How Does Someone Get Out Of A Binding Timeshare Contract???

Posted by | July 4, 2010 | Vacation Ownership

Are you stuck between a rock and a timeshare???
It is all too easy to fall into the timeshare trap.  Getting out…well that’s another story all together.  The cold hard truth is that timeshare developers intention is to “lock” in a consumer into an iron-clad contract that no owner can get out.  The true litmus test?  Call your resort developer and ask how much your unit sells for, then, turn right around and ask if they will simply take it back for free.  Many are shocked to hear in the same breath that it is selling for about $12,000, but it is not their policy to take it back once you own one.  NOT EVEN FOR FREE.  The fact is that most of that $12,000 goes to marketing and advertising and commissions.  Resort developers intention is to have the yearly maintenance fee coming in like clockwork.  Average maintenance fees in the US are over $600.  Sold 50 times ($600 per week/per unit)= $30,000 in recurring fees every year.  For a resort with 1000 units = $30,000,000 in recurring yearly fees.  That is why they don’t want to simply take it back for free.  A timeshare is never free.  It costs resort developers money to get it sold (quite a lot).  On the other hand, it brings in money (quite a lot more) by simply selling it once and locking an owner in forever.  Forever?  Really?  How is that?  Read the article below for more info.  Also the following site is a great resource as well: Why is this such a problem getting out of a timeshare?  Below is an article from The NY Times that digs deep into the heart of the problem with timeshares.

Timeshare trap: Some check in but can never get out

NEW YORK — Timeshare is not quite the investment that Patricia Uhler had hoped it would be. While companies like Wyndham Worldwide, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International are doing great business around the world selling timeshares, Uhler has not been so fortunate.

Finding that she has less time and money for vacations than she expected, and with combined maintenance fees climbing to nearly $1,200 a year, Uhler has sought to sell two weeks of timeshare that she had hoped would be a nice investment in prime resort real estate.

But in her six-month effort to sell a week at a resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and another week at a property near Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Uhler, a mother of two, has encountered dubious brokers and the realization that most of her money is probably gone.

Buyers on the timeshare resale market are scarce, and experts say sellers are lucky to get out of their liability at any price. Timeshares are routinely offered for sale on the auction site eBay starting at 1 cent and no one is bidding.

The problem for many buyers like Uhler is that they believe timeshare is a slice of real estate, which they hope will increase in value. High-pressure, glitzy sales pitches can add to the confusion.

In fact, sometimes they have no ownership of the underlying property. With some arrangements, they are buying only the right to use what is typically a one- or two-bedroom apartment for a set amount of time each year. The industry is quick to point out that timeshare is a prepaid vacation, not an investment.

The slump in the American real estate market has made things even harder for people like Uhler, whose timeshares are in the United States. But the resale difficulties are worldwide.

“Timeshare is a kind of stupid, complicated thing to get involved in,” said Annie Galvin, a Briton who owns a two-week timeshare at a development in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

“We can’t sell it even if we find an idiot to buy it,” said Galvin, a substitute school teacher from Northwood, Middlesex, who bought the weeks for a total of about $5,000 seven years ago. “We realize that we’ve lost our investment.”

Wyndham Worldwide is the market leader in the United States, while Starwood, Marriott, and Walt Disney are also major players. Wyndham, Starwood and Marriott also have timeshare resorts outside of the United States, where the market is more fragmented.

Big lodging companies are counting on timeshare for growth, as the slowing American economy threatens to put an end to the boom in the hotel business. The Dow Jones U.S. Hotels index has fallen 32 percent since hitting a high in July.

Harry Taylor, secretary general of the Association of Timeshare Owners Committees, which is based in Birmingham, England, said reselling a timeshare was fraught with difficulty. “It’s a very poor marketplace,” he said.

Some people are even trying to give their timeshares away to get out of the annual maintenance fees, Taylor said. In some cases, a timeshare ends after a certain amount of time, while other timeshares are set up to end only if a people sell them.

“When they’ve signed, they’ve signed it for perpetuity – you know, forever,” Taylor said. “If they die, it goes to the son. He’s got to pay it. There’s no exit policy.”

The never-ending maintenance fees and the slowing U.S. economy have pushed more timeshare properties than usual onto the resale market, said Ed Hastry, who runs the Maryland Timeshare Owners Association in the United States. He said it was the worst market for timeshare sellers that he had seen since he started following the industry in 1988.

The desperation of resellers like Galvin has opened the door to con men, looking to exploit the hopes for big money from the murky resale market.

“It is a huge area of fraud,” said Peter van der Mark, secretary general of the Organization for Timeshares in Europe, a trade group.

The typical ruse involves a supposed timeshare broker, claiming to have found a buyer willing to pay a good price for the owner’s timeshare. The broker says he needs an upfront fee to arrange the transaction, which then never materializes.

The timeshare industry recognizes that a hobbled and fraud-ridden resale market could give the industry a bad reputation and eventually hit sales at new resorts.

The Organization for Timeshares in Europe said it was working with the authorities and had helped shut down more than 40 fraudulent timeshare brokers in Europe.

Howard Nussbaum, the president of the American Resort Development Association, likened the resale market to the used-car market of the 1960s, where unscrupulous salesmen could fleece naive consumers. He says the industry is working to create more regulation and standards for the market.

“The health of the resale market is very important to us,” Nussbaum said. “We have a dog in the fight.”

“I’ve talked to a lot of different companies that sell timeshare, but they all want money upfront,” Uhler said. “I didn’t realize the deceitfulness of it.”

Where do timeshare owners turn?  We found a company that can help.  Vale Professionals .  Check them out.  They can help.

They work with TRV Closing Company to help distressed timeshare owners in getting out of their contracts.

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