Deciding to sell the family timeshare is a big decision that often involves careful debate and consideration - not to mention the emotions involved. It's important to realize, however, that making the decision to sell is just the first step in the process of preparing for a successful sale of your timeshare property. Regardless of where you decide to list your timeshare for sale, proper preparation is essential for a smooth outcome. Below are 3 key steps to take before placing your timeshare on the resale market:
*For the purposes of this article I'm assuming that, like most timeshare owners, your resort does not offer an "on-site" resale program. If you are lucky enough to have that option, then little to no preparation is required. Just contact the on-site agent and inform her you're ready to sell.*
1. Know Your Timeshare
It is absolutely essential to have a thorough understanding of the timeshare you are selling, and how it functions. The potential buyers will likely have been to your resort on a sales tour, but that doesn't mean they won't have unanswered questions. Most timeshare resale companies operate in a 'for sale by owner' fashion, meaning that you need to be prepared to speak with the buyers, and answer any questions they may have about your property. For instance: If you have a "fixed" week, can it be used at a different time of year at your home resort? If so, is there a fee? If you are a points owner, how many points do you receive and what date do they become available each year? If you own "floating" time, which weeks of the year are included in your season?
Having accurate answers to your buyers' questions can make or break a potential sale, and providing inaccurate information can lead to problems at closing. The most challenging situations I encounter are sellers who have never used the timeshare, and have no idea of how it functions. If this is your situation, like it or not you are going to have to get educated about the timeshare if you want it sold. Here are a couple tips to help you get ready: If you are selling timeshare points, make sure to have a points chart handy to share with the potential buyers. If you are selling a "floating" week and your resort is one of those that never seems to have availability, go ahead and reserve a desirable week for next year and include it with the sale.
2. Be Aware of Any and All Fees Your Resort Requires
If there's one guarantee about dealing with timeshares, it's that there are a lot of upfront fees involved. Perhaps that's just the nature of the beast - since the concept is, ultimately, about paying upfront for a "lifetime" of vacations. Most resorts will charge a "transfer fee" in order to transfer ownership from you to the buyers; this is not the same as the closing costs, which pay for legally transferring the deed to the new buyer. Call your resort and find out the exact amount of the transfer fee, and make sure to ask if there are any other costs either you or the buyers will incur at time of sale. Usually the buyers are responsible for closing costs, but adding a transfer fee on top can be a real negative. I recommend sellers plan on paying any resort transfer fees out of the proceeds from the sale. Also, make sure you know the exact amount of your maintenance fee - including the breakdown of charges. (i.e. maintenance fee, property tax, insurance, etc.)
Lock-out floor-plans are very popular today; allowing you to split your timeshare into 2 or even 3 weeks of vacation. Something that rarely comes up (until the least opportune moment) is that many resorts charge an additional fee when the "lock-out" feature is used. If you are selling one of these units, make sure you know whether additional fees are required to use or exchange each side as separate weeks. Disclosing this information to the buyers is a very good idea.
3. Find out What Transfers with Sale and What Doesn't
Not all the benefits you received when you bought the timeshare are transferable to the new owners. This is to be expected when buying on the resale market, so don't worry, but make sure you find out what's transferable before placing your timeshare on the market. There are some resorts, for instance, where "points" ownerships become "weeks" ownerships at time of sale - obviously important information to know, and something that would factor in heavily to the asking price. What if you have accumulated "banked" points/weeks at time of sale? If these are deposited with an exchange company, like RCI or Interval International, then they're not transferable. But banked points/weeks deposited with your resort developer may be transferable, and could be included as an incentive with sale - Contact your resort and ask about transfer fees and expiration date for any banked time.
Some timeshare ownerships include packages that allow for purchasing extra vacation time at a special highly discounted rate. If you own one of these, it was probably included by the developer as an incentive when you purchased. Review your paperwork carefully - some of these packages are actually able to be transfered to the new owner, albeit with certain caveats. I know of one such package that specifies it's only transferable to family members, but that includes extended family that may only be distant relatives. (wink, wink)
Ready, Set, Sell
Taking the time to prepare for selling your timeshare can yield serious dividends; peace of mind being at the top of the list! Plus, the process of getting ready to sell is a great way to refresh your timeshare knowledge - something that will come in handy as you're deciding on which timeshare resale company to use.