Why are so many people drawn to vacation ownership? For one thing, it is an incredibly affordable way to vacation. You can purchase a timeshare at a resort of your choice for a lifetime of vacations that include luxury accommodations, a plethora of incredible amenities and services, and the ability to exchange your week for a vacation virtually anywhere else in the world. Additionally, you have guaranteed accommodations every year. And without having to worry about booking a vacation or the inflation prices of hotels.
However, times change, and you may find yourself with a timeshare that you once loved but no longer use. This can sometimes happen because of lifestyle changes or any unforeseen circumstances. If you want the best way to get rid of your timeshare, there are a number of options for you to consider.
Transfer Timeshare to Family
The first choice is to find a family member or friend that may be interested in taking advantage of your unused ownership. There are many timeshare transfer companies that specialize in legally transitioning ownership to friends or family members. There are fees involved in this process but they’re pretty minimal. And it’ll give you peace of mind knowing your timeshare is off your hands and being loved.
Sell Timeshare on the Secondary Market
Did you know you can sell timeshares? There are dozens of websites out there that are helping timeshare owners to sell their timeshare. It takes place on the secondary market. However, you need to be careful about which timeshare resale site you trust. Many are either not legitimate, or won’t offer the reach that you need. Companies that reach a global audience offer the best opportunities to get your timeshare sold.
Look for online marketplaces that specialize in selling timeshares, but be very careful of the terms they’ll offer. You may get a lot less than what you paid for it. While a lot of people think you can sell timeshare on eBay, you won’t be getting the same reach or assistance from informed, seasoned specialists that a website like SellMyTimeshareNow.com will give you. Learn more about how to sell your timeshare by using this online marketplace.
Donate Your Timeshare
Timeshare donation is good for people who are not interested in getting any money back on their timeshare but want to unload the burden of ownership. There are no fees to do this if your timeshare is qualified. And depending on where you live and where your timeshare is located, you might also get the opportunity to claim the donation on your taxes!
Final Thoughts on How to Get Rid of Your Timeshare For Good
All the above methods are legitimate options to consider when you want to get rid of your timeshare. What it really comes down to is you, your family, and your ownership situation to determine which method is best.
Don’t get me started. I will never buy another one. We just paid off the one we had in 2016. The maintenance fee went from $500 to $1000 over 20 years. The interest rates border on usury. We ended up not using it a lot and couldn’t even give away the weeks. Like season football tickets, most people that want to go to these resorts already have a timeshare. I know it might be different for some people, but that’s what we experienced. If my spouse wants to get another one for some unknown reason, I will not put my signature on the contract. As for the really cool places in the United States, you can hardly ever find an exchange because there are so few resorts. The best thing is never buy in the first place. Again, this is my experience. If you really use it and plan all your vacations around it, you might have a more positive experience.
Hi Jackie – The stories I’ve heard about timeshares are all like yours. People buy in, because at the time they’re smitten with the location and the resort. But then their tastes change and they don’t go so much anymore. Maybe they don’t go at all. That’s when they realize it’s a completely illiquid investment. You may be able to sell it (or maybe not) but you’ll usually take a bath on it. For some reason, there’s much greater demand for brand new timeshares, but close to zero for existing ones. That’s a huge clue right there!
Don’t blame yourself or your spouse too much. My wife and I have been to some timeshare demonstrations and they put on a really impressive show. If you happen to experience it when you’re in the smitten stage, it’s not hard to get suckered in. The people who sell these things know the business well, and how to convince you to sign up. The truth never becomes apparent until you can’t get out of it.
Kevin, I have a humorous story about getting under the skin of high pressure time share salesmen:
Years ago I “won” a vacation to Miami Beach. The vacation was a come-on to get the suckers to buy an over-priced timeshare in a less than upscale section of Miami Beach or one of the other properties in Las Vegas,etc..
The salesmen were all fast talking New Yorkers (you know the type!)but those types neither phase nor impress me.
I told them I was no financially qualified to buy a share and even I were, I wouldn’t be interested in a time share or in their properties. They kept ragging on me trying to wear me down; to make a long story short, I so rattled the salesmen that they gave me extra days for free and lots of free champagne just to get rid of me and to keep me from ever getting on their list again!
Hi Mary – It’s great you have the ability to push back at these sales people, but most of us don’t. I find the best strategy is total avoidance. A lot of the timeshares really are attractive, to the point where resistance wavers. A good sales person can close the deal before you know what happening. I’ve been able to push back the couple of times we were in the web, but it took everything I had. Good on you if you can have fun with it, and get some extra benefits.
I think of my timeshare like a vacation home that I do not have to hire contractors to maintain, write checks for utility bills, clean, paint, or risk some idiot neighbor taking revenge and foreclosing on me. (Think HOA!)
I always advise people to never buy into a timeshare if they cannot pay cash, if the maintenance fees will be yearly financial burden, or they can only travel at a certain time of the year with no flexibility. (Spring Break and Summers only)
Mine is a point system and I can select any type of unit; studio, 1,2,3, bedroom, cabin, or executive unit depending on how many points I wish to use. I also have the option of booking Bonus Time where I pay a very reasonable rate for whichever size unit I select.
I have four awesome resorts within four hours driving time from my home. It is so nice to be able to get away from my HOA and enjoy a relaxing time on the lake, in the mountains, and near an assortment of entertainment.
Since my purchase several years ago I’ve learned about the resale market. There are some benefits not available with this type of purchase but the savings is massive. I’ve talked to people who own enough points they can take wonderful vacations and offer vacations to others for a rental price that has paid for their children to go to college. The acquired large numbers of points on the resale market and have little to no money in the purchase with the rentals covering the annual fees plus a nice profit. The corporate folks frown on this but look the other way as every renter is a potential buyer that they entice to attend a sales presentation.
Timeshares are an advance purchase on a vacation. They are not an investment because the return is pennies on the dollar. For those that desire other types of vacation experiences the points system offers cruises, exchange programs around the world, airline tickets, and more. I will say a Costco membership offers equally good or better pricing since point exchanges are a bit out of balance.
After a nice vacation with friends, family, or by myself it’s nice to walk out the door and not have to worry about a thing. No, I cannot leave my personal items behind or decorate the unit, but that’s fine with me.
I would never suggest a timeshare purchase to someone that cannot afford a second home, does not own a home of their own, is buying on payments, lives on a tight budget, or does not have substantial savings. For them to enjoy the resorts I suggest renting from owners. That helps one pay the maintenance fees and the other has no financial obligation beyond the price of the rental. Everybody wins!
Nila, yours might be the first and only happy timeshare story I’ve ever heard. But you do make a good point that you have to go into it with the right financial situation. Taking on debt to do a timeshare takes a lot of the fun out, and adds to the carrying cost. Even if you’re excited at the beginning, the carrying costs can weigh you down.
I’ve been a timeshare owner since 2002, and I have never regretted it. You do need to know what you are getting yourself into, and how you intend to use it.
Never buy a new one. My first one was new, but fortunately not too expensive. Buying on the resale market will save you 80%.
Maintenance is real. Just like with a condo. And it will always go up. Jackie mentioned her maintenance doubling in 20 years. That is one of the LOWEST maintenance increases I have ever seen. The maintenance on my original unit doubled in 14 years I think. It continues to outpace inflation. It’s currently about $1300.
If you intend to use the actual resort where you bought, then your costs are done. But if you intend to use an exchange company to swap into different resorts, be prepared for additional expenses; $100+ per year in membership and $300+ to do each exchange. If you plan to do exchanges, travelling in off-peak times can result in some great exchanges.
I think the sweet spot for timeshares is vacationing in places you can reach by driving. When travelling to far-away destinations, your timeshare value diminishes because you have to buy flights and other transportation separately. When you go to the Caribbean, your best bet is an all-inclusive package.
Here is an example of a great timeshare vacation: Drive to some place less than 10 hours away. Get a well-appointed unit with a full kitchen. Spend a week in a wonderful locale while saving a fortune on restaurant meals. Then it ends up being a value vacation. This is even better if you are travelling with kids or another couple, because the savings increase exponentially.
My purchase of the timeshare in 2002 changed how I planned vacations, and forced me to look for places to go (because I am too cheap to let the time expire!). This has resulted in some really great vacations to places I never would have otherwise visited. I live in Ontario, and have used timeshares to visit Vermont (1), New Hampshire (3), Massachusetts (1), Virginia (10+), Nevada (1)(Las Vegas), and many trips closer to home; Collingwood (15+), Barrie (10+).
Our family trip to Virginia (almost) every year is a highlight of our year.
If your circumstances change and you wish to stop owning your timeshare, then you need to let go of the expectation of getting any money for it. If you are done with it, then get rid of as fast as possible, otherwise it’s just a money-pit.
Some resorts will actually let you out of your obligation AND pay the legal fees to give it back. My second timeshare was in Florida. When my first marriage ended I no longer needed two timeshares, so I contacted them directly. My maintenance was up-to-date, they just sent me some forms and took care of everything. As Kevin mentioned, there may be ways to donate your unit. If that is possible, just do it.
I still own my original unit, at Horseshoe Valley, between Barrie and Orillia in Ontario. Sometimes I stay there, but mostly I do exchanges through RCI. I have a Collingwood ski vacation coming up in February.
Timeshare ownership is not for everyone. But is has been really good for me.
OK Neil, yours is the second positive timeshare experience. But the key with you, I believe, is your point of buying them used and paying 20% on the dollar. Almost anything that can be bought that cheap has a better than even chance of working in your favor. That’s the “buy when everyone is selling” theory, and it’s time honored in the investment universe. Still, I don’t think I’d be OK with that monthly maintenance fee.
Here’s how I address the maintenance fees. If I owned a lake home, I would spend far more in insurance and maintenance fees and be locked into visiting that one location all the time. I can reserve a unit and rent it out to offset the maintenance fees from time to time. It helps that the resorts are highly sought after locations and there is never a shortage of people seeking to rent units.
I agree with Neil about driving to a location. It really makes a difference because I can take people with me and there is no additional expense. We split the cost of gas or they offer to drive since I am providing the lodging.
Having a full kitchen and outdoor grills allows for big savings. The resorts have restaurants or ones nearby and once in awhile we eat out. That savings adds up very quickly…making vacations very affordable. And I’d be spending money on groceries at home anyway so it’s a wash.
Resale is the way to go if the purchase is from a reputable source. Many are not reputable and buyers end up losing money. The company my timeshare is through has a sister company that handles the resales, but there are other reputable people out there…do the research, check the internet for reviews, and locate social media pages where you’ll find honest opinions and free guidance from experienced owners…or those who have been ripped off and how it happened. The resorts employ high pressure snake oil type sales reps that are paid on straight commission. Learn to say, no and do the research or exercise your right to rescind (follow the instructions EXACTLY as written) and buy later or pass on buying at all. Renting from owners is a great idea, as I see it.
I’ve been told by many people to never buy any timeshare outside of the United States. Apparently, some countries allow resorts to sell as many contracts as they can knowing there is never going to be a vacant unit. The buyer is stuck with the maintenance fees and no place to go!
Learn to use the system to your advantage. So many people buy into a timeshare and haven’t the faintest clue how to make the most of it. It takes time and dedication to learning. Watch the webinars if the company offers those.
Sometimes, it’s a nice gift. I gave a honeymoon to a couple that was on a limited budget because they were both in school. They would have postponed a honeymoon if not for getting it as a gift.
I’m no expert on timeshares but I’ve taken far more vacations in the past thirteen years than I would have had I not bought the points. They definitely are not for everyone, but for those that use them they enjoy them immensely.
I can see what you and Neil mean if you can drive to the timeshare and have a fully-stocked kitchen. That minimizes travel costs and at least food. But in too many of the cases I hear about I get a strong sense the timeshare owner is subsidizing the arrangement for other users, with only very limited use for their own purposes.
Being able to drive, have flexible unit sizes, not locked into certain weeks or even days per year, and having massive resort amenities does make it like owning a vacation home without the headaches.
I would have never purchased if buying airline tickets was involved with every trip. I worked in that airline industry…I’ve spent all the time I care to in airports. Had I owned timeshare points back in those days of non-rev travel I would have visited a lot more resorts.
Next year I have events to attend out of state. I’ve already booked my resort stays to coordinate with those dates making the cost of being there more affordable.
Another thing I hear a lot about is owners passing their ownership to their children or relatives when they are too old to travel or die. Paying the maintenance fees is a nice way for them to give/leave the gift of travel.
I hear a lot of negative comments, too. It mostly boils down to somebody that made an emotional purchase on payments with too much existing debt and the maintenance fees make it impossible for them to even afford to take a vacation. The interest rates are outrageous, too. Like everything in life…it always comes down to the money. The ideal age to buy is probably between 45 and 50 when the kids are out of college, no credit car debt, house is paid for or getting close, no car payments, and possibly some inheritance money, tax refund, investment money could be used to make the purchase. Staying in exclusive resorts does make it hard to stay in a hotel room rather difficult.
We couldn’t give away or donate our Shell Vacation Club/Wyndham Timeshare. Even though we owned the timeshare clear and free a company quoted us $2200 to get us out of the timeshare and the maintanence fees obligations. Fortunately, we learned of Wyndham Ovations Exit program. It’s legit and hassle free as we were able to sign our Timeshare over to them with out any problems.
Hi Clarence – Is that a program that gets you out of future maintenance payments? What about your investment in the timeshare – is that lost?