The Ins and Outs of Timeshares

Many people get a great deal of enjoyment out of their timeshares. They like returning to a familiar location, and having all the comforts of home with none of the maintenance concerns. However, there are a number of people who encounter unanticipated difficulties and come to regret purchasing their timeshare. There are a rising number of scams targeting these unhappy timeshare owners. Here are some factors to consider before purchasing a timeshare, as well as some tips for current timeshare owners, to avoid falling victim to a scam.

Before purchasing:

Beware the high pressure sell. Some timeshares offer a free vacation in exchange for attendance at a seminar. These seminars are often run by high pressure sales people who rush attendees into a decision they may not have made otherwise. There is a reason these sales people don’t want you to take your time and carefully consider the transaction. When you buy a timeshare, you are purchasing property. Just like any other property, once you buy it, it’s yours. If you change your mind later, you can’t just return the deed and cancel the transaction. SLOW DOWN!!! Think of it more along the lines of purchasing a home than just paying for a vacation. This will help you appreciate the permanency and long term cost of this investment.

Know the cost involved. While timeshares may be relatively maintenance free, they do come with annual fees for others to perform that maintenance for you. Other charges include closing costs, taxes, and possibly even membership fees or convenience fees. These can push the annual cost of a timeshare to over a thousand dollars.

Be aware of the resale market. The current real estate market has affected timeshares too. Many timeshare owners would consider themselves lucky if they could simply give their timeshare away. Many owners are forced to offer incentives or even payments to sellers, just to get rid of their timeshare.

Talk to someone who owns a timeshare in the unit you are considering. Many timeshare companies sell more interests in the timeshare than there are dates available. This can make it difficult to book your timeshare for your preferred dates. Talk to someone who is already in the same situation you are considering. If you know someone who is happy with their timeshare, see if there are any units available.

For current timeshare owners:

Offers to purchase. The old adage holds true: If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If someone contacts you and offers to pay thousands of dollars more than your timeshare is worth, be wary of a scam. They could be trying to obtain your personal or financial information.

Offers to sell. A common scam involves a person or company offering to sell your timeshare in exchange for an upfront fee. The company offers to find a buyer for your timeshare but often does little more than post your timeshare on a website. These websites are typically open to anyone. Save the fee and post it yourself. Sometimes these scammers go even further and tell you that they have located a buyer and all they need to complete the sale is for you to pay the closing costs up front. Any offer that requires you to submit the closing costs up front should immediately send up a red flag.

Offers to remove your name from the deed. Another common scheme is when a solicitor offers to remove your name from the deed in exchange for a fee. The solicitor removes your name from the deed by transferring your ownership interest to a third party company. When the timeshare association attempts to collect their annual fees, they find that the new owner is nothing but a shell company with no assets. While this may remove your name from the deed, it also opens you up to a potential fraud claim. If the timeshare association can show that you entered into the transaction for the purpose of hindering or defrauding them from collecting the money owed, you will remain liable and the deed transfer can even be reversed.

If you are considering purchasing a timeshare, or have received an offer pertaining to your timeshare, be sure to contact Wagner, Falconer & Judd, Ltd. to discuss your timeshare issue with an experienced attorney.

Attorney Nathan B. Serr