Q&A: Don’t expect timeshares to increase in value

Dear Liz: I’m trying to get rid of my timeshare. Do you have any suggestions for me, as a single mom, on making any money from this? Even a few grand would be nice (and yes, I’ve tried both Craigslist and EBay). I paid a whopping $15,000 in 2010, so it’s paid for, but annual maintenance fees have just gone up each year. The fees are now over $1,100, and I fear for the future.

The developer is willing to take back my timeshare and not charge me the $1,000 they usually do. They act like they’re doing me this huge favor but I’m out $15,000! I was told by their sales representative it was real estate property that would increase in value. I’m just so sick to my stomach over this. Should I just give it back and walk away, or do you have anything you can think of for me to try to get even a small amount of money?

Answer: Timeshares should not be purchased, or sold, as an investment. The developer may raise the price of newly sold timeshares, but that doesn’t mean the one you purchased has any value at all on the resale market.

Clearly the sales rep deceived you, but timeshare contracts typically have a clause that absolves the developer from responsibility for anything sales reps say. Timeshare attorney Michael Finn of Largo, Fla., calls that the “license to lie” clause.

Your $15,000 is what economists call a “sunk cost.” You’re not going to get the money back. If you continue to try, you may fall victim to another type of scam, where con artists convince you that they can sell your timeshare — if only you pay them a hefty upfront fee.

You should take the developer up on its offer. Many developers won’t take back timeshares even if you pay them. Your other alternative is to try to sell it for $1 or less on a timeshare owners’ site such as Redweek or Timeshare Users Group, but sometimes owners have to offer to pay one or two years’ worth of maintenance fees just to convince someone else to take the timeshares off their hands.

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  1. Bonnie Roberts says

    What is the best way to get out of a timeshare? If you can not sell back or out right? Can you just stop paying and ruin your credit for 10 years or is there a legal way to get rid of it? My hsband has cancer and we can not afford this extra cost each month,