Beware of Timeshare Resale Scams
UPDATED: October 25, 2013
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Be cautious about phone calls or emails from a company trying to convince you to sell your timeshare, because it could be a scam. Timeshare owners have reported being contacted by individuals claiming to work for real estate companies that specialize in reselling timeshares, also known as “resellers”. The reseller usually states his office is overwhelmed with buyers looking for timeshares similar to yours, and he can sell your timeshare for thousands of dollars more than you paid for it. Time shares rarely appreciate in value. This scam sales call or email always ends with the instruction to pay a large fee or supposedly “refundable” security deposit upfront by wiring the money to a bank account. As soon as the money is wired, the scam artist closes the bank account and, along with the money, disappears. So, if you are considering selling your timeshare, the suggestions below should help protect you from scams.
Make No Assumptions about Your “Real Estate”
Do not enter the selling mode with the expectation you will recoup the amount you paid for it or make a profit, especially if you have owned it for five years or less, or it is in an obscure location. Generally, a timeshare may save you some money on vacations, but it is not considered a traditional real estate investment. Also, do not presume that selling a timeshare in a resort is easy. Some resorts place restrictions and fees on a resale, so check the rules of your timeshare’s resort.
Take Your Time
Do not agree to anything during the initial discussion with a timeshare reseller, whether on the phone, online, or in person. Take time to research the company with the Better Business Bureau, your State Attorney General’s office, and local professional associations to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable business. You should always make certain that the reseller is properly licensed to sell real estate in the state where your timeshare is located.
Know the Costs
Clarify all fees and costs with the company. Most legitimate resellers will not require payment of any fee until after the timeshare is actually sold. Do not work with a reseller who demands a fee upfront, because it could be a scam.
Get Everything in Writing
After you have concluded preliminary conversations with the reseller, ask that all information be in writing. This will assure that you are both on the same page, and eliminates any surprises at the signing of the contract.
Carefully Read the Contract Before Signing It
In most instances, once you decide on a company to sell your timeshare, you will enter into a listing agreement. Before signing the agreement, be sure it describes in detail the company’s obligations, including the marketing and advertising of your timeshare, as well as the total amount you must pay in costs and fees. In addition, be certain the agreement specifies when and if you must pay the reseller, when the contract between you expires, whether you can rent or sell the timeshare yourself while the company is trying to sell it, and who will be responsible for closing the sale. If the contract is not what you expected, do not sign it. You can either negotiate or find another reseller.
For help with issues or concerns involving timeshare resellers, contact the Federal Trade Commission or the Real Estate Commission in the state where the timeshare is located.