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In today’s overworked, overstressed world, timeshares are a tempting solution to a widespread problem.

After all, 37% of families said that vacations make them happy, making these trips the activity that makes families the most happy. With this demand for an escape, timeshares can sometimes seem like an attractive option. Once you buy in, this vacation home away from home is always there waiting for you.

But that is not always the reality.

Up front, the average cost of a timeshare is $20,040. On top of that, owners are often forced to pay increasing (and hidden) maintenance fees, which can add up to hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per year. This leads many owners to want out of their contract, which is often impossible.

“When they’ve signed, they’ve signed it for perpetuity – you know, forever,” Harry Taylor, secretary general of the Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, said in a statement to The New York Times. “If they die, it goes to the son. He’s got to pay it. There’s no exit policy.”

Because of this, many owners rush to the resale market, which is often unreliable. Ed Hastry, of the Maryland Timeshare Owners Association, said in a statement to The New York Times that this is the worst time for timeshare sellers that he has seen since 1988, when he started in the industry.

Beware of Timeshare Resale Scams

The timeshare market often draws the middle class segment of the travel industry. With 11,261 private jets registered in the United States in 2011, these high rollers are chartering planes and heading to exotic destinations. For everyone else, more affordable vacation options are necessary, which makes some travelers vulnerable to timeshare scams. Even in the best of circumstances, life events or unfair timeshare practices can make it difficult to sustain a timeshare, and this leads owners to search for solutions.

Resale scammers are aware of this desperation, and will often take advantage of those looking to sell their timeshares.

“The typical ruse involves a supposed timeshare broker, claiming to have found a buyer willing to pay a good price for the owner’s timeshare,” Chris Reiter writes in The New York Times. “The broker says he needs an upfront fee to arrange the transaction, which then never materializes.”

This leaves the timeshare owner in even more financial hardship than before. Knowing this, it’s important to handle your timeshare exit the right way.

How Can You Get Out Of A Timeshare?

If you do find yourself in a bind with a timeshare, there are steps you can take to attempt to get out of it. The following are the main three ways to find a legal out.

  1. Check the recession period. Depending on your state’s laws, every timeshare contract has a recession period in which you can cancel the timeshare and receive a refund. In most cases, this is 10 days. If you purchases and had an instant regret, you might be in luck.
  2. Read your contract carefully. Look through your contract and see if the timeshare company is in violation of any part of it. If so, hire a lawyer to take action.
  3. Contact a lawyer. If you feel trapped or are not sure what direction to take, hire a lawyer to go over your options. They can take a closer look at your case and outline your options.

Entering a timeshare contract may seem glamorous, but it can be dangerous in the long run.

“Many people get into a timeshare contract without fully understanding the pros and cons of timeshare ownership,” Kathleen Michon, J.D., writes in NOLO. “Others have no idea what the total cost will be until they get hit with their first special assessment or tax bill. And if down the line you can’t make the payments, you’ll face foreclosure.”

To protect your finances, weight all of your options before entering a timeshare and seek legal assistance when you are stuck in a contract. This will help you retain your financial integrity and protect your future.

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