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Oceanfront for less? Timeshares: the good and bad

Rent A Lighthouse On Cape Cod For Your Next Vacation
Posted at 5:00 AM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 10:03:49-04

PHOENIX — Can't afford an oceanfront condo? Is that villa near a ski resort too expensive?

Those are some of the reasons for the appeal of owning a timeshare.

"You pay a fraction of the cost to have access to it," said Marilyn Mott, who is with the Better Business Bureau.

Timeshares allow buyers to spend a week somewhere through a real estate deal, meaning they own the property.

The average $25,000 price doesn't include yearly maintenance fees that could run in the thousands.

"That fee can go up unexplained. A lot of times you'll get a letter in the mail saying we've had added costs," Mott said.

Unhappy buyers complain those mandatory yearly costs become too much and sometimes their circumstances change and they can no longer use the timeshare.

"What you're doing now may not be what you're doing in 5 years or 10 years," Mott said.

The Better Business Bureau offers protections before buying a timeshare.

Learn more from the Federal Trade Commission about timeshare sales.

The American Resort Development Association represents the vacation ownership industry. They have a code of ethics and offer advice on timeshare buying and selling.

While we hear of people who enjoy their timeshares, many times they are not good investments. Most would not sell for more than paid.

Owners having trouble getting out of their contracts created a whole other industry that is also full of complaints called the timeshare resale business.

The bad apples may use the same tactics timeshare sellers used by making exciting, but false promises.

"They will say someone has spotted your timeshare or really has eyes on your property and you're going to fully be able to recoup your money," Mott said.

Many times, however, that is not true and the initial fee could end up costing owners much more.

80-year-old Judy Let Joe Know that she hired a business to sell her timeshare and paid nearly $2,500.

While she got no action from the re-seller, Judy did get calls about big promotions within the company.

If she paid more, they were "almost positive they would sell" it.

In all, Judy paid more than $10,000 and got nothing.

Lawsuits by the Washington and Missouri Attorney General's offices claimed different resellers took money promising "a 100% money back guarantee" or action "in one year".

But that didn't happen.

Learn more about timeshare resale scams.

Mott says to beware of paying upfront fees and warns of tricky resellers trying to confuse you by saying you'll only pay "closing costs."

The Better Business Bureau has good recommendations if you do plan to buy or resell a timeshare:

-Don't sign anything under pressure

-Read all materials thoroughly and get answers to questions

-Limit upfront money to minimal amounts

-Research reputations online

-Make sure resellers have a real estate license where needed

"Not only where they're located to sell real estate but also where your timeshare is located," Mott added.

If you're trying to sell your timeshare, check where you bought it. Some timeshare sellers are trying to keep re-sale prices higher and offer buyback programs.

Find out about and report timeshare and other scams through the BBB scamtracker.

Arizona law gives you 10 days to cancel a timeshare purchase contract from the day you signed.

Learn more about Arizona law regarding timeshare purchases.