Before Buying or Selling a Timeshare, Consider This

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In the midst of dreary winter weather in the Pacific Northwest, it’s nice to think about a getaway somewhere sunny and tropical.

But vacations to exotic places can be expensive, and they often seem out of reach. As a result, many people choose to invest in a timeshare property, believing that will make vacations more affordable.

However, some timeshare “deals” are just too good to be true. Here are some things to consider before making an investment.

Evaluate the location and quality of the timeshare. You want to do business with a reputable company in a location you can see yourself visiting often in the long-term.

Understand the benefits and the obligations. Though the cost may be lower than buying a second property, it doesn’t mean additional costs don’t exist. There are maintenance fees and property taxes.

Read and understand the contract before you sign. Be aware of cancellation policies and other fees. Ask someone who has experience in real estate to read the contract to ensure you are getting a fair deal.

Always cancel in writing. The FTC suggests when canceling a purchase, you should always send a letter through certified mail with a return receipt request so there is documentation of the interaction.

Be cautious of buying outside the U.S. If you buy a timeshare with a company that operates outside of the U.S., they do not have the same obligations and you will not be protected under U.S. law.

When you’re ready to sell your timeshare, do your research before hiring a timeshare reseller. Find out where the company is located and in which states it does business. Ask if the salespeople are licensed to sell real estate where your timeshare is located, and verify this with the state licensing board (Washington: Department of Licensing, Oregon: Real Estate Agency, Alaska: Real Estate Commission). Ask if the company charges a commission, handles the entire closing and provides escrow services. Consider it a red flag if they charge an upfront fee.