How To Sell a Timeshare

How to sell a time share
••• © Big Stock Photo

Are you thinking about selling a timeshare? Perhaps a fixed-week unit was convenient when you purchased your timeshare, but today doesn't fit in with your current lifestyle. Your family has grown or matured, and the destination no longer provides activities to suit everyone. Perhaps the mortgage, taxes, and maintenance fees are a burden.

Whatever reason, if you've decided to sell your timeshare, you no doubt want top dollar and a quick closing.

For most sellers, those two events do not go hand-in-hand. In fact, owners who purchased a new timeshare typically recover very little of the original sales price when they decide to sell.

Realistic Time Share Pricing

  • A sale can be difficult to achieve if your unit is a studio, or usage dates are in an offseason. The same is true for units in resorts that have not been properly maintained.
  • Even larger timeshare units with in-season or flexible weeks typically sell for only 30% to 55% of their original price.
  • If your timeshare is part of a chain, where credits can be used for airline tickets or other accommodations, you may be able to recover a higher percentage of the unit's original price.

If you're in a real hurry to sell, keep the price low. Buyers are usually shown a list of timeshares grouped by resort. If other, similar units are priced lower, you can guess which ones they'll pursue.

You're the only one who can decide if holding out for a higher price outweighs the burden of paying ongoing maintenance fees and other expenses.

Know What You Own in a Time Share

  • Make sure you understand exactly what you are selling before you begin to market the timeshare.
  • Do you have a deeded ownership of the property, or do you have a Right To Use (RTU) the timeshare for a specified number of years? RTU agreements decrease dramatically in value as they near the expiration date.
  • Find all documents that pertain to the timeshare, including mortgage information, tax records, and maintenance details.
  • A knowledgeable seller tackles a transaction in a confident manner. Be prepared to answer any (reasonable) question a potential buyer may have.

Listing With a Real Estate Agency

You'll find many online and offline agencies that will list your timeshare. Some charge an upfront fee, then a commission at the time of sale. Others work strictly on commission.

Fees and commissions vary and are typically higher than those charged for a traditional real estate transaction. Interview several agencies before signing an agreement.

Check each company's complaint records with the Better Business Bureau, and with their State Attorney General's office.

  • Find out if the company a member of the American Resort Development Association, ARDA, a trade organization that expects its members to abide by a set of ethical guidelines when selling timeshares.
  • Become familiar with the timeshare laws for the state involved. Upfront fees are illegal in some states, but agencies work around the laws by giving them other names--would you trust the ethics of a company that does that?
  • Check with state real estate commissions to verify that the company and its salespeople are licensed to practice real estate in the states they operate in.
  • Ask each office to tell you--in writing--exactly how they plan to market your timeshare.

Developer Time Share Resales

Resort developers sometimes offer resale programs. Salespeople working on-site do have easy access to buyers who are interested in that specific resort or chain, but their main focus may be selling new units.

Before you sign a contract, compare their fees and marketing practices with those of other agencies.

  • False Promises: The timeshare resale market has attracted numerous scam artists. Be wary of anyone who promises you a quick sale. No one can guarantee that.
  • Auctions: Include your timeshare listing on an auction service such as eBay. Browse current and past auctions before you list your property. Note sales prices, and which descriptions sound most appealing. Incorporate the best marketing ideas into your own ad.
  • Classifieds: Timeshare owner clubs offer several member services, including classified ads. This type of classified reaches the right target audience for your timeshare.
  • Exchanges: A one-time exchange isn't the answer if you wish to sell a timeshare, but it might be the perfect solution if you simply want to change dates or locations.
  • Other Owners:  If you have a fixed unit and time, find out who owns the timeshare for ​weeks just before and just after you. They might be interested in increasing their time.
  • Financing a Timeshare Resale: Developers offer programs to finance new timeshares, but it's difficult to finance a resale. The majority of sales are cash transactions.

Talk with an attorney before agreeing to finance any property.