Whether your timeshare has been a wonderful tool for building family memories or you feel like it’s been an unpluggable leak in your budget for years, you’ve finally come to the point of asking, “How do I sell my timeshare?” Don’t worry. You’re in good company. You’re actually joining the other 85% of timeshare owners wishing they could sell theirs!(1)
Whatever your reason for selling, we want to help you out. Let’s look at four practical steps for selling your timeshare, plus a few warnings about some of the “gotchas” that could trip you up along the way.
Step 1: Revisit Your Contract
To start with, dig your original contract—and any other paperwork about the timeshare—out of your files to see exactly what you signed way back when. You’ll need this information before you even begin to try to sell it.
What are the details of the contract?
You’ll want to know all the physical information about the timeshare that’s included in the contract: the location (including the country), the name of the resort or developer, the size and description (number of bedrooms and baths), and any amenities included with the timeshare.
Who has the deed?
Look closely to find out if you have an actual deed to the property or if it’s a “right to use” agreement. Even if it says you have a deed, a lot of times these deeds will be held by the resort or at a trust company rather than given to you as the owner of the timeshare. You’ll want to get a physical copy of this deed.
How do you visit the property?
Determine what type of access arrangement you have to the property. Do you have a fixed week during the year, a floating week during a certain period, a time each year based on a points system, or some type of combination?
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Maybe when you bought the timeshare you had a specific week you visited each year. Then after a few years you took an offer from the resort to accumulate points instead of reserve a certain week for your vacation. If you did, be sure to check with your resort about the resale process. You may have to convert all those points back into the equivalent weeks before selling.
Step 2: Research Your Timeshare’s Value
Before we go much further, we want you to have realistic expectations about your timeshare’s worth. No matter what the original salesperson said, you really can’t view a timeshare as an investment because it never appreciates. They actually go down in value worse than new cars do.
Supposing the sale works out, don’t expect to get back all the money you’ve already put into your timeshare. Many owners would be pleased if they could simply return the timeshare to the resort with no exchange of funds!
Even if you don’t get any money at all, solely getting out from under those recurring fees is the best happily-ever-after you can expect. Sorry for the Debbie Downer news, but we’re wanting to shoot straight!
Do you still have a mortgage?
First, is your timeshare paid in full, or are you still making payments? If you’re paying on the loan, find out if somehow it’s secured by the timeshare itself. Timeshares with a mortgage are listed as encumbered and are almost impossible to sell.
Are you caught up on all your payments?
Make sure your maintenance fees, incidental payments, HOA fees and other sneaky costs are already paid. You will need these expenses up-to-date if anyone’s going to look twice at your timeshare.
Are there other timeshares similar to yours on the market?
Now, armed with all the information you’ve gathered from your original contract, scope out other timeshares already on the market. Try to find ones with the same number of bedrooms, baths and a similar square footage.
To start with, you can use sites like eBay, Craigslist and Timeshare Users Group. Also, look for “sold” listings. They’re a more accurate indicator of price than one that’s only listed (which is often the wishful thinking of what an owner wants to get for their timeshare).
Step 3: Try to Sell Your Timeshare
The truth is . . . we don’t recommend selling your timeshare by yourself. You really want to use a professional because the complexities of selling these types of properties require not only specific knowledge about the whole procedure, but also special access to the market. You want someone who eats, breathes and sleeps this stuff—not a DIYer!
Is your agent experienced with timeshares?
If you’re going the real estate agent route, you don’t want just any real estate agent. It’s not time to be sentimental here! For this job, you don’t want your sweet friend from church or your aunt who got her real estate license three months ago! You want an agent who specializes in listing and selling timeshares. Ask them how many they’ve sold, and don’t worry about insulting them by asking.
Is your listing company trustworthy?
If you go with a timeshare listing company who says they want to try to sell your timeshare, use caution. A lot of scammers have started taking advantage of the desperation so many timeshare owners feel. Put in the time researching potential companies by checking with the Better Business Bureau and the American Resort Development Association.
One ploy they use is to ask you to join a vacation club so they can sell your timeshare. Then the scammy part steps in! After you’ve been “in the club” for a few months, they disappear and so does your money! On top of this, if you get an unsolicited call, or they say they already have a buyer for your timeshare, be suspicious—be extra suspicious. There are a lot of scumbags out there!
Is the resort open to taking back your timeshare?
If you run into a brick wall trying to sell your timeshare, this route could work for you. Go ahead and talk with your timeshare’s resort. Some resorts have started an internal process for selling used timeshares for their owners or just taking them back without any exchange of money.
Be careful though. Often the resort will take advantage of this desperate time to entice you to sign up for a wonderful “upgrade”—more weeks, or points for another resort complex— “just while we try to sell your timeshare!” Boy, those snakes are good! This is a little known “gotcha” for timeshare owners to watch for. Most of the time, an upgrade doesn’t replace the other contract but piles on another contract to the mix which further complicates the selling process!
Step 4: Contact a Timeshare Exit Company
Another option (and the one we recommend) is to connect with a timeshare exit company. Exit companies are different from listing companies. They aren’t like real estate agents or brokers who list or sell your timeshare. Instead, they look for legal and ethical ways to get you out of your contract completely.
What you don’t want:
Look both ways before you cross the street here! We’re telling you—there are some slippery folks out there! If the companies you contact use any one of these methods . . . Run. A. Way!
Uses high-pressure sales tactics
Promises a “too good to be true” timeframe (a full release from your contract usually takes 6–18 months)
Asks for your credit card number before you have a signed contract
What you do want:
Make sure the people at the company you choose not only know the law concerning timeshares, but also really know your rights as a consumer. They can be great advocates for you during this whole time.