It’s no secret that timeshare owners are often unhappy with their purchases. Perhaps you signed a contract on a new unit over the weekend, and now you have buyer’s remorse. Or maybe you’re a year into your mortgage payments and maintenance fees, and you realize you can’t afford your unit. Maybe a lost job or an economic downturn changed your financial priorities.
However and whenever it happens, you need a timeshare exit strategy. There are many different methods for getting out of a timeshare obligation, but not all are created equal. To make it even more complicated, the best method for each person depends on several factors.
How long you have had your timeshare and the language of your contract will heavily influence your exit options. Your exit also depends on who the timeshare developer is and how willing they are to deal with unhappy owners. In the event of a difficult contract or developer, you may need an experienced timeshare exit company like Centerstone Group.
If you are an unhappy timeshare owner, this article will take a look at your possible options, from rescission of a contract to giving up a long-held timeshare. Centerstone Group is also here to look at your specific situation and help you craft your own specialized timeshare exit strategy.
Timeshare exit strategy #1: Rescission
Timeshare exit strategy: A closeup of two men reviewing a contract
Let’s say that you just got back from your Hawaii vacation. You went to a timeshare presentation because you were promised a free dinner cruise. You left the presentation with the cruise, but also with a timeshare contract. You were worn down by the hours-long onslaught from pushy salespeople, and you convinced yourself the purchase was a good idea at the time.
Now you’ve had time to really think about it. You’ve looked at the annual maintenance fees you’re committed to paying every year as well at the hefty mortgage you’re taking on. Buyer’s regret by itself is bad enough. Realizing that you are now in financial peril because of a weak moment is even worse.
In this case, though, you can still get out if you act quickly. Hawaii, like other states, has a rescission period for its timeshare contract. A rescission, also known as a timeshare cancellation, means the contract is “unwound” like it never happened. This must happen quickly, though. The rescission period is often just a matter of days after you sign the contract.
Hawaii’s rescission period is seven days. Other states may have longer or shorter time frames. It’s important to check these as early as possible so you don’t miss the deadline. If you want to get out of that contract you just signed, then you have very little time to lose.
What’s more, you must make sure that you rescind the contract in the right way. If you don’t use the proper procedure, you could still be stuck with a timeshare despite the fact that you were trying to get out. Centerstone Group is familiar with these processes across the country and can help you make sure that you cancel the contract properly without any nasty surprises.
Timeshare Exit Strategy #2: Transfer
A closeup of condo balconies
Rescinding a contract can work for someone who just signed on the dotted line. But what about if you have had your unit for a while and now want to get rid of it? While it can be more complicated to rid yourself of vacation ownership at this point, it is possible. You have several possible options depending on your specific situation.
Take a look at your contract, or better yet, have an expert look at your contract with you. Some contracts may allow you to sell your timeshare back to the developer. This option is rare, though, and don’t expect to get much money from the resort owner if they do allow you to do this. Just remember — you’ll save money later when you are not paying maintenance fees.
Another variation on this timeshare exit strategy is a deed-back provision, where the resort owner lets you deed back the interest to your unit. In this case, you wouldn’t get any money for your unit. Keep in mind, though, that not paying fees in the future would save you thousands of dollars, and so this option may actually be better in the long run.
These sell-back and deed-back provisions in vacation ownership contracts are rare. Timeshare resorts like having the income from owners paying their maintenance fees, and a sale or deed-back cuts off that income. Therefore, it’s important that these contract provisions be used correctly and that the company is forced to strictly comply with them where they exist.
A word of caution: You need to follow the terms of your contract. Some owners, frustrated with oppressive contract terms, have decided to stop paying fees on an unwanted timeshare, effectively trying to “self-cancel” their contract by forcing a foreclosure. This is a bad tactic because it can cost more money in the long run as well as damage your credit score.
Timeshare Exit Strategy #3: Get a Realtor
A realtor shows a timeshare unit to a couple
If you can’t get the timeshare company or resort to take back your interest, you will have to get more creative. If your contract allows it, you can try to resell your timeshare. Many owners who do this, however, make the mistake of trying to do it by themselves on eBay, Craigslist, or similar websites.
Selling a timeshare is difficult, and going it alone is a bad idea. You need a licensed Realtor to help you with this kind of a transaction. What’s more, you specifically need a Realtor with expertise in the timeshare resale market in order to have the best chance of succeeding and getting as much of your money back as possible.
If you decide to take the resale route, beware of timeshare resale company scams. These attempted frauds have been increasing in recent years and can cost you thousands of dollars without helping you get rid of your timeshare.
Always remember that a reputable Realtor will never ask you for upfront fees in connection with the sale of your unit. Resellers who do ask for upfront fees for escrow or anything else should be avoided and reported to the proper authorities in your state.
Always remember to investigate any person or company that wants to help you with a resale. Reputable companies like Centerstone Group will refer you to client reviews and have a favorable rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Timeshare Exit Strategy #4: Retain a Firm to Advocate Your Exit
Sometimes, it can be difficult to transfer or sell a timeshare because of the language of your contract. Similarly, not all contracts allow a rescission. Tough situations like these call for innovative strategies. Many companies, faced with these kinds of daunting dead ends, may tell you that foreclosure or a legal fight are your only remaining options.
Centerstone Group is happy to tell you this is not the case. Sometimes. Where there are unfavorable contracts or other problems preventing an easy exit, the best option is a pressure campaign against the timeshare company that sold you your unit.
In this context, the term “pressure campaign” refers to direct communication with a timeshare company across a variety of channels. The theory is this: You are more likely to get a response if you make it increasingly more difficult for the company to ignore you or stay silent.
Letters, regulatory complaints, and reviews on social media sites are used to get the company’s attention and make it more difficult for the company to refuse your request for an exit. Of course, this is a difficult undertaking. Centerstone Group’s team, however, has years of experience with the industry and has formulated a pressure campaign strategy that gets results.
Timeshare Exit Strategy #5: Get a Lawyer
Timeshare exit strategy: A smiling lawyer sits behind a desk
Nobody wants to be involved in a tense legal negotiation or lawsuit, but it happens. Maybe your timeshare contract is illegal because it doesn’t have your state’s required rescission period. Or maybe the terms of the contract allow you to deed back your unit, but the developer refuses to honor that provision.
In these situations, a lawyer can help you fight back and get you the relief you need. Naturally, it’s important to hire a lawyer who is experienced with real estate contracts and developers. It can also be useful to have a trial attorney who is used to the process of bringing civil lawsuits.
A developer is more likely to take you seriously if they know you can take a case to court and win. That said, lawyers are expensive. Hiring an attorney on your own will cost you many thousands of dollars, particularly if you have to go to court.
This may be the first time in your life that you have ever considered even needing a lawyer. In that case, it can be helpful to have someone with experience who can guide you through the process.
Centerstone Group is familiar with the process of finding law firms for its clients in cases like these, so you can proceed with confidence. They can also save you thousands by bundling your case with several other clients, taking advantage of deep savings through pre-negotiated rates. Because Centerstone Group has a continuing business relationship with various skilled attorneys, you can also often get better service at a better price than you could by going it alone.
It’s a smart idea to retain a firm that executes both advocacy and attorney referral methods, like Centerstone Group. This yields better results and saves you a lot of money.
Let Us Help You Find the Answer
It’s never easy to admit when you make a mistake. Many people fall for developers’ predatory sales tactics. It’s not a mistake you should be ashamed of. But don’t let the mistake of buying a timeshare doom you to paying maintenance fees forever. It may take some work and cost some more money, but you’ll save and be happier in the long run if you get out.
If you want to discuss a timeshare exit strategy, Centerstone Group is here to help you with over 33 years of experience in the industry. Contact us today for a free consultation with our timeshare exit team.