Dear Consumer Ed:

My parents own a time share. They rarely go there, and I have no interest in buying it from them. But the monthly maintenance fees are killing them.  They want to get out, but they don’t know how.  They got a letter from a company that says they will take the timeshare off their hands if they pay $2000 and sign over the deed.  Do you think they should accept this offer?

Consumer Ed says:

Use extreme caution when confronted with offers such as these.  Some time share “resellers” are actually scammers who accept large payments from time share owners, but never file the deed or pay any maintenance fees.  The time share owner may not discover he has been scammed until he is sued for past due maintenance fees. 

Your parents should consider the following alternatives:

  • Ask the resort’s developer, resort manager or owner’s association if they have a newsletter, website or bulletin board where owners can advertise their timeshare for resale.
  • Avoid paying money to a reseller upfront.  If possible, find a reseller that takes its fee after the timeshare is sold. If you must pay a fee in advance, ask about refunds. Get refund policies and promises in writing.
  • Ask if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify it with the Real Estate Commission. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers and agents, and ask for references from satisfied clients.
  • Read the contract thoroughly and make sure you understand everything before you sign.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to check the company’s reputation.  Ask if any complaints are on file.
  • If you sell your deed, let the resort know who now owns your timeshare and who to bill for the maintenance fees and taxes.
  • Check public records to verify that the deed has been filed in the new owner’s name.

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