The Sad State of TimeShares

The Sad State of TimeShares

Several years ago, the timeshare market was the in-thing. Many people owned several timeshares and either banked their weeks with national firms like RCI or traded and sold them with the resorts. Some timeshares earned travel points that could be used to stay at other resorts.   However, with the housing bust and the decline in travel mainly due to the poor economy and, for international travelers, the decline of the dollar’s purchasing power against the Euro, the timeshare market has declined. Most timeshares today are almost worthless.

With the glut of timeshares available and people wishing to sell just to eliminate the maintenance fees, the market became ripe for “timeshare hucksters.” The State of Florida is packed with scam artists that prey on people desperate to sell. Timeshare web sites pack the Internet.  Promising quick sales for nice profits, they generally deliver zero. The name of the game is to entice people to pay fees for: listing their timeshare, covering fees for advertising, advance commissions, required paperwork, you name it. Once the fee is paid, the consumer generally never hears from the slick-talking person that promised a “sale within days.” And, of course, the owner of the timeshare is still on the hook for the annual maintenance fees. It is definitely a scam. Most firms do not advertise; they do not have a list of potential buyers as they claim; and they are in it for one reason only – to obtain money from the timeshare sellers.

It is difficult to pin these scam artists down. They move around every six months and, unfortunately, part of what they do is very close to being legal. Most of the bogus firms are not licensed to sell real estate of any kind. They get the potential sellers to sign an agreement even if the agreement is based on bogus or fraudulent sales promises and the potential seller willingly writes a check or uses their credit card to forward money to the timeshare re-sale firm. Knowing that consumers are skeptical regarding this whole market, the scam artists openly tell the potential consumer of all the pitfalls and fake promises, but then they go on to say that they can deliver because they are one of the few honest firms left. Sure!

There is no real market for timeshare re-sales. The best that a potential seller could do is use a legitimate real estate firm to represent them or network using friends and family to promote their sale. At one time, charities accepted timeshares hoping that they could sell the timeshare for a small profit and then the charity would use the money for their charitable works. Now most charities will not accept timeshares as a donation.

In today’s market, there is no reason to buy a timeshare any longer. They are more of a liability than an asset. It is easier to rent or lease a property and have no long term commitment for maintenance fees or taxes. I am not sure if this timeshare market will ever come back to what it was twenty-five or more years ago. I suspect that it might have been good in its day but that day is long gone.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer