According to recent reports, more than nine million people have invested in a timeshare as a way to streamline their vacation planning. Although a few timeshares may be as-advertised, most are not.
Therefore, it's important to avoid falling into a timeshare scam.
Whether you've already entered into an agreement that you think may be a timeshare scam, or you're considering a timeshare for your family, this article will provide helpful insights.
Look for the following red flags that indicate your timeshare isn't worth the headaches.
1. You Cannot Sell Your Current Timeshare
Did you know that buyers are being forced to sell their timeshares for as low as a single dollar? They've discovered a sad truth: Their timeshares aren't really investments.
If any salesperson tries to convince you that buying a timeshare is a good way to add to your portfolio, don't walk away -- run. Most timeshares don't resell for even half the value you were originally quoted.
Plus, here's the real kicker: Your timeshare may be considered property, but you won't get the tax write-offs you assume.
Of course, if you want your timeshare to be somewhat tax deductible, you may donate your weeks to charity . You're still going to be saddled with ownership, but at least you can stave off the financial bleeding.
2. You Are Pressured to Make Instant Decisions
In today's research-heavy environment, everyone likes to do due diligence before committing to even simple purchases.
Why, then, do so many timeshare con artists try to make it seem as though you have to buy a timeshare immediately? Why don't they want you to look them up online?
The answer is simple: They are trying to weigh on your sense of urgency and fear of missing out (called FOMO in sales terms.)
Want to investigate a timeshare at your own pace? Refuse to play the game by not showing up with any wallet or purse. No money? No way to pay. Additionally, sign nothing until you have a chance to investigate the timeshare thoroughly.
3. Your Gut Tells You It's a Timeshare Scam
Something about the way the timeshare sales team treats you just doesn't add up. You can't put your finger on anything specific, but you get a sense that this is a timeshare scam.
Listen to what your gut says.
Many people ignore the signals telling them that what they're seeing and hearing doesn't add up. Trust your instincts and never make any snap judgments.
4. You're Hearing Promises That Are Too Good to Be True
As we all know, no one gets a truly "free lunch." In the same vein, no timeshares are perfect.
A timeshare pitch that includes "too good to be true" statements isn't worth anything. Read between the lines and see what's really happening: You're being played.
Every decision has pros and cons. If the timeshare sales team isn't being upfront on the downsides to timeshare ownership, you're being taken for a ride.
5. You Found Out About New Fees After Paying for the Timeshare
Even if you read all the paperwork, you might have missed items outlining fees that you are expected to pay as a timeshare owner. Typically, these fees include annual maintenance fees and property taxes.
Not surprisingly, these unexpected charges can add up. On average, timeshare maintenance costs owners just under $700 yearly. If you haven't budgeted for this sudden addition, you can find yourself in a budget crisis.
6. You're Promised Big-Ticket Incentives to Listen to a Timeshare Pitch
Be very wary if someone is offering you big-ticket perks just to sit through a "short, no obligation" timeshare presentation.
This strategy assumes that most people in the room will not buy a timeshare, but that a high enough percentage will to get the sales team plenty of commission dollars.
The next time you get a letter in the mail or an email request that you attend a timeshare meeting in exchange for a big, expensive weekend at a resort, think twice. Odds are strong that you'll get way more pressure than you could imagine, negating any fun you might have during your "free" holiday trip.
7. You Keep Getting Phone Calls After You Say "No"
Do you find yourself repeatedly telling the same timeshare people that you're not interested? It's time to block their number and send their information to the Federal Trade Commission.
It's one thing to ask you a couple of times if you're sure that you don't want a timeshare, but it's another to harass you.
Imagine what those same individuals would do if you said "yes" and bought one timeshare. In short order, you'd be pressed to buy another.
8. You Aren't Given Time to Look Around the Resort or Talk to Any Owners
Are you being told that the "deal of a lifetime" you're being offered will disappear tomorrow, despite the fact that you've never set foot at the resort you're supposed to partially "own?"
This type of timeshare scam makes you feel like you're missing out on a fleeting benefit, but don't fall for the fear mongering. The same resort deal will be available tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, and the day after that.
If you're honestly interested in considering a timeshare ownership, spend time at the resort. Rent out a unit for a week, talk to other timeshare occupants, and make your choices on your deadline -- not someone else's.
9. You Are Told You Don't Need an Attorney to Look at the Contract
Most people are confused when they see complicated legalese in timeshare contracts. Lawyers aren't.
The money you'll spend on legal representation to explain the ins and outs of a timeshare agreement at the beginning of the process will pay for itself many times over.
If a timeshare seller doesn't want you to understand a document that's legally binding, that's a huge indicator of a timeshare scam in action.
10. You Were Told You Could Use Your Timeshare When You Can't
You may have been promised that there were tons of open times for you to enjoy your timeshare, only to find out later that it's tougher to book than a flight to the moon.
Feeling locked out of your timeshare is a sure sign that you've made an error somewhere along the way and fallen for schemes.
Get Clear of Your Timeshare for Good
Know that you're knee-deep in a timeshare scam? Contact a group of consumer advocates to help you out of your situation.
In the meantime, be sure to always say no to the next timeshare salesperson who tries to get your money.
You receive a postcard in the mail: Free 3 night stay! The catch: attending a 90-minute presentation from a timeshare company.
You take the deal, figuring you'll be able to resist the hard-sell tactics. Then the package sounds like a good deal. After all, timeshares represent an $8 billion industry , so there must be something to it.
To get the best deal, you have to act now. So you sign on the dotted line, and now you're a timeshare owner.
If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you may find yourself wondering how to get out of a timeshare contract. While it is not always an easy process, it can be done. Here's what you need to know.
Understanding the Terms of Your Timeshare
Before you can figure out how to get out of a timeshare contract, you need to understand what your contract entails. By definition , a contract is a legal agreement between two private parties where each party takes on specific obligations. To get out of a contract, the other party must agree to release you from the obligations you agreed to.
The Cancellation Period
If you only just signed a timeshare contract recently, there may still be time to cancel. In most states, the cancellation period for a timeshare is 3 to 7 days. During this period, a consumer can cancel the timeshare they just bought, obtain a full refund, and become completely free of any contractual obligations.
The terms of this cancellation period should be outlined in your timeshare contract. Keep in mind that these are usually calendar days, not business days, so you must act quickly to take advantage of it.
What if I'm Past Cancellation?
In most cases, by the time a consumer has realized that they need to figure out how to get out of a timeshare contract, the cancellation period has already passed. If this is the case, you'll want to take a closer look at the contract to see what you own and what your responsibilities are.
First, you'll want to see whether your timeshare is leased or deeded. If it is deeded, then you technically own a piece of vacation real estate that you could transfer to a different owner--we'll get to this later.
With a leased timeshare, you are not the sole contractual owner, so you don't really own anything. Unfortunately, you are still obligated to pay annual maintenance and assessment fees, even if you never use your accumulated points.
In some cases, your contract may be for a set number of years, after which point you will be free of your obligation. In other cases, the timeshare is life-long, and can even be left to someone in your will.
Can I Sell My Timeshare?
In any timeshare presentation, the salesperson typically stresses that, with a timeshare, you can "own" your vacation. The appeal is that, as with any other property, you are making an investment that will increase in value.
Of course, if you do, in fact, "own" your vacation, you would likely assume that you are free to sell it as well. After all, you can sell your house or your car, so why not sell your timeshare ? Unfortunately, the way timeshares are structured makes it much more difficult to sell a timeshare than to sell a traditional piece of property.
For instance, you may have heard of timeshare owners who sell their packages for as little as $1 on Ebay just to get out of the financial obligation. Depending on the terms of your contract, the resorts associated with the timeshare will not recognize this transfer. The new "owner" would not be able to use the timeshare at all.
Additionally, some companies have formed with the exclusive purpose of helping people sell unwanted timeshares. But these companies are often scams, requiring hefty fees upfront and never delivering on the promises they made.
Can I Rent Out My Timeshare?
Another option many timeshare owners consider is renting out the weeks on their timeshare. By charging others to use their vacation, they can at least cover some of the fees associated with the package.
Again, there are a few problems with this strategy. For one, if you are renting out the weeks in your timeshare, you are still contractually obligated without being able to actually take advantage of the travel opportunities.
Not to mention, it's difficult to rent out a timeshare at all. Timeshares are notoriously difficult to schedule, so it's challenging to be able to market your vacation to a third party.
For these reasons, you're unlikely to make any profit by renting your timeshare. At best, you'll break even, and you may even end up in the negative.
Can I Donate My Timeshare?
Another creative solution that folks looking for how to get out of a timeshare contract have come up with is donating their timeshare. Give your vacation so a family battling illness can enjoy a getaway, and write off your obligation on your taxes. What could be better?
Unfortunately, donating your timeshare is not really possible, and organizations that suggest that it is might be misleading you. This is because charitable organizations are restricted in their abilities to take on debt obligations.
What Can I Do?
If you want to get out of a timeshare and you're past the cancellation period, what can you do? It all comes back to the contract. By working with a consumer advocate group like PMG, you can negotiate a release of your contractual obligations, and finally be free.
Learn More About How to Get Out of a Timeshare Contract Today
While figuring out how to get out of a timeshare contract can be challenging, in the end, it is worth it. You will have peace of mind and will be able to allocate your hard-earned money directly to vacations, rather than covering maintenance fees.
If you're ready to get out of a timeshare contract, contact us to get a free consultation today. Our experts will work with you to get the freedom you're seeking.