Regardless of whether you’re taking a freebie timeshare off someone’s hands or paying thousands for one, you’ll want to know answers to all these questions before completing the transaction.
- What are the annual maintenance fees? When are they next due?
- Historically, how often have maintenance fees at this timeshare increased?
- Am I locked into a specific week? If the timeshare is “floating” and allows reservations for various weeks during the year, am I locked into a certain season?
- Do I have to use a specific unit on the property or can I pick my room/building?
- What amenities are included during my stay at the timeshare? Are there extra fees I’ll need to pay for certain services?
- If a points system is used, how many points are needed to reserve a week? Can I use my points at multiple resorts?
- Who pays the closing costs if I buy the timeshare?
- If I later decide to sell or give away my timeshare, does the resort charge a transfer fee?
Above all, don’t make a rash decision when jumping into a timeshare and don’t go into debt for one either. Make it a property you’re sure to love forever, because that’s how long you’ll have it, unless you can find someone else willing to take it off your hands, which, as you’ll see in the next section, isn’t always easy.
5 ways to deal with your unwanted timeshare
At one point, the working title for this article was “Timeshares: Just Say No.” If you’re one of the people struggling under $1,000+ annual maintenance fees, you know exactly why. The resale market for timeshares is horrendous.
If you’re thinking of parting ways with your timeshare, here are a couple of tips and suggestions.
1. Watch out for scams: List your timeshare for sale practically anywhere, and get ready for the scam emails and calls to come rolling in. Typically, these come from “law firms” or brokers who claim to be able to get you out of your timeshare in exchange for a hefty fee. Never pay anyone a hefty upfront fee; it’s almost never legit. A second tactic is a version of the old Nigerian scam. You’ll have someone interested in buying the timeshare, but they’re going to send you a big check. You need to cash it and then forward a portion of the money to someone else. Don’t do it. Scam, scam, scam.
2. Ask if your resort has a deed back program: Although not the norm, some resorts would rather have the timeshare deed back than see you sell it on the resale market. You might need to track down someone higher up the food chain than the customer service rep to tell you whether you can deed back your timeshare. In addition, the resort might require you to pay the next year’s maintenance fees before they’ll accept it. When doing a deed back, work directly with the resort. Don’t trust third parties who promise to do it for you in exchange for a fee.
3. Consider a timeshare exchange: Maybe you still like the idea of a timeshare, but your current property is no longer a good fit for your family or lifestyle. You can use sites like RedWeek to exchange weeks with other timeshare owners. You could also see if your resort offers any programs that let you change your timeshare property. Again, be prepared for fees.
4. Rent rather than sell: For most timeshares, there’s no reason why you can’t rent out your unit during your allotted week. Since most timeshare resorts are at desirable locations, this could be a win-win. You could get enough for your unit to cover some or all of the annual fees, and the renter could get bargain-priced vacation accommodations. But you might want to do a little due diligence on your renters first because you could be on the hook for any damage they cause during a stay.
5. Price to sell: As a final bit of advice, keep your selling price reasonable. You’re not going to get $10,000 for the timeshare you bought five years ago for $12,000, especially not when other owners are practically giving theirs away. Do a search for similar units and destinations, and then price yours below the other listings. If you’re really desperate, consider covering the closing costs or transfer fees, too.
That’s all I have to say about timeshares. What about you? Love ’em or hate ’em, we’d like to hear your comments below or on our Facebook page.