How to Sell your Timeshare!
Easily the most common question we get here at TUG on a daily basis! This free advice article is a compilation of recommendations of those here at TUG who have been through the process many times and serves as a guide for any owner looking to sell!
Rule 1: Never pay Upfront!
Whether the fee is called an appraisal fee, a market analysis fee, a marketing fee, an advertising fee or some other type of legitimate sounding fee, the result, historically, has been the same for all who have reported here about their experiences, this is the biggest red flag that you are about to throw away money!
One can literally spend hours on the TUG forums, or any search engine and find countless examples of companies that make amazing promises about being able to sell your Timeshare, if you just give them a few hundred (or a few thousand) dollars upfront!
Yes, we know you want to believe that the company “has a buyer (or several buyers) waiting to make a deposit on your week. All [the company] needs is a $495 deposit from you. It’s refundable.” Or the company has a money-back guarantee.
We know how desperately you want to believe that sales pitch. Don’t believe it! There is no purchaser waiting in the wings. Once the company has your money, they have no significant incentive to work for you. And despite guarantees and other promises, you won't get your money back when you complain because it will be past the normal "dispute" period of most credit cards after you realize you will get no results!
There are narrow exceptions to this advice against paying up-front fees - for selected nominal fees ($15-$30), however you will note that none of these situations will ever start with these companies telling you how easy it is to sell, or offering amazing guarantees about success!
What Is My Timeshare Worth??
Advertise your week at a realistic price. With few exceptions, owners of timeshares purchased from a developer can expect to take a beating on resale. Although it’s not what you want to hear, most timeshares sell on the resale market for only 0% to 15% of the price you likely initially paid to the developer when you purchased. Shocked? Please believe it!
The key is to bury forever any thoughts that because you paid (let's say) $12,000 for your week, someone else will be willing to pay the same amount. They might, if you were putting on the same glitzy sales presentation that some high-pressure salesperson did when you bought, including giving free incentives for attending the presentation. But you don't have that luxury. So do your homework and set the price at the right level in comparison with other SUCCESSFUL resales.
To help establish an asking price for your timeshare, try to find out what other weeks like yours are selling for. Ask your resort about recent sale prices, check the TUG sales history database (to which you have access if you are a TUG member), look at current and completed eBay auctions, check real estate records in the county where the resort is, etc. It is important to look at SUCCESSFUL resale prices, not existing unsold ads at prices near or above the original retail price! There is a reason these remain unsold!
For more help in establishing value, here is a youtube video created by TUG that shows you how to quickly and easily search for completed resale listings! How much is my Timeshare worth?
When you have done all of that work, you might be even more confused as to what asking price you should set. As an example, you might find 15 listings for your timeshare here on TUG in the Timeshare Marketplace or other sites at asking prices ranging from $1 to $12,000. First, keep in mind that most timeshare owners have no concept of what resale values are. They may incorrectly think of their timeshare as a traditional piece of real estate that should appreciate in value. Thus, they way overprice their timeshare, looking to recoup - at a minimum - most or all of what they paid for it. Second, make sure you compare the details of your week (week or season of the year, # of bedrooms, view, etc.) with the other for-sale listings for your resort to determine which listings are reasonably comparable to yours. Lastly, keep in mind that if there are multiple listings for the same or similar timeshares, buyers will seek to buy only the one listed at the lowest price. Thus, you should almost always list your week at or below the low end of the range of asking prices you see. Otherwise, you will own your timeshare for a long time!
Where do I advertise?
As a TUG member, make sure you post your ad in the Timeshare Marketplace! Ask your resort for ideas of how others sell their week. Advertise on a bulletin board or in a newsletter at your home resort, craigslist, at the various on-line free timeshare resale services (see listing below) and at timeshare related locations where you can advertise for a nominal cost (e.g NO UPFRONT FEES)
Another successful location is e-Bay! Setting a reserve as low as you are willing to sell for or, perhaps even better, no reserve at all. Check completed listings to see what others have successfully sold for to get an idea of what you can expect! Resale buyers are bargain shoppers, and highly unlikely to pay a premium especially when they can just wait for another week to come up for pennies on the dollar!
Consider advertising in newspapers. Place a classified ad in the Sunday “Real Estate – Timeshares” section of major newspapers in locations where concentrations of visitors to your resort live, etc. Craigslist (in the city where your timeshare is located) is also a free place to get great exposure for your Timeshare rental or resale!
What if I still owe money?
Be prepared to pay off the loan or put money into the transaction (paid to the closing company) in order to sell it. Very few potential buyers will be interested in taking over your loan payments.
You might decide you can’t afford to sell at the price your research indicates is reasonable, because you still owe an astronomical amount on your timeshare loan. Consider refinancing your loan to get a lower interest rate and make the payments more palatable for you and, perhaps, partially deductible. The best way to do that may be to refinance your home mortgage for an additional amount or open a home equity loan so that you can pay off that high-interest timeshare loan. By doing that and paying off the timeshare loan, you will have made your timeshare much more marketable.
It's also possible, perhaps likely, that your timeshare loan is a personal consumer loan rather than a mortgage-type loan where the lender takes a security interest in your timeshare. If so, you can probably sell your timeshare just as though you didn't owe any money. But keep in mind that you'll still have to repay that loan eventually!
If the high unpaid balance on your timeshare loan prevents you from selling, consider trying to rent your week each year to minimize your losses until you can get the debt paid down somewhat. Much of what is written in this article (paying no up-front fees, setting a reasonable price, etc.) applies equally to rentals. (See the How to Rent your Timeshare free advice article.)
Cold calls from Random Companies?
Once you start listing your week for sale, expect calls and e-mail messages from entities promising a quick sale at your asking price (or even higher). All you have to do is pay an up-front fee of $99 to $799. When that happens, go back to the Up-Front Fees section at the beginning of this article! If you are wondering if the company contacting you is legitimate, read this article here!
Is this Timeshare Company Legitimate?
Scams to Avoid!
One current scam involves an offer to pay you more than your asking price. You are told to wait until their check (usually a foreign " bank check" or "certified check") clears and then refund the difference, still netting you a very attractive sales price. The problem is that well after their check cleared your bank and you sent them money, their check will bounce and you'll be stuck!
Another gimmick is to invite you to a meeting at a second tier hotel/motel near where you live and offer you several thousand dollars for your timeshare. At the same time they "invite" you to purchase a great (not!) vacation package for (usually) $6,995. The problem is that the real value of the vacation package ("free" cruise, discounted vacation rentals, discounted air fares, etc.) is several hundred bucks at most. All of the package offerings can be found on eBay and other Internet sources for nominal prices. Further, the "free" cruise and other benefits require significant additional payments.
A similar scheme is the meeting at that same second tier hotel/motel where you're told you can unload that terrible no-value timeshare that you have simply by paying $3,995 (or some similar high amount). You might also be told (incorrectly) that the loss you incur upon sale is deductible on your tax return. Before considering such an expensive and unnecessary transaction, follow the various sale options discussed in this article!
For more extensive details on the most common Timeshare Scams, this free article will help!
Timeshare Resale Scams that Target owners!
Perhaps the best advice is that if you get an offer or solicitation related to your ad that seems too good to be true or seems unusual, ask about it on the TUG Buying, Selling, Renting Timeshares forum.
Once you Find a Buyer
It’s best to have a contract with your buyer that specifies what the buyer gets in addition to ownership (e.g., use of this year’s week?) and what you get (payment amount and terms) and when. Although you should consider the possibility of engaging an attorney to assist you, the cost to do so might be prohibitive, depending on the price of your transaction.
If you want to be somewhat secure in the closing process after you have negotiated a written deal, consider using one of the low-cost timeshare closing services such as those listed here on the TUG Supporting Advertisers Page! Many of these companies are regularly used by TUG members and also support TUG in return, so you can feel free to contact any or all of them (make sure you mention you found them thru TUG) to see who can provide you with the services you require! Fees are typically $250-$500 depending on what services you utilize.
Whether you or the buyer pay such closing fees is a matter of negotiation between you and the buyer. Using such a service is not a substitute for having a contract with the buyer. Another reason for using a closing company: Keep in mind that you are responsible for the timeshare maintenance fees until the resort is properly notified of the title change, along with payment of the resort's transfer fee, if applicable.
For someone who wants to handle the paperwork themselves vs hiring a professional, Timesharing Today has a Resale Document Kit, which you can purchase for about $30. Instructions, fill-in-the-blank forms, sample letters, loan documents, etc. Easy to follow. A kit from My Resort Network sells for under $10, but might not include legal language required if the timeshare or one of the two parties is in Florida.
Donate to Charity?
Donation sadly is an absolutely terrible idea for Timeshare owners looking to just "get out" of what they feel is a debt vs an asset, and not just because most if not all "Charities" demand a huge upfront fee! See this Advice article on Timeshare Donation for information on donating and the "Donating" part of this TUG Advice article for information on the tax aspects of your donation, you will find that the truth is a far different story than what you might be led to believe from other outfits that want to money from you!
The Final Word!
Selling a timeshare week takes effort, patience and diligence and common sense (to avoid the scams). But the effort, if you are realistic in your expectations, will pay off! TUG has hundreds of successful completed resale and rental listings each and every month, and we prove day in and day out that you can indeed sell your timeshare yourself without paying upfront fees!
You can get started today selling your Timeshare on TUG and have your ad up in one of the largest online marketplaces for Timeshares in the world. Join TUG Here and have your resale and rental ad up TODAY!
View and discuss this article here on the free TUG Timeshare owner Discussion forums!