If you recently purchased a timeshare and regret it, you're not alone. If you've been looking for a way out of your timeshare for an extended period of time, you're not alone. Simply put, buying a timeshare estate is set up for you to fail. They are an expense purchased at a disadvantage to clients while the resort companies reap maximum profits.
If it were up to the timeshare company, you'd remain trapped in their financial obligation to pay annual maintenance fees every time. Then it would probably get passed on to your children or whoever your successor trustee is, and then they'd be required to make payments every year whether or not they use it. That alone makes for an unfair agreement, but this industry still lacks proper, lawful regulation.
There are very few state laws protecting the timeshare purchaser, and because of this, resort companies continue to get away with deceptive and disingenuous business practices. Read on to learn more about the current timeshare laws and what needs to change to make this industry division fair and equal for the clients.
Before we take a deep dive into the laws and ethics of the timeshare business, let's first go over the basics and find out what type of timeshare declaration you have.
A timeshare is a "shared" vacation property amongst several owners who alternate their time using it. As a timeshare owner, you will have 1-2 weeks to use the vacation property, and for the rest of the year, other owners will use it during their specified times. There are three common types of vacation time sharing plans:
Timeshare ownership may be common knowledge to many owners, but some may not know that there are two types of timeshare agreements. These are more "paperwork-focused" than the above, so they can be overlooked at times or just swept under the rug. The two types include:
These are essentially the vehicles used by the timeshare resort companies to carry out their methods of financially placing clients into uncompromised positions. When we talk about things that need to change within the timeshare industry, we need to start where it all begins with these common elements, and that's the marketing purposes.
Nobody goes out and seeks to buy a timeshare on their own. Instead, timeshare salespeople find you like a purchaser pursuant, and when they do, they never leave. Salespeople of these vacation properties are highly skilled. All too often, though, these "skills" seem to rely heavily on false pretenses such as deception and dishonesty to make sales. While some laws prohibit these misleading sales tactics, overall, they lack enforcement and consistency across different states.
As a prospective purchaser, you've probably received phone calls saying you just won or are eligible to win a free trip to a luxury resort. The only catch with these offers is you must attend a short presentation. That receipt of notice is how timeshare companies fill their rooms for sales presentations. They offer gifts and prizes to get you to hear their pitch, and then they throw in even more promotional offers to get you to stay. Several states have laws supposed to regulate these transactions, yet timeshare companies continue to manipulate potential clients without consequences.
As if the tactics used to get you into their presentation aren't bad enough, what takes place during it is tenfold worse. You may have heard that timeshare salespeople lie for a living, and well, they do live up to that billing. Every year, more and more families purchase expensive timeshares without knowing the actual cost or value because of their high-pressured sales pitch statements.
Many timeshare owners feel misled, guilted, or even tricked into their proposed timeshare plan pursuant. As a result, they get financially trapped in a lifelong agreement that never lives up to the promotional build-up. That is not the result of just having a few rotten salespeople on staff, but instead is a system-wide issue for the timeshare closing business. A correction course made from the top of these resort companies is necessary, and it's time they wake up to it.
Until they do, many timeshare buyers will continue to struggle.
When we talk about financial struggles, do not take that lightly. Timeshares are expensive. Especially considering they often get sold under the impression of being the "money-saving" route for vacations. Whether it's the costly price tag on the mortgage or the annual assessments that increase every year, paying a timeshare's common expenses on time is strenuous and can feel impossible for some. When you cannot promptly make your annual payment of assessments, timeshare companies typically waste no time threatening to send you to collections. You could easily and quickly lose your timeshare due to judicial foreclosure action of an assessment lien and also risk a personal financial collapse.
Timeshare owners get pushed into taking out loans to finance these purchases and sometimes are even registered for new credit card accounts without their consent. When they learn the actual price for their timeshare and cannot afford it, they risk losing the vacation property to foreclosure. The negative impact of this is real. From wasting thousands of your hard-earned dollars and taking a hit to your credit score, falling for the timeshare ruse can be costly.
Nolo.com tells us that timeshare foreclosures can vary from state to state, and this is generally an issue because it leads to inconsistency in how timeshares get represented in courts. Some states will treat these vacation units the same way as any residential ownership, while others see it differently and use non-judicial procedures.
Since every state has different laws on dealing with timeshare properties, there is miscommunication from the very beginning with clients. Timeshare agreements bury all of this vital information deep into the paperwork, and they try their best to keep you from reading it before buying. If this information were shared openly with honesty during the sales presentations, there would undoubtedly be a significant drop in timeshare sales for many resorts.
There is a sliver of hope for people seeking a way out of their timeshare agreements. The first line of defense when it comes to canceling a timeshare purchase is a public offering statement text, also known as a form of timeshare disclosure statement. That will contain important information about the timeshare unit and the agreement.
Too often, these timeshare plan documents are deemed insignificant by salespeople because they're likely telling you false information going against what is in the paperwork. Timeshare buyers need to look over this statement diligently and swiftly.
Owners do have the right to cancel their timeshare purchases. However, there is a catch, just like everything else regarding timeshares. That is that you have to decide on canceling very quickly. After buying, there is a cooling-off period where the clients can change their minds and back out, but the time is limited. If you miss this brief window of hope, your right to cancel could cease to exist.
As with most laws regarding timeshares, states individually govern cancellation rights, so again they can vary. Usually, the amount of time that clients have to cancel their timeshare purchase ranges between just two days and two weeks. These short timeshare periods give owners a chance to rescind their timeshare agreement and back out at no cost.
Mere days or weeks is not a fair amount of time for such a big financial decision for a vacation property that you will most likely not see until months later. Most individuals and families get persuaded to buy their timeshares when they are on vacation. By the time they get home from their trip, the rescission period could easily be over.
According to Nolo.com, if you can rescind your timeshare purchase, it's best to do so through writing. You will prepare a cancellation letter that includes all the specific information about your timeshare unit and then deliver it to the resort either in person or through the mail. You must refer to your agreement and the state laws to find the specific instructions to follow when canceling your timeshare.
This industry still needs much more transparency when it comes to this process. Timeshare owners constantly get left in the dark on this option, and when the cooling-off period quickly passes, they essentially get locked into a lifelong commitment.
Once the cancellation period is over, getting out of a timeshare agreement becomes ridiculously more difficult. Many owners believe that there is no way out whatsoever, and they have to deal with paying off a timeshare for the rest of their lives. What more would you expect from the people who lie to get a sale? However, there are other routes to timeshare liberation, though they are more expensive and laborious.
Often when owners seek out help with their agreement from the timeshare company, they walk away in even more trouble than they came in. The idea of renting or selling your timeshare for-profit gets brought up in sales presentations, but when owners inquire more about this, rarely is any help given. Or worse, sometimes the salespeople strike again and cripple you with a special assessment disguised as a timeshare upgrade.
Renting out or selling your timeshare are sometimes options for unhappy owners, but most have realized the lack of value their units hold at this point. The dream scenario would be for the resort to buy back the timeshare from you, but this seldom happens and leads timeshare owners to seek help in the secondary market.
The timeshare industry now faces a new form of corruption. That is the influx of scams in the resale and cancelation markets. The saying goes, 'like attracts like," and that seems to be what is happening here.
Fraudulent people have watched and observed the deception in the timeshare industry for years, and now they have decided they want in on the action. These scammers go after the troubled owners and give them the impression that they have a prospective purchaser interested and ready to buy their property. Of course, what they are saying is not valid, but this has become a rampant problem within the timeshare after-market.
Every day, more and more owners are convinced to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars in additional charges with the understanding that they will finally be getting out of their timeshare agreement. Then, days after receipt of funds, these fake companies disappear, never to be heard from again. That demonstrates how bad these people want out of their timeshares. It is a shame that the timeshare industry idly sits by and watches this happen to their clientele.
Federal Trade Commission now warns everyone about the timeshare resale market, and several states have begun enacting new laws against potential timeshare scams. However, the issue is that it's often too late to fix it. The scammers have already left with the money by the time the law gets involved with the public records. If exiting a timeshare, ensure there is an escrow agent involved or ensure there is a money-back guarantee.
Passing more regulations for the after-market could shatter the faulty timeshare resale industry, but it will not fix the root of the problem. It is time these resorts step in and personally defend their timeshare buyers. They are the only ones who can protect and shield them away from potential scams, as they hold the most power in the owner's decision-making. The flawed business practices of the timeshare industry opened up the gates to all of this, and only they can close them.
The only support a timeshare owner has is by way of trustworthy and respected cancellation companies, such as Wesley Financial Group, LLC ("WFG"). This timeshare exit company will put your needs first, and their only goal is to remove you from your dreadful timeshare agreement. Time to time again, the timeshare industry has proved unethical with its proceedings. WFG hopes to right all the wrongs these resort companies have committed to innocent people.
*Wesley Financial Group, LLC, and its affiliates, successors, or assigns are not lawyers or a law firm and do not engage in the practice of law or provide legal advice or legal representation. All information, software, services, and comments provided on this site are for informational and self-help purposes only and not intended to substitute for professional advice, legal or otherwise.