Timeshare owners continue to fall for re-sale scams despite the warnings from TATOC, RDO, their resorts and management companies.
The TATOC helpline reports every month on the number of owners who contact them when it is too late; money has exchanged hands, hopes have been raised and then dashed.
So how can you sell your timeshare safely and successfully? Sharetime asked three TATOC affiliated re-sale organisations: Phil Watson, from Worldwide Timeshare Hypermarket; Mark Bell, from Confused About Timeshare; and Lee Westwood, from The Timeshare Channel for their top tips.
1 Don’t take cold calls
It is something that timeshare owners have got used to – the cold call offering them the chance to sell their timeshare to a waiting buyer for more than they paid for it and all for just an administration fee that needs to be paid in advance.
It sounds too good to be true and it is, yet every year hundreds of owners fall for this type of scam and lose thousands of pounds.
Tip 1 – Do not answer cold calls from companies that claim to have a buyer and want a fee of some description. If you, the owner, have not contacted the company in the first place, you need to ask where the company got its information. And NEVER pay money upfront. This is not only illegal under the European directive but where is the incentive for the company to sell your week if you have already paid them?
Once you have decided that you no longer want to own your timeshare, it is time to do some homework. Many re-sale organisations remark on how many owners do not know or understand what they have bought.
So, do you know exactly what you own? Have you upgraded over the years, converted to a points programme and are there any limitations to how you can sell? You need to have all this information to hand at the start.
Tip 2 – Make sure you have all your ownership documents available. To sell your timeshare you will typically need to know your resort name, unit number, unit size and week number or season. You will also need to know if you have banked or deposited any current or future weeks with an exchange company. If your apartment has a sea or garden view, outside dining options or hot tub let the re-sale company know.
This information is really important when describing your ownership to potential owners.
Some re-sale companies also like to know if management fees are up to date, how much they are and if you would be interested in renting out your timeshare during the sales process. Finally, check to see if all outstanding finance has been paid.
3 Be realistic
This is a tricky one for many timeshare owners. In today’s financial climate owners will not receive back what they paid for their timeshare in the first place – or any subsequent upgrades and conversions.
This is a bitter pill for some who were sold their timeshare as an investment. While, it was an investment in time and holidays it was not an investment in property and timeshare weeks do not hold their value.
Tip 3 – Be realistic about your price and open to the opportunities of renting the week out while you sell to cover, at least in part, your management fees. Look at re-sale advertisements on-line or in newspapers and you will get a good idea of what your week is worth.
4 Choose carefully
There is a huge number of re-sale companies available to you but be careful which you choose.
First, make sure it is U.K. registered and, secondly, make sure it is a member of an association such as TATOC. To become a members of these organisations they have to follow a code of conduct or agree to a code of ethics.
This is your assurance that the company is working within the requirements of the new European directive.
Pick a company that is not a member of TATOC or the RDO and you do not have this assurance. For added comfort, select a company that uses an independent trustee to hold the proceeds from sales.
Tip 4 – Contact TATOC or the RDO for a list of recognised re-sale companies.
Don’t just choose the first company you find on the internet – you would never do that with your house or car so your timeshare sale should be no different.
And check out the list of cold-calling companies on the TATOC website. This is updated every month with a list of companies who have been reported for cold-calling timeshare owners.
If your chosen company is on that list, it might be time to change re-sale agents.
5 Be ready to sell
You have done your homework and found a good re-sale company and an offer has been made on your week. But are you in a position to sell?
Sounds silly. But it is at this point that owners are unable to find their ownership certificates. Without these a sale cannot go ahead and a good re-sale company will advise on how to get a replacement.
It will also handle the transfer of ownership so you do not need to be involved with this process.
Finally, do you know about commission and legal fees? Does the seller or the purchaser pay these? Find out and make sure you are happy with everything.
Tip 5 – Ask lots of questions. A good re-sale company will be able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction so if you have any queries, make sure you ask them.
Your chosen agent should provide clear and concise re-sale advice and guidance. If it doesn’t, why give the company your business?
Timeshare ownership has provided years of happy and enjoyable holidays for thousands of owners. But when the time comes to sell there are many options to consider and, unfortunately, many companies who take advantage of those desperate to sell.
The most important piece of advice for staying safe when selling your timeshare ownership is to stay away from cold calls and make sure it is you who makes the first contact with a re-sale company.
Following the advice from timeshare re-sale professionals will definitely make the process easier – and help you avoid the pitfalls.