Buying that timeshare seemed like a good idea when you were on vacation a while back, right? But now you’re stuck with an annual bill, or increased timeshare maintenance fees, and that cost is taking a bite out of your budget. To make matters worse, you may not even be using the timeshare as much as you anticipated—or at all.
Not to worry. There are some legitimate alternatives available if you’ve signed a timeshare agreement and want to get out of that deal.
But first: let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do to try to unload your timeshare property.
Never pay an upfront fee
Be careful about working with certain companies that offer to “help” you sell your timeshare. Some of them make lots of lofty promises about getting you fast money for your timeshare. Then they charge high listing and sales fees, and do nothing other than post Internet advertisements for your timeshare.
Equally problematic, many timeshare re-sellers will insist that you pay an upfront fee to get rid of your timeshare. They may call this a “marketing charge” or a “listing fee.” Some re-sellers may claim it’s a required cost to do an “appraisal,” a “title search” or something else altogether. Whatever the fee is labeled, don’t fall for it. You should never, ever pay an upfront charge to someone to sell your timeshare. It’s just setting you up for the very real possibility of losing your money.
In fact, some places asking timeshare sellers to pay upfront fees are outright scams. Still, because a timeshare-reselling agent acts as a third-party between timeshare owners and sellers, some people think that using a re-seller can speed up the sales process.
Recognize that any re-seller will charge a fee for his or her services, and this is often charged as a percentage of the sale. Also realize that even if you sign over a power of attorney giving someone else the right to sell a timeshare on your behalf, you still remain the legal owner of the timeshare and are financially responsible for it until the timeshare actually sells.
So what if you don’t want to go the third-party sales route at all? Here are your main options.
Understand your agreement and form of timeshare ownership
Go dig up your agreement, review it, and check the fine print. You need to determine whether you have a deeded timeshare or a leased timeshare property. A deeded timeshare binds you to the contract as an exclusive owner, while the leased timeshare means you are only the owner for a set number of years.
If you have a deeded timeshare, you have the option to sell it to someone else. If you have a leased timeshare, you may have to keep paying your annual fees until the lease expires.
Rent it out occasionally or annually
Most timeshare buyers only own a specific and limited portion of a property for a specific week or month during the year. If you know you aren’t going to be using your timeshare for a certain period of time, consider renting it out to somebody as a vacation rental for extended stays.
In some cases, the rental fees you earn will be able to cover the annual maintenance fees you must pay on the timeshare.
Just remember that, regardless of whether you use the timeshare or rent it to someone else, you remain responsible for maintenance costs and other fees as outlined in your initial timeshare agreement.
Consult the property manager for in-house options
Some timeshare companies offer services for those who are interested in selling their timeshare, and they may even help to match you up with an interested party. They may charge a fee for this service—which will come out of the final sale price—but this could be an easier way to get that timeshare sold.
With some timeshares, your annual fees may have escalated to the point where you’re not getting much value each year from the timeshare, or you could simply pay to go to another resort and come out cheaper.
If high annual fees are the issue, ask your timeshare property management company for permission to deed back your timeshare to the organization. With a “timeshare deedback,” you basically agree to give your timeshare back to the resort. If they agree, you’re no longer responsible for the timeshare.
Advertise your timeshare property the right way
If you are under a deeded timeshare agreement and decide to sell the timeshare on your own, consider posting your property on a reputable site like TUG, the Timeshare Users Group. This is a consumer-friendly source of information for those interested in buying, selling or renting timeshares.
TUG members currently pay a $15 annual fee to join the service. The cost is well worth it, because TUG offers everything from ratings and reviews of timeshares to up-to-date sales data about timeshares, so you can have a realistic sense of what your property might fetch in today’s environment.
Best of all, TUG features a “Timeshare Marketplace” that lets you post free classified adds to sell or rent your timeshare. An online forum, FAQ section, and plenty of timeshare articles round out the site.
Aside from TUG, you can also place classified ads for your timeshare on sites such as Craigslist and eBay.
The gift alternative
Finally, if none of the above-mentioned methods work, just resign yourself (temporarily, at least) to enjoying the privilege of having a temporary vacation home at your disposal. If you can’t use your timeshare in any given year, maybe you can gift it to a family member or friend. That way, your timeshare wasn’t a complete waste of money after all.