Many years ago, I attended a three-hour timeshare pitch in return for some show tickets in Vegas. Totally not worth it but it was an enlightening experience.
I did some research after the pitch and found a lot of information about people who bought timeshares. Some were happy with their purchase. Many were not – and regretted it deeply afterward.
If you’re part of the second group, we’re going to show you ways you can get out of your timeshare – or at the very least recoup some of the money you spent to get it.
Canceling Your Payment Obligation
What if you don't care about selling your timeshare and you just want to get out of the contract? Is it possible to just cancel your payment obligation, your contract and walk away?
First, take a look at this guide to exiting a timeshare, courtesy of a company experienced in working with folks who want to exit a timeshare. You can also call them at 1-888-703-3329 for a free consultation if you want someone to help you exit.
Next, know that most timeshare contracts have a “cooling off” period. In other words, they give you a specified amount of time where you can simply cancel the contract with no lasting obligations.
This time period is usually less than two weeks, but you’ll need to check your contract for the exact specifications.
If you’re past your contract’s cooling-off period, you can’t just walk away. I mean, you can – but doing so will result in negative marks on your credit report and could get you into legal trouble.
Since you signed a contract to purchase your timeshare, you are legally bound to pay the fees that came with the contract agreement. However, you do have some other options in terms of getting out of your payment obligation.
For instance, you could see if your timeshare company will buy your timeshare back, or even take it back for free. Honestly, most timeshare companies won’t buy back a timeshare once they’ve sold it. They are in the business of selling timeshares, not owning them.
But some companies will take a timeshare back for free. Yes, you’re likely losing some serious cash if you go this route, but at least it will get you out of your payment obligation.
Next, we’ll talk about the possibilities of renting or selling your timeshare.
How to Rent Your Timeshare
Depending on what your timeshare contract says, you may be able to rent your timeshare weeks out to a third party. You’ll need to read your contract to find out what it says about the legality of renting it out.
The key piece of information is understanding who owns that timeshare. As we learned in a previous post about timeshares, some contracts are a “right-to-use” agreement and you don't own anything except a lease. You get the timeshare for a specified period each year and pay the fees associated with having it during that time period.
Most right-to-use timeshares do allow you to sublease your leased period, but you’ll have to check your contract to be sure.
Other timeshare contracts are fee-simple contracts. This means you actually purchase the property, but only for the time period stated in your contract. Your purchase agreement will include maintenance fees and future assessments for improvements and repairs as well.
You can usually rent out your fee-simple timeshare, and of course, you can sell it too.
If you’ve purchased your timeshare on a points system or vacation club, you purchase actual points to use at one of the resorts owned by the vacation club. Disney Vacation Club is one example of this.
Some vacation clubs will allow rental of timeshares, while others will not.
Where to List Your Timeshare Rental
Some timeshare companies require you to rent out your timeshare through them. In other words, they handle the rental process for you. This can be a delicate process because it might be difficult for you to prove whether they rented it out or not.
In other words, they might say they didn’t rent it out when in actuality they did.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to rent your timeshare out on your own, that’s good. There are several platforms you can use to facilitate this process.
Some people rent their timeshares out on “by owner” sites such as VRBO. There are also companies dedicated to advertising timeshare rental weeks, such as Koala and Redweek. These types of sites deal directly with owners for timeshare rentals.
However, there are fees that come with using these types of sites. Some timeshare rental companies just charge a flat commission rate when they rent out your timeshare. Other companies charge additional fees, such as annual membership fees, listing fees, or online payment fees.
One thing to keep in mind is that some timeshare listing sites will take your fee knowing that they won't be about to rent out your timeshare. It's something to be aware of and to stay on top of – only pay a fee if you consistently see your timeshare being rented out.
If you are looking for a totally free way of finding renters try Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Keep in mind there are extra risks when doing it yourself. The companies that specialize in vacation rentals have policies in place to avoid problems.
The point: Do your research and know exactly what you’re getting into before you rent out your timeshare.
How to Sell a Timeshare
If you decide your best bet is to sell your timeshare, there are some things you need to know – and some steps you need to take.
Collect Your Timeshare Details
The first step before selling your timeshare is getting your timeshare contract and reading it in its entirety. There are a lot of details you will need if you are going to list it on a timeshare marketplace.
Knowing the details of your timeshare contract, like whether you can rent it out or not, is important when you go to sell. This is because potential buyers will want to know if they will be able to make decisions such as renting out the timeshare after they buy.
Plus, there are other legal terms in timeshare contracts that could affect your ability to sell your timeshare.
For instance, you’ll also want to know about any Right of First Refusal (ROFR) agreements located in your timeshare contract. A ROFR agreement means that once you’ve got a contract with a potential buyer, you’ve got to send that contract to the timeshare company.
The timeshare company then gets a chance at buying back the timeshare on those same terms. If they refuse, you can go ahead and sell it to your buyer. However, if they accept, your buyer loses out on the purchase of the timeshare.
Research Its Value
This might be tough news to take, but your timeshare likely isn’t going to be worth anywhere near what you paid for it. In fact, many are worth nothing because it's a payment obligation that stretches for many years. Timeshare companies jack up the price of timeshares to compensate for expensive presentation costs and resort management costs.
So, while you may be able to get some money when you sell your timeshare, don’t expect to recoup anywhere what you’ve paid for it. Unfortunately, timeshares don’t appreciate in value as the years go on. As with cars, they depreciate in value.
In fact, if you get a valuation that is close to what you paid – it's likely to be someone looking to take advantage of you! That's how little it's worth.
You can also use a free timeshare value tool, such as the one located on Redweek. That will give you an idea of what your timeshare could be worth.
Where To Sell Your Timeshare
There are several websites that will list your timeshare on exchanges.
A few you may want to check out are (we are not endorsing any of these companies, just providing a list of the most well known):
These companies do charge fees, so be sure to fully understand what the fees are and the services you will be getting. For example, Redweek charges between $60 and $80 for access to their marketplace but you have to do the legal work of actually selling the timeshare yourself. If you want their “full service” package then the price is $125 plus either $399 or 3% of the sale price (whichever is greater).
Beyond the fees, research any companies you’re considering listing your timeshare with, as there are scammer companies out there. Check what the company’s rating is with the Better Business Bureau and read the fine print on any contracts they send you.
Check out online reviews on any companies you’re considering selling through as well. In short, do your research.
Buying a timeshare doesn't have to be a life sentence. There are ways to either sell your timeshare or cover your costs by renting it out. The key is knowing the ins and outs of your contract as well as working with a reputable company.