What You Should Really Do If You Want Out of a Timeshare
Last updated April 2020
If you have a timeshare you no longer want or can’t afford, your options depend on whether you have an outstanding mortgage or own it free and clear. But in either case, we don’t recommend hiring an exit company.
“On the best end of the range, they provide questionable value; and on the other end, they are committing outright fraud,” said Daniel Blinn, a Connecticut attorney and timeshare owner.
Start by finding out whether your resort has an exit option. Ask to speak to someone who can help with an exit and not to a sales representative, advises Rogers of the Timeshare Users Group. Be persistent. If your resort doesn’t have an exit program, try negotiating an exit yourself, advises Rogers. (Keep in mind that your resort likely won’t let you exit if you have an outstanding mortgage or are behind in your fees.)
Some resorts may agree to buy back your timeshare, especially if it’s in high demand. More likely, you may have the option of simply returning it, although it might charge you a fee. For example, Rogers says Diamond Resorts charges $1,000 to cancel, Spinnaker $1,000 to $2,000, and Westgate $1,000 or more. He says Wyndham and Holiday Inn Club owners can return their timeshares for free. Unfortunately, because these companies were unresponsive to our requests for information on their exit plans, we were unable to verify these costs directly with the resorts.
Even if your resort doesn’t have a formal exit program, it may take back your timeshare, especially if you can demonstrate that you no longer can afford it or can’t use it, perhaps because you’re ill—in these cases, the company might decide it’s easier to let you out of your commitment in exchange for a fee than risk having you simply walk away. In recent online message board postings, Westgate owners who stopped paying their maintenance fees said the company eventually offered to take back the timeshares if the owners agreed to pay from $600 to $1,500.
It’s also worth exploring whether you can sell your timeshare. Your resort may help you do that, perhaps for a fee, or you can try offering it yourself on websites such as the Timeshare Users Group, eBay, or Craigslist. But beware of timeshare buyer scams. If you can sell your timeshare, you’ll likely get just a small percentage of the amount you initially paid, if you get anything at all. You may even need to offer an incentive, such as paying out enough to cover the first year’s maintenance fees or the closing costs associated with transferring the deed. On the other hand, if you have a high-demand timeshare, such as one at a luxury resort in Hawaii, you may find that it has held its value. Blinn says he resold his much-coveted Disney points-related timeshare for much more than he paid for it on the resale market.
If you can’t find a buyer or have an outstanding loan on your timeshare, your options are more limited. Again, the place to start is your resort, which may be able to arrange a loan modification to reduce your payments or allow you to stop paying until your financial situation improves.
You also may be able to rent out your timeshare by advertising it online on the Timeshare Users Group, Airbnb, and elsewhere. Blinn says he has rented his timeshares for more than the amount he pays in maintenance fees.
If you believe you were misled in a timeshare sales presentation, talk to a lawyer. That could be a consumer attorney or one specializing in timeshare fraud cases. But check out the attorney and law firm at the BBB and elsewhere, and search for reviews online. Avoid paying big upfront fees.