Ask Stacy: What Can I Do With My Timeshare?

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A timeshare might make sense for a select group of people - but never for anyone who has to borrow the money to purchase or might need to sell someday.

Here’s an email I got this week – I’ve gotten several similar ones over the past year.

My wife and I bought a timeshare property from Wyndham Vacation Resorts in 2008 and were “talked into” upgrading twice since then. We have had financial difficulties in the meantime and need to sell our timeshare. We have found this to be impossible. We have been in contact with rip off artists – there are many! We have contacted Wyndham about our situation and they say they sympathize with us and that we should sell the timeshare, but give no advice or direction (they say they don’t get involved in reselling or taking back timeshares). We have also been in contact with what seem to be genuine timeshare resellers and they tell us either that we can’t sell because we still owe money or that our timeshare is not worth anywhere near what we owe. Is there any help or advice you can provide to help us out? We are very close to having to declare bankruptcy and would like to avoid doing that, but in the next couple of months we don’t see any other choice. Thanks in advance for any help/advice you can provide.

I’m sorry for your financial troubles, Bob, and I really wish there was advice I could offer that might help. But timeshares can be difficult, even impossible, to sell: especially when they’re worth less than you owe on them.

Last year I did an article/video called Buying or Selling a Timeshare? Read This First.  You should check out the entire post, but here’s an excerpt:

What I took away from this story – and what you should too

The more I researched the whole idea of selling timeshares, the more leery I personally became of the whole concept. Sure, it sounds cool to own an annual week in a fancy seaside or mountain resort. But after paying thousands up front, you also often have to pay major annual fees whether you use it or not. Then, there’s the problem I uncovered in this story: Selling your timeshare, at least for what you paid for it, could be tough, even impossible.

I’ll stop short of saying you should never buy a new timeshare because the world is a big place, people’s appetites vary widely, and there are always exceptions to every rule. In fact, I’m sure there are timeshares that have gone up in value. But personally, if I ever decide to buy a timeshare, I’ll make sure I never intend to sell it and I won’t expect much if I do. I certainly won’t finance it, and I will try to buy it pre-owned rather than paying top dollar to a developer.

You should also check out this post from just a few months ago: How NOT to Sell a Timeshare: Pay Money Up Front.

As you can see, I’m no fan of timeshares. They’re a product that’s too often foisted on the gullible with high-pressure sales tactics and virtually no secondary market.  Like a new car, they depreciate radically the moment they’re purchased. But at least a car dealer will buy back their car: As you can see from Bob’s email, his timeshare dealer leaves him twisting in the wind.

While I wouldn’t be hopeful, here are several sites that appear legitimate where you can list a timeshare:

If it doesn’t sell at one of these sites, the only way out for Bob may be to pay part or all of the money owed against his timeshare to make it more marketable, or discharge the timeshare debt in bankruptcy.

Learn a lesson here, folks: If you insist on buying a timeshare, buy it pre-owned from someone like Bob for pennies on the dollar, never from a developer.  Sure, take that free vacation, free meal, or whatever that timeshare company is using to entice you to their property, but don’t sign on that dotted line.

Stacy Johnson

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