Q. We receive many non-solicited phone calls with generous offers to buy our timeshare, but they always seem too good to be true, which, of course, raises my suspicions. We’d like to sell, but how can we make sure the company is legitimate?
A. You’re right to be suspicious of companies that contact you out of the blue. That goes not only for timeshares, but for any other business.
There are a number of legitimate companies that deal in secondary market timeshares, but they won’t come to you. You need to go to them.
Before you shop for a buyer, make sure you understand how this market works, said Lisa Ann Schreier, founder of the consumer consulting company Timeshare Insights.
You didn’t say if you’ve paid off the timeshare. Schreier said the process is more complicated if the timeshare isn’t paid for.
But either way, you should expect to sell at a loss.
“Come to terms with the fact that you will not be able to sell your timeshare for what you paid for it,” she said. “The average resale price of a timeshare is around $5,000, but many timeshares are being sold for as little as $1.”
She said you can compare your timeshare to others that have sold on Sharket.com. This will give you an idea of what yours is worth.
Next, make sure you understand the difference between listing services, brokers and FSBO (For Sale By Owner).
The safest method way to sell — without an upfront cost — is to use a licensed broker, Schreier said. You can check the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association for a listing of brokers.
Still, selling isn’t always easy, and some consumers just want to get rid of the property rather than negotiate for a financial payoff.
“If you just want out without making any money, it is worth a call to your home resort to see if they will take it back,” Schreier said.
Now, the cautions. Schreier said you should never engage with a company that initiates contact.
“This includes phone calls, faxes, e-mails, direct mail, carrier pigeon, etc.” she said.
If you’ve been contacted by a company that wants you to donate your timeshare to charity, walk away.
“Legitimate charities will not accept timeshares due to ongoing annual fees,” she said.
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