Imagine a beautiful, Truman Show-like day. The sun is shining and leaves skip across the lawn as you stroll to the mailbox. Sifting through the envelopes, you stop in your tracks. You’ve spotted the windowed envelope with the logo you’ve come to loathe. It’s that time of year again: Timeshare maintenance fees are due. Ugh.
It wasn’t always like this. You used to enjoy your timeshare. Remember watching the kiddos run down to the pool? Those lazy nights on the back deck? Talk about good memories! But things have changed.
Your lifestyle is different than it was the day you happily signed the papers. Maybe you’d rather take a trip to see the grandkids than go back to your timeshare for the fifteenth time! Or maybe you want to go somewhere else this year, but you say to yourself, “Well, we’ve already paid for it . . . ”
Or maybe you’re one of the many people who, the week after signing the papers, realized it was a horrible mistake. You feel trapped. And just like 85% of all timeshare owners, you’re wondering, How can I get rid of my timeshare?(1) Check out these four options:
1. Sell Your Timeshare
Your best option is to sell your timeshare outright and recoup some of the expenses you’ve already paid. Research and see what your timeshare is worth in its local market.
Ready to get rid of your timeshare? Here's how.
Check with a real estate agent or some timeshare sales sites—even eBay and Craigslist—for timeshares similar to yours and find out what the final sale prices were (not just the amount they’re listed for). Just make sure you list your timeshare with a no-upfront-fee listing company so you don’t get hoodwinked by companies charging an enormous fee for their “exclusive” website.
Be prepared that, unless it’s in one of the hot markets (think Disney World), your timeshare may not be worth a lot. But after investigating, you’re now armed with the facts.
If it does turn out to be worth something, another option is to sell to someone who bought the weeks before or after your scheduled weeks. That owner may want to extend their vacation options by a week and be open to purchasing your contract.
Whatever you choose, your timeshare will be listed as “encumbered” if you still have a loan on the property. There’s really no going forward with a sale until the loan’s paid back.
2. Ask the Resort to Take It Back
Look through your timeshare’s paperwork to see if there’s a legal, low-cost way to give the property back to the resort, often called a “timeshare deedback.” It’s a long shot, but why not give it a go?
But watch out! Sometimes when you contact the resort, they’ll see it as an opportunity to “upgrade your timeshare experience.” You do not want to walk away with an additional contract chaining you to the deal.
You may want to try Dave Ramsey’s creative approach and offer an incentive to the resort in exchange for a sale. He told one listener:
“Call the sales manager there and ask how much they make if they sell a timeshare. If it’s $500, offer $1,000 commission. If the timeshares are selling for $22,000, sell yours for $8,000. Basically, you’re giving them more commission and making the sale easy.”
Honestly, not many resorts entertain the option of buying back their timeshares, but it can’t hurt to ask!
3. Use an Attorney
Have you ever heard the phrase, “a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”? Well, the contract you signed when you got your timeshare was on a piece of paper, so you’ll need an attorney to work your way out of it.
If you’ve taken advantage of any offers to “upgrade” your timeshare (even just changing the week you visit) this is normally considered an entirely new contract. So as a rule, seven or eight individual contracts may be tied up in your timeshare deal. Each of these must be dealt with separately for you to completely escape the arrangement.
Some attorneys don’t specialize in this type of contract law. Make sure they understand what they’re getting into before they run up hours of legal fees without scratching the surface of the problem.
Also, find an attorney who guarantees their services. You’ve already been paying through the nose for timeshare fees, so don’t continue to throw money into yet another money pit.
4. Use a Timeshare Exit Company
Even better than an individual attorney, wouldn’t you love to have a team of people working on your timeshare problem?
Find a company that’s experienced in dealing with the ins and outs of the timeshare industry. You’re looking for one that’s already helped a lot of people exit their timeshare agreements fully and legally.
And don’t be suckered into any shady deals from companies asking you to participate in illegal or unethical activities. If they use high-pressure sales tactics or ask for a credit card number before your contract is signed, that’s a hint they’re scum and can’t be trusted!
You’ll also want someone with a proven track record. Some companies are here today and gone tomorrow. They say they’ll get you out of your commitment at a “low, low price,” but in a few months, they’re nowhere to be found—and so is your money!
However you ended up with your timeshare agreement, don’t lose hope. Don’t put it off. Do your research and take the next step.
There’s only one company Dave recommends, Timeshare Exit Team. He’s been searching for years for somebody to help his listeners get out of these sticky deals. They’ve helped thousands of people just like you without any of the illegal shenanigans other companies try to pull.
Options to Avoid
You’ve probably gotten plenty of suggestions on how to get rid of your timeshare from well-meaning friends and family that seem logical on the surface—but be careful. You don’t want to end up complicating your situation further by doing one of these three things.
Renting Your Timeshare
Uncle Louie said you should rent out your timeshare so you’ll at least get some money for your trouble. But all it takes is one bad renter to trash the place and leave you with a repair project you have to coordinate between the resort and other owners of the unit. What a headache!
If your resort is one of the few that lets you rent it out (because a lot of them prohibit it), the money you might make won’t even come close to covering the fees you’re paying anyway. It’s a Band-Aid at best.
Donating Your Timeshare
On the other hand, Aunt Mary thought you should just donate it to charity. Sounds good, right? But once you start scoping out a charity, you’ll find they’re much less receptive than you imagined. They don’t want those never-ending costs either! But they might accept it if you agree to pay the fees for several years down the line too. Ouch—no thank you!
Stop Paying for Your Timeshare
And then there’s your neighbor Harv who suggested you just walk away and stop paying. Talk about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire! You’re better than that. Don’t sacrifice your integrity just to try and avoid the inevitable. Besides, you’ll still probably be foreclosed on and then battle with collectors for years. No fun!
But there is hope! Your timeshare doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You can break out of your blasted timeshare with the help of Timeshare Exit Team can help you.