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How to Buy a Timeshare Without Getting Scammed

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Posted on August 07, 2023

The concept of a timeshare, buying the right to use a vacation property for a certain period each year, can be alluring. The picture-perfect getaway location, the inviting facilities, and the potential for long-term savings on accommodation all combine to make timeshares an appealing proposition. However, the timeshare industry is sometimes known for less-than-ethical practices.

If you're considering buying a timeshare, it's crucial to understand how to protect yourself and make a wise decision. This guide will outline key tips on how to buy a timeshare without getting scammed.

Understand You're Buying Timeshare

A timeshare is not the same as whole ownership of a vacation property. Instead, you are purchasing the right to use a specific unit at a specific time each year.

There are two types of timeshare agreements: deeded and non-deeded. With a deeded agreement, you own a portion of the property, whereas a non-deeded agreement (or "right-to-use") simply gives you the right to use the property for a set number of years. Make sure you know exactly what you're getting before signing anything.

Do Your Research

Before buying, research the resort, the company with which the resort is affiliated, the location, and the market value of timeshares in the area. A reputable developer will have a strong track record and positive reviews. The American Resort Development Association (ARDA) is an excellent resource for verifying a company's reputation. The location should be desirable and easy to reach. Check resale values of similar timeshares to avoid paying more than the property is worth.

Never Rush into a Purchase

High-pressure sales tactics are common at timeshare resorts. Never feel rushed or feel cornered into making a hasty decision. A legitimate salesperson will allow you the time to review the agreement, do your research, and consult with family or a timeshare specialist if needed. If you're being pressured to sign right away, it's a significant red flag.

Understand the Total Costs

Beyond the initial purchase price, buying a timeshare comes with other costs. These include annual maintenance fees (taxes, utilities and upkeep fees), and potential assessment fees in case of property upgrades or major repairs. Be sure to factor these into your decision and ensure you understand and can afford potential increases.

Remember that some resorts will allow you to pay these fees in increments over the course of a year, instead of a lump sum payment, which can make this easier to manage.

Be Careful of Advance Payments

In the timeshare resale market, scams often involve requests to pay advance fees. If you are buying a timeshare resale, it is common practice for the seller or seller’s representative to ask for a deposit to secure the purchase agreement. However, any deposit should be protected, such as by using an escrow account to hold the money.

If you're asked for an advance payment without some type of accountability, be cautious. This could be a sign of a potential scam.

Read the Contract Carefully

Timeshare contracts, especially for a purchase at a resort, can be dense and complex. Before signing, make sure you understand all terms and conditions. Look for clauses about cancellation, resale, and what happens if you can't use your timeshare week. If anything is unclear, ask for clarification.

Know Your Right to Cancel

In many jurisdictions, there's a "cooling-off" period during which you can cancel a timeshare contract without penalty at the time of the initial purchase at the resort.

Known as the rescission period, the specifics are usually determined by state law and vary by location, but it generally lasts between 3 and 15 days. Ensure you're aware of this period and how to execute your right to cancel if necessary and be aware that rescission periods do not apply to resales.

Always Consider Resale Market Options

Timeshare resales are 50-60 percent cheaper than buying directly from the resort because of the excessive sales and marketing costs locked into the resort retail prices. They need to pay to get buyers onto their property and pay the salesperson a commission on the sale, so they mark up their prices to cover those costs.

Therefore, the resale market offers timeshares at significantly lower prices than buying directly from a resort developer. However, the resale market can also be a hotbed for scams. Stick to reputable resale companies and use an escrow service to handle funds. This ensures your money is released only when the title has legally changed hands.

Advantage Goes to the Buyer

Buyers generally have the advantage because of the number of timeshares for sale on the market, but some resorts have limited resale availability due to the demand for the product, Disney timeshares are one example, as they do not last long on the market since Disney owners often look to add to their point totals by buying DVC resale points and saving substantial money compared to buying through Disney.

As you search for a timeshare to buy, search for the specific resort and review the available offerings. You can then send an inquiry or make an offer to the owner and begin the negotiation.

Make sure you use an online platform such as BuyaTimeshare.com that protects your personal information. We keep your identity confidential and protected from the owner unless you choose to make direct contact with them and take the conversation offline.

Once you have agreed on a price, make sure you get everything in writing to protect yourself. This is generally when you would choose to use the services of a timeshare resale broker who can create a purchase and sale agreement, handle an escrow account and facilitate the purchase with a trusted closing company.

Timeshares can be a great way to secure a guaranteed vacation at your favorite spot, but it's essential to approach this market with the right information. Armed with knowledge, patience, and a thorough approach, you can navigate the process to avoid scams and make a wise choice for your future vacations.

Ready to Buy a Timeshare Without Getting Scammed?

Still wondering how to buy a timeshare without getting scammed? Start your process of buying a timeshare by using the search bar at the top of the page. Enter in the name of the resort or the destination, then see which options are provided in the dropdown field. Click on the one that best fits your search and you’ll go to the page that provides the resort or destination information. 

Once you’ve found the timeshares for sale at a particular resort, you can click onto the Make Offer button to either send an inquiry or provide an offer to buy to the owner. The discussion will take place electronically through out platform until a decision is made.

If you need more information or would like to speak to one of our Customer Care professionals, please give us a call on 800-640-6886 or send us an email here and we’ll be happy to help.


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Steve Luba - Chief Communications Officer


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