For years now, money expert Clark Howard‘s advice on timeshares has been consistent and straight to the point: “Do NOT buy a timeshare — EVER.”
“Know that there’s a reason timeshares ‘stick’ to people,” Clark says. “It’s because intrinsically they have no real marketable value and usually have a negative value.”
If you’ve got a timeshare you no longer want, here are some suggestions on how you might be able to get rid of it once and for all — without getting ripped off.
What To Do if You No Longer Want Your Timeshare
Table of Contents:
- Sell Your Timeshare (if You Can)
- Cancel Your Timeshare
- Give Your Timeshare Back
- List Your Timeshare for $1 or Give It Away
- Donate Your Timeshare to Charity
If you want to get out of your timeshare, you are by no means alone.
Many thousands of people who have bought timeshares from Wyndham, RCI, Interval International, Marriott Vacation Club and other companies are in the same boat.
“Timeshares are a defective product,” Clark says. “They don’t work. They violate all the rules of economics. For example, when selling a condo once, there are high expenses in the transaction for commissions, marketing, sales, paperwork transfer, etc. It’s not cheap. If you sell that same condo 50 times over, you incur those same expenses with each sale. The money you pay for a timeshare week all goes to these expenses, nothing for the actual value of the property. That’s why when you buy a timeshare, the next day it’s worth less than zero — because, basically, there are no buyers.”
If you need to unload a timeshare, here are your options.
Sell Your Timeshare (if You Can)
The Timeshare Users Group (TUG) is an online community of timeshare owners who share experiences and advice with one another.
TUG’s #1 piece of advice is that you should never pay any upfront fees when you’re trying to sell your timeshare. There are a lot of companies out there separating timeshare owners from even more of their money by charging exorbitant fees with the promise that they’ll help them sell. Don’t fall for it.
Even the Federal Trade Commission says, “If you want to sell your deeded timeshare, and a company approaches you offering to resell your timeshare, go into skeptic mode.”
Clark agrees that you should be very wary of any company that promises to get you out of your timeshare for a fee.
“There are companies out there that offer to solve the problem for you. They’ll offer you a scenario where they say, ‘We guarantee we’ll get you out of your timeshare,’ and those are words you want to hear, because every other way you’ve tried to get rid of it, you’ve failed.
“The reality is, though, the guarantees aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, because they require you to accept conditions that you’re likely not going to be willing to accept. You end up committing to paying money up front before you know what you’re going to have to do in terms of payment or what you might have to do to your own credit in order to be relieved of that timeshare.”
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll come anywhere close to recouping your investment when you sell your timeshare, and you should set your expectations accordingly.
TUG has produced a great video on figuring out what your timeshare is worth on the retail market. Check it out below.
Once you have an idea of the actual value of your timeshare, you’ll need to advertise. TUG has its own Timeshare Marketplace, and it’s probably the most active site for selling and buying timeshares that you’ll find.
Once you find a buyer, it’s up to you and that party to agree on the terms of the sale.
From TUG: “It’s best to have a contract with your buyer that specifies what the buyer gets in addition to ownership (e.g., use of this year’s week?) and what you get (payment amount and terms) and when. Although you should consider the possibility of engaging an attorney to assist you, the cost to do so might be prohibitive, depending on the price of your transaction.”
If you decide to do the transaction yourself, TimeSharing Today has resale kits for $30. They include a purchase contract, contract terms and conditions, and a finance agreement.
Cancel Your Timeshare
According to legal information site Nolo, you may be able to cancel a timeshare purchase, but in most cases, you’ll have to act quickly.
“The amount of time you have to cancel the purchase, called the ‘rescission period,’ depends on state law. Usually, you have only a few days,” Nolo says.
Debt.org, a consumer advocacy site, says that this “cooling off period” is between five and seven days in most states, though Alaska allows for up to 15 days.
In any case, cancellation is likely not an option for you unless you’ve just purchased your timeshare.
Give Your Timeshare Back
Another potential option for freeing yourself from your timeshare obligation forever is to give the timeshare back to the company that sold it to you.
“This is what’s called a ‘Timeshare Deedback,’” writes TUG member Mark Perry.
Perry points out that your timeshare must be paid off and that you can’t owe any back taxes or fees to the resort. The company can still refuse to take back your timeshare, but it’s worth asking.
This method worked for Clark Consumer Action Center volunteer Ronnie. He had a timeshare in the North Georgia Mountains. Hear Ronnie tell his story here.
He had attended a presentation on getting rid of timeshares, but the company giving the advice was asking for $10,000 to help.
“They made a presentation on how to get rid of a timeshare and offered to buy me a meal and my wife a meal,” Ronnie says. “I listened to the way they presented it and was watching everybody getting angry that it was costing $10,000 to get out of it.”
That’s when Ronnie got crafty.
“When they left the table I took my camera and took a picture of the technique and the method of doing it,” Ronnie says. “And I followed it myself. My son and I wrote the letter [to the timeshare company]. And I made the phone call, and they were very pleasant about letting me get out.”
Based on his experience, Ronnie offers this advice: “I would tell [people] to call the timeshare itself, just like I did, and to tell them that there are no heirs. They know they can’t get the money from the people and they’ll let you out.”
List Your Timeshare for $1 or Give It Away
If you can’t sell your timeshare for any appreciable amount and you are unable to do a Timeshare Deedback, you may be able to find someone to take over your timeshare for you. Obviously, you’ll lose money on this deal, but at least you won’t have to pay taxes and fees on the timeshare going forward.
The TUGBBS Bargain Bin is a forum set up specifically for people who are looking to give their timeshares away — and for people who might be willing to take them.
Donate Your Timeshare to Charity
You can do this (if the charity will accept your donation), but TUG points out that if you expect to get a significant tax benefit from donating your timeshare to charity, you could be very disappointed.
If you have further questions or would like to speak to someone about your particular circumstance, please contact our Consumer Action Center here.