When to Sell
People sell their timeshare units for a wide variety of reasons every day. Sometimes, it is simply because their vacation needs have changed. Other times, they may need to divest their units in order to free up some spending money. At still other times, they might have found new and exciting timeshare opportunities that they want to take advantage of in place of the timeshare unit they currently own.
It really does not matter why you decide to sell your timeshare as long as you have a strong understanding of your reasons. Knowing that you simply are not using it as much as you thought you would have, for instance, might mean that you can afford to sell it at a leisurely pace and wait for your target price. That is in contrast to knowing that you need a few thousand dollars to pay an unexpected debt or bill right away, and that time — more so than money — is going to be the driving factor in your sale process. Some of the reasons that you might consider selling your timeshare are outlined below, along with how those reasons might affect your decision making in terms of pricing as you try to sell.
You're Not Using It
It's pretty basic, really: If you buy something and don't use it, the money is not particularly well spent. This is true with everything from all-too-trendy sweaters that live out their lives in the backs of closets to perishable vegetables that languish in the corners of refrigerators until they turn to mushy rot. Timeshares — which hopefully don't literally rot — are no good if they are neglected in this way, either. They represent a sizable amount of money, including annual maintenance fees, that you could be spending on other things that you might enjoy more.
If I use my timeshare only half of the time I am allowed to use it, is it still a good investment?
Usually not. In order to reap a financial benefit from a timeshare (as opposed to renting hotel rooms), you usually need to use your timeshare unit annually for at least five years — and sometimes longer.
Sometimes, you will have happily used your timeshare with your family and friends for many years when a change occurs that alters your needs. A spouse who favored the resort may die, young children may go off to college and leave you without the need for such a big unit, or your work schedule may have increased your time constraints and left you unable to travel during your traditional annual week of vacation.
Simply maintaining your ownership rights without actually using your timeshare is not a good option in any of these cases, as you will be paying mortgage and maintenance fees for a property that is, at its essence, worthless to you. If you forgo using your timeshare for two or more years in a row, the odds are that it is time to start thinking about selling.
You Need Money
While selling your timeshare is not a good way to make a profit on an investment, it can be a good way of freeing up several thousand dollars in cash — along with eliminating monthly maintenance fees and annual exchange company charges that also are nibbling away at your pocketbook.
If a need for cash is the main reason that you are considering selling your timeshare, you may have to move quickly, thus making it likely that you will settle for a price lower than what the market might otherwise bear. On the other hand, you may be able to hold out for a higher price while renting your timeshare unit, thus at least earning back a little bit of the money you have already laid out in mortgage and maintenance fees. You will learn more about pricing and profit later in this chapter. For now, suffice to say that a need for funds is certainly a valid reason for selling your timeshare unit.
You're Trading Up
When you bought your first car — say, a 1962 powder-blue Dodge Dart — you probably thought it was just the coolest thing ever, a car that you would want to keep until the day you died. Today, as you sit comfortably behind the wheel of your new Audi TT convertible, that old Dart has a nostalgic quality you're fond of but it lacks a certain cachet to which you've now become accustomed.
The same thing can happen to you when buying timeshares. That first studio unit you and your spouse decided to buy in southern Florida has served you well for six or seven years, but your vacation tastes have graduated to the coast of Maui, in Hawaii, and you want to trade up to a two-bedroom unit so that you can vacation with other friends who are doing just as well as you are in terms of vacation spending.
If exchanges just won't get you there, and if you can't afford to own two units at once, you will need to sell what you have in order to get what you want in the future.
You're Unhappy with the Resort's Direction
Resorts are properties with owners. As with anything in the business world, owners can change. The one you had on the day you bought your timeshare unit may not necessarily be the one you have now — and the new guy may have ideas about going in a direction that does not jibe with your annual vacation plans.
Should you find yourself dealing with a new resort owner whose vision is drastically different than the one that you bought into, sometimes the only way to keep your sanity is to sell your timeshare unit and find another one in a place that better suits your original needs.
What could this mean? It could be heavy-duty special assessments to build a golf course, restaurant, or other new amenity. It could be the opposite: a lowering of expectations and service in terms of maintenance throughout the resort property. It could be a switch from one exchange company affiliation to another that leaves you less than satisfied with your new options.
Exchange Company Woes
As you learned in Chapter 1, there are two major exchange companies in the timeshare industry along with a dozen or so smaller exchange companies that are working hard to make inroads into the business of the big guys.
Resort Condominiums International and Interval International have tens of thousands of longtime members who are happy with the services they receive, but there also are people who prefer one company over the other. For whatever reason, these people feel that one company offers superior service, better resort selection, or some other distinction that makes them unwilling to work with the other company.
You may be one of these people, and yet your resort may not be affiliated with the exchange company that you prefer (or it may change affiliations after you buy your unit, forcing you to change along with it). If this is the case — and you want to put the exchange company before the resort in terms of your customer loyalty — you will have no choice but to sell and buy a new timeshare unit at a resort that works with the exchange company of your choice.