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Timeshares are “a shared ownership model of vacation real estate where multiple purchasers own allotments of usage, typically in one-week increments, in the same property.”1  Many people are aware what timeshares are and their many disadvantages.  Some of the main disadvantages are the costs associated with owning a timeshare and the extreme difficulty that comes up when trying to get out of timeshare ownership.  Additionally, many have reported the inability to even book a stay at their owned timeshare, which results in paying exorbitant fees and still being unable to use their timeshare.  There are maintenance fees billed for your timeshare and those tend to increase every year.2  Timeshares may also become part of your estate when you pass away and the difficulty in getting out of the contract then is passed to your heirs, who may not want the timeshare.

If you want out of your timeshare contract, you can try negotiating with the company to take it back.  However, this may involve more fees and costs and may even take a long time for it to be successful.  You can also try selling your timeshare, but know that the resale value is low.  But be wary of the timeshare resale scam.  Once you’ve decided that you want to sell your timeshare, this scam has someone contacting you claiming they have seen your “for sale” ad and claiming that they have someone ready to make a deal.  This scammer then may send over legitimate looking purchase documents and then will ask you to give them your credit card number to cover some of the sale expenses.3  You may be promised a refund for these fees after the sale is closed.  Unfortunately, the end result is that the deal doesn’t happen and you lose your money.  To avoid falling for these scammers, remember to be wary of anyone that contacts you without you contacting them first.  Furthermore, do not agree to pay anything upfront and take the time to research the so called buyer.  Taking the time to research can be immensely beneficial.

Remember, if you’re thinking of purchasing a timeshare, a timeshare is not an investment; its use is simply as a vacation destination.4  If you happen to attend a timeshare presentation, do not buy on impulse or because you’re being pressured to do so.  The sales representatives are trained to be pushy and to not take no for an answer.  Do your research before you attend the presentation.  Some have reported of presentations taking a whole day and by the end, attendees are so exhausted that they end up signing just to be able to get out of there.

Timeshare exit companies

If you have already purchased a timeshare and are thinking of getting out of that contract, beware of timeshare exit companies.  There are a multitude of ads out there from timeshare exit companies claiming they can get you out of your timeshare contract, but as detailed above, getting out of these contracts is almost impossible.  Many of these timeshare exit companies are simply another scam.  These companies claim to be able to get you out of your contract, but you have to pay a large sum, averaging about $4,500.  A woman in Denver used one of these companies and paid about $14,000 only to later find the company’s office vacated, while she still has her timeshare.5

Before you decide to use a timeshare exit company, do your research and research the company.  You can also research the company name alongside the words, “scam” or “complaint.”6  Make sure to review the contract you’re being asked to sign and ask before signing about your ability to cancel the contract.