Timeshare exits amidst COVID-19 may feel impossible.
Public health concerns and travel restrictions have become a huge predicament for timeshare owners. Many people are unable to leave their homes due to compromised immune systems. Others have lost their jobs as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Timeshare owners are struggling to take advantage of their arrangement. For many, it begs the question: how do I get rid of my timeshare in a pandemic?
Where Do You Start with Timeshare Exits in COVID-19?
When it comes to COVID-19 and timeshare exits, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is, you can’t just walk away from a timeshare. They are a huge responsibility, they come with maintenance fees for as long as you own them.
Selling your timeshare in 2020 is even more difficult than it was in past years. If you neglect to pay your timeshare fees, the resort owner will inevitably send those fees to collections. This will be a huge detriment to your credit score.
But, the unemployment rate lingering around an all time high, and the economy still reeling from the shutdown. This is why it is just impractical to think that every timeshare owner can afford to pay their due diligence this year.
The good news is, in the current pandemic, a handful of resorts are offering a timeshare exit program. This is available to some timeshare owners who are unable to pay their fees due to the collateral damage of the pandemic.
The CEO of the American Resort Development Association spoke on this recently. He said, “If owners are having financial troubles paying for their timeshare mortgage, they should reach out to their developer.”
This may be a good idea for some timeshare owners, but not all resorts are offering timeshare relief programs. Additionally, a lot of the resorts that are offering such programs are only offering relief to the timeshare owners who can prove financial or physical hardships. This means that those who are unable to provide such documents may be unable to forfeit their timeshares.
The Biggest Issue With Timeshare Exits and COVID-19
Regardless of the pandemic, plenty of timeshare owners struggle paying for the hefty maintenance fees associated with their resorts. Many people beg the question of how a contract that ties them to their vacation spot for life is even legal.
The morality of resorts that sell timeshares, making their clients sign legally binding contracts with fine print that keeps them tied to the timeshare for as long as possible, has been called into question over the past years. Many regretful owners may wonder if timeshare exits are even possible.
The market for timeshares has been gradually depleting over the past several years, but has taken a nosedive in the current pandemic.
Plenty of people this year are struggling to pay the mortgage on their homes, car payments, and even for groceries – how can they be expected to pay for the luxury of a vacation spot that they likely won’t be able to take advantage of?
So, if you are a timeshare owner looking to get rid of your timeshare in the pandemic, here are your options.
Give Your Timeshare Back, or Sell it
This is the option that will save you the most money when you follow through with timeshare exits. However, due to the current state of the pandemic and the economy, it may also be the least practical.
Regardless, the first step in giving your timeshare back would be to contact your resort developer. You can check to see if they have a timeshare relief program, and make sure that you qualify for it.
These are the resorts that have started a timeshare relief program due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Capital Vacations
- Club Wyndham
- Diamond Resorts
- Hilton Grand Vacations
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations
- Orange Lake
- Hyatt Residence Club
- Wyndham Vacations
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Shell Vacation Club
- Sheraton Vacation Club
- Bluegreen Vacations
- Vistana Signature Experiences
- Welk Resorts
- Westgate Resorts
- Westin Vacation Club
Another option would be to check with a website like the ARDA’s Responsible Exit program. They can connect you with experts on timeshare exits, such as real estate brokers, who will help you find the best path to forfeiting your timeshare with minimal loss on your end.
Selling your timeshare in the current economic crisis would be very difficult, but it may still be achievable depending on the location of the timeshare and where you list it for sale. You can contact a timeshare reseller, or you can list your timeshare on one of the following websites:
You will likely have better luck selling your timeshare if you list it on several or all of the websites mentioned above. However, remember to set your expectations low.
The market for reselling timeshares does not take into consideration how much you paid for your timeshare.
Due to the plummeting resale market for timeshares, you will inevitably lose money on the sale. Some ex-timeshare owners have sold their timeshare for as little as $1.
That being said, many people think the significant money loss is worth it to hand off the responsibility of having a timeshare that they cannot use.
Negotiate Your Way Out
Another strategy for those who are looking to go through with timeshare exits is negotiating with the resort developer.
Most timeshare companies do not want unhappy clients. You can negotiate directly with the company to get out of your deal. Ask about what options you have, and keep in mind that getting out of the agreement may cost you some money. After negotiation, you may be able to void your timeshare agreement, but it can cost thousands of dollars.
One case of this was a Texas resident who owned a timeshare in Orlando, Florida who negotiated with his resort developer and paid a hefty $4,000 exit fee to give up his timeshare.
When it Comes to Timeshare Exits, Don’t Take “No” for an Answer
If you are regretting your timeshare purchase, the best thing to do is get out as soon as possible.
Many resorts offer a grace period for their timeshare owners. If someone purchases a timeshare and they decide it’s not right for them, they can back out of the agreement if it falls within the allotted time frame, which is typically between 3 and 15 days.
Additionally, you should read up on your state’s consumer protection laws. You may have some options for recourse, depending on your location. The statute of limitation for misrepresentation or other deceptive sales practices is around three years.
If neither of these options are plausible and you are unable to travel or keep up with your timeshare fees, your best bet is to negotiate with the resort developer.
You should speak with member services – but, in no case, should you speak with the sales department. The personnel who work in the sales department will try to keep you roped into the agreement for longer.
Hire a Timeshare Exit Team
You’ve tried everything mentioned above to no avail, and it’s starting to feel like you will never get out of your timeshare agreement.
You aren’t alone. Many people resort to hiring a timeshare exit company that will do the negotiation on their behalf.
High Risk, Low Reward
There are many timeshare exit companies that are nothing more than a glorified scam. These are the things you will want to avoid when seeking a timeshare exit company:
- The company has been in business for fewer than five years.
- They have few reviews, or negative reviews, from previous clients.
- The company is requesting a high upfront payment.
- They refuse to work with a third party escrow company.
- Consider what kind of guarantees they offer, and how they will be held accountable for following through.
Many new timeshare exit companies have begun since the start of the pandemic.
Gordon Newton, author of The Consumer’s Guide to Timeshare Exit, says that there have been over a dozen since the beginning of this year. A lot of these companies operate under the premise that you give them a hefty upfront payment.
The issue with this is the fact that a timeshare exit company can go out of business whenever they want.
When they do, you will likely never see the money you paid for the uncompleted service again.
In addition to this, a recent warning was issued by the Federal Trade Commission cautioning timeshare owners to keep an eye out for shoddy timeshare resellers. Many companies will prey on seniors by taking an upfront payment and never selling the timeshare.
Regardless of whether or not the owners can afford the amenity or have the ability to travel safely, timeshare contracts exist to keep people tied to the agreement for as long as possible. Some timeshare owners feel like there’s no way out.
Paying a shady reseller or timeshare exit company can result in losing money and still having the burden of an unwanted timeshare.
Hiring an attorney is costly, and can only be successful in the event that they can provide a good case proving misinformation or false advertising.
Selling a timeshare is incredibly difficult, and abandoning it will be a huge ding to your credit score.
It begs the question – how is all of this legal? Shouldn’t timeshare exits be easier amidst a pandemic?
Timeshare owner, Kimberly Siegel, is wondering the same thing. She attempted to get rid of her timeshare in Northern California during the pandemic, but she did not have success. “I know we’re not the only ones experiencing this,” she said. “I’m hoping there is some form of congressional action or a class-action lawsuit filed soon.”