Owning an opulent property one week per year may not be the most practical choice. One minute, timeshare owners are lounging by the pool, and the next, they are billed an exorbitant amount of cash—year after year. Suddenly the fantasy vacation becomes a financial nightmare.
Timeshare is a vacation system that become popular in the early 1960s. It is a form of ownership that gives multiple people the right to use a property for a certain period of time every year. If the owners cannot pass or sell the properties, the contracts will imprison them for life (and beyond).
Over the years, the timeshare industry has become one of the most successful trades in the 20th century. However, its longstanding reputation keeps clients at bay. Thanks to looming maintenance fees and other unnecessary costs, most timeshare owners are looking for a way out. Despite not using the property, they are still liable for maintenance fees and will be pursued for legal costs if they do not pay.
Unfortunately, timeshares are almost impossible to sell. Worse, owners who want to exit a timeshare contract, have no idea who to talk to or approach should they unload their impending baggage (pun intended).
Although there is no shortage of websites such as eBay, RedWeek and Timeshare Resale Vacations that advertise timeshares for $1, a huge number of timeshare owners find themselves in the midst of an overly-crowded market. It can be difficult, frustrating, and costly to list the property and find interested parties. This gives a very limited yet overcrowded market for those who want to pass on their timeshares.
On the other hand, the timeshare exit industry has plenty of con artists and swindlers. Individuals and organizations create myriad schemes to manipulate the owners’ trust and take advantage of their desperation. Once they get the consumer’s money, their wallet is empty and it is impossible to break free from the unwanted property. Therefore, if a timeshare owner pursues an exit solution, one must carry out due diligence through research — both online and over the phone.
Timeshare Exit Industry on the Rise
Despite the setbacks, there are numerous companies that help owners forfeit their timeshares permanently — educating them along the way.
One such company is Primo Management Group, Inc., (PMG). PMG helps owners break free from their timeshare contracts; legally, ethically, and permanently. Also, they work with their customers in a way that’s collaborative and informative. Sean Chesser, co-founder noted: “We answer our calls, we don’t send people to voice mail, and we communicate regularly. In fact, we are the only company that calls people proactively every single month to keep contact going throughout the process. We do this because we understand these owners are scared and we hold their hand through the process.”
Finding a legitimate company to voice one’s concerns is not easy. Finding one to help in an ethical and transparent way is challenging too. There are so many considerations for a timeshare exit that include the location, unit size, current development of the resort, and seasonality. Any company asserting they can secure a profit for a timeshare is making a promise that cannot be kept.
Just as it took work to enter a timeshare contract, it takes work to get out of one. “You can’t sign a $100,000 contract and expect it to go away with one call to a third party. However, we do everything we can to make the process as smooth as possible and ensure any damage done to the timeshare owners’ credit record is rectified,” noted co-founder of PMG, Israel (Izzy) Sanchez Jr.
The Looming Regret
According to a study, the average daily rescission rate among timeshare owners is fifteen percent (15%). It’s no coincidence that this is the same percentage of people who buy a timeshare following a sales presentation.
Dr. Amy Gregory, the assistant professor at the University of Central Florida explained 85% of all buyers regret their purchase with reasons that include money, fear and distrust. Ninety five percent (95%) go back to the resort and sales team seeking for more information about resale, alternative options, and pricing alternatives. Meanwhile, 41% of buyers expected to regret their purchase.
Dr. Gregory stated the biggest factor leading to the owner’s recession is the lack of consistent follow-up from companies after closing a sale; stating, "If you could maintain a dialogue with all those people who walked away, you'd learn a lot, but the challenge is that so many people say no. This year, the timeshare industry reached $10 billion in annual sales. Of the said amount, $1.5 billion in sales were also cancelled,” she said.
That’s not all, there are also a lot of scammers in this industry. And unfortunately, several female seniors become easy targets for the timeshare scammers.
In a recent article by the American Association of Retired Persons, a convicted scammer admitted to asking “discovery questions” that usually led to them finding out why most timeshare owners want to get rid of properties. It’s usually death of a loved one, or the increasing costs. A whopping 90% of these victims never even report due to embarrassment or too much hassle. Due to these circumstances, these scammers just close down, buy a brand new domain, and start the same thing under a different name. According to the same article, the usual amount is round $2,000-3,000 per transaction. These scammers know exactly who to target, and they can easily clean up hundreds of thousands in weeks.
The Safest Options
A former timeshare owner, Nancy Adams, acquired the good luck of having her scammer arrested, the state reimbursing most of the money stolen from her, and the resort buying her unit back. Some timeshares have property managers that can arrange the buyback too, although it is rare.
Moreover, the exit industry has been gaining a steady stream of owners who want to cancel their purchase. With the rise of affordable and valuable online vacation platforms, such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Trip Advisor and other sites, more people are geared to shift towards this new trend.
In fact, Airbnb makes up a fraction of those rentals. Trip advisor, Booking.com and other sites were also part of the rise. That being said, those who are stuck with expensive yearly timeshare charges and confusing logistics may consider a reputable timeshare exit team and opt for a more practical and safe option.
Sarah Klump, a former timeshare owner, shared her good experience with a reliable timeshare exit company (PMG). She said that their team really took time to understand her situation despite technical difficulties.
Although hiring a professional timeshare exit team includes a cost, leaving a commitment that is more of a liability than an asset is advantageous in the long run.