Q. We have owned a timeshare week in Orlando for 19 years that we no longer use and wonder if you have any advice on how to unload it. It sleeps eight people, has two bathrooms and is for a “floating” week, which means we can go at any time of year, even over the holidays. But now we are of an age where we can’t travel anymore. We want to sell it, but we have fallen for a scam twice. Everyone wants money upfront to help you get out of your timeshare. We have tried most every avenue. We don’t know what would happen if we just stopped paying maintenance fees. We have good credit and wouldn’t want to ruin it. Any suggestions?
Marion Sears, Shrewsbury
A. Your situation is, sadly, way too common. I’ve gotten a lot of letters just like this and have tried to find solutions that might help you and others out of this predicament.
None are instant fixes. Some take patience. And, while I realize you have expended considerable effort, it could require yet more. Remember, selling a timeshare – even though it isn’t as tangible – is the same as selling any other piece of real estate. Supply and demand drive the market. So, when supply is high and demand is low, you have to work much harder to make a deal. Many people are happy to just give away timeshares to avoid the obligations.
I asked timeshare expert Lisa Ann Schreier about the idea of halting payments. Not a great idea, she says. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, most timeshare companies will eventually foreclose – and that could damage your credit.
Because your week can be used during peak times, Schreier suggested trying again to sell it or, alternatively, rent it. “A high demand week in Orlando is not a tough thing to rent at all,” she said.
There are legitimate companies – although they can be hard to separate from shady ones – that can help sell or rent a timeshare. MyResortNetwork.com is one that has fared well with consumers.
And, as you’ve learned the hard way, Schreier warns that no timeshare owner should pay someone in advance to help dump a timeshare.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com