How to Sell a Timeshare – The Definitive Guide, will give you all of the tools you need to successfully sell your timeshare on the secondary market. Whether you are going to sell it yourself or use a resale company, you’ll find the process more complicated than you thought.
In this guide you will find the 11 most common mistakes made when selling a timeshare, along with their solutions, links to helpful resources cited, recommendations of what to do before you place your timeshare on the market, a list of questions to ask resale companies before you list and what to do if you are unsuccessful.
Therefore, this article is quite lengthy. If you don’t have time to read it in its entirety now, you can download it here: How to Sell a Timeshare: The Definitive Guide.
I’m confident that by following the recommendations outlined in this guide, you’ll be more than equipped to navigate the venturous waters of selling your timeshare.
How to Sell a Timeshare: The God Awful Truth
Not all timeshare are marketable. If you own an off-season week in a studio unit at Biker Bob and Spike’s Budget Timeshare in Des Moines, Iowa, you’re out of luck. Although my sample timeshare is extreme, the fact is, many timeshares are not salable.
Now for the Bad News
Many timeshare purchasers are incorrectly led to believe by the salesperson that buying a timeshare is a real estate investment and will increase in value over time. This claim is especially true when a deed is attached to the timeshare purchase but is patently false. Belief in this fallacy has made timeshare owners easy prey for unscrupulous resale companies.
The easiest way to sell your timeshare is to list it with a resale company. The problem is that the number of dishonest timeshare resale companies far outnumber the ethical ones. The unethical resale companies use the fact that you’re expecting to break even or make a profit on the sale to take advantage of you. It is not uncommon for a timeshare owner to lose thousands of dollars with these companies and never have their timeshare sold.
When you do find a reputable one it is worth the commission charge for them to handle the transaction for you. Be prepared, however, that it may take many months for your timeshare to sell.
Now for the Good News
According to Consumer Reports in a February 2016 article, “Timeshare Comes of Age”,
The fact that the industry is still growing and more and younger people are purchasing timeshare coupled with increasing prices, mean a better timeshare resale market. While the secondary market for timeshares is getting better, it is far from robust.
What Makes Selling a Timeshare so Challenging
Supply and Demand
In nearly 30 years of selling timeshare, I rarely spoke with anyone that came to the presentation with the intent of buying. Prospects came for the premiums and discounts offered, and were convinced promptly, that owning a timeshare would be of a great benefit to them and their family.
Second, since the timeshare owner has been led to believe that their week would appreciate over time, by both the salesperson AND the listing agent, their overpriced timeshare languishes on the market being ignored like a single tree in a forest. The accumulative result over the last 25 to 30 years is a flood of timeshare resales of Noachian proportions offsetting demand and driving prices down.
Top 11 Mistakes Made by Timeshare Owners When Selling Their Timeshare
1. Selling out of Desperation – The Cold Call
If you have a deed to your timeshare, then it’s public knowledge and on record at the county courthouse. Scammers access the courthouse records and compile lists of timeshare owners and sell them to the resale companies.
If you’ve owned your timeshare for any length of time you’ve probably already received an unsolicited letter or a cold call from a timeshare resale company. This is usually the sure sign that someone’s out to scam you out of a listing fee.
The phone solicitors can be particularly persuasive in convincing you that they will sell your timeshare quickly and for a tidy profit. Never go for the quick sale no matter how persuasive the agent is. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
If you’re experiencing a money crunch, selling your timeshare should not be the first option you consider because, even if you do have a saleable one, it will likely take many months to sell unless you price it at a rock bottom level.
They’ll then suggest you list it over the phone and pay the listing fee so they can call the prospect with the good news.
The rest of the story goes like this; You never hear back from the agent nor can you reach him at the office. You’ve left many messages for him but he won’t return your calls. If you complain to someone they may tell you he no longer works there but not to worry because your timeshare is listed and will continue to be listed until sold.
2. Never Pay Upfront Fees
They’ll tell you the cash is needed for an email list, appraisal or advertising fee or any creative reason they can come up with. Some really disreputable timeshare resale companies will explain the need of the fee because they just so happen to have a hot buyer for your timeshare and need the money to open escrow.
No matter what story you are given as to why you will need to pay any money more than $100 upfront, it’s most likely a scam. The only thing these companies do is to list your timeshare on their website along with hundreds more. There, your overpriced timeshare will sit only to be ignored. And your phone calls usually will not be returned.
Totally ignore statements of how they advertise in the New York Times or USA Today. If they are asking for money ahead of time it’s a scam. A great number of them will tell you that the week you bought for $15,000 will probably sell for $35,000 simply to get a listing fee from you.
An authentic sign associated with a reputable timeshare resale company is that, in addition to a nominal fee of $50-100, they only take their commission at close of escrow just as any other real estate transaction.
3. Getting Greedy: Do Your Research
The majority of timeshares purchased from the developer timeshares are sold for 0% to 15% of the original price. The two reasons for this are the sheer enormity of resale weeks on the market and the fact that nearly 50% of the of the price you paid consisted of marketing costs.
Simply put, if you paid $15,000 for a timeshare, $7,500 of the purchase price was for marketing. Because the market is flooded with resales, you’d be lucky to get $2,000 on the secondary market. After commissions and closing costs, $1,000 or less is a more realistic number.
The hapless timeshare owner, not knowing these facts, and wanting a return on his investment, is encouraged by the listing agent to price it high so that agent can make his listing commission. Unethical resale companies make their money on the listing fees, not the sale. They have no advertising costs because their “advertising” consists of a website and nothing else.
Imagine, if you first called a reputable resale company and were told your $15,000 timeshare would net you about $2,000, and the next company you called told you to expect it to sell for $30,000. Which would you list with? Don’t let greed blind you to reality.
Gather Your Data
- Google “sell my timeshare” to bring up pages of timeshare resale companies.
- Click on “Timeshare for Sale” tab.
- Enter the name of your resort.
- Look for an EXACT match to the timeshare you own. If you have a 2 bedroom fixed week, ignore the listings for a 2 bedroom floating week. If your season is Red, ignore the 2 bedroom White season listing. Accuracy is essential here.
- Take note of how many listing are identical to yours, and the prices from low to high.
- Rinse and repeat using several other different companies.
Time to Put on your Critical Thinking Cap
Greed and wishful thinking may cause you to want to price your timeshare at $14,000, but it won’t sell. While your timeshare will not sell for $30,000, don’t automatically assume you should list it for $5,000. To get your most realistic price range, you will need to check the listings over a period of time.
To do this, you need only bookmark the 3 different listing pages so you can quickly check what is and isn’t selling. If the $5,000 listings are gobbled up and gone, you may want to list yours for $7-$8,000. It takes some work and patience to get yours priced to sell. Forget about the $30,000 listing.
This kind of pricing disparity is not unusual. Unethical timeshare resale companies will tell a potential customer anything to get your listing fee, thereby explaining the $30,000 listing. But how come the $5,000 listing for the same exact thing?
There are 2 common reasons for this: First, is the fed up timeshare owner that just can’t make it work for him. His timeshare is paid in full, but he is still paying $500-$1,000 per year and not using it. He bought it to exchange to different places in the world but has never taken the time to research the best way to do that. So, he ends up losing his week every year. He just wants out.
Second, the timeshare was first listed at a much higher price, only to be reduced as time passed and it didn’t sell.
Case Study: Villas on the Greens Resort
This is a very nice resort I worked at some years ago that has a good reputation in the timeshare industry. The resort is enormous so I expected to find quite a few resales. I filtered the search for an annual 1 bedroom, Red season. Here’s a description of the resort listing.
What I Found Both Pleased and Surprised Me
This information tells me there is a decent demand for this timeshare. If it were my timeshare, I would monitor the listings for a while before putting it on the market. Over the next 6 months to a year, I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get $8,000-$9,000 for it. In the meantime, I would either use it at the resort or exchange it one last time since I would have already paid the maintenance fees.
4. Trying to Sell While Still Owing Money
If you only owe a small amount you may want to consider this. But if you still owe a substantial amount, you may not be able to sell it for what you have left owing. That would result in throwing good money after bad.
This scenario is what the unethical resale companies thrive on. You still owe $10,000 on your $18,000 timeshare and want out. They will tell you they can sell it for more than you owe just to get the listing fee. Don’t fall for this. If it sounds too good to be true, it is, especially in the timeshare resale world.
5. Failing to Research the Timeshare Resale Company
To research a company with the BBB, go to its main page and enter the city and state the company to get to the local chapter.
Once there you need only enter either the company’s name, address, zip code, telephone number or email address to see if there have been any complaints, how they were resolved and what rating BBB gives them.
Another resource to research timeshare resale companies located in the United States is to check with that state’s Department of Real Estate. There you can find out if it has a Broker’s license and if the company has had any reprimands. You should never do business with a company is not licensed at all.
Another great source of information concerning anything to do with timeshare is ARDA, the industry’s trade association. ARDA is committed to the protection of timeshare consumers. Its website contains great information on buying, selling and exchanging timeshares as well as fraud alerts.
It is located in Washington D.C. and sets the ethical guidelines of the selling of timeshares. While they do not have any regulatory powers, they actively lobby at the state and federal level to protect the timeshare consumer. They have helped to pass laws regarding timeshare scams and have been very successful in greatly reducing the amount of timeshare fraud committed by resale companies.
Your maintenance fee usually comes with a box to check if you want to donate $5 or more. While we all gripe about paying maintenance fees I recommend you always donate to ARDA as they are continually working for you.
Now, if you have a complaint you have 3 very powerful organizations to report to. And if you are unsatisfied with your timeshare resale company you should be very vocal about letting them know that you know who to report them to.
6. Signing an Exclusive Listing Agreement
Always sign an “open listing” giving you or anyone else the right to sell your timeshare. This means you will only pay the listing company a commission if they sell it. If you can find more than one reputable resale company then sign an open listing with all of them.
Discuss with the listing agent how much time will be needed to sell your timeshare and have your listing expire at that time. If priced right, your agent will work a little harder for you to get it sold before the expiration date. You might consider offering a bonus it can be sold within 30 days.
7. Not Checking with Your Home Resort: 4 Reasons Why You Should
First, to check and see if the developer will buy it back. If you have a hot commodity there may be a possibility of this. It’s rare but worth a shot.
Second, to see if there is an onsite resale office. While this isn’t normally an option if your resort is still actively selling, it will be your best market. Selling to an existing owner that is happy and wants more is much easier than a non-owner seeing it on a computer screen.
Third, if the first 2 suggestions aren’t available to you, see if there is an onsite bulletin board where you can hang a flyer.
Finally, depending on how desperate you are, and while not the best option, see if the developer will just take back your week.
8. Not Knowing What You Own: Time to Sharpen Up Your Sales Skills
Many times, I’d get an email from an owner with a question that I couldn’t answer without more information. The number of owners that couldn’t answer my basic questions far outnumbered the ones that could.
Your 2 best sources of information are your original documents and your Owner Services Department.
Dig out your documents and go over them meticulously. You’re going to need to furnish them to the buyer or resale company anyway. Make sure you get clarification on from your Owner Services Department regarding anything you don’t understand.
What You Need to Know Before Selling Your Timeshare
You wouldn’t want to find an interested buyer and find out that your floating Red week is only good in the summer. Or, that the Home Owner’s Association fee is $751 rather than $610. That will kill a sale faster than anything.
When you sell your timeshare, the Developer is notified so the change of title can proceed. If you haven’t given the Developer his FOFR, the sales process will be interrupted until he decides on whether he will exercise his right. During this time, your buyer may cool off or find a better deal.
The thing that hurts you the most about not knowing what you own, comes when you’re using a timeshare resale company. The lazy seller lets the listing agent fill in the blanks on the listing form with little input. I’ve seen the exact same timeshare listed on a site quoted with different maintenance fees, square footage, sleeping capacity season and more.
The operative word when it comes to selling your timeshare is “selling”. Your listing needs to stand out so you need to sharpen your sales skills.
I’ve seen many a timeshare resale company with multiple listings for the same resort, use the exact same verbiage to describe the resort in each and every listing. Think up some selling points on your own. You want your listing to stand out from all of the other ones.
You can start by changing the description. Explain why you love the resort and how many great memories you and your family made while on vacation. If your unit is fixed is it a corner or upstairs one with great views, extra patio space or parking right in front of the unit?
Here is a great resource to help you sell your timeshare:
9. Buying into the Company’s Guarantee: Critical Hearing
When you read, rather than hear this, the difference is obvious.
This is one of the ploys unethical timeshare resale companies use to get you to list with them. Since they’re paying very little, if any, fees for advertising YOUR timeshare, it’s easy to guarantee the listing will never expire. You’re likely to hear this from timeshare resale companies that are more interested in collecting upfront fees than actually selling your timeshare.
10. Misinterpreting the Company’s Website or Claims
“XYZTimeshare ResaleCompany.com is the most active online reseller of timeshares in the world. With more than $3 BILLION in timeshare sales and rental offers sent to owners just like you, we deliver real results to help you rent or sell your timeshare.”
Many online resale companies quote the amount of resale and rental offers they have on their books, instead of the amount of actually sold, to get you to list your timeshare for sale.
If you come across this, you need to read between the lines. The key word here is “offers”. Replace “offers” with “listings” to get to the true meaning. When I list my timeshare with this company for $40,000, I’m “offering” it to the public for that amount. Regardless if my timeshare ever sells or not, the company adds this number to their volume.
This is common practice today and very deceptive. What you want to know is how much of that $3 billion has been sold? Digging that information out of the timeshare resale company is difficult and you should fact check what you’re quoted.
Write it down and call back the next day and see if the quote is similar before listing your timeshare. If the actual amount sold is only a small portion of the total look elsewhere. Whatever you’re told, ask for it in writing or email. Their willingness or unwillingness to do that speaks volumes about their credibility.
11. Not Knowing Your Closing Costs and Transfer Fees
According to Sharket, a timeshare market research company,
It’s especially important to understand that the resort transfer fee, stated as $276 was the average. Unfortunately, some resorts, especially in Mexico, are charging much more than that. There are a growing number of resorts that are now charging 5 to 10 times the maintenance fees for a simple transfer.
Tips on Selling Your Timeshare Yourself
Make Sure You Have a Contract
Consider Using an Escrow Company
You Will Have to Become a Salesperson: Get Over It
Nobody gets through life without wanting to get their way. Whether it’s getting your kids to clean up their room or doing their homework, calling in sick to work when you are relly not or talking your way out of a moving violation, YOU ARE SELLING! So, apply the skills you already have to sell your timeshare.
By far, the easiest way to do this is to post a note on the bulletin board at your resort if it has one. Some well-managed resorts publish a monthly newsletter with timeshares for sale. If neither of those options is available, put on your selling cap and network around the pool and public areas of the resort. This is by far the best way to sell your timeshare!
I’ve found that advertising on Ebay or Craig’s List is only for the desperate timeshare owner that just wants to give away their ownership. The people who frequent these sites are true bargain hunters.
Make Sure to Use What You Have
If you choose to use a resale company, I’ve listed “The 15 Most Important Questions to Ask a Timeshare Resale Company” for your convenience. Pay attention to how they answer and their willingness to answer your questions. Legitimate companies have nothing to hide while timeshare resale companies just after listing fees will dance around many of these questions. If you have doubts find another company and always remember, never, never pay a timeshare resale company money upfront.
“The 15 Most Important Questions to Ask a Timeshare Resale Company”
The BEST Alternative to Selling Your Timeshare
What you should have gleaned by now is that selling your timeshare for anything but a major loss is a given. And before you lose literally thousands of dollars and years off of your life due to frustration, you owe it to yourself to consider learning to use it properly…something the vast majority of timeshare owners have never done.
While the timeshare resale market is far from robust, the timeshare exchange market is just the opposite. With nearly 20 million timeshare owners, thousands of resorts spread over 100+ countries and nearly 80% of timeshare owners exchanging every year, it has never been better. Add in the advances in computing power and even the owner of an average timeshare has more opportunities than ever for getting a great exchange.
The problem is, and always has been, the lack of good information on the subject, and a precise “How To” guide, to help the timeshare owner master the arcane art of timeshare exchange.
Not any longer. I have written 2 books exclusively on this subject that have already sold thousands of copies worldwide. They are called: The Timeshare Exchange Bibles. There is one for RCI and one for Interval International. Not only are they guaranteed to work, but come with a 100% money back guarantee.
You’ve already spent ten of thousands of dollars buying your timeshare and thousands more on fees.
One of the top 3 reasons timeshare owners gave as a reason for their purchase was to exchange it to other locations. And, one of the top 3 reasons timeshare owners gave for wanting to sell their timeshare was the difficulty of getting a good exchange.
Odds are, even if you do sell your timeshare, you will have one more week to use. Don’t lose that week in addition to thousands of dollars. Get it banked with RCI or Interval International to give you, or the new owner, up to 2 more years to use it.
In addition, having a great exchange already booked will help you to sell your timeshare, and you’re going to need all the help you can get. If a prospective purchaser was looking at 2 identical listings, your’s along with another, and your’s included a week already booked on the beach in Hawaii, which one is he more likely to choose?
You can expect to find the same quality of content in this article to be found in The Timeshare Exchange Bibles. And more. I’ve uncovered secrets and strategies of exchanging timeshares that very few people know, and I’ve revealed them all to help you become a master at it.
Don’t wait, get The Timeshare Exchange Bible today. Click Here to see a video of them.