Buying A Timeshare? 13 Things You Need To Know
Your timeshare vacation was supposed to be the best vacation of your life. It sounds like a dream come true…until you’re stuck with an empty bank account. And the list of reasons why it’s not what it’s cracked up to keep growing. Sometimes, the last straw is when a neighbor calls to say they saw your unit on fire, and you have nothing left but memories 🙁
When you fall in love with a timeshare, it’s easy to ignore red flags. You want to avoid facing a lousy investment in the middle of a happy vacation. And you don’t want to be embarrassed by asking questions that everyone else seems to already know the answers to. Playing it off like you already know everything may have been the ticket to getting your condo, but it’s not so great when the timeshare won’t sell. So let’s get started on our list of 13 things you need to know if you’re planning on buying a timeshare.
1. It probably is if it sounds too good to be true. There are no free vacations at any price, so don’t fall for promises of a free car or cash instead of an upgrade when you buy a timeshare. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a 100 percent refundable deposit because someone else will always be waiting in line behind you for that exact spot.
This is also true for any incentives that were promised to you…like a free vacation, free dinners, etc. If you get offered a free upgrade to a larger unit in the hopes that you will buy any old unit anyway, run like hell!
There is no better way to burn through your budget than with upgrades and special incentives. A percentage of owners never use their units, and if the company goes bankrupt (which happened to many large timeshare companies over the past few years), there is no guarantee your investment will ever be returned or that they can take care of your maintenance requests.
2. If you can’t use it when you want to, then what’s the point? You only want to buy a timeshare if you plan on using it. You may have dreams of hot sunny beaches and cold cocktails with tiny umbrellas in them, but if you are heading home after a long day at work and need a vacation from your vacations, then a timeshare is not for you.
When you buy a timeshare, make sure you can use it when you want to. If the timeshare company allows you to trade online with other owners or rent your timeshare out occasionally, then there are no worries.
3. Read the fine print and ask questions. When you look at a timeshare property, you must ensure you know what you’re buying.
When you pull out the paperwork, don’t just glance over it and sign where you’re told. Have someone who knows the legalese go over everything with a fine tooth comb to ensure that there aren’t hidden fees and clauses that will bite you in the ass later on. It’s always better to ask questions than to risk losing your investment. You can always walk away if something doesn’t sit right with you.
4. Read about timeshares to learn more about them before investing money in one. Many timeshares can be sold on websites like eBay or Craigslist, so do your homework before you buy one to ensure you don’t get stuck with a lemon.
5. The last thing you want is to sign over the deed to your timeshare only to find out that the timeshare company is going bankrupt and isn’t allowed to sell your timeshare anymore. If a company goes bankrupt, you may have no recourse but to file a lawsuit against them for breach of contract or many months without access to your property as they try and figure out what to do with your unit. Timeshares are considered personal property, which means that debts aren’t included in bankruptcy filings.
If you find an excellent timeshare at a reasonable price, don’t let anything or anyone convinces you not to buy it. You get what you pay for, and timeshare companies are in business to make money. If they can’t sell your unit, that’s on them, not you. Get the terms of your purchase in writing, and make sure that if something isn’t right with the deal, later on, you can walk away and find out what happened to your investment.
6. Don’t assume that the monthly maintenance fees will be covered in the resale price of the property…unless they say so. Maintenance fees are only guaranteed when listed as part of the sale details. Don’t assume that the maintenance fees will be passed on to the new owner of your timeshare only to find out later that they are not.
When selling a timeshare, ensure there are no maintenance fees or other costs associated with the deal, such as utilities. If you have a fee-based property and your title company requests payment for unpaid bills (and your contract doesn’t say that you agree to pay any outstanding bills or maintenance fees), then wait to pay them. Please make sure you get it in writing from both parties that the unit’s sale price covers all maintenance fees and utility costs before making a purchase agreement.
7. Beware of companies that make you pay for something before you can sell your timeshare. If a company isn’t making money on the sale, then why do they care if they help you find a buyer? There should not be any upfront fees associated with getting your timeshare sold, so if they are charging you upfront to list it, it’s probably a scam.
8. If maintenance fees are prorated based on the time of year or time of the week, then you need to know this. Otherwise, do not buy! Timeshares are only sold by the week, and occupancy is not based on calendar months like most other property types in which annual assessments occur at the beginning of every January.
If you need more clarification about the details of your timeshare contract, look them up on Google, or call the Timeshare Resale Center of America at 1-800-822-8878. They can answer any questions about timeshares before you purchase one.
9. Do not trust any offer from a “reputable” resale company that promises to sell your timeshare for a high price and never does its job. If this describes your experience with a resale company, then it’s clear that they are just in it for themselves and not in it to help you sell your timeshare when they promise to do so.
10. If you have an excellent timeshare and are looking to sell it, don’t wait until the last minute. Timeshares take time to sell, and they need exposure and traffic to get sold. If possible, start selling your timeshare at least three months before your annual maintenance fees are due so that you can give it time to sell and make sure that any potentially interested buyers can pay their fees and reserve their timeshare weeks at all of the resorts that are accepting reservations for the year ahead.
11. When selling your timeshare, ensure there is a buyer before entering into any contractual agreements with anyone. You must know that you have a solid contract with someone willing to buy your timeshare before you sign the papers. Only let people talk you into signing something if you are 100% sure that the deal will be completed or that if it isn’t finished, then you can get out of the contract without losing any money.
12. Inspections are essential when selling a timeshare. The buyer should inspect the property before they sign a contract to purchase it. Take the time to schedule an inspection with a qualified and experienced timeshare inspector to ensure that the timeshare is in good condition, that there are no liens or tax issues, and that the assessments have been paid up-to-date.
13. Be wary of any resale company that claims they can find you a buyer in less than 30 days if your timeshare has been on the market for more than 45 days. If you have to sell your timeshare quickly, look into websites like eBay or Craigslist before committing to paying anyone an upfront fee for their services.
In conclusion, timeshares can be sold, and there are good resale companies if you do your homework before buying a timeshare. If you do, it’s possible to make some money selling your timeshare. Just keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to selling your timeshare quickly, easily, and for the highest possible price.