The allure of owning a little slice of paradise entices many people into purchasing vacation timeshares. And while many folks end up completely happy with their purchase, some find that the responsibility was more than they bargained for. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself ready to sell your timeshare, it's important to approach the resale process with caution, especially with so many timeshare resale scams having been reported in recent years.

Timeshare Basics

A timeshare is essentially shared ownership of a vacation property in which any number of individuals own a "share"of the same location, granting them access to it, typically, once a year. Many resorts offer timeshares of their properties, allowing various parties to use the property throughout the year without the expense or maintenance requirements of purchasing a vacation home outright. There are a few different types of timeshares, including fixed-week timeshares which each owner gets to use for a specific week – usually the same week – every year, and floating timeshares, which the owner can reserve for a time of his or her choosing each year.

Options for Selling a Timeshare

If you own a timeshare that you no longer want, you have a few options when it comes to selling it. In many cases, the owner, manager or developer of the resort in which the timeshare is located will have resources to help you out, such as a newsletter, website or bulletin board where you can advertise your timeshare for resale. If not, then you have a few additional options:

  • Run an ad in the travel or real estate section of newspapers in the area where the timeshare is located.
  • List the timeshare for sale on a consumer sales website, such as eBay or Craigslist. 
  • Use an online advertising site that specializes in timeshares, such as RedWeek or Timeshare Users Group. 
  • Sell your timeshare through a licensed timeshare resale company. Be sure to research the legitimacy of a resale company by asking for references (and contacting those references) and checking with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against the company. 

In addition to selling a timeshare, many resorts offer timeshare exchange systems, which allow the owner to trade a timeshare unit with another owner who has a similar timeshare unit within the same resort system. It's an option worth considering if you are dissatisfied with your current timeshare, but would prefer to trade up for a different one rather than sell it.

Price it Right

Pricing a timeshare can be tricky, and since timeshares typically depreciate in value – unlike buying real estate, a timeshare is not an investment – it is unlikely that you will be able to sell your timeshare for more than you paid for it. If you are working with a timeshare resale company, it will likely set the price based on factors including where the timeshare is located, how well-maintained it is, and how long you have owned it (i.e. whether you have finished paying for it yet). If you are advertising your timeshare for sale on your own, you can get an idea of its value by researching the resort in which it is located to see the prices of similar timeshares that are currently up for sale, or have recently been sold.

Beware of Timeshare Scams

Timeshare owners have countless reputable resale companies to choose from, but must also be cautious of resale scams. Be especially wary of anyone who makes unsolicited contact with you directly by phone, mail or email offering to resell your timeshare. Never agree to anything over the phone, and do not provide your credit card number or wire money to the company before signing a contract. Always shop around and look into various companies before deciding who gets your business, and thoroughly investigate any company you are considering doing business with.