Unscrupulous companies typically contact you by phone, mail or the Internet asking you to call a phone number about your timeshare. The salesperson may claim that the market is "hot" for resales, when in fact the market varies considerably depending on location and the prime season for that particular unit. For an advance fee of about $300 to $700, some salespeople promise to sell your timeshare for a price equal to or greater than your purchase price. They may claim to have a list of sales agents and potential buyers. While the seller may possess these lists, it is unlikely the parties are interested buyers. To further entice you, they may promise a money-back guarantee or a government bond if they can not sell your timeshare within a certain amount of time.
In the end some owners have found that their timeshare did not sell, their fee was not returned and they were given a bond worth as little as $60 to $70. If you are considering reselling your timeshare and are approached by a company offering to help, the Better Business Bureau recommends the following:
- Do not agree to anything over the telephone until you have had a chance to check out the company.
- Ask the person to send you written materials.
- Ask for references, including address and phone number and contact them.
- Ask where the company is located and in what states it does business.
- Ask if the company's salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located. If so, verify this with the state licensing board.
- Find out if the company charges a commission. Do they handle the entire closing and provide escrow services? Do they charge an up-front listing or advertising fee? What does it cover and is it refundable?
- Be wary of companies charging an advance "appraisal" fee for services. Consider opting for a company that offers to sell for a fee only after the timeshare is sold.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), state Attorney General's office, and local consumer protection agencies in the state where the company is located to find out if complaints have been lodged against the company.
Keep in mind that there are other resale options. You may try selling your timeshare yourself, by placing an ad in a newspaper or magazine, or contacting a real estate agent familiar with the area. If all the timeshares have been sold in your development, consider asking the seller to establish an on-site resale office. As an alternative, you may consider an exchange program. For a fee, these programs allow you to arrange trades with other resort units in different locations.>