Millions of Americans own timeshares. The biggest downfall with timeshares is the hefty fees that tend to increase pretty significantly every year. This, combined with the travel restrictions in the current pandemic, are why so many people are looking to get rid of their timeshares. People are constantly trying to figure out what their timeshare exit options are.
If you cannot pay for or use your timeshare, it is impractical to continue owning it.
However, timeshare contracts are pretty much binding for life. Some even continue after the death of the original owner, inherited by their family.
This kind of contract calls for some creative solutions from owners seeking a way out.
There are some things that can make timeshare exit more complicated, such as a remaining mortgage on the property. Timeshare owners who have paid off their mortgage tend to have a much easier time getting rid of their timeshares.
However, no matter what your timeshare situation looks like, there are different routes to get out of your agreement.
The Beginning Steps of Timeshare Exit
There are a few things you need before pursuing timeshare exit, regardless of the method you are using:
- Name, phone number, and address of the resort your timeshare is located in.
- The deed, contract, or membership agreement that proves your timeshare ownership.
- If you are still paying the property off, the payment agreement.
- Any property insurance documents and information.
- Proof of maintenance fees, preferably from a span of several years, and proof that you paid those fees.
- Copies of the resort’s rules and regulations, and any other information that will be useful for a future owner.
- Figure out whether your timeshare is listed as personal property or real estate.
- Check in with your resort developer to find out if any other information is needed on your end for them to complete a sale or transfer.
It’s also important to know if your timeshare is a point system, fixed week, or floating week. This will make a difference to a potential future owner, as well.
Timeshare Exit Through The Resort
The first option for timeshare exit should always be directly through the resorts.
Especially in the pandemic, some resorts do offer timeshare relief programs.
The following resorts are the ones currently offering COVID-19 relief programs:
- 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
Even if your resort is not included in the list above, they may still offer a relief program. You should contact your resort developer to inquire about your options.
Your timeshare resort will undoubtedly be the quickest, safest, and easiest option for exit. You should try working with your resort a handful of times before you move on to a third party option.
If you don’t know who your resort developer is, contact your resort. They should be able to put you into contact with the individual who handles timeshare contracts.
It’s important to note that no third-party company can relieve you of your obligations if you have a remaining mortgage on your timeshare contract. Without the lender’s approval, you cannot get rid of your timeshare without paying off your mortgage.
However, if your mortgage is paid off, or if you can manage to work out an arrangement with your result, you can enlist the help of a timeshare exit company.
Timeshare Exit Companies
Timeshare exit companies may be able to help you cancel your timeshare contract.
There are a handful of ways timeshare exit companies operate. Most often, they will contact the timeshare resort directly and try to negotiate your way out of your timeshare agreement.
It’s important to be wary of fraudulent timeshare exit companies, however, and they seem to outnumber the legitimate ones.
There are many timeshare companies that will even claim their success through flashy marketing, but that is not always indicative of good sales practices. As a matter of fact, many timeshare exit companies have outstanding criminal investigations against them.
These fraudulent companies will take the money from people who are desperate to get rid of their timeshare, and fail to complete any of the services they promised.
How to Avoid Scams
The best way to avoid timeshare exit scams is by educating yourself.
When picking a timeshare company, you should go with one that is highly rated and has been in business for a long time. It is also a wise choice to pick an exit company that employs attorneys, as they are skilled in negotiation and finding discrepancies in contracts.
You can read more about reputable timeshare exit companies here.
Knowing how to protect yourself from fraud is absolutely key in timeshare exit. Scammers will undoubtedly try to contact you and claim to be willing to help with your timeshare exit. This is especially prevalent in the resale market.
The biggest red flags from timeshare exit companies are as follows:
- Someone contacts you and states they have an interested buyer. This is especially suspicious if the “buyer” is willing to purchase for more or equivalent to your asking price.
- You receive an unsolicited call from someone who claims to be from a timeshare exit company. This only raises red flags when you have never heard of the company, or you have not requested to be contacted by them.
- A company claims they can modify, cancel, or transfer your timeshare – but only with a high upfront fee. These are almost always scams.
- You are asked to pay in an unusual way, such as through wire transfer or gift card.
It’s important to remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Proceed with caution and do your research on companies. It is also important to take note of every promise made to you by a timeshare exit company, both verbally and via email or mail.
What to do if You Fall Victim to a Timeshare Exit Scam
If you have fallen victim to a timeshare exit scam, you are not alone.
More fraudulent companies have been popping up over the past year to take advantage of those who are desperate to get rid of their timeshare during the pandemic. It is terribly unethical to prey on people struggling financially or physically through a global pandemic, but it is unfortunately common.
If you feel as though you have been scammed or defrauded by a timeshare exit company, you should immediately contact the Consumer Protection Agency for your state.
You can find your state’s Attorney General and file a complaint by clicking here.
Known Timeshare Exit Scams
Two very popular timeshare exit companies, Aconsumercredit and Resort Release, recently filed for bankruptcy.
This left their thousands of desperate clients out of thousands of dollars and still burdened with an unwanted timeshare. Clients of these fraudulent companies claimed that little to no work was done in cancelling their timeshare contracts.
If you are one of the thousands that paid money to either of these companies in hope of a quick and easy timeshare exit, you may be able to get that money back.
It’s important to protect your finances and rights by contacting your Consumer Protection Agency or Attorney General’s office as soon as possible.
Temporary Timeshare Relief
You may be able to alleviate your annual timeshare fees without getting rid of your timeshare completely.
Depending on the timeshare resort, you may be able to easily rent out your timeshare on your own. If you are unwilling or unable to market your timeshare on your own, you can enlist the help of a reputable timeshare renting company. However, it is important to contact your resort prior to attempting this, as they likely have their own rules and regulations.
Other resort companies have their own programs that allow owners to rent their timeshares out to one another. These are often trading programs within the various resorts.
For example, say you have a timeshare in Florida, and another timeshare owner within the same issuing resort has one in Colorado. The two timeshare owners can trade their weeks and spend their time in the respective locations.
However, some resorts offer programs in which you can simply sell your week to others within the same resort. This is a better option for those who are unable to travel. You may even be able to cover all of the fees of your timeshare simply by renting it out.
It’s important to contact your resort to figure out which plan they offer.
Millions of Americans own timeshares, and many of them are seeking a way out of their agreement. Travel restrictions and financial strain due to the pandemic are quickly becoming the leading cause of people seeking timeshare exit.
Luckily, regardless of the situation, there is an exit strategy for just about every timeshare owner.