tip: Don’t buy it as an investment
BY: BILL FOLDES

A timeshare is not an investment. Investments are designed to appreciate in value, generate income, or do both but a timeshare is unlikely to do either, despite what the salesperson tells you. For one thing, the huge volume of used timeshares that are on the market at any given time shows what a challenge you will have selling your used timeshare at all, let alone at a profit.

So if a timeshare is not an investment, what is it? it's a vacation. You are buying a repeatable vacation. Just as spending $3,000 on a trip to an exotic beach is not an investment; neither is spending $10,000 plus maintenance fees on a timeshare.

The maintenance fees are the reason most people want, and even need, to dump their timeshare. No timeshare company writes into the contract that they won’t up the fees, and up the fees they do, to the point of real pain. Getting out from under these fees, which soon become more than the annual vacation should cost, is the number one reason people want out, no matter what timeshare salespeople tell you.

So, before we give you the Big Tip on selling your timeshare, let us share with you the possibility of just slipping out of it. Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you already feel like your timeshare is like chewing gum on your shoe: You can’t easily and elegantly scrape it off. After all, you only bought it because your salesman was beating you over the head while you were staring out at the beautiful ocean. You can’t do that to a potential buyer, so you’re at a disadvantage from the get-go.

Just slip out the back, Jack.

They are usually lying when they threaten to ruin your credit if you stop paying their annual extortion, which they refer to as a maintenance fee. We know of at least half a dozen people who walked away from their timeshare without suffering even a blip on their credit report. In fact, some timeshare companies want you to walk away, because they will simply sell it again.

Our timeshare market is mature, meaning all the rooms are sold out. They only way they can keep selling is if you walk away from yours. Or, they sell “points” instead. The points system was dreamed up because there was no more real estate to sell us. We are now buying nothing, not even a little box in the sky to use for a week. Points have nothing real, nothing tangible, backing them up.

OK, back to a more elegant way of getting the gum off your shoe. List it on some of the hundreds of sites on the internet, but here is the part you pay us the big bucks for: Do not pay anyone up front. Do not believe anyone who tells you they can dump your timeshare if you will only buy this shiny new timeshare. Do not put any “earnest money” up front for any reason. These people prey on you because they know you bought a timeshare in the first place, so you must be, ahem, a little challenged in financial management. They will pass all sorts of cockeyed schemes in front of you. There are even guys on the streets of Los Cabos who will stop you and sell you a timeshare you can’t even see, if only you will pay them to get rid of a currently owned timeshare. And people do it! After their check clears the bank, they come to us. Too late, the crooks are gone, on to another market.

We are often asked how can they get away with it, and the answer is hard for Americans and Canadians to understand. They get away with it because there is nobody to enforce the very weak laws that are on the books. There is a timeshare association, but it is supported by the industry, so they’re not going to crack down on their members. One would think they would, just to keep a good name, but sadly, they don’t. The government run consumer agency Profeco is supposed to watch the industry, but nobody there speaks English and they are so slow to respond, the victim has flown home by the time a report is made.

Here are a few more tips.

Some resorts do have a formal resale program, so ask them. However, same rule applies, do not get mired in another timeshare and do not pay them up front.

Read your contract to determine what our rights are, and if you can even sell the thing without huge transfer fees. Don’t spin your wheels finding a buyer only to see that buyer melt away when they see a barrage of fees coming their way.

You need to be familiar with the market, and there is plenty of friendly info available on the Internet. Like Timeshare Users Group, (tug2.net). Even getting to that site is a minefield of dishonestly, because when you enter the words, more timeshare sales pitches pop up on your screen and you are hijacked. These scammers are relentless. Be sure what site you are on.

One more word of caution: After you choose a site to sell your timeshare on, you may get phone calls suggesting you rent your week to cover your maintenance fee. Look out! Look out! They are going to want some money up front.

Repeat after me: Don’t pay anything upfront. You are so done with being scammed. You are strong, you are smart.