This article will discuss a variety of facets surrounding Timeshare Deedbacks, including what a Deedback is, instructions on how to attempt to Deed your Timeshare back to the Resort, and a commentary by a TUG member on why resorts should accept Deedbacks in the current economy.
Essentially, the definition of a Timeshare Deedback is exactly as it sounds, it is the process of you willingly signing the Deed for your Timeshare back to the resort. While this sounds very simple (and the concept is), it is important to note that the Resort/HOA/BOD must WILLINGLY ACCEPT the deedback. Just because you want to give it back, does not mean the resort is obligated to take it back, and in many cases they simply do not (more on that later).
There also may be certain transfer and closing fees associated with "giving" your unit back to the resort(paid directly to the resort, not some 3rd party company), these of course vary from resort to resort, as well as by state/country. So to repeat, while the concept of the deedback is very simple, there is no guarantee that the actual process will be as such.
Most owners to be honest, have no idea what a Deedback is, much less how to go about doing it. It is my hope that this article serves as a tool to assist you in making this process as easy (and successful) as possible, but please note as mentioned above, the resort is under no obligation whatsoever to accept your unit back. That said, there are certain things you can do to improve your chances!
In the real world, its pretty rare (read nearly never) for a resort to announce that its going to accept intervals back from owners, so if you are in the situation where you want to deed your interval back to the resort, you are going to have to make the effort yourself to do so.
First Call the customer/owner services number on your maintenance fee bill and ask about deedbacks. If the person on the other end of the line sounds like they have no idea what you are talking about, ask to speak to someone else. Also, dont take no for an answer, and be persistent =)
Ultimately in most cases, the decision to take or not take back a week will fall to the HOA (Homeowners Association) or BOD (Board of Directors). The information on how to contact these entities (which should consist of other actual owners at your resort) should also be in your annual documents you receive with your maintenance fee bill. If not, go back up to making phone calls to the resort or customer service number until you obtain the contact information for the HOA/BOD...then begin asking them about taking your unit back.
Many people suggest writing/typing a formal letter requesting the HOA/BOD accept the unit back from you, and this certainly cannot hurt your case. Especially if your situation is quite dire, in cases of the death of a spouse or parent(s), or extreme financial distress, if you can give them a valid reason to take the unit back, you are far more likely to succeed. (note, "i don't want this timeshare anymore and am tired of paying for it" is not likely to garner much success from the HOA and wouldn't be considered a valid reason to take the unit back)
It is also important to note that in nearly all situations, the interval must be in good standing and be completely paid off before the resort will consider taking it back. If you are delinquent on your annual fees, or there is a lien still attached to the interval, the chances of the resort taking the unit back are pretty close to zero.
The absolute worst thing they can say is no (repeatedly), the process of convincing your resort that you should be allowed to deed your week back should cost you nothing more than your spare time and maybe a few dollars in postage stamps to mail your requests. This is most certainly the cheapest solution for getting rid of your timeshare. PS. It also may be of value to list any and all "companies" that have contacted you offering to take your unit off your hands for a fee. Please note that TUG does not support the use of ANY upfront fee company, but we certainly cannot ignore that they exist in the industry, and nor can your HOA/BOD.
One big issue destroying the value of timeshare ownership is the refusal of many resorts to take back timeshares when there is no balance owing, or only the upcoming maintenance fees owing.
1. Resorts contributing to Scam Operations
Almost anyone advertising a timeshare for sale is approached by various scam operators, offering to help sell the timeshare in exchange for the owner giving $300-700 or more. The scam operator promising to sell the timeshare. Typically, the owner never hears again from the scam operator. There is at least one organization that invites owners to come to a local hotel ballroom and give the operator more than $2000 to get rid of the timeshare.
The resorts originally sold the intervals to the owners yet now many refuse to take them back even when the loans are paid off. Many purchasers have “buyers remorse” after the hard sell, and want to give them back. The resort operators and sales teams naturally don’t want to cancel a hard-earned sale. However, when events happen in a purchaser’s life; events that were unforeseen at the time of the purchase, there should be a reasonable way to give the timeshare back. Such events would be like serious illness, long-term loss of job, or death. People experiencing such life-changing events are easy prey for the scam artists.
2. Worthless Intervals
By refusing to help the timeshare resale process, many resorts are contributing to the effect of timeshares becoming essentially worthless. The resorts are in the best position to resell or rent out unused or returned timeshares as the resorts are the center point for the vacation traveler.
Timeshare owners know that maintenance fees are always going to increase. Yet, in many cases, why would one want to pay ever increasing amounts for a worthless timeshare. At many resorts, there is not enough money set aside for insurance and repairs and updates, leading many resorts to assess frequent special assessments - often without consulting owners or asking for owner vote/approval. Again, if the underlying interval has no value, why should the owner pay the increased maintenance fees and the ever-present special assessments, when the resorts themselves are telling the owners that the intervals have no value and are not worth taking back.
3. Lifetime Guaranteed Job Security
Many resorts give owners two unconscionable choices - pay maintenance fees and special assessments even if you are not using and cannot use the interval, or face foreclosure. Resort personnel have lifetime jobs. Since owners cannot sell their intervals, if they want to keep their credit, the owners must continue paying even when it causes even more financial problems to add to already desperate situations.
4. Facility Obsolescence
Like any other piece of real estate, the buildings are never going to get newer. If the resort does not have funds set aside for updates, upgrades and repairs, then the owners should have the option to close the operation, sell the facilities, with the owners getting a share of the resulting proceeds.
What Resorts Can/Should Do
Timeshare resorts do not operate in a vacuum. Offseason exists for hotels, restaurants, shops, businesses, and residents in general. Like other brick-and-mortar operations, timeshare resorts have to deal with offseason usage.
Resorts can shut down, reduce staff to minimal levels for those owners who wish to stay at that time, actively market unsold and unused intervals both for rental and for sale. Some locations, including the resorts, can create offseason events to attract tourists - like Galveston’s Mardi Gras. The resorts can enter the corporate apartment business. Conventions and company getaways can be sought. Bonus time programs can be actively marketed to current owners. Resorts can align with hospitals to provide housing for family members of patients. There are more “suite hotels” being built as a strong indication that a furnished unit with full kitchen is attractive for individuals and families on an extended stay in an area. Real estate agents can provide contacts with people moving to the area and looking for temporary furnished housing. Resorts can band together with others in other locations to market together unused inventory with owners paying for the “exchange” privilege. These are only a few of the possibilities for an active, engaged resort management team to increase rentals and usage at the resort.
Resorts should without hesitation take back unwanted intervals - especially those fully paid for. If the resorts create a market for such intervals, the intervals can be resold or rented for some amount of money. If it is “impossible” for the resort to rent/resell such intervals, then there is a strong case for shutting down the resort as an uneconomic entity.
Resorts and individual owners can unaffiliate with certain exchange companies that thwart the lifeblood of the timeshare industry, by stopping the deposit of weeks into such systems. It is apparent to any timeshare owner that for various reasons, the exchange process has become a less and less desirable alternative to staying at one’s resort. Exchange and guest fees continue to rise, increasing the costs above the ever-increasing maintenance fee/special assessment model. RCI is involved in many conflicts of interest that work against timeshare owners. RCI now manages and operates resorts. Weeks owners who refuse to pay thousands more to purchase RCI Points are at a disadvantage in the exchange process. RCI markets to special interest groups including civil servants. Now, non-timeshare owners can get many of the benefits of the exchange process. RCI even has a “Fam2Friends” program. If one pays to send a friend to a resort, that friend or family member is subject to RCI marketing efforts. Again, there is no need to be a timeshare owner to participate in such programs. RCI has therefore helped destroy any underlying value for timeshares. Non-owners can stay for less than paying maintenance fees + special assessments + exchange fees + guest fees.
The resorts can operate in a way to alleviate the huge load of unwanted timeshares by creating a market for their own intervals, and by more actively renting and utilizing excess inventory. .
Deedbacks are a real and useful tool for both resorts and owners, and just a few years ago many existing "official" programs to take back unwanted inventory did not even exist! Now many major developers have official deedback programs that allow owners to surrender unwanted weeks and points back to them, at the updating of this article in 2018 these include: Diamond, Wyndham, Worldmark, Welk, Westgate, Holiday Inn Club Vacations
As mentioned above, many owners simply call up and ask "I don't want this anymore, will you take it back?" and not surprisingly the answer they hear is "no". In many cases it will require you to explain your situation to convince the powers that be that it would be better for both parties to work together to give the ownership back, vs have to suffer thru default and foreclosure which hurts both the owner and the resort!
Many deedback/surrender programs are discussed and explained on the TUGBBS online forums, so if you are curious if your resort has one please check on the forums!
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