There are many reasons timeshare owners want to sell their timeshare or hand it back. However, as the timeshare product has changed and companies have got smarter in creating different ways timeshares can be used, selling timeshare may not be your only option. Here are some tips about what you can do, and what not to do, if you have a timeshare to sell.
The timeshare product is changing. Many timeshare ownerships today are sold on a short-term basis of three-, five- and ten-year periods. However, the earliest timeshares that date back 30 years or more were sold on long-term or in perpetuity contracts of between 30 to 80 years. As those original buyers and timeshare owners have now grown older, with many being unable to use their timeshares for a myriad of reasons, from immobility and illness to bereavement or a change in circumstances making travel unaffordable, increasing numbers of owners want release from their timeshare ownerships.
So, what can you do if you want to sell your timeshare?
Do I have to sell my timeshare?
The first thing I would do is to consider whether selling my timeshare - or points - is the best thing to do, especially if it is a temporary financial hitch that is preventing you from using it, or paying the maintenance fee. Remember, you can always rent your timeshare out, thereby getting some monies back to help cover any maintenance fee payable.
It is advisable to ensure any maintenance fee payments are up to date, as this will give you more options as to how you can use your timeshare in any interim period. Once you know your timeshare is good to go - ready to deposit and use - you might then think of asking your family and friends if they would like to use it. You can either give the week to them as a gift, so it's not going to waste, or ask them to pay you a rental sum for their week(s) stay in either your owned timeshare, or an exchange one if you have used the exchange holiday programme to get the holiday they wanted for their stay. Any rental money received can then be put towards paying your own fees. Just have a look at the holiday rental prices of apartments in resorts which are comparable to your owned timeshare apartment to give you some idea of what you might charge in rental for its use.
Sometimes, timeshare owners who have not been offered membership of a holiday exchange company when they bought their timeshare do not realise that they have the option to swap their home resort week for a holiday in other resorts offered in a holiday exchange programme. If you are bored with going to the same place and resort, you should know that owned weeks can be exchanged for a stay in other holiday destinations, and can be taken at different times of the year than the week you bought. Make sure you know how to use your timeshare fully, because it can bring a world of holidays into your life.
Some resorts are now running programmes whereby they will take back unwanted timeshares. You should deal directly with the member services team at your resort to ask this question, and to find out what criteria is set around it if your resort does give you a timeshare resale or release option. Each resort offering any such timeshare hand back or rental programmes will have different criteria allowing you to do this.
A growing number of resorts are offering shorter term ownerships or club memberships, and they may permit you to change from a long-term ownership contract to a short-term one of between three to ten years. This may well be an option that suits your children, especially if they have families of their own and would appreciate the space, privacy and safety that comes with timeshare apartments and resorts that you don't get with most standard hotel accommodation. You can always pass on the legacy of the wide world of travel that you have enjoyed for so many years with your children when they were growing up, with all the benefits it brought in stimulating their curiosity and creating so many memories of the wonderful times you shared together across the years. Transferring ownership to those who can and will use it is certainly something worth considering.
It's worth investigating all these options before taking the resale route.
Timeshare release options
If the resort or timeshare club you own with is a member of the industry's European trade body, Resort Development Organisation (RDO) it should comply with the RDO's own Code of Conduct giving its owners more ways to hand back or dispose of their timeshare, free of charge or further financial exposure. RDO has been aware of the concerns of timeshare owners wanting, for good reasons, to simply hand back their timeshare interest at no charge, and no profit. However, maintenance fees should be paid up to date. RDO's requirements of its member resorts stipulate that a timeshare may be handed back, at no charge to the owner:
1. In the event of the death of a joint owner, when the surviving owner can surrender their timeshare, plus it stipulates that any beneficiaries of a Will are not obliged to take on the timeshare if they do not wish to do so.
2. If a timeshare owner is declared bankrupt, they may hand back their timeshare.
3. If a sole owner, or either of the joint owners, is suffering from a long-term illness that will prevent them from travelling in the foreseeable future.
4. In all other cases, an owner may surrender their timeshare interest at any time, subject to the agreement of the RDO resort member. In such cases a surrender fee is payable, but should not exceed a sum equivalent to three years' current maintenance fees payable on the ownership.
When selling your timeshare - please be realistic in your expectations. Timeshares should not have been sold, or purchased, as a property investment. You bought a right to use a holiday apartment over a number of years, so you have paid for 20+ years of holidays upfront. Timeshare does not increase in value, as do your residential and wholly-owned holiday properties. Your timeshare will be one of many on sale and you should not expect to get back what you paid for your timeshare. Some owners are happy simply to relinquish a timeshare they can no longer use, handing it back to the resort managers with no money being returned to them.
The most important thing to know is that a trusted, professional resale agent should NOT ask you for any monies upfront for anything - to buy into an alternative club programme to enable them to sell your timeshare, for advertising costs, for legal expenses or, indeed, for anything... If your resale agent starts asking you for money, you should terminate your dealings with them and look for one that can be trusted.
Download the list of trusted RDO-affiliated member resale companies here
Before you do anything, ensure your maintenance fees are paid to give your timeshare value - and to prevent it from being repossessed.
What next? Be prepared to be patient while your timeshare is being sold. If you can put your timeshare into a rental programme, or make your own rental arrangements for it to be rented out to friends and family, this can alleviate some financial pressure of an unwanted timeshare ownership during a prolonged sale period.
When you are ready to sell your timeshare, your first port of call should be your resort's member or customer service team, to ask whether your home resort does operate a release, rental or buy back programme to help you.
To understand your timeshare sales process, you need to know what kind of timeshare you own, and how it should be sold. Here is a list of some of the important things you should be aware of.
Top timeshare selling tips
1. If you bought through a deeded purchase process - 'escritura' as it is known in Spain and Portugal - ensure you have your membership deed to hand or that it is available from your resort's member services department. It is likely to be an authorised copy document, as the notary or lawyer retains the original deed.
2. If you live in the UK it is likely you bought your timeshare through a trust system, which is recognised in other countries. This is where specified assets, such as a timeshare right of use product, is held by a person or organisation known as a Trust Company, for the benefit of the owner - hence the expression 'held in trust'.
3. To sell through the trust system, you should look on the reverse side of your membership certificate, received upon purchase, where you will find a Form of Surrender and Request for Transfer - you will need to complete this to sell your timeshare. It should then be returned to your resort/trustee and there will be a fee payable for this transaction.
4. If you own points, check the points' resale process with your resort, as your points may need to be transferred back into weeks for resale and this can take some time.
5. Resale agents must, under the consumer protection laws governing the timeshare industry in Europe - The Timeshare Act 1992 - offer a 14-day cooling off period to any prospective buyers of your timeshare in the UK, and a ten-day cooling off period to those living abroad; and that cooling off period comes after they have signed the purchase contract.
6. Resale agents must not falsely claim to have a buyer for your timeshare waiting in the wings in order to persuade you to put your timeshare with them for sale, neither are they allowed to make cold calls to sell your timeshare and, once a sale is agreed, they must ensure any payments are secure and protected.
7. Your resale company should walk and talk you through the sales process, and answer all your questions - so don't be afraid to ask.
Below are the current scams and fraudulent activities most commonly found around timeshare sales that you should be on the look out for. Scammers exist in every walk of life and you should always be vigilant - especially when on holiday with your 'holiday head' on. But remember, scammers and those with criminal intent are clever; they will approach you every which way they can - by letter, email, cold calling, even advertisements in the newspapers and travel magazines, or online. And beware, as they come in many guises you may well be inclined to trust, even as lawyers.
The one thing all scammers have in common is to play upon your vulnerability. Don't be a victim - BE AWARE.
RDO is your friend in selling timeshare. If you are uncertain about whether you can trust a resale company, please visit www.timesharebusinesscheck.org. The website is operated by the Timeshare Task Force (TTF), which is managed by Kwikchex and financed by RDO.
If you do encounter any programmes or offers that sound like any of those listed below, please walk away.
1. A company calls you up out of the blue - known as a 'cold call' - claiming to have been given your number by your home resort, your holiday exchange company, RDO, or other persons or organisations. This will NOT be true because your personal details are protected by law and no organisation is permitted to share them.
2. A company contacts you, by phone, email or direct mail, and claims to have a buyer lined up for your timeshare.
3. You are asked to pay a fee of some kind - for advertising, legal fees, anything; you should never be asked to part with your money upfront during the sale process.
4. A company offers you an amazingly high price to buy your timeshare... If something seems to be too good to be true, that's because it is!
5. You are being pressured into signing up to join a discount holiday club of some kind in exchange for your timeshare to be taken onto a company's sales portfolio for them to sell it for you. It is not unusual to be invited to a presentation of sorts, complete with drinks and perhaps the promise of an incentive of some sort.
6. A firm of solicitors gets in touch or calls you to tell you that you have a good case in law against your home resort's refusal to take back your timeshare. They may well start talking about a 'class action' where you will be sharing any legal costs with others in the same position as you. Naturally, they will tell you that they need some of the legal fees upfront and will ask for a monetary contribution from you at an early stage in the process.
7. You are asked to send the company or persons contacting you all your membership and ownership documents.
8. You are asked by the calling company not to contact your resort, holiday exchange company or RDO to discuss their offer, legal action or the case.
Timeshare is a fabulous holiday accommodation and lifestyle product enjoyed by millions of people the world over. Whether you are buying timeshare or selling timeshare - please help us to protect the future purchasers, current owners, the resort developers who have invested millions of pounds in building these amazing holiday havens, and yourself...
Be savvy, be aware and take the time to properly check out the credentials of any company that you are considering dealing with. Use the links to trusted timeshare sellers given in this article.
You can also contact the Timeshare Helpline, which is operated and Kwikchex:
Tel from the UK - 01202 832012
Tel from outside the UK - 00 44 1202 832012
Email - email@example.com
For more information about buying timeshare or selling timeshare, visit www.rdo.org
If you own timeshare and want to join RCI so that you can give yourself more options in using your timeshare and where it can take you, click below.
To see where you or your family and friends could be going on holiday using RCI membership, check out the more than 4,000 resorts affiliated to the RCI holiday exchange programme.