Timeshares are one of those purchases many people make while caught up in the enthusiasm of vacation — then regret, often not too much later.
But there are upsides to timeshares. I own three and feel I got my money’s worth out of them — and then some. And I’m not alone. About 6.9 percent of U.S. households have a shared vacation ownership — like timeshare weeks or points or shares of private residence clubs — according to the American Resort Development Association. That amounts to more than 9.2 million households.
Though the timeshare market was hard hit during the Great Recession, sales eventually rebounded, increasing 25 percent since 2010, according to The New York Times.
But my happy timeshare ownership story is not everyone’s. Many people feel they were duped by high-pressure sales and are anxious to unload their units. Others are horrified by the seemingly ever-increasing maintenance fees they pay on their properties.
I’ve watched as people sold timeshares without making any money — or even at a loss. Don’t make the mistake of giving your timeshare away or selling it at a bargain price without researching other options. Consider these steps to successfully sell your timeshare:
1. Make sure you want to sell
Timeshares have changed tremendously through the years. At one point, owners had to visit the property during a certain week. Then trading that week for a different one became an option.
Now timeshares offer “points” that you can accumulate. Think of points like frequent flyer miles. The more points you have, the more vacation days you earn at your choice of properties or times.
2. Determine the value of your timeshare
What you paid may well not be the value of your timeshare. Timeshares are not investments, and they can devalue quickly.
Websites that can help you determine the value of a timeshare include:
But don’t stop there. I’ve found that the companies that own and manage my timeshares are forthcoming about the recent selling prices in their communities. At least ask.
3. Beware resale companies
Some owners are so anxious to sell their timeshares that they sign with resale companies without verifying their reputation. Veteran timeshare real estate agent Judi Kozlowski, a broker with RE/MAX Properties SW in Orlando, Florida, told U.S. News & World Report:
“There are probably 50 different scams going on at all times. I’ve got a client that was scammed six times.”
Her best advice: Don’t work with anyone who wants more than $100 upfront. Real estate agents collect their fees when properties sell.
Also, she recommended avoiding those who approach you by postcard or telephone — as they are likely scammers.
4. Carefully consider an agent
There are many ways to sell timeshares. As with selling homes, one option is going through a real estate agent. But agents who specialize in timeshares often only work with certain properties, according to U.S. News & World Report. Many also take a much larger commission for such sales than they do for home sales.
5. Sell the unit yourself
Advertise your timeshare online — many people use Craigslist – and don’t forget your social media connections too. Your friends may know someone who is looking for a timeshare.
Also, consider placing an ad in the area where your timeshare is located. Some people buy timeshares in their hometowns. The reason: They get to use the recreation facilities for free just by paying the annual maintenance fee, and they can put up out-of-town family or friends in the unit. So don’t rule out locals as possible buyers.
Owning an unwanted timeshare is frustrating, but patience and research can help ensure you come out on top financially.
For more guidance, check out “What You Need to Know About Buying or Selling a Timeshare Property.”
What’s your experience with timeshare properties? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.