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How to Sell a Timeshare

Okay . . . let’s talk about timeshares. Maybe you signed on to a timeshare to make fun vacation memories with the family. You pictured a place to escape with white sandy beaches in some tropical paradise. Sounds great, right?

But after dozens of payments and ridiculous fees, you’ve caught on to what a scam timeshares are. It feels like it’s been an unpluggable leak in your budget for years! So now you’re asking, “How do I sell my timeshare?”

If you want out of this deal, you’re in good company. You’re actually joining the other 85% of timeshare owners wishing they could sell their timeshare!1

Whatever your reason for selling, I want to help you out. Let’s look at three 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

First things first. Dig your original contract—and any other paperwork about the timeshare—out of your files to see exactly what you signed way back when (it’s all in the fine print, right?). 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 property.

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 the deed. 

How do you visit the property?

Okay, now you need to 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?

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

Now before we go much further, I 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. Yep . . . 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 without getting any money for it!

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but just getting out from under those recurring fees is probably the best happily-ever-after you can expect. So just be prepared.

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 it’s somehow 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 a similar square footage and the same number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

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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 ones that are 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 . . . you shouldn’t sell 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!

That’s why I recommend using either a real estate agent or a timeshare listing company. But there are some things you should keep in mind with either of those options.

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 time into researching potential companies by checking with the Better Business Bureau and the American Resort Development Association.

One ploy they use is asking you to join a vacation club so they can sell your timeshare. That’s when things get sketchy. 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 scummy people out there!

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 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.

Find a Great Agent You Can Trust

Okay, if you want to have a real estate agent help you sell your timeshare, there’s only one place I recommend looking: our network of RamseyTrusted real estate agents. We can match you with the right agent who will fight for you, be honest with you, and make this whole weird and crazy process as smooth as it can be.

Find a RamseyTrusted agent today!

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Rachel Cruze

About the author

Rachel Cruze

Rachel Cruze is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, financial expert, host of The Rachel Cruze Show, and co-host of Smart Money Happy Hour. Rachel writes and speaks on personal finance, budgeting, investing and money trends. As a co-host of The Ramsey Show, America’s second-largest talk radio show, Rachel reaches millions of weekly listeners with her personal finance advice. She’s appeared on Good Morning America and Fox News and been featured in TIME, REAL SIMPLE and Women’s Health, among others. Through her shows, books, syndicated columns and speaking events, Rachel shares fun, practical ways to take control of your money and create a life you love. Learn More.

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