Every January, timeshare owners look to end their timeshare contract as yearly maintenance bills come due. In 2021, the pandemic's economic effects caused even more people to consider selling their vacation ownership.
While 7 out of 8 U.S. timeshares owners are satisfied, one-in-four Americans have trouble paying their bills. A timeshare invoice is probably placed at the bottom of a stack of bills in a world of tough choices.
As a fellow timeshare owner, I know how complicated it can be to find reliable information on how to get out of a timeshare legally with your credit score in tack. I’m guessing that your social media feed is also filled with advertisements from various timeshare termination teams and timeshare attorneys. During the last recession, we researched how to sell our timeshare contract. We ultimately decided to keep our vacation ownership and are glad we did.
Do you have an unwanted timeshare? Is the maintenance fee a financial burden? Similar to other commitments, you can’t just walk away from a timeshare company. Here are five ways you can “divorce” your timeshare legally that doesn’t include paying thousands of dollars of upfront fees to timeshare exit companies or to a timeshare lawyer. Did you know that ending your timeshare contract is something that you can do on your own? This is The Way.
Be Careful of Scams
Approximately 850,000 owners are looking to get rid of their timeshare, and unfortunately, there are companies out there taking advantage of those looking to sell—especially seniors. According to the Better Business Bureau Institute’s Scam Tracker, travel/vacation/timeshare scams are the riskiest situation for people 65+.
This summer, the State of Washington sued the now-defunct Dave Ramsey touted Timeshare Exit Team after they charged thousands of timeshare owners an upfront fee between $3,000 and $9,000, and years went by without any resolution.
There's no need to give a company thousands of dollars for something you can do yourself.
How Much Can I Sell My Timeshare For?
Before we dig into how to get out of a timeshare contract, it’s important to address the elephant in the room. How much are timeshares worth? Well, things are only worth what people are willing to pay for them. Unfortunately, the high-pressure sales tactics of some resorts misrepresent the resale market value of your timeshare contract.
Warning: the answer may be unsettling and hard to hear.
Unlike vacation homes, timeshares are a depreciating asset and are sold on the secondary market for 75 to 99% less than the resort sales price. As a result, very few have resale value, and a large majority of timeshare contracts will sell for pennies on the dollar to a new owner via a resale company. Unless you own with one of the premium timeshare companies, a deeded timeshare week over the holidays, or in the highest demand locations (e.g., Key West, Hawaii, Yellowstone), you will discover the competitive resale price for most timeshares will be around $1,000.
How to Get Out of a Timeshare Contract: The Financial Reality
If timeshare resale brokers, real estate agents, or a timeshare exit company are telling you that you’ll make money on your timeshare contract, it’s a huge red flag. Today’s supply and demand dynamics mean it’s currently a buyer’s market in the timeshare world. Any licensed timeshare resale real estate agent worth their salt will tell you the same.
You might lose thousands of dollars, but if you want to be released from your annual financial commitment, taking a loss might be your best option to stop paying timeshare maintenance fees every year. If you've been thinking about how to get out of a timeshare contract legally, here are five proven ways to do it yourself.
Option #1: Hurry! Use Your Recession Period
If you just bought and want to know how to get out of a timeshare contract, hopefully, you’re reading this while you’re still on vacation. There is a rescission period cooling off timeframe to cancel timeshare purchases AND get your money back like a mortgage agreement for your house. The length of your rescission period depends on the timeshare law in the state your timeshare is located. You have 3-15 days to contact the resort and file a rescission letter for a timeshare cancellation.
How to Get Out of a Timeshare with a Rescission Letter
To start a timeshare cancellation, you need to notify them in writing within your rescission period. The contents of a recession letter vary by resort, and the details can be found in your timeshare contract. Make sure you read this carefully and include every single item required to cancel your timeshare purchase. If you leave something out of the letter, that’s technically a timeshare contract loophole that they can use to deny your request.
Timeshare Users Group (TUG), the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization, developed a starter letter for people to cancel an unwanted timeshare. TUG reports that the average person saves $18,000 by completing a timeshare termination this way.
Lastly, double and triple-check that you have delivery confirmation paperwork that proves you’ve sent the purchase cancellation letter by the required date. Finally, if you contact the timeshare company, make sure you speak to a member of their financial services or legal team and not a timeshare salesperson. The latter will try and convince you not to cancel your timeshare contract as it affects their bottom line.
Option #2: How to Get Out of a Timeshare via a Deedback Program
If you are outside of the 1-2 week rescission period, and you want to cancel your timeshare contract, your first call should be to your timeshare company. Most large resorts and chains have timeshare exit programs for owners who do not have an outstanding loan on their timeshare. If you are done with mortgage payments, the fastest timeshare exit strategy is through your home resort. It can be as simple as one phone call, and you can give your unwanted timeshare back. No expensive termination team or exit company is needed!
The best way to find your company is through the American Resort Development Association’s Safe Exit website that guides timeshare owners through the timeshare exit process. Many people reported giving their timeshare back, quickly, for absolutely free! If your resort isn’t listed on the American Resort Development Association’s Safe Exit website, contact the Owner Services representative at your resort to see how to get out of a timeshare with their company.
Remember, no third party can end your financial obligation to your mortgage company as part of a timeshare termination. If you haven’t spoken to your lender about your hardship or that you’d prefer timeshare freedom, now is the time to communicate directly about your situation.
Option #3: Give Your Timeshare Away to Family or Friends
Have you asked a loved one if they’d like to take over your timeshare contract? Has a family member or group of friends timeshare traveled with you and enjoyed it? Perhaps they’d like a gift of future vacations. Have handy all the relevant financial information such as your annual maintenance fees, legal closing costs, and resort transfer fees for the conversation.
If you’re thinking about how to get out of a timeshare by giving it away, a little bit of marketing goes a long way! Illustrate for them that your timeshare annual fees are cheaper than booking the same vacation directly from the resort or hotel discount sites. Take screenshots of your ownership week on the hotel’s reservation page and hotel booking sites. A picture’s worth a thousand words when explaining how this saves them money on future trips.
To sweeten your timeshare donation offer, pass along advice on how timeshares work and how they can hack timeshare ownership by exchanging this timeshare for vacations across the world at a fraction of the price!
Option #4: Transfer Your Timeshare Contract to Another Owner at Your Resort
People get rid of their timeshare legally by transferring their timeshare contract to an existing owner at their home resort. Some people want to buy timeshare weeks for additional vacations or bring family and friends along on their annual trip. There is no reason to hire a timeshare exit team when you can sell a timeshare you no longer want directly to another owner! How to get out of a timeshare this way if you don't know any other owners?
Don't worry. Finding them is easy! Locate your resort’s Facebook owner’s group using “Name of Your Resort Owners” as the search term. Once you’ve found and joined your vacation club group, create a Facebook post to advertise the timeshare ownership that you no longer want. Include your specific week, size of your unit/number of points, annual maintenance fees, and the total closing costs. I’ve seen firsthand many of these postings and the quick response they’ve garnered from interest owners. If you no longer want your ownership, this is a quick and super cheap way to sell your timeshare without a real estate agent.
Option #5: List Your Timeshare Contract on the Resale Market Competitively
Did you know there is a flourishing resale market for timeshares? If you’re motivated to transfer your timeshare contract, make sure that you list yours for a competitive price. Research multiple timeshare resale sites to locate comparable units and their final sales price. You don’t need a high-priced law firm. You need an interested buyer and a timeshare closing company, and you’ve got your timeshare freedom.
How To Get Out of a Timeshare Legally by Selling It
There are trusted websites brimming with people looking to buy a timeshare contract resale. Like flat fee listing services for real estate, these websites will get your timeshare in front of tons of people. Your options, and corresponding costs, vary from DIY forums up to full-service management. If you feel unsure about selling your timeshare online, you can always research the company with The Better Business Bureau.
When picking a resale website for your listing, focus on reputable ones with the most eyeballs. Neither of the below options to sell your unwanted timeshare legally comes with a high upfront fee. In fact, DIY options start at $15, and full-service options are around $500.
- Timeshare Users Group (TUG) is the oldest and largest timeshare owners group and advocacy organization. They’ve been helping people make the most of their ownership for over 25 years. They are also one of the largest and most visited timeshares classified ad sites on the internet, with $30 million in completed timeshare resales. In addition, their online forums are great resources if you want to read more about getting out of a timeshare.
- Redweek is the largest online marketplace for timeshare sales and rentals, with an audience of 2+ million. They offer three listing and sales management options, from DIY all the way to full service. Reach out to them via email for a free consultation on their services.
How to Get Out of a Timeshare Without Being Scammed
Lastly, be prepared once your listing is live for all sorts of timeshare cancellation proposals. There has been a reported uptick in timeshare resale scams during the pandemic taking advantage of people who don't know how to get out of a timeshare. You’ll most likely get cold calls from timeshare cancellation attorneys with offers that are too good to be true or timeshare exits teams offering to help for a large upfront fee.
So, keep your wallet closed, trust your gut, and ask for everything in writing.
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