Getting Rid of a Timeshare

A reader has tried some common recommendations for getting rid of a timeshare, but is running into a brick wall. 

Q: I frequently read your column/advice in my local paper. I’ve read your advice about getting rid of timeshares. I tried one of your recommendations about calling the timeshare and asking how to get rid of it. You would have thought I was a two-headed monster! No one had information about how to get rid of it nor advice on who I should contact. I am feeling stuck, yet again, for another year of maintenance fees.

Frequently, I get ads in the mail or hear on the radio ads for companies that claim to get rid of your timeshare. But I am wondering if these are good options or if they might be another scam. Will I recoup any money from selling a timeshare? What are some other options because the yearly maintenance fees keep rising and I can no longer afford them.

Any insight or recommendations to a reputable company would be greatly appreciated. We live in Illinois and the timeshare is in Florida.

Getting Rid of a Timeshare Property

A: There are so many timeshare owners that want to get rid of their timeshares. We’ve written about this issue in the past and as we’re just about in the summer holiday season, it’s worth talking about again.

When you buy a timeshare, you sign a contract with the timeshare company to pay your share of real estate taxes (in states that have real estate taxes), insurance, maintenance, repairs, improvements, and replacements in the timeshare development.

You become an owner in the development, and you bear the burden of your share of the expenses. From our vantage point, there are two main types of timeshares.

The larger timeshare players are typically affiliated with or are owned by hotel management companies. They allow you to trade your timeshare for points to use in hotels that are part of the chain. So while you pay your annual fees to the timeshare company, you can use your points to stay at hotels around the world. These timeshare companies offer flexibility. So, if you tire of your timeshare, you can use your points to stay near friends and family or for other vacations.

How to Get Rid of a Timeshare

We’re not suggesting that it’s a good idea to buy a timeshare. Nor are we recommending that you go buy a timeshare so you can swap your points in the future. We just want to let you know that if you do have that type of timeshare, you have more flexibility to use or give away points.

The larger timeshare companies also may have a process to repurchase your timeshare or assist you in selling it. We doubt you’ll ever make money when you use the timeshare company to help you sell or trade your timeshare. But, at least you’ll get out from under the annual obligations.

And then there are the smaller timeshare companies. We suspect you own a timeshare from a company that only allows you to use your unit at a specific property during a specific week of the year. Your ability to swap weeks might be limited or non-existent. Or, you might be able to swap from a limited number of properties. Inflexibility is the rule with this sort of timeshare.

These properties are, of course, the hardest to sell. You need to find someone who wants a timeshare in your general location. They must want your specific building, your specific week, and are willing to pay your price.

Timeshare Horror Story

There are a lot of new timeshares being offered. If you’ve had one for 20 years, it’s unlikely you’ll find someone willing to pay much for your timeshare, unless your building has been upgraded, is in a great location, or is otherwise very desirable.

So, what can you do? We’re assuming you purchased your timeshare a long time ago. We’re also going to assume you’ve paid off any mortgage or loan against the timeshare. This is key because if you still owe money to the finance company, you’ll need to pay them off even if you give the timeshare away. Unless, that is, the buyer of your timeshare is willing to pay you what you still owe the finance company.

Should I Buy a Timeshare?

Here are some things you can do to try to sell your timeshare:

1). Advertise your timeshare for sale in the building. Maybe someone is looking for another timeshare in the building or has a friend who wants to vacation at the same time. Ask the timeshare management company if there is a way to advertise your timeshare for sale to other owners.

2). Advertise your timeshare for sale yourself on various websites, like eBay and Craigslist, among others. Unfortunately, real estate sites like Zillow do not accept timeshare listings.

3). Let your friends and family know that you have a timeshare available for sale or rent. Perhaps you can rent the timeshare for the amount of the annual fee.

4). Consider giving away your timeshare. If you no longer have a mortgage or owe on a loan, you might be able to just give it away. You can ask if your house of worship is willing to accept it or has a charity auction coming up where someone might buy it at that auction.

There are many websites that charge a fee to list your timeshare. We haven’t heard of anyone having much luck with those and many seem like scams.

Is a Free Timeshare a Gift or a Problem?

There are companies that advertise services to assist you in selling your timeshare. Again, we haven’t received any success stories from readers who have used one of those sites. On the other hand, we’ve heard about timeshare owners who were told their timeshares were sold only to find out later that they weren’t. Recently, we saw a news story about people in Mexico being scammed by purported timeshare sellers, who just fleeced owners out of thousands of dollars.

There’s no magic formula for getting rid of a timeshare when the demand isn’t there. You just have to work hard to explore how you can get rid of it without getting scammed. Good luck.


©2024 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. C1640

Sign up for Ilyce’s free newsletter: Love, Money + Real Estate