I get questions from colleagues around the country asking for referrals here in Florida for agents that can sell a timeshare. Since it’s the magical time of the year when folks start planning for their winter get-aways down to Sunny Florida, here are my tips for buying, and selling, a timeshare.
Plan Ahead and Buy Smart
The first thing to know is that you will over-pay for a timeshare if you buy from the developer or the on-site agent. There’s a tremendous markup for the developer when selling timeshares right on the property. However in established timeshare communities there are often timeshares that can be found on the secondary market for less than half the price the developer is offering, and can be as low as a dollar. Yes. $1. A buck.
But don’t forget that your timeshare costs far more than the purchase. The annual fees can amount to thousands of dollars. Typically around $7,500 per year.
Check out eBay timeshares and see for yourself: http://www.ebay.com/sch/Florida-Timeshares-for-Sale/15897/bn_18950828/i.html
When buying, consider forming a Limited Liability Company to take title to the timeshare. Friends of mine have purchased several timeshares in the name of the LLC and when they decided they didn’t want the timeshare anymore, they just stopped paying the maintenance fees on it. Eventually the timeshare company will take the timeshare back although they won’t want to. The LLC limits the liability to the assets of the LLC so the timeshare company can’t come after you to pay the monthly maintenance in arrears.
If you haven’t planned this far in advance, you probably own the timeshare personally.
You might be able to try the same tactic with the timeshare management company – stop making your monthly maintenance payments and try to negotiate for the company to simply take the timeshare back. However this isn’t always successful and you could wind up with derogatory marks on your credit report because of the late payments. At the very least, expect that your account will be turned over to a collection agency and that they will begin a campaign of merciless harassment by phone and mail to get you to pay your past-due maintenance fees.
Sell with a timeshare liquidator
One of the largest timeshare selling companies is Sell My Timeshare Now: www.sellmytimesharenow.com however this is more of a listing company for folks trying to sell “By Owner” on their own.
Another is Buy a Timeshare: www.buyatimeshare.com. This company is more like a listing company that charges a fee to broker your timeshare sale.
There are a few companies that will purchase your timeshare from you – often times at a huge discount. But if you just want to get out from under the maintenance charges, this might work for you. They come and go so quickly my recommended companies are no longer in business but a Google search should turn something up. Just make sure that during the transaction, the company takes on full responsibility for the maintenance and any other payments.
There is a Timeshare Users Group with loads of user-generated content about selling un-loved and un-used timeshares. www.tug2.net
Last but not least is Redweek: www.redweek.com where users can post their timeshares for sale or for rent, or try to GIVE them away to other users.
Is your timeshare worth anything?
Do your research. A great website to see if there are recent sales in nearly any timeshare resort is Sharket: www.sharket.com
Avoid the scams
Since we have already determined that a local Realtor may not be able to handle the transaction, and you’re anxious to be free of the monthly maintenance and other responsibilities, know that thousands of other folks are in situations just like yours. Watch out – there are probably dozens of timeshare peddling scams going on at any given time. A good rule of thumb: don’t deal with a company that has any upfront costs higher than $100. You really should only need to pay a “By Owner” type of marketing company for the use of its website, its promotional prowess and good name. You should only pay a company that works as your “Agent” in facilitating your sale after the transaction is successfully consummated or closed.