The Timeshare Industry is constantly on the watch for deceptive and unethical business practice. Seemingly every ethical pocket of the industry that provides honest assistance to owners, often becomes the focal point of unethical or deceptive companies looking to take advantage of customers. Unethical companies often mimicking the successful business plan of legitimate companies, while preying on the customers through unethical solicitation and pressuring them into bad decision. A trend developing involves resale and transfers on the secondary market. As I’ve covered in this blog before, the timeshare resale industry has exploded in recent years, mainly because most resort developers do not offer a resale or rental program, and a large volume of timeshare in the United States is owned by an aging portion of the population no longer interested in traveling as they have in the past.
Legitimate transfer options exist for owner who no longer wish to continue to travel. Transfer companies often charge a fee to transfer the timeshare from the owner, divesting the owner of all legal responsibility of future obligation in regards to ownership, maintenance fees, and exchange companies. Transfer companies provide expertise in areas where an owner may be unfamiliar, that experience often comes from years of working within the resort companies and/or from years of working in the resale industry. There is no list that will tell you whether the company you are dealing with has an established credible track record, but there are guidelines you can follow to assure that you won’t be the target of a scam.
If you find that you can no longer use your timeshare, check first with your resort developer or homeowners association to see if they offer a resale or transfer program, or are affiliated with a licensed real estate broker to handle resales. In addition, some non-profit organizations accept timeshares as a donation. Before transferring your product, make sure you research the organization and understand the process. If you are solicited by a company offering to “take your timeshare off your hands,” be extremely cautious, especially if they make it sound as though they will pay you for your timeshare.
Top Questions to Ask a Timeshare Transfer Company:
1. Ask what you must pay in order to transfer the timeshare to the company and how they will accomplish the transfer.
2. Ask if they will require you to sign a “power of attorney” and, if so, ask them to send you a copy so you can have your attorney review it before you sign it.
3. Ask if the company will notify your resort and exchange company of the transfer and will provide proof of these notifications.
4. Ask how soon your timeshare will be legally transferred, i.e. now, in 30 days, 90 days, etc.
5. Ask who will be responsible for paying your costs of ownership (maintenance fees, taxes, etc.) while the transfer is pending.
6. Get all of the answers to your questions in writing before you pay any money, and have a knowledgeable friend or professional advisor review the information with you.
7. Ask for the names and phone numbers of other timeshare owners who have used the company’s transfer services so you can call and ask about their experience.
8. Finally, do not succumb to pressure. If this is a legitimate company offering a reputable service, they should encourage you to take the necessary time to research the company and make an informed decision. If you are being pressured to do this now, walk away.