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Timeshare owners forced to sell or give away vacation homes due to economy

June 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
If someone made the offer for you to get a vacation home for free or for just $1, you'd jump on the deal. In this economy, some timeshare owners are resorting to just that, giving their vacation homes away. But it still may not be a good bargain.

Irene Smalls' New York City timeshare has been on the market for nearly a decade. She paid $24,000 to use a room one week a year, but has not come close to breaking even trying to sell it.

"I've been getting these really low ball offers," said Smalls.

We're told that's because so many timeshares are currently for sale. One well-known timeshare resale site, RedWeek.com, said "for sale by owner" listings have increased more than 120 percent over the past year. Timeshare-Users-Group.com has seen the same trend.

"When you have an industry that has far more sellers than buyers, it's automatically going to depress the sale price," said Brian Rogers, founder of Timeshare Users Group.

Timeshare buyers pay upfront for the rights to use the same hotel, resort or condo year after year. Some say they were led to believe their investment would even increase in value. But the reality is very different. In this economy, many can no longer afford the required maintenance fees, and they're forced to sell at outrageously low prices.

"You're finding people who have already tried or already discounted their timeshare up to 99 percent off, and in many cases, giving it away for free," said Rogers.

Former Orlando timeshare owner John Chase sold his timeshare for $1. He could no longer afford the resort's annual maintenance fees, and if he didn't pay, it would have affected his credit record.

"It was a big relief to sell it even at a dollar," said Chase.

Timeshare consultant Lisa Ann Schreier said most timeshares don't increase in value. Instead, you're paying in advance for a place to stay.

"If you have to use the word investment, think of it as an investment in your future vacations," said Schreier.

If that sounds like a fit for you, and you don't mind the maintenance fees, you can pick up a timeshare for cheap.

If you're trying to sell a timeshare, experts said try renting it out, asking the resort to buy it back or if they have a resale program. Try listing it with a real estate broker. But never pay a company who calls you and claims they have a buyer lined up for your unit and asks you to send them closing costs in advance --that's usually a scam.


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