Whereas buying a timeshare is very, very easy (sometimes too easy), selling one can be quite challenging. But don’t despair. It can be sold, and these tips will help smooth the way.
1. Spot the scammers.
I mention this at the outset, because once your timeshare is for sale, you can expect to hear from some potential shysters. According to Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the most important rule in selling your timeshare is to never pay an upfront fee. Whether it is called an appraisal fee, a marketing fee or an advertising fee, TUG reports that the overwhelming majority of their members who fork over such money never get results or get their money back. If any such company claims to have a buyer for your timeshare, and needs a $495 “refundable” deposit, don’t believe it! Their goal is to get your money, and once they have it, their motivation to find you a buyer drops to zilch.
Now . . . some ideas on how to sell your timeshare.
2. Check with the company you bought from.
Realistically, you shouldn’t expect much help from your timeshare company, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Ask if the company offers a resale program or could provide a list of potential buyers.
3. Sell to other timeshare owners.
It is possible that whoever owns the interval before or after your time slot may want to extend their stay. Ask your timeshare company for the names of these “adjacent owners” and contact them. If you strike out here, be prepared to market and sell your timeshare yourself. Read on for tips on doing so.
4. Be realistic about your price.
Brace yourself, because (with rare exception), you won’t be able to get anywhere near what you paid for your timeshare. How can you discover its worth? By checking other listings. You will need to look for comparables (similar location, week or season of the year, number of bedrooms, baths, view, etc.)
Some popular listing sites are:
Now: think like a buyer. If you were considering purchasing a timeshare, and if you saw ten listings which met your criteria, which would you buy? Right: the cheapest one. Therefore, if you don’t list yours at a comparably low price, you may be keeping it for a long, long time.
5. How to advertise.
You are already familiar with the above listing sites, so check the specifics of each site and use the one (or more) which offer what you are looking for. Of course, there are fees involved with these listings, and some sites offer not only a listing service but also escrow and closing services.
Other advertising possibilities are eBay (read their Timeshare Seller’s Guide), or a classified ad in the real estate section of the resort’s local newspaper . . . it may be that vacationers in the area have so enjoyed their stay that they are looking for a deal on a timeshare.
6. Remember the golden rule.
When you get a nibble, be sure to always treat prospective buyers the way you would want to be treated if you were considering a purchase. Always respond quickly to email messages or phone calls. Be courteous and professional, never misrepresenting even the slightest detail about your unit. Even if your mistake is unintentional, you could lose the sale or (even worse) be facing legal action once the sale is complete.
7. Think about your contract and closing.
Your contract will need to specify what the buyer will receive in addition to ownership (this year’s time slot, for example), the payment amount you will receive, the terms of the payment and when. Where go you get such a contract? Of course you could hire an attorney, but doing so may be cost prohibitive. TUG recommends a Resale Document Kit from Timesharing Today, which, for about $30, will include easy to follow instructions with examples of loan documents, sample letters, etc.
Once you have negotiated a written contract, you may wish to utilize a timeshare closing service such as Timeshare Transfer or JRA Services. An advantage of such a service is that neither the money nor the deeds will be disbursed until both are in the hands of the closing company. The cost? In the neighborhood of $300 – $350.
8. Consider donating.
You can avoid the cost and hassle of selling your timeshare by donating it, but you will likely fare better financially by selling. Why? Because when you sell, you pocket the proceeds; when you donate, all you get is a tax break – and you won’t even get that unless your itemized deductions (including your donation) exceed your standard deduction. Note: check with your accountant for the tax advantages specifically applicable to you. Also, consider this irony: a charitable organization will only want your timeshare if they can sell it themselves. Therefore, if you are having trouble selling your unit, the charitable organization probably won’t want it.
One Last Option
If all else fails, consider a Timeshare Deedback – giving it back to the resort. Your unit will need to be paid in full, with no back taxes or unpaid fees, and, even then, many resorts will not agree to the deedback or will charge a transfer fee for the transaction. Still, it is only a phone call and you have little to lose in asking.
I stated at the beginning of this article that selling your timeshare can be challenging. Now that you have read this, I am sure you agree. Still, it can be done and I hope these tips will help you successfully navigate the transaction.
Have you ever sold a timeshare? How did it go? What additional tips and advice can you offer? Leave a comment!