How to Sell a Timeshare
With all of the options available in today's resale marketplace, trying to figure out how to sell a timeshare can be a daunting task. There are several ways to go about it, and a lot of information about what to do - and what not to do - but the idea of selling a timeshare is one that you can accomplish if you understand the process.
First, find out exactly what it is that you own. Many owners make the mistake of trying to sell a timeshare without actually understanding what they own. Would you try selling a home if you weren't sure how many bedrooms or bathrooms it had? Or where it was even located? Unfortunately, some owners go about researching how to sell a timeshare before they even confirm the specifics of their unit. We hear from owners who, for example, claim they own an "RCI timeshare", when there is no such ownership option because RCI is an exchange company and doesn't actually sell or own timeshares. Because owners exchange into the RCI system, they assume RCI is the developer. This is why it is imperative to begin your search by starting with your ownership deed of the week you own. The deed will have all of the required information you'll need to begin your process.
Next, look at the various methods of selling your timeshare. They can basically be broken down into the following areas:
You may want to begin with your home resort to see if they have a program in place to help you. Sometimes a resort will have a method to notify other owners of the available unit, such as a bulletin board, newsletter or website. However, only 31% of resorts offer resale programs, according to the latest figures from the American Resort Development Association (ARDA). Therefore, this may not be an option for you, but you should check to see if your resort developer knows how to sell a timeshare on the resale market.
According to ARDA, 32% of all timeshare sales occur on the resale market, proving that there are consumers looking to buy the product outside of the traditional, higher priced options provided through the resorts. Of those resale buyers, the number one channel they reportedly used was an "online timeshare resales listing company". Buyers are looking for the product, and they are looking online to find it.
There are several ways for owners to tap into that online marketplace, but the primary method is through advertising. The main options are:
- Specialized advertising companies - these are companies such as BuyaTimeshare.com, which have been uniquely created for the specific role of finding buyers for timeshares. These companies can document how many purchase offers have been generated from prospective buyers and renters and give you an understanding of how they can connect sellers with those buyers. As with any advertising, these services incur a cost, but their comprehensive marketing services are directed to a specific target audience which has indicated an intent to buy timeshares.
- Newspapers - perhaps in the town where the resort is located. However, you may want to ask yourself when was the last time you heard of someone buying a timeshare from a newspaper ad. And they generally charge you for the ad placement, which will run in one edition of the publication. Perhaps they have an online component, perhaps not.
- Low cost or free sites - this could easily fall into the "you get what you pay for" category. Auction sites such as eBay get a lot of attention for posting various items, but do they actually proactively work to attract timeshare buyers to their site, or are they more of an online garage sale? Same with Craigslist and other more generic options.
This is where a licensed real estate agent will handle the negotiation process for you. They typically list the timeshares they think will have the best chance of selling, since they get paid by commission after the sale has been closed much like the sale of a home. They understand the process, but they usually work in niche markets based on the location and/or type of timeshare. They can be a safe option because there is no advance fee paid to use them. However, the issue becomes whether they will choose to list a timeshare and work to find a buyer if the timeshare is not located in the most desirable of locations or part of a global hospitality brand such as Hilton or Marriott.
Lastly, across all the options there is an element of the unknown since there are no silver bullets when discussing how to sell a timeshare. Sellers need to research their options and choose the best platform based on their individual circumstances. Also - be proactive and take ownership of the process, which can mean items such as promoting a realistic asking price, taking good promotional photos and writing a compelling description of your resort and unit. If you decide to engage an advertising company to market your timeshare for you, these items and a willingness to become part of the process, can make all the difference.